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FAQs on Platy Disease Diagnosis

FAQs on Platy Disease: Platy Disease 1, Platy Disease 2, Platy Disease 3, Platy Disease 4, Platy Disease 5, Platy Health 6, Platy Health 7, Platy Health 8, Platy Health 9, Platy Health 10, Platy Health 11, Platy Health ,
FAQs on Platy Disease by Category: Environmental, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments,

Related Articles: Platies, Poeciliid Fishes, Livebearing Freshwater Fishes

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

The vast majority of fish problems come down to environment rather than disease. Specifically, check the tank isn't too warm (Platies prefer 23-25 degrees C), that the water is hard and alkaline (10+ degrees dH, 5+ degrees KH), and that the water has a basic pH (7.5-8). Also check water quality; ammonia and nitrite should both be zero. Consider whether there are any possible toxins that could be poisoning the fish; paint fumes for example. Diet is another factor; Platies are herbivores and need a diet rich in greens. Herbivore flake is a good start. Don't use standard fish food more than a couple of times per week, or constipation is a likely result. Finally, consider social
behaviour; male Platies are aggressive towards one another, and in tanks 20 gallons or smaller in size, they won't tolerate one another. Bullying will occur, and eventually the weaker male will become stressed, and from there, it's a short step to disease and death.


Platy swim bladder problem   12/19/19
<Happy holidays Melita>
I have found many answers here in the past (thank you!), but now have a situation where I'm not sure how best to proceed. Apologies in advance if I'm providing too much information, I figure always better too much than not enough.
<Yes; agreed>
I've had a female platy for about a year and a half now. She was normal and healthy for most of the first year. This is what she looked like when I first got her, around August of 2018. Not full-grown yet, and didn't seem to arrive pregnant (as most female livebearers do) either.
[image: platyAug18.jpg]
<Very nice; fully mature female>

I'd kept her with a pair of peppered corys and trio of female swordtails, and one male swordtail (who never tried to mate with her, that I ever saw - his trio of ladies kept him busy enough, I think.)
<Mmm; can cross breed w/ platies>
[Since this is going to be mostly history to where we are now I don't think water parameters are or were a factor - but for the record she was in a mature, well-planted tank. pH 7.8-8.2, temp 74, gH >180, kH >180 and maintained with crushed coral in the canister filter, am 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 10-20, 25% water change weekly.
<Good values, maintenance>
The only issue I've had in this tank was a case of external Columnaris on one of the swords (white lesion, treated with hydrogen peroxide direct-swab since it was near the tail, followed up with a course of Nitrofuran/Kanaplex in the tank. This also happened months before there were ever any issues with the platy. Don't know about the UK, but here in the US it seems like Columnaris has become frightfully common with livebearers.
<It is... and has been, "cyclically"... every few years off and on for decades. Many folks cite, speculate that the international import may be a root cause (difference in water quality, stress...), and quality of
domestic water, and loss of genetic strength in lines....>
Enough so that I've even been seeing them shipped in yellow water rather than blue - an indication of
Nitrofuran in the water, rather than Methylene Blue.]
<Could/might well be>
She would periodically cycle getting a little larger in the belly and then smaller, but if she ever produced any offspring I never saw it (didn't see her birth any fry, never saw her hiding or getting particularly stroppy with the others (like the female swords do when they're getting close to birthing), didn't see any offspring with colors like hers or that didn't look like regular swordtail in fin/body shape, etc.)
<Young might have been consumed.>
This would be a 'fatter' period for her, in February 2019.
[image: platyFeb19_fat.jpg]

One day in June of 2019, she started head-standing, and her vent had also become rather prominent.
[image: platyJun19_1.jpg]

<Yes; the vent area often becomes clear/er ahead (days) of parturition; one can sometimes see the eyes of young through this area at the time>
It coincided with feeding the tank a treat of frozen brine shrimp (though I didn't make the connection until later.) I removed her to a quarantine, someplace quiet away from the other females - in case she was pregnant and having trouble birthing.
<Okay... I'd advise placing "spawning medium" (artificial or live "grass"... there are a few varieties; gone over on WWM on the Aquatic Plants subweb>
By the next morning she was oriented normally again. No fry. I kept her in the quarantine for a couple more days, but as she was acting completely like her normal self (wanting to be fed, pooping normally, etc), I went ahead and put her back in the tank.
<A few things might have occurred here; false pregnancy, resorption... Good
to either use large breeding nets/traps and/or move apparently "pregnant" females well in advance.>
Things were fine for some time after that, but - if there was an occasion where she could scarf down 'extra' food (such as frozen brine shrimp), she'd end up in the head-standing position again for several hours to half a day after. I figured - overfull stomach pressing on swim bladder.
<Might be; and/or gas generation from the food>
This was her in August 2019, still normal most of the time.
[image: platyAug19_normal.jpg]


She'd always been a bit of a chow-hound, even more than most livebearers are.
I'd read (from other places) that head-standing in platys was basically a death sentence; but since she was still swimming normally, eating normally, pooping normally, and so on, I just let her be.
Sometime in September, the head-standing got to be a constant thing. She would position herself under something (plant leaf, decoration) to stay horizontal and away from the surface. But the female swords decided that there must be something wrong with her, and they started picking on her constantly (more than just the normal female pecking-order squabbles.)
They meant business, so I had to move her.
I moved her back into quarantine, and gave her a week's course of Nitro/Kanaplex just in case it was due to some kind of infection. Didn't make any difference.
The only other thing I could find about this problem was that she might be egg-bound.
<Yes; or possibly have decomposing young inside her>
So, I went and got a male platy (same kind) and another female (so he wouldn't be focused exclusively on her), both half her size so she could assert herself easily if either one of them bothered her too much.
Put them into a planted 20-gal tank.
She was still positioning herself under anything she could. After a month, things were no better - and she was going downhill from the additional stress of having a male trying to court her. Started showing signs of edema/dropsy - not to the point of her scales pine-coning or pop-eye, just swollen and looking uncomfortable.
I removed her to quarantine again, and this time I thought I was going to lose her. She was tail-curling, like she was in pain and trying to reach the painful spot with her mouth. I gave her an Epsom bath in a smaller container for 30 min.s, and then put some salt
<Aquarium salt I take it, not Epsom>
and meth blue into the quarantine (just hoping to make her a little more comfortable) and left her overnight, fully expecting to find her dead the next morning.
But, she wasn't. She was much less swollen, had made a black-looking, somewhat larger than normal poop, and she now had a red spot on her side (the side she'd been curling toward.) A day or so later it also looked like she had some bruising under her skin, on both sides.
[image: platyOct19.jpg]
[image: platyOct19_2.jpg]


She didn't eat for nearly a week after this. The quarantine I had her in was bare-bottom, just a heater and airstone - I was taking her out and doing full water-changes every day or at most every other day (still expecting she'd either start getting better or go farther downhill, figuring either way it was just temporary lodging.) At one point I was considering getting out the clove oil - but she let me know she wasn't done.
She had also had some dorsal and caudal fin damage (from floating to the surface, drying out), so I'd coated my hand with StressCoat and picked her up to put her back in the quarantine after the water-change (easiest way to get it onto her where she needed it.) She surprised me with her strength, fighting; she was not at all hesitant to let me know how much she didn't appreciate being handled. She was plenty feisty when trying to catch her to do the water-changes as well.
When she started eating again I tried a few other things with her - a course of Triple Sulfa, I think I also tried her with some Ciprofloxacin (in the water, I didn't try medicated food because she isn't seeing/eating food right away and I know it loses its effectiveness quickly in the water.) No change, for better or worse.
And now here we are in December, two months later - still no change. She spends the majority of her time positioned underneath something to stay down (the heater, or tube-caves I made for her out of an opaque plastic bottle), and when she's not under something, she's tail-up unless she's actively swimming. She eats and poops normally. And still has the red spot, this is a picture from yesterday:
[image: platyDec19_now.jpg]


At this point, I don't know what else I should do for her. Set her up by herself in a 10-gallon with plants and other 'soft' things to position herself under, I guess? She doesn't tend to swim around a whole lot now, I think anything larger (tank-wise) would be sort of pointless. It doesn't seem like much of a life to me, but given how actively/strongly she still fights being caught or restrained in any way, I'd also say she isn't 'done' in her own mind, definitely hasn't given up.
Thought I'd pose this one to you all, see if there is something else you would suggest.
Thanks in advance,
<I would have you read Neale's piece on salt use:
and consider either the addition of Epsom salt or its use in a more concentrated bath/lavage... in an attempt to "loosen" what might be inside this fish. Please do report back your actions and observations. Bob Fenner>

Re: Platy swim bladder problem       12/20/19
and one male swordtail (who never tried to mate with her, that I ever saw-his trio of ladies kept him busy enough, I think.)
<Mmm; can cross breed w/ platies>
Yes, I knew they could - it wasn't a big deal to me if they did, this tank was more for display than breeding (it's in my office at work.) Was mainly just noting that I never saw any breeding activity between them; he didn't seem interested in trying with her, he was always focused on the sword
<Young might have been consumed.>
Oh, definitely, with this bunch. Though not so much when they were younger/smaller themselves; I did have a lot of fry survive early on, when the female swords were younger/smaller. But now, they not only eat all their own fry, they also follow the corys around when they're spawning and eat all the eggs as soon as the female places them.
<Okay... I'd advise placing "spawning medium" (artificial or live "grass"... there are a few varieties; gone over on WWM on the Aquatic Plants subweb>
The tank actually is heavily planted, with masses of Java and Christmas moss, floating Salvinia minima, thick mats of Java ferns at one end, and a stand of bushy Limnophila aromatica mixed with two varieties of Cabomba in the middle. Even with all that, plus a tumble of stones with gaps that fry could hide in - they generally still are all consumed.
I'll see 10 or 12
of them hiding in the moss or other plants the day or so after they're born, then it'll be down to 4-5 the next day, and then maybe once in 2-3 months a single fry might survive past snack-size. The female swords especially are relentless - they'll push their way in among the plants and remain still, waiting for fry to show themselves. Like some kind of miniature grouper, lurking in a reef cave. You'd think they don't get fed regularly....
<A few things might have occurred here; false pregnancy, resorption...
Good to either use large breeding nets/traps and/or move apparently "pregnant" females well in advance.>
Sorry, poor explanation on my part of why I moved her. It's a long tank, and when the swords start zipping around (male/female courting, or females displaying/chasing for pecking order) I didn't think it would be a great place for a fish who is struggling with buoyancy issues and potentially labor/birthing issues as well. Where I was moving her to was just a dark, quiet place where she wouldn't be bothered by the swords if (when) they got too rambunctious; I wasn't really concerned about saving fry (if there
were any; I tended to think as you suggest, false pregnancy or reabsorption.) If she'd been giving birth under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have felt any need to move her - I'd expect she'd have gone to an out of the way corner on her own, like the swords typically do when they're birthing.
<<I see>>
<I would have you read Neale's piece on salt use:
and consider either the addition of Epsom salt or its use in a more concentrated bath/lavage... in an attempt to "loosen" what might be inside this fish. Please do report back your actions and observations. Bob Fenner>
Many thanks, and I will try that and see what happens.
I will also completely date myself by saying that my first tank was a slate-bottom Metaframe, *grin*.
<<Wowzah. My generation!>>
I was out of the hobby for decades, though, and am only recently back in; so I do still remember (and use) all the old standbys (salt, meth blue, malachite green, potassium permanganate, Epsom, Merbromin.)
<<I do recall>>
Can snip this next part from public posting if you like, because it's sort of a tangent - but I had seen the piece on salt use, because I had also read through all the platy pages before posting. I will respectfully and carefully venture to disagree on one point from one of the platy posts, though - which was that salt is ineffective for any bacterial infection (IIRC it was Neale who responded that someone would have to be an idiot to use salt for anything bacterial; the context was in relation to fin rot, I believe.)
<<In this case, I side w/ you; have experienced salt use being effective  for apparently bacterial issues. Other sources state this as well.>>
I do agree that salt is likely ineffective for internal bacterial infections - it's probably only beneficial from the aspect that he also cites in the uses (osmoregulation). And I agree that it's also not effective for all types of bacteria - Streptococcus (for example) survives in saltwater just fine.
But I've successfully used aquarium-salt baths to treat external Columnaris lesions (I do also keep swords and guppies at home), when I didn't have anything else to hand. Later also found this study showing that a 4% salt solution had a measurable effect on F. columnare viability in a lab setting. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16060264
<<Ah yes>>
(it also shows that the 4% salt solution did not reduce mortality in infected fish, but posits that the bacteria is protected by the fish's mucus layer. Which makes sense; infection occurring below that layer, the bacteria probably isn't ever coming into direct contact with the salt solution. But, Columnaris can also be one of the many potential causes of fin rot in freshwater fish; so in that case, salt potentially could be
Another study seems to show that salt is potentially also effective against Aeromonas (yet another potential fin rot causative agent) and Edwardsiella; from this Auburn study done on channel catfish (which kind of also puts a kink in the conventional wisdom that non-scaled fish don't tolerate salt
well): http://www.int-res.com/articles/dao/21/d021p171.pdf  This one is interesting because they conclude by saying they aren't sure themselves what the real benefit was; including that it might only be physiologically beneficial on the fish itself (again, likely improved osmoregulation).
The advice is still sound for the intended audience - most people aren't going to bother to delve into wheres and whys and hows like I do, not going to differentiate one bacterial vector from another (most also don't understand the difference between gram-positive and -negative, and why an antibiotic that targets gram-positive isn't going to work for a gram-negative like Aeromonas.) Mostly just saying that if someone does claim that salt helped a particular bacterial-vector condition, they might not be wrong or misinformed. Or an idiot. :)
<<Assuredly Neale Monks is not the latter. I don't recall his reasoning, but he and I have chatted about this years back. BobF>>
Re: Platy swim bladder problem       12/20/19

<<Assuredly Neale Monks is not the latter. I don't recall his reasoning, but he and I have chatted about this years back. BobF>>
No, no, definitely was not suggesting he was - I respect his knowledge and experience, and have been educated and informed by many of his past answers here.
I was only quoting the response that anyone who used salt for bacterial would have to be an idiot. Meaning - I don't think anyone who does try/use salt for external bacterial is misinformed or an idiot - because I have seen some evidence that it can be effective, and I don't think *I'm* an idiot.
[But of course, I also might not be completely objective when it comes to self-evaluation.... :) ]
<I consider that there is some subjective element/s to all observations, thinking. Cheers, B>

Thin Platy     11/7/17
Good morning,
I suspect that I may have a problem with one of my Coral/Sunset Platies.
He is very small compared to my other varieties of Platy and he does not seem to put any weight on regardless of his healthy appetite.
His behaviour is nothing out of the ordinary; he is active, feeds well and doesn't hide away. He does however like to stay close to the surface, a little more than the others but not so much as to cause worry.
His appearance is where my concern comes from. As mentioned he is small and slender (as is the other Coral/Sunset) but he doesn't have the rounded belly that a normal, healthy Platy would. His fins are not clamped, he has no scales missing, sores or anything of that nature. His faeces is not stringy or clear and he has no protrusions from his anus.
My thoughts were that this is likely some kind of internal parasite but after doing some research, I am very worried that this may be a mycobacterium infection.
Now, I don't want to jump to any conclusions (some forums seem to think every ailment is TB these days) but because of his flat belly, this alters his shape somewhat. I do not believe that his spine is bent though.
Environment and tank history:
The tank is 180 litres with an external filter.
It was cycled without fish for 2 months almost a year ago, with 4 fish being added every 2 to 3 weeks thereafter.
Weekly 30% water changes (once a month 50 %)
Current stock:
8 Platies of various strains.
6 Dwarf Chain Loaches.
The tank is moderately planted and is maintained at 24 degrees centigrade.
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate approx 10ppm.
Ph 8
I live in a hard water area but I have no means of testing the hardness.
History of illness:
Stringy, long, white faeces in most fish.
This was successfully treated with Octozin about 4 months ago and has not returned. After investigating I realised this was due to feeding frozen brine shrimp. It has not returned since I stopped feeding this.
Now I feed Spirulina flake and various premium flakes and occasional live foods.
Fungal infection of small wound on the side of Mickey Mouse Platy, the wound was from aggression. The fish was removed, put in a hospital tank with aquarium salt added. Fish given Methylene blue bath weekly until fully
healed. The treatment was successful and the fish was returned to main aquarium after being clear of symptoms for a month.
The tank did have a pair of Dwarf Gouramis who died without explanation within 2 months of purchase. I think these were very weak fish with the problems that most DGs seem to have now.
Another Platy died with similar symptoms to those described above approximately 2 months ago.
Initially I dosed Myxazin in case it was bacterial but this had no effect.
I then tried to worm the tank with medication added to the water in accordance with the instructions (2 weeks after the Myxazin) I have since read on your site wormers should be added to the food so maybe that is why I was unsuccessful.
He had the symptoms for approximately 4 weeks before he died, in my opinion he didn't appear to be suffering so I decided against euthanasia.
Finally to my questions!
I do not want to have a knee jerk reaction and dump in anti bacterial medication, followed by anti parasite medication and so on and so on.
Does this sound like parasites or bacterial infection to you? Could he just be a genetically weak fish?
What course of action would you recommend and what medication, if any, would you suggest? I am based in the UK.
In the event of a suspected case of fish TB, what actions would you take?
I have read conflicting information on Mycobacterium. Some say it is present in most tanks but only raises its head when the fish are in a stressed state with a compromised immune system. Others say it has to be introduced somehow, what are your thoughts on this?
If the fish are not showing symptoms and live in otherwise good conditions, is it really necessary to euthanise and start again? (this is the opinion of many forums) I have spoken to a vet who says I just need to be aware that it is in the environment and make sure that there is no cross contamination to other tanks. The fish can lead normal and healthy lives.
The latter is my intention.
If mycobacterium is as infectious as everyone seems to think and as widespread, wouldn't it be safe to assume that it's in most tanks, especially since it can often be present without symptoms?
At the moment I do not intend to stock any more fish unless I can get an 'all clear' somehow in the tank. In a few years when my last fish has gone, what is the best way to disinfect as I understand mycobacterium is resistant to heat and bleach. I have read alcohol is the way to go, would you concur?
My apologies for how long winded this was. I have done extensive reading which has given conflicting advice and left me with more questions than answers..
I hope your fantastic team can clear this up for me.
I am a big fan of your site, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.
<Hello Colin, and thanks for the kind words. I fear this is a common problem with Platies, especially the more inbred strains such as Sunset and Coral Platies. May be genetic, the old "runt in the litter" situation, but more than likely some type of Mycobacteria-like wasting disease. Often seen in livebearers. Environment may be a factor: when I maintain tanks of livebearers, but neglect maintenance for a few months, I find more example of these runt-like fish within the group. High nitrate, low oxygen, high temperatures, and monotonous diet are all things I think about in this situation, and try to remedy. Sometimes the fish recover, sometimes not. In any case, Mycobacteria isn't treatable, certainly not without access to antibiotics. There is indeed some debate about where this bacterial infection comes from and whether it's in all tanks all the time -- but I think it probably is, and being highly contagious, even if it isn't in your tank when you set it up, sooner or later something brings it in. That said,
Mycobacteria-like infections are rare, and it's that combination of their rarity and the fact they appear out of nowhere sometimes years after you add new fish that is odd -- and why I personally believe the Mycobacteria
are in most/all tanks, but some stress factor causes the fish to get sick.
There's no real point trying to eliminate it from the aquarium given that healthy fish shrug it off without any problems, and even if you sterilise your tank, the filter and your fish may carry the bacteria anyways. Bottom
line, while you can certainly try to use an internal bacterial medication to deal with the Mycobacteria, isolating the sick fish, even in a floating breeding trap, is probably easier and cheaper. The bacteria will probably have got to the other fish by now, so unless you treat the whole tank, hospitalising the one sick fish isn't going to change anything. Besides, healthy fish aren't going to succumb to Mycobacteria, all else being equal.
As I say, there does seem to be a stress (and perhaps genetics) factor at work here, with Mycobacteria not being a major threat to most fish most of the time. The one alternative that might bear thinking about is Hexamita, a
parasite that infects the gut (preventing proper absorption of the food, among other things) and its most distinctive symptom is indeed white, stringy faeces. Metronidazole is the classic medication here, but in the UK and EU, you'll find it easier to get hold of something called eSHa HEXAMITA that is cheaper and available at pet shops. Good luck, Neale.>
Re Thin Platy      11/8/17

Hi Neale,
Thank you very much indeed for your response.
<Most welcome.>
It would make sense for mycobacterium to be in most tanks; I buy all of my fish from a reputable source who's husbandry is first class but I suppose all it would take is one infected fish (or even a net) and before you know
it, the entire system has the bacteria.
<Quite so.>
I am very happy I asked the questions now because, like I mentioned before, most forums would have you reaching for the clove oil at the first sign of trouble!
<Which isn't a bad approach in terms of humanely destroying sick fish -- something the hobby hasn't always been good at. Plus, identifying and destroying sick fish does, at the very least, reduce the chances of other fish becoming infected. So in a sense, that's what happens in the wild where the "old and sick" would be picked off by predators.>
I will ensure that I keep up the maintenance and look to give them an improved diet.
Whether or not I put more fish in this tank or not remains to be seen, I think I will let it run down naturally, get rid of all hardscape, plants and filter and convert it to a FOWLR tank in a few years time.
<Understandable. Freshwater fishkeeping can be harder than marine fishkeeping in some ways -- the fact fish are bred to be as cheap as possible does mean that diseases are more of a risk. If you compare a $2 guppy with a $50 Butterflyfish, the whole economics is going to be different, with the retailer making much more effort to ensure his stock is healthy so that doesn't lose money when the fish is in his tanks. Flip side though is that marine tanks are more expensive to set up and maintain, and every bit as prone to problems, whether health issues, algae, or whatever. There's something to be said for brackish water in this issue, in that you can set up the basics as marine (limestone rock, coral sand, a skimmer) and keep a few interesting fish just for fun, like Puffers or Scats, and then, when the time comes, transition these to a FOWLR system by adding your live rock and whatever marine fish you want.>
I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to me, I can stop stressing and just get back to enjoying my fish.
Thanks again
<And thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Thin Platy      11/8/17

Hello again Neale,
I forgot to say, thank you for recommending the medication, I will purchase that straight away.
<No problem. I'm just aware that not all the medications recommended by Americans are available in other parts of the world.>
<Good luck! Neale.>
Re: Thin Platy      11/9/17

Hi Neale
Keeping brackish species is something I have always wanted to try, especially Bumblebee Gobies or some kind of Puffer.
<Figure 8s and BBGs get along well. Neither is suitable for marine, but a lot of the hardware itself can be used for a future marine tank; the salt, hydrometer, limestone rocks, etc. There are a lot more species out there, maybe not traded widely, but available if you know where to ask, including some that can/should go marine at some point, such as Chelonodon patoca, one of the prettiest of all the puffers.>
This is definitely something to consider!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Something not quite right with Platies        3/12/17
<Hello Lena,>
I'm writing in regards to my 150 liter Juwel aquarium. It's been up and running for around three months now, and the tank is fully cycled. It's parameters are
0. Ammonia,
0. Nitrite,
10. Nitrate
8.2 PH.
Temperate: 25 degree Celsius
<This all sounds good.>
The surface of the water ripples from filtration, so I assume aeration is adequate.
<Should be. These are well-designed tanks, and provided you don't overstock them, the built-in filter mixes air and water very well, ensuring good water quality.>
It's moderately planted with Java Moss, Java Ferns and Anubias, (plenty of hiding spaces) and has two filters running; the inbuilt one and a secondary Eheim. The fish seem to have no issue with the water movement; I added the Eheim as the focal piece of the tank is a large piece of store bought driftwood and its shape was causing dead spots.
The stock list is
5 Kuhli loaches (one of which has giraffe-like print? Is this common?)
<Not uncommon. There are several species of Pangio, easily confused, and frequently jumbled up in the trade. So you could easily have a true Kuhli (Pangio kuhlii) alongside Pangio semicincta, Pangio myersi or one of the
other Pangio species in the trade.>
2 Albino Corydoras
1 Whiptail Catfish
1 Male Platy
1 Male Swordtail
4 Female Platies (2 of which are orange High-Fins)
I have no plans on adding anymore fish, I'm already concerned that it's veering on the side of overstocked.
<In 150 litres you're fine. Indeed, I'd add a few more Corydoras so you get a decent school of 5-6 specimens, and if it were me, a couple more Whiptails too, as they're fun to watch in groups. The males hold tiny territories and do their best to flirt with nearby females.>
Every day they receive either spectrum community fish pellets or flakes (I like to change it up) and also an algae tab, which vanishes over the course of 5-6 hours. I also supplement their diet with freeze-dried blood-worms
once a week (The platies/swordtail seem largely disinterested in these, but the Corydoras and whiptail cat make short work of them).
My first attempt of purchasing Platies was a nightmare; of the original five, only one remains; the female Hi-Fin in the picture, which I assume was not related to the lot that died. The ones that passed away stopped eating, sat themselves above the filter out-take, grew mossy and white and passed away within one or two days. No other fish were affected. I purchased a female Oreo platy a week later from another store, no problems.
All fish are drip-acclimatized.
A week later, (and now about a week ago) I purchased three more platys from a different shipment to the same store where I purchased the original ones (I suspected the store was at fault, now I'm suspecting the supplier). Two of the platies, (female), have settled in with no problem, but the Male platy (pictured) has begun clamping and flashing. He is strongly swimming, attempting to mate with everything and has a full appetite, but I'm concerned about a repeat event. Are there any preventative measures I can take?
<See below.>
Additionally, my pregnant looking Hi-Fin has isolated herself from the rest of the pack since the new fishes introduction. I assumed she was just going to give birth, and I have spotted a handful of grey fry in the tank, but
I'm concerned about the fact that despite all her other fins are looking good, her pelvic fins are glued to her body and she looks to be in slight distress. Her anus also looks swollen, but could this just be from her giving birth?
Why would her fins be clamped up beneath her?
<Normally, stress.>
Thank you in advance, regards, Lena
<As you've experienced, the quality of Platies is middling to poor, at least in the UK. This is a problem with livebearers across the board really. All the farmed livebearers have been inbred to the Nth degree, and on top of that, because they're "easy" to breed, and sold as cheap fish, fish farms don't put a whole lot of effort into producing good quality livestock. Bacterial infections as well as things like Camallanus worms seem to be endemic. Your best approach is to buy specimens from a local breeder, as those should be much healthier, or alternatively, skip the farmed livebearers in favour of the less inbred wild-type livebearers such as Limia nigrofasciata. In any case, I'd tend to adopt a 'wait and see' approach here. I'd also be minded to use eSHa HEXAMITA, a product sold in Europe, or alternatively in the US, Metronidazole, to treat against Hexamita infections. At low level these and similar parasites cause wasting in a variety of fish, including livebearers. They're otherwise difficult to treat using the standard medications. Do also note that Platies prefer cool, hard, alkaline water and will never do well in warm, soft or acidic water. While middling temperatures (24-25 C) and hardness (around 10 degrees dH) should suit Platies and other community fish, anything warmer or softer than that isn't going to work. Cheers, Neale.>

"Big", the Platy...       9/23/16
Hi, Neale - our sunset wag Platy, Big, is starting to live up to his name and we're getting worried. He's the reason we have this huge tank, but he's gotten listless, hanging out in the back corner under the plants. His belly has gotten bigger, and the yellow part of his abdomen is looking more pale.
<That is indeed what your photo suggests, and this isn't a good sign with livebearers. Usually associated with stress, sometimes Slime Disease (also called Costia), sometimes a bacterial infection causing Dropsy, other times a 'wasting disease' such as Mycobacteriosis. I've not seen many such specimens recover once they start turning pale. You could medicate as per Slime Disease and/or internal bacterial infections, but isolating the fish is a good idea. If the fish doesn't show any sign of recovery, in all honesty I tend to destroy humanely any such fish to prevent infecting other specimens. Generally this isn't "catchy" as such, though exposing a group of fish to stress can of course trigger a succession of fish becoming sick.>
He comes out into the mid-east, but not to the surface to eat. No eating.
I'll attach a pic, such as I have. He doesn't even chase the gold dust mollies, hardly, and he was really big on that at the beginning. Ideas?
Thanks, as ever. Hope you are doing well.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

re: "Big", the Platy       9/24/16
He's been swimming more and pooped, we think, and is acting more normal, but still spends a lot of time down in his corner. We were just talking about how much time he used to spend up around the pump or by the heater, until we put all the plants in and gave him a spot he liked better. I'm not sure the time spent in the corner is more than the time spent hiding up by the filter. But his belly looks swollen and lopsided, bigger on his right side. He's been through so damned much that I hate the idea of putting him down. If this could spread, though, that's a problem. We could put him in
the 10 gallon tank, but the pH on that is around 8 (dunno why)
<It's unlikely that the problem he's got is 'catchy'. The bacteria that cause this type of problem are ambient in all tanks; it's stress of one sort or another that makes the fish vulnerable. So while you might isolate
the fish in a breeding trap to stop him being badgered by other fish or struggling against the current, there's no pressing need to remove him from the tank. On the other hand, there are some fish diseases, like Neon Tetra Disease, that are genuinely catchy.>
You talked about humanely putting him down, but how is that done?
<Various methods, but the cheapest and most humane is probably Clove Oil.
Put 30 drops in a litre of aquarium water, then lower the fish into this using a net. It'll become sedated very quickly, and after half an hour will be dead as a doornail. Older methods, such as putting a fish in a freezer, aren't considered humane by vets and not recommended. Clove Oil is widely sold in drugstores for various uses including treating toothache. A small bottle will cost $5 or so, and will last you for years (assuming you're not killing fish every day!). It also happens to smell lovely!!!>
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: "Big"... sigh. Never mind.       9/24/16

Big died suddenly. He had been swimming around normally, then we didn't see him for a while and I found him current jammed in the plants, dead
Dang. :(
<Oh dear. Well, that solves that problem. To some degree, fishkeeping is like gardening. For whatever reason, some plants do great in your garden, while others never seem to thrive. Same here: you buy a bunch of different fish that sound like they should be happy in your tank, but you'll very quickly establish your tank works well for just a subset of those fish. If you stick with the fish you've had good experiences with, particular when starting out, you'll find the hobby quite simple and easy. Don't imagine for a moment I'm saying this lightly; I care deeply that all pet animals should be cared for well. But at the end of the day virtually all "good" fishkeepers starting out making mistakes and losing fish. Good luck, Neale.>

Platy fish loss   /RMF   5/3/16
Hi Crew,
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules to answer my question.
<We're here to help others enjoy, be successful>
I looked over everything on your page
<All 14k?>
but could not find a solution to my exact problem. I have an established community tropical tank and within the past month or so I have lost two of my platy fish that I have one for a year and another for about 7 months. The first that died started loosing a lot of weight and began getting weird things on his scales that looked liked dry skin flaking off and he started sitting on the bottom of the tank and breathing rapidly.
<Mmm; sounds/reads like possibly Trichodina, or Costia... look up both these genera... or...
But then he would zoom around the tank all of a sudden and I thought he was okay, and he was going up to feed
during most of this time. The second platy also started to sit on the bottom but he declined much more rapidly than the first, and would nudge himself into the corner on the tank and lay on his side and just breathe heavily. He too lost weight and would either hide away, lay on his side on the bottom of the tank, or swim at the top of the water listlessly as if gasping for air at the water's surface. His gill's became so stretched away and open they looked like two gaping slits on the side of his face. I have introduced other fish since these and I am wondering if this is some sort of internal parasite?
It is very hard to figure out what might have caused their death since so many of the symptoms sound alike, and I am deathly afraid of medicating for the wrong disease as I have over-medicated in the past and lost so many of my beloved fish.
<Ah, you are wise here. MANY more organisms are lost to mis-medicating than pathogenic disease. MOST problems are environmental in cause, source, and most effective treatments involve correcting environment, bolstering nutrition>
I also have Cory cats and a Bristlenose Pleco in the tank,
<Do watch at "lights out" time to see if this catfish is "riding" your other fishes... They can be the source of mortalities like those you describe
which I know are sensitive to medications.
<Mmm; Loricariids are not so much different than most fish groups>
Any advice you have would be so helpful I am concerned for my other fish, especially for one pregnant guppy who is beginning to display some of the same symptoms as the others did, very red swollen gills, rapid and heavy
breathy, hiding and laying on bottom, overall darkening of color on body and eyes. I am so afraid my whole tank may be infected with what ever this is, and have been doing daily water changes to try to keep everything extra clean. Thank you so much again for any insight you may have.
Kate Miller
<Please send along water quality test information, your set up, maintenance procedures (water change schedule et al.), foods, feeding.... Your platies may "just be getting old"... Poeciliids don't live long; but there may be some useful clues and responses you/we can provide. Bob Fenner>
Platy fish loss    /Neale        5/4/16

Hi Crew,
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules to answer my question. I looked over everything on your page but could not find a solution to my exact problem. I have an established community tropical tank and within the past month or so I have lost two of my platy fish that I have one for a year and another for about 7 months. The first that died started loosing a lot of weight and began getting weird things on his scales that looked liked dry skin flaking off and he started sitting on the bottom of the tank and breathing rapidly.
<As Bob has suggested, Costia (also known as Slime Disease) is one possibility here, though I'd be surprised if a Bristlenose was sucking on the infected fish -- Ancistrus are normally extremely well behaved. Costia is difficult to treat, but I've had good success with a combination of eSHa EXIT and seawater dips.>
But then he would zoom around the tank all of a sudden and I thought he was okay, and he was going up to feed during most of this time.
<Understood; and unfortunately, recognised.>
The second platy also started to sit on the bottom but he declined much more rapidly than the first, and would nudge himself into the corner on the tank and lay on his side and just breathe heavily. He too lost weight and would either hide away, lay on his side on the bottom of the tank, or swim at the top of the water listlessly as if gasping for air at the water's surface. His gill's became so stretched away and open they looked like two gaping slits on the side of his face. I have introduced other fish since these and I am wondering if this is some sort of internal parasite?
<Possibly, but seems to be a problem with farmed livebearers across the board. Alongside Costia, you might consider a Mycobacteria infection, sometimes called Wasting Disease, which is very commonly seen among Guppies and other livebearers. These infections are untreatable, and appear to be latent among many types of fish, and triggered by some type of environmental stress perhaps, or diet, or even bad luck.>
It is very hard to figure out what might have caused their death since so many of the symptoms sound alike, and I am deathly afraid of medicating for the wrong disease as I have over-medicated in the past and lost so many of my beloved fish.
I also have Cory cats and a Bristlenose Pleco in the tank, which I know are sensitive to medications. Any advice you have would be so helpful I am concerned for my other fish, especially for one pregnant guppy who is
beginning to display some of the same symptoms as the others did, very red swollen gills, rapid and heavy breathy, hiding and laying on bottom, overall darkening of color on body and eyes. I am so afraid my whole tank may be infected with what ever this is, and have been doing daily water changes to try to keep everything extra clean. Thank you so much again for any insight you may have.
<The good news, I suppose, is that Wasting Disease among livebearers doesn't seem to jump to dissimilar types of fish, so your catfish, tetras or barbs should all be fine. If the same thing is happening each time, isolating and humanely destroying infected fish may be helpful in slowing down the spread of the disease. Antibiotics are an option, but their success rate with Mycobacteria infections is very low, and probably not cost effective with small fish like Platies. The other tack is to understand that Mycobacteria infections come in with farmed fish but are
triggered by environmental conditions. Platies, for example, are low-end tropical fish from slow-moving streams and ponds. So the right conditions for them would be cool (22-24 C/72-75 F) and with gentle water current.
Hardness and pH would be high. Nitrate should be as low as practical. As herbivores, their diet should be based around algae and softened greens; vitamin deficiency can certainly make fish less able to fight off some infections. Nothing completely certain here, sadly, but some ideas at least.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Trying to save my platy    4/25/15
I have been having problems with one of my 4 platys. Currently my 50 gallon tank has 4 platys, 5 danios, and 7 tetras. I got the first two platys back in August from the LFS. They were both small at the time but Clark, the sick fish, never seemed to grow but never acted sick either. He was always a bit more reserved and somewhat scared of the other platy. I was worried he was constantly being picked on so I got two more platys. These two also grew much bigger, but Clarke still did not. He stopped being so scared and was eating like he should. I always thought it was weird that he never got bigger but just wrote it off as he was just a smaller guy. About a month ago I saw him start to have white poop. I immediately thought it was an internal parasite because of his size. I talked with the LFS and they recommended API General Cure and Melafix.
<Neither terribly useful. Think of it this way: if a doctor recommended a medicine that cured everything, would you trust him? No, neither would I. Identify the problem, and treat it with a medication specific to that problem.>
I treated the whole tank as directed but nothing seemed to improve for Clark, however nothing got worse either. When I saw him still pooping white and did some research and found New Life Spectrum's Hex Shield food. I gave him that for three days and he seemed to get better.
<Good. Did the environment improve any? The two things usually (almost always) go together. Let's recap: Platies must have hard, alkaline water; they do not appreciate high temperatures (aim for 22-25 C/72-77 F) preferably towards the low end. Finally, they're less hardy than they once were, and non-zero ammonia and nitrite will cause problems.>
Recently though, he took a turn for the worse. He started pooping white again but now he lays at the bottom in the house or under a plant.
<White faeces imply irritation of the gut and resulting mucous in the faeces. While usually linked to Hexamita, other gut parasites, including intestinal worms, can cause this. Among livebearers sold in the US, Camallanus worms seem quite common for some reason. No idea why. But medicating with Prazi Pro or similar can be helpful.
What's weird though is he will always know when I am feeding the tank and he comes right up to the top to eat. After he eats he lays back down. I tried to feed him the medicated food again but nothing is changing. No better, no worse. We have been doing this for a week and every morning I'm thinking he is going to be dead, he swims right up to the top of the tank
for food. His little front fins do seem to be working hard for the speed he is going but other that there are no other obvious signs of disease. The poop now is white and red and spirals when it comes out, odd.
<If the faeces are moving, then Camallanus (or some other worm species) is almost certainly the problem.>
All of the other fish poop red because of the flakes. I found a place that sells flakes medicated with Fenbendazole. Do you think this will work?
Do you think its camallus worms? Its so hard to tell if its a worm on not.
<Fenbendazole can work against Camallanus, but dosing is difficult. A vet is the best bet, but failing that, follow the instructions, but be prepared to run more than one course of medication.>
Once it fell to the gravel it did nothing but lay there. Could it be something totally different?
<Hard to say.>
Ps. I test the water each week when I do 25% water changes and the water is always good.
<Meaning what? "Good" water chemistry for Platies is "Bad" for most South American tetras.>
Thanks so much!!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Platy wasting away          2/18/15
Hey guys, running into another issue with the tank, hoping you can help. I have a 200L community tank with Platy's, Neon Tetras, Cherry Barbs, Cory's and Rasboras. A little while ago I discovered that I was essentially asphyxiating my fish without proper aeration, after a number of Rasboras died I had the a-ha moment and fixed this issue. Unfortunately at that point I think a number of the fish had become weakened enough to catch various problems. I've had two neons die from what looked like Neon Tetra disease (the red tail fading to white eventually they turned blackish before I pulled them out of the tank). I now have my longest living platy who has been getting thinner and thinner and thinner over the past few weeks to where it just cant be good. He's still eating, and trails long poops (as do many of my fish now?) I thought it was constipation so fed some mushy peas but it hasn't seemed to help. Some of the fish poop is clear and transparent, others just the color of the food Im feeding. Other then the poor guy getting thinner and thinner I don't see any surface marks or issues with the fish. After much searching It feels like it could be a parasite? Im in the UK so haven't been able to find any medicines that
are generally referred to treat. Do you guys have any suggestions, or could this be something else?
Thanks much!
<Hello Charles. I'm not convinced there's much to be done here. Systemic bacterial infections in farmed livebearers are, sadly, quite common. Guppies are the worst, but Platies are pretty commonly found to suffer from this problem as well. Usually what happens is you buy a group, most do well, but one simply fails to thrive. It gets thinner as the others wax fat, and eventually you simply find it dead in a corner of the tank. Worm infections such as Camallanus might be implicated, but these usually manifest themselves differently, a combination of wasting, worms from the vent, and swelling of the abdomen. More likely is a protozoan infection such as Hexamita, which often leads to clear, stringy faeces, or a systemic bacterial infection such as Mycobacteria spp., which is often the cause of wasting. In any event, your range of options is limited. eSHa HEXAMITA is probably your best bet; see here:
It's inexpensive and widely sold, and eSHa products tend to be a cut-above the other (non-prescription) medications sold in the UK. It should shift Hexamita and some bacterial infections if not too serious. I certainly choose to use them as/when needed. It treats a wide range of possible problems, though not all (Mycobacteria are all but untreatable). Worth a shot, definitely, but not a 100% guarantee. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Platy wasting away
He's actually the oldest platy I have and he's been quite robust till now.
Thanks for the pointer for the treatments, will give it a go!
<Ah; well, good luck. Neale.>

Dead Rasboras/White spots (doesn't look like ich?) on tail of platy's       1/18/15
Hey guys, a bit of drama in ye ole fish tank this past week. I have a 200L community tank with Platy's (male/female/babies!) a few guppies, a Betta, a handful of neon tetra's, and some Rasboras along with live plants. A few weeks ago I noticed very large quantities of fuzzy algae in the tank which was very heavily planted. I went in and removed a bunch of the heavy
coated leaves/plants trimming things back, and that's when things went south.
<Sometimes happens when you prune plants; some species dislike this immensely, notably Vallisneria, which goes into total shock if you pull off more than one or two leaves. The plants will recover, but in the meantime, your tank has lost some balance, healthy plants often becoming a crucial part of the ecosystem in older, often somewhat neglected tanks where they were doing good work pulling in ammonia and nitrate, and giving out oxygen.
Leaves and algae also provide homes for filter bacteria, and if you remove them, there's a bit less biological filtration. If your filter isn't working at its best, then losing these good bacteria can be enough to tip things in the aquarium towards the bad end of the water quality range.
Giving the filter a quick clean, doing a water change or two, and letting the plants alone for a few weeks should have everything back to normal.>
I've only been into fish keeping since this past summer, and I made a huge mistake with my 200L tank when I upgraded to a canister filter. I didn't add any aeration other then the spray bar with the filter. As it turns out, it was just barely adequate with the plants generating oxygen, when I removed them, within a few days my Rasboras started to die.
<Ah yes, see above. Canister filters are outstanding machines when it comes to removing waste, but they use up oxygen like nothing else! Unlike hang-on-the-back filters and any air-powered filter, they don't mix air with water, so the oxygen the bacteria use comes from the tank. You must, must, must compensate for this by using a spray bar, venturi, or some other mechanism for ensuring a good mix of air and water at the filter outlet.
Simply lowering the water level 1-2 cm below the filter outlet may be all you need. What you want is ruffled water, even a bit of splashing, though rarely enough noise to be distracting. As the filter gets clogged up though, you'll see the water flow decline, and the splashing at the outlet gets less. This is problematic, and can lead to oxygen shortfalls over time.>
I've had a nagging feeling about oxygenation for awhile so on a hunch I bought an Eheim 200 and popped it in at night. By the next morning the entire tank was alive with activity like I haven't seen in an age. Boy did I feel like a bad parent. The Rasboras which had started developing strange sores on their heads appear to have recovered, but in the meantime I started to see a cloudy whitish band on my yellow platy which has typically been crystal clear and amazing to look at. I had a bottle of Rid-Ich on hand as my only weapon so I started to use it (before I realized it would only cover four days of treatment, and I can't buy more anytime soon in the UK unfortunately!) as it claimed to attack other sorts of fungus.
<Ick/Whitespot medications tend to be quite distinct from Finrot/Fungus medications, and I'd be very dubious about any that promised to cure both.>
Now I've found that a number of the other Platy's have started to develop spots of some sort. I've always thought of ich as little grains of sand, and these white spots are much bigger, so not sure what they are? I also am worrying the fish also have pop-eye as they look like they're sticking out a bit more than normal, but I don't know for sure. Any help identifying the disease(s) would be greatly appreciated!
<I don't see any specific disease going on here, more overall stress and perhaps a bit of overfeeding/constipation. So apart from cutting back on the food a bit, I'd be optimising water quality as described above, and perhaps using a general purpose anti-Finrot, anti-Fungal medication (in the UK, I recommend eSHa 2000 as the one I've had most luck with).>
The yellow guy has a 'cloudy' tail, it used to be super transparent and beautiful, now there is a cloudy/white line running top to bottom, and the red guy you can see the white regions in the images. The red/black platy (we call him roasted pepper also has some strangeness in the orange part of his tail that I didn't notice before, but I could be looking just too close.
The water parameters are 0/0/25-30 for ammonia/nitrite/nitrate, 200L tank, Eheim 300 filter, Eheim 200L air pump, and TMC v2 Vecton 600 (which I was hoping would be a good sterilizer for the lower flow Eheim 300 and small tank size).
<It's a fine unit, but isn't needed most of the time. Since the UV tube has a definite lifespan (6-12 months, I believe) I'd tend to run the thing only for maybe 2-4 weeks immediately after adding new livestock. Beyond that it won't really be doing anything since it really only affects (a) mobile parasites such as Whitespot and (b) planktonic algae such as "green water" and diatom blooms, which they fix amazingly well. But UV doesn't have any benefits against Finrot, Fungus, or any of the stress-related diseases that crop up over the lifetime of your fish. Do also remember you'll need to clean the glass inside this unit periodically or the UV will be blocked from the water. For what it's worth, there's almost no reason for most
freshwater aquarists to buy these devices.>
Any thoughts really gratefully appreciated!
Thank you!
<Welcome. Neale.>
re: Dead Rasboras/White spots (doesn't look like ich?) on tail of platy's
Thanks Neale, so the white spots on the tail are a fungus?
<Possibly. Or Finrot. Or simply damaged tissue. Hard to say. Optimising living conditions and using an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial medication is consequently the safest first move.>
I'll order up the eSHa 2000 and give it a go!
<eSHa 2000. Available in the UK and Europe. Elsewhere you'll want a different product. In the US, products like KanaPlex (primarily Kanamycin) and ParaGuard (various aldehydes and malachite green) fulfill a similar function.>
Thanks again!

Old Platy has raised scales on caudal peduncle     11/9/14
Hi. I have a 3-4 year old platy that has recently developed an area of raised "pineconey" scales mostly on the lower half of the caudal peduncle.
<I see this in your photo>
In addition he displayed some erratic behavior (slight hyperactivity, rarely hanging at the surface, some sudden jerky movements, caudal fin clamped). He eats normally. For about 6 months or so he had a few
individual scales that were raised (1. where caudal fin meets peduncle, and 2. one on his side, right in the middle).
<Good observation; relating >
These never seemed to correct themselves but did not seem to be progressing. However about a week or
two ago, I noticed the large area of raised scales.
I am unsure if this is a straight infection, age related degeneration, or a combination of age-related degeneration + opportunistic infection.
<Perhaps along with some issues from too much inbreeding... likely>
I have moved him into a quarantine tank with approx 5g/l marine salt ( I ran out of regular aquarium salt) and added 2 measures of SeaChem Kanaplex in 10 gallons of water. I also mixed some Kanaplex with food and fed it to him.
He has been in the bath for 48 hrs. His condition does not seem to have improved, but it has not gotten worse either.
Here is a photo attached
Thank you for any insight you might have.
<Well.... there could be an infectious agent at play here as you hint/surmise... but my guess is principally on the heritable characteristics element here. Too many livebearers are casually incestuously produced (as opposed to line breeding that originally was employed to produce varieties and fix them. IF it were mine, and the only fish involved I would humanitarily euthanize this one specimen. Please read Neale's piece here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
Bob Fenner>

Re: Old Platy has raised scales on caudal peduncle     ‏            11/10/14
Thanks Bob,
<Welcome Eric>
I've had this platy since 2011 and he has always had some slightly rough
scales. Perhaps it is bad genetics ( I had a few platies that developed hereditary melanoma, so I've experienced some of that before).
<Ah, yes>
It has only
recently become worse enough to become an issue. I'm keeping euthanasia as an option for if/when it gets worse. If there is an infectious component, any guidelines for trying to treat it?
<There are a few "general approaches"... the better dealing with a mix/variety of antibiotics/antimicrobials, BUT given that you've had the fish this very long, I would not employ any... the issue/etiology is apparently not pathogenic>
Best regards,
<Bob Fenner>

Male platy not active      3/12/13
Hello Crew,
Please help me diagnose problems with my platy. I have a 10 gallon tank with a HOB filter , air stone and heater. The occupants are 2 adult female sunburst platies, 1 male swordtail, and a male sunburst platy. These were about a year old when I got them and they have been with me for a year and a half. There's also another young female (8 month old) platy that was born in the tank. I have a water Anubias plant, some decorations and gravel. My water parameters are as follows. I do a 10% water change every week. The tank is cycled and running since August 2011 with no problems.
Ammonia : 0 ppm
nitrites : 0 ppm
nitrates : < 20 ppm
ph : 6.8-7.2
kH : 80
gH : 150.
Temperature : 78 F
<All appears fine here. I do wish this tank were a bit larger though...  easier to maintain, a bit more swimming room>
The problem is with the male platy. All other fish are healthy, eat well and are active, no problems at all. I feed them with Tetra algae flakes. once a day. About 4 weeks ago, I noticed that the male platy was getting very thin. I thought he was perhaps getting bullied, so I started putting food closer to him to make sure he ate well. Then, 3 weeks ago, he started lying down on the gravel. He swims sometimes, but it looks like he has to put in a lot of effort to swim. He does display a swimming habit that I could describe as "darting wildly" when he goes to eat food floating on the water. So I got a breeder net and put that in the tank and put him in it to make sure he ate well. Nowadays the only time he does swim is when I go near the tank and when I put in food. He is eating but its lesser than what the other platies eat. His poop is white, stringy and very little, consistent with the amount that he eats.
<Ah yes>
The lying down, being thin, and white stringy poop made me think he had internal parasites,
<Not necessarily>
 so I dosed the tank with Tetra Parasite Guard medication. So far I have put in 1 tablet a week with a 20% water change on the weekend. The medication contains Praziquantel, Diflubenzuron, Metronidazole and Acriflavine. I tried powdering some of the tablet mixing it with his food but he just won't eat it then. I tried soaking freeze dried bloodworms in the medication dissolved tank water but he wont eat the bloodworms. Freeze dried brine shrimp are too large for his tiny mouth. Besides the symptoms I have described, he doesn't seem to have any other problems, his skin looks fine no spots or bulging eyes or anything unusual.
Please let me know your thoughts on this. I truly appreciate your help.
Thank you.
<Thank you for writing so well, thoroughly. I do wish I had something definitive to offer you here. This one male platy may "just be getting old" (yes, at the few months, years you mention)... It may have some sort of internal parasitic issue, but I doubt it... as your other livebearers would likely be similarly infested. I would do as you've tried, but don't anticipate that this one specimen will rally. The one action I would take is to set your heater thermostat to lower... allowing the temperature to register in the lower 70's F. when ambient conditions allow. Drifting higher in warmer weather is/will be fine. Bob Fenner>

Platies clamped, not eating. Host of errors, need to read    4/5/11
After reading your site for weeks, I'm still not sure about my problem with my platies! Here's my stats: 14 gallon, nitrites 0, nitrates 10-15, temp 77, few live plants, Aqueon charcoal filter external, heater, high pH 8.6+,
<Yikes. I'd mix in some RO, other water of lower pH... have this below 8.0>
soft water, highest alkalinity on the chart.
<Surprising to have soft water given such a high pH and alkalinity. Do see the Net re, and check your test kit/s>

Started the tank as a new aquarist this new year 2011. We had problems with Danios
<Which species?>
(5), with one dying, all were aggressive to the platies and each other so we sold them back to a LFS. And replaced them with 3 young females
<... females of what? Of platies I take it>
after the tank was cycled. Now we have: 3 females, 5 males,
<Not a good sex ratio.... See WWM re>
1 red fin shark.
<The last can be/come very aggressive; particularly in small systems as yours>
No problems much for the first 2 months, but now we have a few! I do 25% water changes weekly with vacuuming gravel.
First, our alpha female (the only oldest enough to have fry) has been pregnant 2x that we know of, one survivor we named "Lucky"
<Good name>
hid in the plants and thrived for over a month, grew to 1cm, then hid for a few days and died. No physical symptoms on any fish. Then 2 of the young females we acquired last became slow, lethargic, clamped fins, uninterested in food, then hovered in the corner, then laid motionless on the bottom for a few days, and one finally died. No other symptoms on her- no physical problems except clamped fins, but the day she died, her bright color faded grayish (maybe loss of color, maybe gray film?). Meanwhile, I searched online tirelessly for answers. I measured no changes in our water parameters during the last few months. They eat tropical fish flakes (yes, I've seen your articles and now know they need more veggies!). The 2nd sick platy had same lethargy, clamped fins, no physical symptoms but stopped eating much.
So I tried the saltwater bath for 10 minutes (~2Tbs/ gallon) and she perked right up and started eating again. Now she's back to her lethargy, floating sadly at the top corners of the tank or hiding at the bottom. So I though I'd try meds, because she will very occasionally flash on decor. One other fish did too, only a few times I've seen (maybe the soft water??). So clamped fins and lack of appetite are the only real symptoms here, with rare flashing. The other platies, large males especially, are thriving with energy and normal breeding behavior. I have noticed some feces is clear/white, very thin and stringy. I've thought about parasites,
<Mmm, no. Doubtful the issue here is anything other than environmental>
so I bought parasite away fizz tabs and medicated 2 times (once, waited 48 hours, 25% water change, then another medicated tab). I don't see any improvement,
I hope I'm just impatient and it takes time?? Yesterday was that second fizz tab application, so today I thought, why not try the Quick Cure
<Mmm, no; not this. Too toxic. Will kill off your bio-filter, too likely your livestock along with it (formalin esp.)>
too since my charcoal and bio filters are out in a separate bucket of fish water already, safely away from the meds. So I put the 1 drop/ gallon in this morning. (Filter and heater still plugged in, of course). No improvement yet with young "Goldy", the sick little female. Sometimes I will see the white feces on a few fish, and later that same day it will be dark brown healthy looking, then the next time it's back to thin and white! I hope that means it's nutritional and not parasitic? The platy "Goldy" who's not eating has no feces for me to observe, but I try to keep a close eye on her.
Another maybe separate issue, our huge female has a fuzzy white growth on her black tail (both sides of tail, like it goes right through it, at the base). She seems fine, the growth appeared weeks ago, and grew over a few days, now it's just there still. She was the only female (I learned the ratio of 1 male/ 2 female after I purchased our first group of fish, that's why we traded the Danios for 3 more young females), so she is picked on by the 3 big males often. Maybe a battle wound? What else should I do here, and when can I replace the charcoal and bio filters?
<Fix the water quality>
One more ringer to complicate things though, we're leaving on an 8 day vacation in a few days!!! I am trying my best to quickly cure this tank!
You recommend not feeding, instead of using the 14 day vacation feeder block I have??
<I'd place some useful live plant/s (see WWM re) and leave out the feeder block. These are almost worthless nutritionally>
Should I use Quick Cure for 2 more consecutive days, as recommended on the bottle (do I change the water before each application, esp. since my filter is out)?
<... I would not>
Also, I started this tank and for the first few months used water from our tap that was from our water softener.
Maybe that bothers them? So now I go to the garage to get fresh well water, and add a touch of boiling water to get it to 77 degrees, but my test strips still say that it's "very soft"???
<Don't trust "strips"... See WWM re these, other test moda>
Help please! and Thank YOU.
<And read re Platies period:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sick Platy - Please Advise   3/10/11
one of our platies has been unwell lately and I was wondering if you could help us diagnose the problem.
<Will try.>
First, the setup: 10 gallon Aqueon tank half-moon tank.
<Not big enough for Platies.>
Heater with single (preset) temperature, runs about 76F.
<Too warm for Platies in the long term; use/set heater to 22-24 C/72-75 F.>
Tetra biofilter. LED lights, we keep them on about 11 hours a day. The tank was set up in October 2010 with two male platies. One had a swim bladder problem so it was exchanged right away (for another male). The two have been in there alone since then. We have been doing ~25-50% water changes every 7-10 days and changing the carbon packs in the filter every month.
<Carbon largely pointless in most freshwater aquaria.>
Water quality was tested about 1-2 times a week, most recent numbers are:
pH - 7.2 ammonia - 0 nitrite - 0 nitrate - 0
<pH doesn't really tell me anything useful here. Platies MUST have hard water. If you have soft water, adding 2-3 gram/litre marine salt mix will help dramatically, but not all community fish will tolerate this, so review tankmates beforehand.>
For food, we have been using the Tetra Color tropical flakes, twice a day, about the equivalent of two large flakes each time. Once in a while we give them about three-four Tetra Min tropical granules. The platy who is currently ill does not seem to like them though (the other platy does.)
<Platies need a plant-based diet: algae flake, cooked peas, cooked spinach, etc.>
About three weeks ago we noticed a small white growth above the eye of one of the platies.
We also noticed that he was swimming a little erratically, and was a little lethargic. We did a salt bath that evening - he seemed okay during the salt bath, but very skittish afterwards for about a day.
<Salt baths don't do anything miraculous.>
We also added aquarium salt in the tank. Adding the salt seemed to make him a little more energetic. At the advice of the local pet store, and after examining the white area more carefully, we thought it might be a fungal growth, since the area looked a little fuzzy, and was not spreading.
<Do read here for what salt does, doesn't do:
We did not see small white dots anywhere else on the body so we thought it was probably not Ich. At the advice of the pet store clerk, we bought some Pimafix
<Not a reliable treatment, but can help very mild infections.>to treat the tank with. The treatment (5mL/day as indicated on the label) seemed to respond well at first, the white area decreased slightly after a couple of days, but then remained constant. After the 7th day, as indicated by the Pimafix instructions, we did a 25% water change and continued the treatment. This has seemed to work fairly well - that white fuzzy growth area appears to be almost gone now, 11 days after the treatment started.
However, the erratic movement continued, and this is what worries me. At first, we thought that it could be a sign of flashing - however, most of the time, the movements are not against anything - he just suddenly lurches forward or sideways a little. Sometimes it's in a sequence of a few rapid movements, 2-3 lurches, then continues swimming. It appears to come and go, at about a 5-day cycle of building up then slowing again. The last time we noticed a lot of this behavior was about 3 days ago. After that point, we noticed that he had a very thin, white stringy poo that day - one long strand, and then a few hours later another shorter strand. After that point he seemed to be fine for a couple of days. His poo yesterday seemed normal, more brown-ish and thicker, cylindrical like the other platy (and as it had before.) However, tonight he started the lurching movement again. The other platy has not been affected at all throughout this period.
Any suggestions for what might be wrong with him? I thought it might be an intestinal parasite of some sort, but we are not sure how to diagnose it or get the correct treatment. Any advice or suggestions you may offer will be greatly required.
Thank you very much for your help,
<Alex, do read here:
Platies have quite specific requirements, and the fancy, inbred forms in particular are sensitive fish. Ensure they have swimming space, cool water, lots of oxygen, and plenty of "green" foods. You can't do much about the low quality of farmed Platies, but you can at least ensure you provide them with the right conditions. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy Tank Needs Help! - 8/1/10
Hi there,
I have had my 20g long tank for 2 years. I currently have 3 neon and 9 Platies of different varieties (Mickey Mouse, Red Tail, Bumble bee...) 3 of those Platies are still small. They were born in our tank several months
ago. The tank has a carbon filter, about 1" of gravel, plenty of areas to hide, an aeration tube (?) along the back wall, and plastic and live plants. Temperature is 81 degrees,
<Insanely warm for Platies! Honestly, 22-24 C/72-75 F is the ideal range.>
ammonia is 0, ph is 7.5. The tank is salted with aquarium salt.
<No particular need for salt unless you live in a soft water area.>
The problem is this. A few weeks ago, one of my Platies developed a flat underside. She got very thin and her belly actually went concave. I moved her to my sick tank. When I checked on line, I read that it could be TB or
parasites. She was suffering, so I euthanized her. Last week, I saw another platy looking the same. I moved her to my sick tank, and by morning, she had died. 2 days ago, I found my algae eater dead too.
<What sort of algae eater?>
I also saw that my one male platy has stringy white poop. I read that that could be parasites or poor diet. Since I was feeding tropical flakes alternated with vegetarian crisps, I didn't think that was the problem. But I did decide to vary the diet (hoping it was a diet problem, NOT the parasites). I saw that I could feed my Platies cooked peas. I shelled the peas, fed it to them and they loved them! A week ago, I also added a new live plant. It is a large one that has a large root system.
<What sort of plant? I ask because a lot of beginners who don't know the names of their plants buy non-aquatic plants. It's terrible, but MANY aquarium shops sell such plants: Dracaena, Lucky Bamboo, etc. And yes, these die underwater, and yes, as they do so they rot and ruin water quality.>
Now I have 3 female Platies (1 obviously pregnant one and 1 fry) with clamped fins. They are also hanging out at the top of the tank, mouths by the water. I am not sure what is wrong. I took the new plant out, wondering if it was somehow causing the stress. I have done 2 - 30% water changes this week. Also, I have added more salt to the water to help with their stress.
<Go easy with the salt. For Platies, a good therapeutic dose would be around 1-2 grammes per litre.>
I am afraid that all of my fish are going to die if I do not do something quick. I appreciate any advice you can give me!
<Do check you have moderately hard to hard water; without this, Platies won't thrive. Intestinal worms such as Camallanus worms are quite common among livebearers, and this will need to be treated with a suitable
antihelminthic. "Fish TB" isn't common, and most people who mention this disease have no real idea what it actually is. On the other hand, similar Mycobacterium infections are quite common, especially in poor environmental conditions. Do review here:
<Cheers, Neale.>

Sunshine Platy: New FW system. Platy Health. Several possible causes. 5/16/2010
<Hi Jack and Wendy.>
We are new to fishkeeping.
<Welcome to the hobby!>
We have set up a tropical tank with advice from the local recommended shop.
we set up for 1 week without fish, added 5 plants, temp stable, a fishkeeping friend and the shop stated it was time to add the fish.
We bought 4 Platies.
<Good for you on waiting a bit before adding fish. However, it usually tanks a bit longer than that to establish some sort of biological filtration. Please do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwestcycling.htm >
24 hours later all going well so far, we are taking a water sample in to the shop next week.
<Do invest in a basic water test kit - it makes diagnosing problems in the tank much easier. For a basic freshwater tank, pH, ammonia, nitrIte, and nitrAte are all that is required. Do note however, that the 'test strips' frequently sold are notoriously inaccurate.>
However, we have a behaviour question, the Platies are mixed except one a sunshine platy and it sits on the bottom, near the heater, does not eat at all with the others, or participate in feeding time behaviour.
Do you think this is bullying or do you think this is a fish that hasn't handled the home transition and new environment as well?
<Your question begs a few questions of its own. How big is the tank and how is the water filtered? The causes could be environmental - ammonia buildup in the water, bullying by the other fish, or the fish was just in poor health to begin with.(Not an uncommon event)>
Should we segregate the fish?
We have a spare tank we were going to use for marine when we build skills and experience.
<At this time, I would not. Do change 20% of the water in your tank and see if the fish improves.>
<Here are some articles on Platies that you should find helpful.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/platydisfaqs.htm >
Regards Jack and Wendy Manchester UK
<My pleasure, Mike V, Melbourne, Florida>

Platy Question, hlth., troubleshooting    1/1/10
Hi, I'm sure you can answer this question.
<Have you looked to see if it has been already?>
I had a Platy in a 55 gallon tank with a kissing fish,
<Better to have in pairs>
2 female guppies, 2 male guppies and a sucker fish.
<What species? Please see WWM re Gyrinocheilus>
Today I got up to feed my fish and everything was fine. But I looked into the tank a couple of hours later, I realized that my platy had died. Not only that but his intestines seemed to be coming out from his gills or a hole just below them. It seemed as if his gills had been sliced open and his guts came out. (By guts I mean a clear string with red staining) Just a few hours earlier he seemed to be just fine, eating, no problems.
I called a fish store out of town and he said that it sounds like Gill Fluke.
I went and bought the treatment for this, but now two of my guppies have died, but with out any signs or spots that I can see. I did all the tests and the water chemistry is all with in range, the tank is warmed to 80-82f and consistent. We do a 20% change every Sunday, and check the water chemistry every other day, just to make sure.
The water we use is stored in a 10 gallon tank, which is treated with water conditioner and ran through a filter for two days with no fish in the this tank,
<Better to store for a week ahead, but okay>
water chemistry is also checked before replacing the tank water. Both filters in the tanks get changed weekly and the 'floss' filter is washed in the old tank water.
When I treated the fish tank, I took out the finer filter for several hours because it had activated charcoal and I read that it may filter out the medication.
<I see, good>
Please tell me what I'm doing wrong and why my fish seem to be dropping like flies?
<Can't discern from the data presented. Need to know water chemistry, history of introduction of the fishes, perhaps images of same...>
I also had a team of neon tetra just disappear. One was caught in the filter, but the other four just disappeared. I don't want to go get other fish until this problem is fixed. Could it be a problem at the pet shop where I bought the fish?
Also, how long can a fish survive in the bag from a pet shop to home?
<Depends... using oxygen instead of ambient air, several hours. Should be able to "make it" w/o for at least an hour or two>
I would rather go to another city to buy my fish, but it's nearly an hour and forty five minuet drive until we would get home. Can fish survive this trip and the time needed to adjust the fish to the tank, or is there another way to transport them beyond the plastic baggy we are given?
<Best to leave in the bags... in an insulated cooler if it's cold outside... Ask for pure oxygen if you're going to be out more than a couple of hours... And do read here:
and the linked files above for input, ideas on the types of information we need, possibilities of trouble here. Bob Fenner>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Platy fish problem   9/28/07 Hello Wet Web Media, Thank you for your great web site. I have a six gallon Eclipse aquarium set up for about three months now. I just tested the water and have ph at 7.6, ammonia at 0, nitrites at 0, nitrates at 40. I do about a 20% water change each week. I have 7 platys, 5 dwarf platys and 2 regular size. There are five females and two males. Here is my problem. The smaller of the two males has just stopped eating and is either hiding in a small castle or stays in the upper or lower part of the aquarium. His exterior looks fine. Nothing noticeable like ick. No clamped fins. I just started treating the water with Aquari-sol but his condition is getting worse since he is getting skinny from not eating. Do you have any suggestions? He was very active chasing the girls until now. He was chased occasionally by the older male but that was only when they were close to each other. Thanks for your help. Glen <Glen, when a fish "goes off its food" the causes can be varied, so it's difficult to say what precisely is happening. Your water sounds fine, though you don't mention water hardness. Platies like hard water -- the harder the better! Aim for at least 10 degrees dH, and ideally more. You could also stand to increase your water changes, to at least 50% weekly. Your tank is so small that the fish are not going to be healthy otherwise. I should perhaps mention that these fishes need something around 20 gallons to be comfortable. A 6 gallon tank just isn't adequate. It's no bigger than a bucket. Given the small size of the tank, my money would be on the smaller male being simply harassed by the larger, and stressed as a result. Upshot: it won't come out and feed. This is quite common. Social behaviour varies, so simply because they used to tolerate one another doesn't mean they still do. Another thing people get wrong with platies is diet: they are herbivores. Make sure you are providing a primarily plant-based diet. Standard aquarium flake is NOT acceptable! You can use things like livebearer flake or Spirulina flake as a staple, and augment with meaty foods like daphnia and bloodworms a couple times per week. Insufficient plant material causes digestive problems, one of which is a simply lack of vigour. Hope this helps, Neale>
Re: Platy fish problem -- 09/29/07
Hi, thank you for your feedback. I put the larger male in another six gallon aquarium that I have. That aquarium has a breeder container with 25+ fry about two weeks old. I hope to get a larger aquarium soon. I just bought some Nutrafin Max Spirulina Algae flake food. I looked at the Omega Veggie flakes but the beginning ingredients have fish in them (salmon, etc.). Did not sound very veggie so I did not get it. <Good call. Feeding meaty flake food to vegetarian fish is comparable to giving steak to a sheep. You just know it isn't going to work out! Better still, the more veggies livebearers get, the brighter their colours and the healthier their broods of babies.> Could you please tell me what works best for platy's that flick/scratch themselves. <Possibly Whitespot (ick). Look for small white grains to the body and fins. Sometimes you won't see the parasites because they're on the gills. While it is normal for fish to "have a scratch" everyone once in a while, just like any other animal, if they're doing this regularly, treat for Whitespot just in case. Be sure and remove any carbon from the filter before doing so.> I currently use API Stress Coat and add salt for each water change. <Platies don't need salt. It won't harm them, but they don't need it. If you feel the burning desire to add *something* to the water, try getting a box of Malawi salts instead. These will raise the pH and hardness -- two things platies appreciate MUCH MORE than salinity.> The water temperature is minimum 76 degrees. <That's fine.> Thanks for your insight. <No problems. Cheers, Neale>
Re: Platy fish problem -- 9/29/07
Dear Neale, <Glen,> Thank you again. If I may ask one more question. I fed the platies for the first time bloodworms a week ago. This has seemed to bring out a high level of aggression. <I guess they liked them!> The larger platy is aggressively nosing the others away during and after feeding time. <Normal behaviour. Platies are not schooling fish. In the wild they congregate in groups to feed, and each male attempts to dominate the group, driving away rival males. In the aquarium females tend to coexist happily enough, but males are always aggressive to some degree. This is complicated by the fact that all commercially farmed platies are in fact platy/swordtail hybrids. Swordtails are a step up the aggression scale, so any platy with more than the usual amount of swordtail DNA is likely to be bigger and more waspish in temperament that his tankmates.> Even a day or two later. The more passive smaller platy are now picking on other tank mates. Am I right not to feed them bloodworms anymore? <Provided the fishes aren't actually harming one another, for example by damaging each other's fins, then I wouldn't worry about it too much. It is true that live food sometimes brings out "the worst" in fish. Perhaps this is connected with the fact that an abundance of insect larvae is often a spawning trigger in the wild, indicating the wet season and a time to fatten up and make babies! With many fish, switching from flake to live food "conditions" them for spawning. Anyway, perhaps this works by getting the males more "in the mood" than would otherwise be the case (hard to imagine with platies, since they seem to be in the mood 24/7, but what the heck). In other words, I have no idea why this happened, but I wouldn't worry about it either. Stick to giving live food once a week, and see if they settle down between those meals.> Thanks again, Glen <Hope this helps, Neale>

Blue Platy... hlth.  -- 05/05/07 Hi Crew! <Greetings!>   I have a question.  I had bought a male blue platy from PetSmart how ever many weeks ago.   I looked in my tank tonight and saw that he looked deformed and his left eye is glazed over and poofy. <Sounds like an opportunistic bacterial infection such as Flexibacter columnaris. Very common in tanks with poor water quality/wrong water chemistry.> He struggles to swim to the top but gives up and floats down to the bottom. <Not good at all.> its really sad to watch because he's working so hard to live as long as he can.  His tail fin is clamped together as well. <fin-clamping is another very bad sign.> What should I do? <First: water chemistry and water quality tests. For platies, the tank needs to be at least 20 gallons in size, properly filtered, and with a pH of 7.5 and a hardness of "medium hard" to "hard" on whatever scale your test kits use. Temperature should be around 25C. Second: go buy some 'anti-mouth fungus & anti-Finrot' medication. This will help with the disease. Follow the instructions carefully, making sure you remove carbon from the filter. Take the carbon outside, dig a hole about six feet deep, drop the carbon in there, and then pour liquid cement on top. Now, give over the empty space in the filter formerly occupied by the carbon to some more biological filter media, such as filter wool or ceramic hoops, whatever suits your budget and filter type.> I want him to live. <A good attitude.> I know that there is probably not anyway I can help with his deformity but is there anyway that I can help him to live longer? <Same as with any fish: optimise water quality and water chemistry. READ aquarium books! Vary his diet -- platies are omnivores, and do best on vegetarian ("livebearer") flake rather than generic tropical fish flake. Also try offering some real algae from time to time, either taken from a clean garden pond or by using small strips of Sushi Nori and the like.> Please help.... Em <Cheers, Neale>

Platy Doing Poorly   3/2/07 Hi Folks! <Hello to you!> I have happened upon your wonderful website and hope you can help me. <I'll sure try - thanks for the kind words...> I have had a Redtail Dalmatian platy (Dotty, although I do not know her sex for sure) for 4 months now, in a 29-gal. tank with 3 other platys, 8 neons, and 4 lyretail guppies. <It's fairly easy to sex livebearers, once you get the hang of it.  The male has what's called a "gonopodium", and essentially it's a modified anal fin. It's elongated and the male tends to flick it back and forth.  That's how he impregnates the females.  The females, on the other hand, have a triangular shaped anal fin; if female livebearers are kept with males, they are likely pregnant, so that's the really easy way to tell:-)  Other tip-offs are enlarged bellies, the protrusion of a "gravid" spot, right by the anal fin, and, if the fish is light enough in color, at her end-stage of pregnancy you can sometimes see little dark spots through her skin, which are the eyes of the wee fry inside her! Do a Google search for "livebearer" and "male" and "female" and you'll find all sorts of pictures, images, etc.> She has taken to hiding in the large cave (decoration) in the tank and has not come out to eat or swim in the past 2 weeks or more. <That's definitely not good.> I know she is living because she drops out of the cave ledge when I do water changes and clean the decoration. <Glad you are doing regular water changes.> I have not seen any spots or enlarged belly on her. She just lays on the rocks and her body seems to mold against the shape of the rocks. She is still breathing and her side fins still move. My nitrate and ammonia levels are zero and I do weekly water changes. <What about nitrite? It sounds as though your tank is fully cycled, but it couldn't hurt to check...> I add aquarium salt of 4 Tbsp./change, plus the suggested Stress-Zyme each week and Stress-Coat each change. No one has been harassing her - in fact, they all ignore her and swim right by. <I'd isolate her, first off, just in case she's got a communicable disease. I'm wondering if any of the other livebearers (platys or guppies) are harassing her? I, too, keep guppies, platys and mollies, and I am amazed at how mean some of them can be.  Isolating her would give her a break from any bullies, too; a chance to fatten her up. With regard to her not eating, what are you offering her? If you haven't already tried, frozen, thawed bloodworms are usually a big hit, as are Mysis shrimp.  If all else fails, Kent Garlic Xtreme (basically concentrated garlic oil) can do wonders in stimulating appetites - just a drop or two in whatever you're feeding should do the trick. The other benefit of isolating Dotty is that you'll be able to see more readily if she has any discoloration, wounds, parasites, etc.  Everything else you've done sounds fine, but this is obviously not normal behavior. At first, I thought perhaps she could be pregnant, but two weeks of acting like this is a long time to go on like that.> What can I do to help her??? Thanks. Carol <Sorry I can't give you a definite diagnosis.  Hopefully I've at least given you a starting point - do let me know if you see anything else unusual, and we can hopefully figure out what's going on! Best of luck, Jorie>

Sick platies/thread poop... Gen. lack of knowledge re FW life-keeping   2/3/07 Hi.  Your site is great but the more I read the longer I stare at my fish to try and diagnose their problems and behaviors (the more my head hurts). <Need to prioritize... less-reading, more intelligent searching... leaving more time to enjoy your aquatic charges, life...> 29gal FW tank with 3 tablespoons of aquarium salt Whisper 30 filter heated to 80 degrees 1 male Platy 4 female Platies 1 Flame Gourami 1 Oto 1 gold Chinese algae eater 4 or 5 Ghost shrimp 2 pond snails some trumpet snails heavily planted (I have no clue about plants) <Many of these don't "like" salt...> 30% water change about a week ago. Petland tested my water and it's good quality <Need to test yourself... changes with time, travel> I do not have a quarantine tank although, if recommended, I could round one up I just recently added 9 male feeder guppies (sad, but I wanted to see if they caught these diseases before I invested in Blue Rams). <... Such "feeders" almost always harbor/transmit pathogenic, parasitic diseases...> My Platies have always flicked themselves up against rocks and plants.   Some more than others.  I just thought it was typical fish behavior.   Then I started reading your site.  Parasites, maybe? <Very likely> So I added the CopperSafe and salt about 5 days ago. <... not to your main system? A very poor idea> They are still flicking.  They do not have any spots.  I have seen Ich so I know what that looks like.   I don't know about any other parasites, though. <There are many> My white Mickey Mouse Platy got sick with fin clamping and this weird motion where she looks as though the is swimming in a current when there is none.  She barely eats.  Now I noticed she doesn't poop so much as expels two inch long, fine, clear threads.  Internal parasites maybe?   <Likely> I switched to flake food with garlic (they're called marine flakes.....is this ok?). <Of no use> It's only been a couple days and she still has the fine threads coming out and the weird swimming behavior. Now I see another Platy laying on the ground with her fins kind of quivering. They all hide now and then, it seems more than normal but I'm not sure.   They also rest in the plants and on the ground occasionally. The feeder guppies that I added 24 hours ago are eating well.  But 2 have started this flicking against the rocks and one has the thread poop. I am at a loss and I am not going to add anymore fish until I resolve this. <This is good news (at least)> The Petland kids are really smart but are reluctant to recommend anything for the possible internal parasites except the garlic food. <They are wise here> Help.  I don't remember having this many problems 20 years ago when I kept fish in a tiny, overpopulated 10 gal tank. <"Things... have changed"... As with so much of the "real world"... Much of the livestock nowadays is produced outside the U.S.... imported with many problems... And the hobby is dominated more and more by "big box stores"... not "independents" (Mom and Pops)... who know, care little for the health of the animals in their charge... Many, much more disease issues... the hobby much more a "frivolous" past time for folks, less of a serious "caring for life" concern> Thank you and I hope you have time to respond. Holly <I hope you have the strength of conviction, dedication to pursue what you need to know here sufficiently to care for this life... Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/parasitcdisovr.htm and the linked files above... A few "clues": You have infested your system... You cannot effectively "treat" what you have done in the main system... The chemicals applied are toxic to invertebrates and plants at effective dosage... Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick platies/thread poop... attempt at sarcasm... B+, A-   2/4/07
Thanks, Dr. Fenner. <No doctorate... Just "Bob" please> I did not realize that fish keeping required so much advanced scientific knowledge.  It seems that even you are stumped as to how I should start healing my fish, for you only commented on what I did wrong without pointing me in any right direction.   I understand you want me to read your complex scientific article, and I did.  But me being a lowly hobbyist (without a college education) and not so much the "life-keeper", I could not understand it or find any useful information in it.  I'm sure it is a very good article, though,  with many praises and accolades from your peers. <... the use of a dictionary?> If you were to rescue this tank from my obviously abusive and infested hands, where would you start? <... at a/the beginning... You are correct that this hobby is indeed "complex"... more so than a video game let's say... But it has requisite reward potential... The more you delve into it, the more likely you are to enjoy... and become more self-aware, knowledgeable re other aspects of life...> My plan is to let my infected and infested tank kill off everything in it (as surely that will be the final result of my gross mismanagement) and start over.  This will be, of course, after I have attained my degree in Marine Biology. Thank you (I think). Holly <Apply yourself my young friend... Not difficult. BobF>
Re: Sick platies/thread poop  2/4/07
Dear Bob, <Holly> The feeder guppies are doing great, the thread poop platy is looking better, the flame gourami looks horrible (some kind of mottling on him plus he had a 2 inch long thread poop), 3 platies are still hiding, a bunch of grass is dying, the shrimp look great, the snails are happy, the Oto is healthy, the Chinese algae eater looks emaciated and French Fry (the 4 month old female platy we've raised since birth) is the strongest of them all. Seems my little 29 gallons of life could benefit from some help but I don't think things are as desperate as I first thought, for nothing has died.....yet.  I'll just keep feeding the garlic food, I'll do a water change to take out the copper in a few weeks, I'll keep salt in the tank, take out the plants that don't like the salt and see what happens.  Trial and error, I guess. Wish me luck, <I do. BobF> Holly

Sick Platy   11/17/06 Hi there! I have had a white Minnie Mouse platy for about 3-4 months now. She has been living happily with one other Minnie Mouse (or so I think?) platy and a pink tetra. I noticed she was bloated for a significant amount of time and finally came to the realization that she was pregnant. Unfortunately I was a little too late in reading up on platy pregnancy and how to appropriately deal with the situation. A week ago she hid herself in the tank (its a small tank of 3.5 Gallons) and emerged much thinner (thus me realizing I was too late) and unfortunately no babies to speak of. The issue is now that she is not herself. I've been noticing that she sits on the bottom of the tank with her side fins beating wildly, it also appears that she is having some breathing problems. I've also noticed that the area around her gills is very red and a small dot has appeared on her body. She is also not eating the same amounts as she used to. Now in reading many of your other postings in regards to platy illnesses, I gather that the dot is related to ick, <Mmm, not likely... perhaps "just" environmental/behavioral stress... the birthing, the small volume system...> but my concern is also the redness of the gills and if there is something else on top of the ick afflicting her? I haven't had fish for many, many years <Mmm, don't live that long...> and have sort of been "winging it" with this small tank. I have been cycling the water every other week, <What do you mean by this?> and the other fish seem to be doing fine and acting normally. I also raised the temp in the tank to between 78-80 and she did seem to perk up a bit but then went right back to her previous behavior. I have since removed her from the tank and her breathing seems to be less erratic. Is there anything else that I can do? Thanks, CLK <Mainly just be patient, hope and be diligent re monitoring the fish's water quality, feeding. It "reads" as if it is simply getting "too old". Bob Fenner>

Platies, Fast-Acting Mystery Disease - 05/13/2006 Hi, I've had my 20 gallon tank set up for about 2 weeks. I started with 4 platies and a striped Raphael catfish. One of the 4 platies died within 3 days of purchase and had no external symptoms except possible white, stringy poop.  I noticed she was swimming very close to the surface, and toward the end, very close to the bottom.  I've been testing the water and doing water changes. Currently the nitrites are spiking (2.0). <Bad news there.  Do water changes, urgently, to keep ammonia and nitrite at zero, even (especially) during the cycle.  Also, please do read on WWM regarding cycling, fishless cycling....> Last night I noticed another platy acting strangely. It was apparently hiding in a castle decoration and when I lifted it so he could swim out, he was swimming very jerkily and had that same stringy white poop. <This *can* be a symptom of internal parasites....  but too little to go off to know for sure.  Any other fish exhibiting this?> I was convinced he was sick but since it was midnight, I couldn't really do anything about it.  This morning at about 10:30 I found him swimming upside down and kind of spiraling when he swam. <Wait - spiraling listlessly, like he was just kind of unable to guide himself, or spiraling like he was actually swimming in spirals?> He was also crashing into the bottom of the tank and then holding still for a while. Obviously not long for this world, I debated with my boyfriend about what to do.  I noticed he may have had two tiny white bumps on his skin, but my boyfriend couldn't see them.   <Do please look VERY closely at your other livestock.  Look for white dots, and with the Raphael, look for him to be doing a sort of a "swimmer" motion with his pectoral fins, kind of rotating, and alternating left and right, like a person swimming "freestyle".  This is an indicator of parasites on the gills, and is important to look for, as Ich will rarely manifest on the skin of a plecostomus or Raphael.> About 20 minutes later we decided to move him to a bucket with some tank water in it. By the time we got the water into the bucket and the fish into the net, he was dead. We checked his body but nothing seemed unusual except that he  was dead! <That's unusual enough for me, yikes.> From the visible behavioral symptoms until the death was about 11 hours....  What kind of disease/condition moves this swiftly?   <A hearty handful, actually, especially in smaller fish.> And are the rest of the fish in danger? <Quite possibly.  Are any of the remaining fish clamping their fins?  Swimming in circles?  Shaking their heads side-to-side?  Shine a flashlight at each fish.  Do you see a milky quality to the animal?  Grainy?> I'm not sure how to treat and worried about what it could be.  Please  help me out, any advice would be appreciated, thanks! <More info to go off here would be of help....  Though I am very much leaning toward this maybe being a parasitic complaint, I'm very deeply concerned about the spiraling you mentioned and the possibility of Myxobolus/whirling disease, as I've seen this in other Poeciliids (mostly just mollies).> Meg <Hoping for only the best,  -Sabrina>
Platies, Fast-Acting Mystery Disease - II - 05/15/2006
Thanks for your quick response! I just got home from work and I'm noticing my other calico platy is hiding and sticking near the bottom of the tank. He'll probably be the next to go :( He wasn't acting strangely until after the other fish died.  I'm going to buy another 5 gallon bucket tomorrow so I can do 50% water changes instead of just 25%.   <Good.  It *is* possible that all you are seeing is strictly environmental.> When the fish was spiraling he was trying to swim straight (it seemed) but he was unable to control himself and would spiral instead. Like a football when you throw it. He kept ending up upside down and then crashing into the gravel.  He would move in spurts and then hold still.   <This is VERY disconcerting, and does sound perhaps like Myxobolus/whirling disease.  If you see these symptoms in any other fish, get the fish with symptoms out of the tank PRONTO.> My boyfriend saw the catfish swimming earlier and said he wasn't making that motion like a swimmer. He said he was using his tail to swim mostly. <The "swimmer" motion would only be seen when the fish is at rest.> I haven't seen him swim lately cause he only comes out in the dark.  The red platy has one white dot right on its anus. This is probably  bad, Hm?   <Mm, maaaaaaybe....  And maybe not, too.  Could just be "normal", especially if the animal is female and pregnant.> Ugh. I'm going to try to go to the pet store tomorrow. If this is a parasite, how should I treat the tank?   <The stringy white poo still concerns me.  I would feed an antiparasitic medicated food, and not consider treating the water.> I'm also worried that it will be too late for the calico platy because he's hiding like the first one did. I'm hoping maybe he's sleeping, I will try feeding them and see if he picks up. Okay... with the food in the tank he started zooming around. I don't think he actually ate any of the food though.  But I got to look at him since he came out of hiding.  He looks thinner than the red one, granted the red one just ate most, if not all of the food. His gills look a little red but he doesn't have any white spots. I don't think he looks milky or grainy but its hard to tell. The red one looks wonderful except for that white dot which comes and goes?  Neither of them are shaking their heads or clamping their fins or swimming in circles... not yet anyway.   <That, at least, is quite good.> Thanks for your help. Meg <Watch for that spiraling swimming behaviour, try to find an antiparasitic medicated food (Jungle makes one you can get at PetSmart, a better one can be found at the store of http://www.flguppiesplus.com ), maintain perfect water quality, and watch the fish very, very closely....  Hopefully all will be well with time as the tank finishes cycling.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Platies, Fast-Acting Mystery Disease - III - 05/16/2006
Hi Sabrina, <Hello again.> The pesticide man came today and that compounded my fishy issues. <ARGH!> Hehe. We had to saran wrap all the tanks cause he was doing major spraying and my boyfriend forgot to wrap my poor Betta's bowl. <Oh dear - this could go very bad....> His tank water actually had a  film of yuck on it (it was old water too). 100% water change and now he looks  much happier.   <Good.  Watch him VERY closely.  Do another water change if ANYTHING seems amiss.> Back to the platies. I haven't had a chance for the water change. <Please hurry with it; water quality is life or death.> And I'm a tiny bit leery about it because I know this is probably the peak of the nitrate cycle and I want to have it be over because if it IS environmental, the stress of a cycling tank will be gone. <Meanwhile that stress/damage from cycling can kill or irreparably damage the fish.  DO the water change, and urgently.  It will prolong the cycle, and you'll need to KEEP doing water changes, but the alternative is perhaps killing ALL of your livestock or having them have permanently damaged gills, etc.  A little work on your part, patience and lots of water changes during this critical time is all the preventative you need.  If you are not willing to do the water changes, then return the livestock until the tank has cycled.> The white platy is still hiding and the catfish is too. I haven't seen him swim when he's resting except he sometimes tries to bury himself face first into the wall of his cave to escape the light when I go prodding in there ;)  The red platy still looks okay. She's swimming around and she's very  healthy looking... meaning, colorful and fat, not like the white one that looks like its getting smaller. <Disconcerting....> The red platy's poop is starting to turn white. <Even more disconcerting....> Right now it's got brown and white alternating in the same strand of poop. You know, talking about fish poop is very odd.   <Yeah, but it can be very telling, too.> The white fish hides 24 hours a day in the little castle in the complete darkness. I pick up the castle and rustle him out about twice a day to make sure he's alive still. <Use caution, here; disturbing him is pushing him closer to death's door.  If you can see him without disturbing him, that would be best.> He has white stringy poop and when he comes out of the castle he holds very still and rests against something (a plant, the substrate, the castle) only his front fins move but he doesn't go anywhere until he moves his tail. Then he goes right back into the castle.   <I do feel that the environment is partly if not entirely the problem, but I am also not convinced that there is not a parasitic complaint at play here.  Fix the environment (urgently!) and observe.> Nitrites are high in the tank. <Deadly.> I'm hoping this is the major factor.   <Likely, but again, not certain.> I really don't want to have to wash the whole tank out and basically re-cycle the damn thing because the platy's had a parasite. <There are VERY rare instances where this would be necessary.  Yours is not one of them.  Do water changes, like NOW, as soon as you're done reading this, and be sure to match the temperature and pH of the new water to that of the tank, use a dechlorinator, etc....  You will not halt the establishment of the nitrogen cycle, just prolong it.  Keep doing water changes, daily if necessary, to keep your livestock safe.> The poop looks a lot like the white stuff that was growing on all the decorations about a week ago.  Ugh. <White stuff growing on the decor?  Maybe a diatom algae?  I don't recall discussing this in previous correspondence with you....  In any case, do please try to get hold of one of the anti-parasite foods I suggested, "just in case", and start in with those water changes.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Platies, Velvet?  - 05/13/2006 Hi guys, <Hi, Heather!> First off, I'd just like to say that I love your website - very informative!   <Glad to hear it, thanks!> I searched through a lot of the articles but unfortunately can't seem to find the answer to my problem.  We have a fully cycled 20 gallon tank with 3 adult platies, 3 2 week-old fry, and 2 African dwarf frogs.  The platies were rubbing their abdomens on rocks, with clamped fins, occasionally gasping for air, with shiny areas on their abdomens.  It seemed like this was a textbook case of parasites.   <Entirely possible.  Or could be an irritant in the water....  Ammonia or nitrite above zero, nitrate above 20ppm....> We got Maracide and have given 2 doses so far.  Right after the first dose the female platy that had looked really bad seemed quite a bit better, but the male went from just having clamped fins to displaying all of the other symptoms I listed.  He barely moves off of the bottom at all, but will still eat.  The female that was originally sick now swims around a bit but she hasn't eaten in days. <Very disconcerting for these tiny, usually voracious, fish....> All of the fry seem ok.  Our water test readings are: Ammonia - 0, Nitrites - 0, Nitrates - 15, PH - 7.2 (normal for our tanks), KH - moderate.   <Okay, that all sounds good.> Do you think that they're showing symptoms of a secondary infection?   <Nothing you've stated leads me to believe so.> The Maracide bottle says that it's ok to add Maracyn 1 or 2 while dosing with Maracide, but I know that it's not recommended to just dose with everything in the medicine cupboard.   <Right.  I would not add Maracyn I or II at this time.  Any chance at an antiparasitic food?  Jungle makes one now that's available at PetSmart, I think; I had some real success with this when I had guppies with velvet/Oodinium.> Any help would be greatly appreciated!  My fiancé© and I are terrified that they're going to die. <I would finish the round of Maracide, and perhaps even consider getting a hydrometer or refractometer and use salt marketed for freshwater aquaria to raise the salinity in the tank to 1.002 or 1.003; this will be tolerated by the platies, but not the frogs.  The frogs should NOT be present while medicating in any case.  Were it me/my fish, I'd give the frogs their own, very clean space for now, and treat the tank with salt.> Thanks,  -Heather <wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

'Wasting' platies   4/21/06 Greetings, I have 5 baby platies in a 15L tank, 2 sunset platies who are 3-4 months, and 3 others who are about 2 months old. Over the last two weeks, the two sunsets have appeared to lose interest in food (crushed flake, twice daily) and are hanging around the bottom of the tank. They seem to be getting worse and although try to get to the top for food, they appear to have suddenly developed curved spines. <... environmental, and/or nutritional...> The other 3 younger platies are thriving and getting fat. Is there anything I can do about this? <Need to know much more re your water quality, history of this set-up. For one, I would broaden the diet here... to include some meaty foods, live plant material... Please do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platyreprofaq2.htm and the linked files above... in the hope that something will "pop up" of use here. Bob Fenner>

Platy Illnesses - 10/26/2005 I have a 10 gallon tank with 6 platies and one seemed to have dropsy <Note, please, that dropsy is a collection of symptoms, not an actual illness. A number of things can cause these symptoms.> on Saturday and died on Sunday night. It was very quick. Today another one of the platies is dying on the bottom of the tank and not showing any signs of dropsy or anything else. <This symptom alone is not enough to go off.... Please try to observe this fish very closely.... is he swimming oddly? Color wrong? Cloudy or torn fins? Spots, lumps, lesions, or other abnormalities on the body?> Up until this afternoon, he was swimming and eating as normal. The ammonia is 0, nitrites are 0 and the nitrates around 10ppm. Temperature is around 76-78, PH is 7.4.  <When was the most recent addition to the tank?> Should I be treating all of the fish in the tank for some sort of parasite or is it possible that these two platies just were susceptible to something?  <Mm, tough to impossible to say at this point. I would not advise medicating until you know what you're treating - for now, I would immediately remove the ill fish to a quarantine tank, both to observe the fish and also to protect your other livestock.>  I have had the tank running since June, and added the six platies over time between the beginning of August until the end of September.  <Ah, so it's been a few weeks then, since the latest addition, yes?> I am afraid that the rest of platies are going to get sick as well seeing as the previous 2 got sick and died so suddenly. So far, the remaining 4 are acting normally and have good appetites.  <Please be looking at them very, very closely for anything at all out of the ordinary.> I do weekly water changes of about 30%. <All sounds good, but obviously something is amiss for the two to have fallen ill. I do suspect something pathogenic, but without more symptoms described, I can't even begin to guess. I'd like you to take a look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollydisfaqs.htm and the other linked disease FAQ file at the top of that page, and also here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm under Disease. Perhaps you'll find something that will help. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Platies, not Ich, medicating...  8/27/05 I have 1 male Mickey mouse Platy and 3 females. This week, the male has white spot on his tail. <Just on the tail? Not likely Ich> I gave him the Icy medications. The white spot has gone but he is still very sick. Sink at the bottom of the tank and his body is very slim and flat. Please advise what I can do for him. Thank you so much! Regards, Jade Lam <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Platy in stress? 7/12/05 I have a female platy (sunset variety) who has been healthy and has given birth to 3 fry. Over the last 2 weeks she has lost her round belly, even though she eats at all feedings, and it seems she has to continually swim to remain her equilibrium. When she stops, she drops to the bottom. I have a 20 gallon heated (78-80F) and filtered tank and I change approx 20% of the water (I filter it first) every month. <I'd step up your water changing routine to once weekly> Other (healthy) tank citizens include 1 Chinese algae eater, 2 Cory cats, the platys' mate and the 3 fry. All, save the fry, have been in the tank for almost a year. Thanks for your help. Captain Lee Zdanowicz <Mmm, it may be that your female platy is "just old" (am feeling like this more and more, yikes)... But I would try bolstering its health with the addition of meaty foods (if you're doing so already)... Live or frozen/defrosted, or dried, freeze-dried crustaceans, worms, insect larvae of smaller than mouth size. Bob Fenner>
Re: platy in stress?
Thanks for the reply. You may be right about her being old. I've had her almost a year and no telling how old she was when I got her. Thanks again. Lee Z. <Always hard to tell... but the common livebearers sold in the hobby (platies, guppies, mollies, swords...) do only live a few years... Bob Fenner>

Sick, pregnant Platy? Hello,      I wanted to know if Platies act ill when giving birth?  I have a 10 gallon tank with 4 Platies and 4 neon tetras.  One of the platies is folded in the middle and keeps swimming into the ground then back up to the surface, all the while it's on it's side.  Sometimes it just floats there at the top of the tank on it's side bent in the middle.  What's wrong with it?  I just found 2 fry but I'm not sure which fish it belongs too. Thank you so much, Deborah <This platy is definitely sick, not just pregnant, though they will become more still, reclusive near parturition. Yours is bent from age, nutritional deficiency, water quality issues... possibly genetics and/or infectious disease... Bob Fenner>

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