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FAQs on Platy Disease Treatments

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: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic,

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

Hard alkaline water? No ammonia or nitrite... less than 20 ppm of NO3?

Seasalt mix (not NaCl) can be of use.


Red wag platy; hlth.     12/3/14
Hey folks, I have a 20 gallon tank that's been up and running fabulously for almost a year now. The tanks only inhabitants are one red wag platy (age unknown) and one 6 month old blue wag platy. The red wag platy has developed a white gash on the side of her head that is now flaking. She's hiding in the corner of the tank barely moving her fins and hasn't eaten in 3 days. Its not ick from what I can tell, it's one singular spot right above her eye. I thought maybe it was some kind of bacterial infection so I did a week of Melafix to no avail. She seems to be getting worse and I don't want to lose her. Any ideas of anything I could try?
<Melafix isn't a very reliable medication. In this case, I'd add a decent amount of salt (if there aren't any plants, as much as 5-6 gram/litre would be an excellent start) as this perks up livebearers. I'd also use a proper antibiotic. Various on the market, depending on where you live. In the US, the combination of Maracyn 1 and 2 seems popular. Do review aquarium conditions generally. Platies are fairly hardy, more so than, say, Guppies, but they are prone to bacterial infections and fungal infections in soft water. Would encourage you to read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlatyDis10.htm
These white-gunk-on-my-fish scenarios are far from uncommon. Cheers, Neale.>


Sequential Platy Sickness/Death -- Mycobacteria?    4/3/12
Good morning all,
I wrote to you several weeks ago as a "newbie" who had completely botched the transfer of a friend's 72-gallon tank.  Since then, I have learned more about water chemistry and fish behavior from reading your website than I ever thought possible, so thank you.  Unfortunately, I am humbly seeking your advice once again, but this time because after much research I am considering drastic measures in an attempt to curb what I fear is an outbreak of Mycobacteria infections in my platies.
Here are the relevant stats: 72-gallon tank, inhabitants are: 6 platies (plus 2 platy fry), 9 zebra danios, 5 neon tetras, 2 harlequin Rasboras, 1 common Pleco, and 1 kuhlii loach.  The tank was transferred from a friend's house to mine six weeks ago.  As a result of initial ignorance, we had a mini-cycle and a nitrite spike (to about .5) within the first week.  Since then, ammonia and nitrite have been zero, nitrate never higher than 20ppm, and ph hovering around 7.4.  Last week, I finally got my GH/KH testing kit and discovered that despite the ph, my water is soft out of the tap (KH = 3 degrees dh and GH = 5 degrees dh).  I started adding Neale's Rift Valley Salt Mix during water changes at about 1/4 strength to slowly harden the water and the tank is now at KH = 4 and GH = 6.  I know that is too soft for the Platies, my goal is KH of 5 and GH of 11 (I don't want to go too hard b/c of the neons and the loach).
We also had a mild Ich outbreak that was cured by keeping the heat at 86 degrees for two weeks (thanks, Bob F.!!). <Welcome>  I lowered the heat over a week and it has now been at 76 degrees for several days.  Okay, here is the problem.  My platies are getting sick and dying one by one.  No one else seems affected.  I have scoured your site for hours and hours and the best I can come up with is some sort of Mycobacteria infection.  The "post-mortem" is as follows:
Platy #1 -- died on 2/16 within three days of entering the tank.  Crashed on bottom for one night, localized swelling on one side with small amount of "white fuzz" on scales.
Platy #2 -- crashed on bottom of tank, fins clamped, on 3/10, coming up only to eat and occasionally flash.  Three days later, internal red "blotch" visible.  The next day, localized swelling at site of red "blotch," swimming erratically, then crashing to bottom.  Euthanized on 3/15.
Platy #3 -- crashed on bottom of tank on 3/14.  No visible symptoms except occasional flashing and fin clamping.  Came up to eat until 3/19 when she remained at bottom.  Died hours later on 3/19.  Never any visible problems.
Then, all was fine until 3/29 when another platy stopped eating and started hanging listlessly at the top of the tank, then she started hiding and occasionally flashing.  She actually has a "sickly" yellow color to her and has her fins clamped.  She now seems thinner than before (although it may just be the 4-day fast).  On Saturday, another platy started hanging out listlessly at the top and sitting on the bottom, and yet another was swimming and eating normally, but fin clamping and occasionally flashing.
The listless one is the only one that seems much thinner than the others, although as of yesterday, he was still eating fine.
I have no idea what to do.
<Mmm, I wish... as too usual... that we/you could "go back" a few weeks; treat the incoming Platies ahead of their placement here... The possibilities of infectious and parasitic disease are vast... One might treat the entire (present) system w/ Metronidazole and Prazi... or other vermifuge... in the hopes of covering most all bases...>
 I have a QT tank cycling, but it is not quite ready yet.  The remaining three platies, as of today, seem healthy.  After reading all the information on Mycobacteria infections, I am actually considering pulling the three symptomatic ones and euthanizing them.  I could not bring myself to do this until I sought your advice.  I would hate to put down a fish that could be cured, but I have not attempted to treat the tank yet as I cannot figure out what to treat it for, and I have read your advice not to treat until you are fairly certain with what you are dealing.
So, my biggest question is: does it sound like Mycobacteria to you
<Not able to tell w/ what is presented>
 and, if so, should I euthanize the symptomatic fish in an effort to save the healthy ones (and the two larger fry that are in the tank)? If you think it is something else, is there any treatment you would recommend?
<I would have you read re this species diseases:
and the linked files above... till you understand your options (from at least our points of view)>
Thanks once again for sharing your expertise, and for taking the time to read this lengthy email.  You guys are the best.  I am at my wit's end, but nonetheless am trying my best to educate myself and act rationally rather than haphazardly throwing chemicals in the tank.
I hope life is treating you well.
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Sequential Platy Sickness/Death -- Mycobacteria?    4/12/12

Good morning,
It's me again.  I took your suggestion and treated my main tank with Metronidazole and Prazi.  Last treatment was Thursday 4/5, 25% water change on Saturday, 4/7.  The platies have almost completely stopped flashing and appear happier.  Thank you.
<Ah good>
I know that it is very difficult to figure out what exactly what is going on in my tank and you have been very patient with my persistent questions.
I am writing again because something happened yesterday that I think may be a clue about the nature of the disease and I can't seem to find anything about it anywhere.
I noticed four or five days ago that one of the (always healthy-looking) platies had a spot on her head that looked like she may have scraped it against something.  The scales looked a little translucent and indented if that makes sense.  Yesterday, that spot had turned black.  Like a black patch or smudge.
<A healing site>
 The patch is not raised or bumpy, it is flat with the skin, and does not appear fuzzy. She is acting and eating completely normally and appears pregnant (I can see the black eyes of the fry in her belly).
When I saw this, I remembered that the last two platies who died had similar areas of black on their backs, although not as pronounced.  Only the tips of their scales in the area appeared black.  I noticed the change 10 days or so before they sickened and died.  This does not sound consistent with any of the platy disease symptoms I could find discussed in the FAQs.
My little 10-gallon tank is finally cycled and ready, so I can pull the affected platy and treat her separately.  Does the black patch give you any other idea what might be happening?
<I think this is what you speculate. A trauma>
 If not, is it worth treating her with a wide spectrum antibiotic?  Is it something that might heal on its own?
<The latter>
Thank you again for continually answering my questions.  I made another donation to your site this morning.  It is something I have been meaning to do for weeks because you have been such a help to me.  I wish I had some useful skill to offer in kind, but, alas, I am a lawyer, so I do not.
<We're all doing what we can>
<And you, BobF>

Platy has internal infection in gills/throat    2/15.12
Hi.  I purchased 4 platies from a big box pet store last fall.   One showed no symptoms, 3 would scratch themselves on objects in the tank.  One seems to have fully recovered, one survived but seems to have a latent infection, and one died.  The one that died showed the following symptoms:  became shy, stopped eating, started breathing really fast.  Once the fast breathing started, he was dead within 24 hrs.  The one that seems to have a latent infection showed the following symptoms:  scratching, looks a little thin, sometimes has trouble swallowing rough foods (like FD bloodworms). 
For the past few months he has recovered to the point where his behavior is normal.  The only signs he shows are some thinness and a slightly slower rate of feeding.  I suspected some sort of Hexamita type of infection that spread to the gills in the case of the fish that died and infected the throat of the infected survivor.
Last night everything had been stable for months.  I added 1 tsp of marine salt to my 10 gallon quarantine tank where the fish are housed, thinking that if I raised gH it might help if it was latent Hexamita infection. 
This morning the fish that had the latent infection, is scratching a lot, shy, has clamped fins and is not eating.
Does the rapid decline after addition of marine salt tell us anything about the possible pathogen involved?  I believe the fish will be dead within 24 hours if I don't treat this in some way.
Thank you for any insight.
<Hello Eric. Do need some more details here. What's the water chemistry?
What's the temperature of the water? If fish die within a few hours or a day of purchase, it's VERY likely the problem was environmental. For example, a dramatic change in water chemistry between the retailer and your home. Or, stress caused by the trip home (extremes of heat or cold) or social stress when the fish was introduced (typically, bullying from established fish, including other Platies). Disease is possible of course, but a long shot given how quickly these fish died. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Platy has internal infection in gills/throat    2/15.12
I just tested the pH and gH.  The pH is about 7.8-8.0 which is close to what it was before adding the salt.  gH is about 71ppm, which is probably higher than before, but not too much.
The fish acted really sick for about 2 hours then started acting normally again.  I thought it might be a water quality issue that irritated it, but it seems to not be.  Ammonia, nitrite were both zero a few days ago.  I have established biofiltration in a sponge filter, so they should still be zero today.
Hopefully there hasn't been an acute flare up of the infection. I still need to figure out how to deal with the chronic/latent infection though.
<Hmm… Platies do like hard, alkaline water. 10-25 degrees dH, pH 7-8.5 is ideal. Salt isn't essential, but if you have soft water can be useful. Your general hardness of around 70 mg/l is quite soft, yet your pH is quite high. That's an odd combination. Do you use water from a domestic water softener? You shouldn't. Are you adding a pH-up product? Again, generally you shouldn't. Do read:
Cheers, Neale.> 
Sorry, should have been more clear.  The fish were purchased about 3 months ago. The first one died about 2 weeks after being purchased.  He died within 24 hours of showing heavy breathing symptoms.  One other one still looks questionable after 3 months.
I live in the New York City area.  Our water is very soft with pH around or slightly above neutral.  I am not adding any pH up, but am using small amounts of African Cichlid buffer, thus the raised pH.  Even using that, it's difficult getting the hardness up without raising the pH a lot.  I have been experimenting with seashells, oyster shells, marine salt, and will try getting Seachem brackish salts.
I have had tremendous trouble with livebearers.  It may be different in the UK, but where I live, it is almost impossible to find livebearers in the stores that are not diseased.  Platies seem to be the worst.  The platy tanks in Big box stores and local shops generally have 50% -90% of the fish obviously diseased with clamped fins, hanging at the surface, etc.   I was foolish for trying to pick the apparently healthy fish out of these tanks. 
Re: Platy has internal infection in gills/throat (RMF, any alternative ideas?) <<Sampling, microscopic exam.>>

I currently have 3 platies surviving, two apparently healthy and one displaying some symptoms.  I am concerned that the symptomatic one will have a flare up and die, or that the other two could be reservoirs of disease.
These are all the symptoms shown by the platies, as well as symptoms shown by each individual fish in question.  I am going with my hunch that they were both infected with the same thing, just to different degrees.
Dead Platy: fast, heavy breathing; refusal of food; difficulty swallowing food.
Chronically Sick Platy: scratching; shyness/hiding; thinness.
What disease could this be that can stay low- grade, live in the throat or digestive system, but then flare up into the gills and kill really fast?
Hexamita?  Columnaris?
<To be honest Eric, without microscopic examination, I doubt you'd be able to pin down the problem. If this was me, I'd either [a] euthanise the infected fish and start over with better quality fish (e.g., purchased through a fish club, of which I'm sure there is at least one in the NYC area) or else [b] blitz the entire aquarium for as many internal and external parasites as would be safe to do. For example, if all you're keeping is Platies, switching over to a moderately brackish system (SG 1.005 at 25 C, salinity of 9 g/l or 1.2 oz/US gal) should eliminate most of the common external parasites including Velvet, one of the key parasites that infects the gill lamellae. Platies can tolerate water this brackish indefinitely, but after a month or two I'd lower down to SG 1.003. That'd be ideal for them, and using marine salt mix, you'd take your funky water chemistry out of the equation. Likewise, any livebearer commonly traded would be happy in such conditions, so you could pretty much try out anything you wanted and expect good results. Soft, basic water is a bit peculiar and isn't something livebearers appreciate, or indeed tropical fish generally, with a few exceptions such as Celestial Pearl Danios that come from habitats similar to that (in this case, Lake Inle). Now, alongside the brackish water you would treat with Metronidazole to eliminate Hexamita and with any luck other protozoan infections of the digestive tract. This is safe to use with marine aquarium salt, so there's no particular risk involved here. My only worry would be that Mycobacteria infections are sometimes common among livebearers, as you state. Fancy livebearers are at more risk, oddly enough, than "feeders", so there may be an element of genetic weakness involved compared to the genetically tougher (i.e., not inbred) "feeders". Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Platy has internal infection in gills/throat (RMF, any alternative ideas?)<<Nope>>  2/17/12

Thanks for your advice Neale.
<Most welcome.>
At this point they all are behaving very normally, so it seems inhumane to euthanize them.
The tank has platies, guppies and Pristella tetras.
<Hmm, a viable mix of species. Pristella maxillaris will actually tolerate 1-2 grammes/salt per litre indefinitely, and anything up to about 5 g/l for periods of a few weeks or longer. It's naturally found in coastal habitats, including slightly brackish water, and is far more tolerant of mineral-rich water than most other tetras, so keep that in mind when approaching the management of Whitespot and Velvet.>
I can raise the salinity, but not sure how much the tetras can take.
<See above.>
I can try to mix up some food with Metronidazole and see if they will accept it. 
<Yes; a wise approach.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Platy has internal infection in gills/throat (RMF, any alternative ideas?) 2/20/12

If I raise salt to 5g/l (using marine salt) for say, 6 weeks, would that be effective on external parasites?
<Many kinds, yes. Not all.>
Then I might go back to freshwater, just try to raise gH to 200 ppm or so.
<Real good.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Possible Ich?    11/29/11
I woke up this morning and noticed one of my platies has a white spot on her forehead and I'm not exactly sure what it is... I was looking online and it looks like Ich but there is only one spot and it is much bigger than the pictures I've seen... I don't have an extra tank to turn into a and wont have the money to buy one until Friday... She shares the tank with Mollies/Balloon Mollies, an albino Pleco, more platies, a neon tetra, zebra Danios, snails and (the thing I'm most worried about) around 20-30 baby mollies and platies in a breeder net... So here's my question, will that treatment be okay for all my fish (minus my snails I'm going to put them in their own bowl for a while to make sure) and if not what can i do? And i just moved some of my bigger babies into my "Baby Tank" a little over a week ago so should i be worried about them getting infected too? And would the salt/heat treatment be safe for them too? I know it might not work but its the only option i have at the moment...
Thank you,
<I would not treat this system... Not likely this is Ich... and more harm to be potentially done w/ the medicine application. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm
and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Where do you purchase antibiotics for Sunburst Platy   9/15/11
<What country are you in? In the United States, you can buy a few antibiotics, like Maracyn, at your pet store. In most other parts of the world antibiotics are only available through your vet.>
(was pregnant lost babies--and what is the name of the barrier to buy at PetSmart?)
<You can put newborn fry in "floating breeding traps". Do NOT place pregnant females in breeding traps! This stresses them, and stress leads to miscarriages.>
now sick on its side--not exactly sure if the Cremecicle Lyretail Molly has been intimidating her--is this a semi-aggressive fish?
<Mollies can be aggressive.>
or do they get along?
<Mollies and Platies need rather different conditions, so are best not kept together.>
She has lost a lot of weight after losing her babies because I didn't know I had to separate her (barrier name--is it called breeding barrier?) Her gills looked like they have been chewed on and her eyes seem popeyed. She hasn't been eating. I want to save her life. What antibiotic do you suggest for these symptoms?
<I don't. I need to know more about the aquarium. These symptoms imply poor care and the wrong environment.>
Should I put another Sunburst Platy in there and what sex to cheer her up.
<No. Don't add ANY new fish until you have established why the fish you have is sick. Should a fish get sick and diet, wait AT LEAST six weeks before adding more fish.>
Is the Cremecicle Lyretail Molly ok with her and a black molly as well.
Any suggestions? Water tested fine today.
<What's "fine" in your thinking? I need numbers from the test kit, not your interpretation. Meantime, read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Help with treatment plan for Platies/Corydoras   1/12/11
About a month ago Neale and Bob were able to provide me with some help regarding my 40 gallon freshwater tank that houses Platies and Corydoras and set me on a sane path after I panicked and made matters worse.
Originally, I was having issues with my KH rapidly dropping. Attached below is a portion of that correspondence in case it helps with history; however I believe I have sorted that out with switching to RO water and using crushed coral. I have been able to raise the carbonate hardness slowly and currently it is holding at 4
<Degrees KH, presumably, and good for a wide range of tropical fish.>
and my pH at 7.6.
<Also suitable for a very wide range of tropical fish.>
I also was able to get my ammonia and nitrites to zero (they had been spiking).
<Likely as water chemistry stabilised, water quality improved as well, the bacteria being sensitive to water chemistry changes, particularly pH drops.>
If you remember, I had done massive water changes and subjected my fish who had been living in a chronic acidosis state to acute alkalosis then acute acidosis (rapidly dropping pH) and back again. On 12/14 I stopped the massive changes and began the smaller 15-20% daily changes with R/O water buffered to raise the pH slowly. All of my fish had developed fin rot and mouth fungus at this point. I medicated with Tetracycline for 4 days and although I initially lost all my Platy fry under about 1 month old and my remaining Peppered Corydoras, my adult platies, fry over about 1 month old and Albino Corydoras survived and they rot cleared up and they started to heal.
Fast forward to 3 days ago (also current readings):
40 gallon tank
Live plants (multiple all true aquatics)
DH 10
KH 4
pH 7.6
AM 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 10
<All sounds fine.>
My Albino Corydoras spawned for the first time in a year or so and the Platies were very active and then I started noticing a problem - one Platy was hiding in a corner. At closer look, she seemed to have some gill damage and damage on top of her head and I attributed this to maybe not being able to recover from previous ammonia damage and the infection that followed the acute shifts in water chemistry. She died yesterday and 2 more adult Platies started hiding in a corner and another is not hiding yet but is not as active. One of the ones hiding has very red gills but the other two have no visible (to me) signs such as damage, gasping, red gills or spots. I thought maybe I hadn't treated them long enough and they still had some type of bacterial infection so yesterday I started Maracyn treatment because it treats for similar infections as the Tetracycline but doesn't turn the water that red color (and is not photosensitive).
<I would agree with you that a stress-related bacterial infection such as Mycobacterium could be responsible. These will create sores and cause infected fish to become lethargic, to breathe heavily, to hide away, and eventually to die. Dead patches of skin commonly appear as white flakes, much like sunburned skin on humans.>
Upon further observation, one other Platy that is very active has white spots flaked on its body. I looked at pictures today and it appears to be Ich. When the original issues with water changes and the fin rot were going on, about 4 of my adult Platies had this similar appearance but it seemed to clear with the antibiotic and I attributed it to being fin rot (this is my first time dealing with either condition).
<Finrot is generally very distinctive, beginning with cloudy patches in the fin tissue and pinkish blobs on the fins, the cloudy patches being dying cells and the pinkish blobs blood vessels congested with bacteria. After a few days the fins erode from the edges inwards, making the fin look ragged, often with the bony rays persisting for longer, the end result being a bit like a cobweb.>
Now through reading, it seems that ICH is only visible for one week and it's possible that they were suffering from both infections and ICH. I'm just not sure. I haven't introduced any new live stock to this tank in well over a year, but as with the bacterial infections, I now somewhat understand ICH is latent in tanks and ready to attack the weak.
<Ich/Whitespot can certainly trigger bacterial infections because the open wounds caused by the bursting white spots as they mature allow "bad" bacteria to get into the fish. On the other hand, stress can allow Whitespot and bacterial infections to become established independently of one another. So figuring out which came first is hard. By the way, there's very little scientific evidence that Whitespot can lie "latent" in tanks because the free-living stages need to find a host within a day or two, at least at tropical temperatures. What *may* happen is that low level infections persist unnoticed for months, and only when something goes wrong do the fish show high enough numbers of cysts to be obvious. Either way, treating proactively will break the cycle. Since the salt/heat method is harmless to fish, shrimps, filter bacteria and plants, this is a no-brainer for me -- treat with salt/heat, if only to cross Whitespot off the list of possibilities.>
These fish have been through HELL over the last month and I'm not exactly sure what I'm dealing with as so much has happened and I'm scared to continue the Maracyn or treat for ICH especially with the Corydoras in the tank. Can you advise the best way forward?
<Mycobacterium infections are essentially incurable, but Finrot and Whitespot should both respond well to prompt treatment. Do read up on these three, and act accordingly.
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Help with treatment plan for Platies/Corydoras   1/15/11

Hi Neale. I hope your weekend is treating you well. Thank you for all your assistance.
<Glad to help.>
I've read through the articles and I agree that ruling out Ich is a good idea; however '¦
I increased the temperature to 84 degrees over a day and a half and added the brine mixture (2 teaspoons of aquarium salt per gallon mixed in warm water put in the filtration flow path). I know you state the salinity is trivial for Platies but after adding about half the mixture, my Platies began to show sensitivity (hiding at the bottom and top of the aquarium).
<I doubt the salinity is the issue here. Platies can, do live in brackish water much more salty than this.>
Since they've been subjected to fluctuations in pH and ammonia and nitrite, unstable conditions, recovering from fin rot, could they just be less able to handle any change at this point?
<Seems unlikely. It's important to remember the difference between correlation and causation. Just because one thing follows another, it doesn't mean the first thing caused the second thing. If the Platies were sick or stressed already, then they might have gotten worse whether you added salt or not. Just make sure you're adding the right amount of salt, and that you're doing it in the right way. I'd turn the heat down a bit -- Platies come from quite cool habitats, and I'd not warm them above 28 C/82 F.>
The dilemma I face is that although they don't seem to like the salt, the one Platy who was hiding originally, came out today to swim for the first time in days today which is encouraging. While the other Platy with white spots has lost several of the bigger spots but is more lethargic which is encouraging and not so encouraging. My ammonia and nitrites are rising yet again (it seems the good bacteria doesn't like the changes either). The last dose of Maracyn was last night so I can up the water changes to reduce these levels more. I'm hoping without the strain of medicine and better control of ammonia and nitrites levels, the Platies will handle the current salinity better. I just want to make sure that my decision to not reduce the salinity is a good idea considering the Platies are showing sensitivity to it. I feel like we're (the fish and I) are damned if I do and damned if I don't at this point. I don't know which is the lesser of two evils.
<Would use the salt/heat method regardless.>
All but two fish are showing interest in food, the original sick one and another that I believe is severely constipated. I know I shouldn't be feeding them per the ammonia and nitrite, but I was trying to get the constipated one to eat a pea.
Also, in my reading of Ich, I've learned it can transmit on anything wet but I couldn't find instructions on how to handle transferring new plants into a tank per this possibility?
<Treat plants as potential sources of Whitespot. Quarantine any plants taken from tanks with fish in it, or for that matter from tanks likely to be on the same water circulation system in the pet store. Plants bought online from aquarium plant growers should be safe though.>
<Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: Help with treatment plan for Platies/Corydoras   1/15/11
Okay, great. I've turned the heater down to 82 F. I didn't think the plant quarantine all the way through. I was thinking that you would never be able to tell if the plant had Ich on it but if quarantined, there wouldn't be a fish host to continue the cycle.
Once again - thank you.
<Yes, if the free-living parasites are unable to find a host within a period of time, they die. At tropical temperatures, that's about 24-48 hours. At room temperature, it may be several days longer. But I'd isolate plants for 7 days, at least, to be fairly sure they weren't carrying Whitespot parasites.
Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish water and Guppies? 9/1/10
Yesterday, my favorite very unique Platy showed the very beginning signs of sickness that leads to rapid death.
<I see. One problem with farmed livebearers is a certain tendency towards Mycobacteria infections, typically associated with red sores on the bodies, wasting, and then death. Not much you can do about that. But otherwise livebearers tend to be quite tough, if given the right conditions. In the case of Platies, cool, moderately hard, basic water is what you want; 22-24 C, 10+ degrees dH, pH 7-8.>
I have had many fish that have died and know the signs. But loosing this platy would of sent me over the edge so I took a bold step and added 2 gallons of Spring water that I put 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt in each.
<Okay. Now, do understand that while salt can help, it's not a miracle.
Among other misconceptions, recall that salt doesn't do anything to raise hardness. So if you have soft water, salt isn't what you want, at least, not on its own. Marine aquarium salt mix is somewhat different because it includes other minerals that do raise hardness and pH, and 5-6 grammes/litre would be easily tolerated by Platies and indeed all other livebearers too.>
Unfortunately this was my first time using salt so I was unaware to make sure it was completely dissolved and melted.
<It's not a big deal, so don't panic about this. A few grains of undissolved salt won't kill your fish.>
I than added an air stone to help circulate more oxygen into the tank.
<Good. In summer especially Platies can easily be overheated 25 C/77 F is really at the top end of their comfort zone, and they're far healthier kept cooler than that.>
This is a 10 gal tank that has been cycled along time ago.
<A bit on the small side for Platies, to be honest. Stress between fighting males, or males harassing pregnant females, can lead to "unexplained" deaths.>
All I have in the tank are 2 platy's and 1 guppy. Let me back up and say that I lost an additional platy that was in this tank, only a few days ago.
I did not have any nitrate/ammonia test strips at home so I had to make a quick guess.
<You should have these two test kits: pH and nitrite (nitrite with an "i", not nitrate with an "a"). If you give me these two pieces of information, I can be A LOT more helpful.>
Well the moment I added the salt & air stone the platy I love came out of hiding and looking sick, and started to soar all over the tank, and is doing just fine. I was so excited as this is the first time I have been able to reverse a death. However the guppy after only one night in the brackish tank, has taken fatally ill. The last time I saw him this morning he was shaking under a rock, and now I have come home 6 hours later and he is nowhere to be found.
<The amount of salt you added, 1 tablespoon/3 teaspoons per US gallon is not that much. I actually prefer weights because not everyone's spoons are the same sizes! One level teaspoon of salt should be about 6 grammes, which is very easy to remember. A tablespoon will be three times that, i.e., 18 grammes. Normal seawater contains about 35 grammes of marine salt mix per litre, or about 6 teaspoons. One US gallon is 3.8 litres, so that's 133 grammes per US gallon. The reason I'm telling you all this is to point out that your roughly 18 grammes of salt per gallon, or 4.7 grammes per litre, is about one-seventh (14%) the salinity of normal seawater. That's well within the tolerances of Guppies and Platies. So there's no reason at all to imagine the salt killed either fish.>
I have not removed everything yet to find him. As the tank was just cleaned and set back up and the air stone is just perfect.
<Okay. But you really do need to test the pH (to see if the water chemistry is right for livebearers) and the nitrite (to make sure water quality is good). You want a pH around 7.5, and a nitrite level of zero.>
Questions: Is the salt compatible with guppies (brackish water)?
<Yes. In fact Guppies are arguably happier and healthier in slightly brackish water. Certainly they do better in such conditions than they will do in soft water.>
And how long can I leave the guppy "lost" or dead before I have to find him?
<If he's alive, you should see him within the next day or two. Check he hasn't jumped out, swum into the filter, got stuck behind objects inside the tank, etc.>
Will disease travel throughout the tank if not removed promptly?
<Depends on the disease. Many are opportunistic, and they exists in most aquaria all the time. They only cause problems when we, the aquarists, stress our fish and weaken their immune systems.>
If I find him, alive but sick, is there anything I can do for the poor guy.
<Depends on what's wrong with him. You haven't really supplied me with any useful information on water chemistry or water quality. Without lists of symptoms, or a photo (no bigger than about 500 KB!) I can't say anything at all about disease.>
If I take him out of the brackish water the tank I put him in will not have cycled water in it?
<And that would be bad.>
I appreciate your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Update: Brackish water and Guppies?
In response to some of your questions below; first let me state none of my fish are female livebearers.
All 3 fish are MALE 2 small Platies and 1 guppy, so I thought a 10 gal was more than adequate.
<Not the case, unfortunately. Males will squabble in tanks this small.>
I was able to test the water today and it appears the Nitrate is in caution (20ppm) the nitrite is perfect! (0) The hardness is ideal (300ppm). The alkalinity is high (300ppm) and the PH is between 8-8.5 Please tell me what I should do to correct any of this?
<Nothing. That's all fine for livebearers.>
The guppy (which I found) is real lethargic sitting behind the filter canister, the platy that seemed to come back from the dead yesterday has been hiding under a rock ledge, and my other platy who has not showed any sign of distress is now inside the tunnel hole.
<Could be stress from fighting. But my gut feeling is Mycobacteriosis, sometimes called Wasting Disease. This is very common among livebearers.
For some reason juveniles don't often show the symptoms, but as the fish mature they start to waste away, getting thinner and often exhibiting poor colouration and sores on their flanks. It's essentially incurable and very contagious, so it's important to euthanise infected fish and isolate the affected tank from any others in your house, e.g., by not sharing nets or buckets.
Water quality seems fine, and water chemistry shouldn't be a problem either.>
Help! What do I need to do? Can I save them??
<Sorry I can't offer any better advice. A photo of the ailing fish would really help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Update and photos 9/3/10
I appreciate all your advice, but still you keep making reference to livebearers, which I thought were only females?
<Nope. "Livebearers" is the word given to species that produce fully-formed young rather than eggs. Both male and female Guppies and Platies are livebearers. Just the same way both men and women are placental mammals, even though it's only women who get pregnant.>
and my fish are male. They never fight. Because their is nothing to fight over.
<If you say so.>
No females ever in the house/tank. I have attached some pics however I am afraid they are not clear enough very hard to do.
<Indeed. With respect, blurry photos don't help me at all. I can't really tell anything about the fish from that photo. Do use the "macro" setting on your camera, and you'll find close-up shots easier to take.>
The yellow one is the guppy that is very sick, sits by back of filter, but will come out and swim all around and eat. The orange platy appears to be fine. The white spotted Platies (very rare gorgeous fish) is the one I love the most.
His color is very brilliant white not faded at all. but his gills are red and look a little swollen but seem to have always been like that. These 3 fish have been in this tank for at least 6 months if not longer. Other fish have passed on but it never affected them.
<Do understand that Guppies and Platies should live 3-4 years. If they only live for a year, then something may be amiss with the aquarium or the way you are keeping them. Review the needs of livebearing fish:
Also review the basics of fishkeeping:
Be under no illusion about this: 99% of premature deaths in aquaria are caused by the fishkeeper doing something wrong. In the right conditions, fish are much less likely to get sick than most other pet animals.>
This gut feeling you have about Mycobacteriosis does it affect males?
and will they still be so eager to eat, as mine are?
<Generally no. So that's a good sign. If Mycobacteriosis isn't the issue, review Finrot, which affects the fins and skin and looks like red or white patches. Finrot is almost always caused by either physical damage or poor environmental conditions. It's easy enough to cure if caught early, but you do need to provide the right living conditions for them to recover.
They come running out of hiding and scarf the food down. Very strange. I also thought maybe the airstone bubbles/noise could be spooking them or is stressful, hence making them hide.
<Possibly; Guppies dislike strong water currents, but at the same time, one small airstone shouldn't be a big deal.>
Won't more salt be helpful to stop the infection from spreading so quickly?
<No, salt doesn't have any effect on Finrot or bacterial infections. Marine fish can get Finrot, and they're kept in seawater! Anyone who tells you salt helps cure bacterial diseases is an idiot.>
Or other bacteria kill stuff?
<If by "bacteria kill stuff" you mean an antibiotic medication like Maracyn, or an antimicrobial product like eSHa 2000, then yes, that can help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pix too poor to be of use

Re: macro pics 9/4/10
I am going to try one more time. I have attached 3 pix of Butter Cup the yellow guppy. I know it still may be hard to see the coat of his body.
<Still impossible to see anything. If the image isn't sharp, it's useless. Try, try, and try again, I'm afraid! Don't point the camera directly at the glass because then it acts like a mirror; angle the camera so you're pointing slightly below or above the fish. The flash won't bounce off the glass so badly.>
His fins look good to me no rot, however his gills are severely deformed and I think you can notice that a bit in the photo's, can you see it?
<Not really. But anyway, if the deformity to the gill covers have always been there, then the chances are they're not the cause of sickness. If the gills have suddenly become deformed, then that's another issue, and most likely an issue connected to water quality.>
Other than a slight bent posture which he always had that I thought was odd, the gills are the only thing looking really wrong. In the first pix as luck has it, there is a pretty good shot of Paprika the spotted platy with the orange tail. She looks okay to me, except as you can see the pix her gills are very red. Is this normal?
<Not normal. You shouldn't normally see the red gill filaments at all. In some cases inbreeding means that the gill covers are deformed and the gill filaments are more obvious. While such fish might be marginally more delicate, there's no particular reason deformed gill covers should cause sickness. But as stated before, if the gills have suddenly become deformed or more obviously red, then that's a problem.>
One more issue I do have a lot of direct sunlight from a sky light just above the tank, sometimes during peak time I will shade the tank with a towel. However I do have a lot of algae. I try and clean it off often. However I am wondering if algae can cause sickness?
<No, but overheating if temperature goes up dramatically can stress fish.>
What is the best way to control Algae?
<Read here:
Usually the addition of fast-growing plants under bright lighting is required. The addition of algae-eating Nerite snails may help, but every time you add an animal to an aquarium you make water conditions worse. Shops will sell you algae-eating fish, but mostly these are more trouble than they're worth, especially the cheap "Chinese Algae Eaters" and common Plecs.>
Lastly, if your advice is still euthanasia. Which is the most humane way? I heard to drop the fish in ice cold water, I also heard let it freeze slowly to death in the freezer.
<Not quite.>
the Internet says to smash its head with a hammer. I am afraid I could not do that one. If we are sure. I don't want to see the little guy suffer, so please let me know your preferred method.
<Do read here:
Once again Thank you very much, I appreciate all the advice you are giving me.
<Always glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

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

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

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

Symptoms not yet described in platy    9/16/07 <<Good morning. Tom here.>> My daughter has ten gallon tank with 3 small platys: red Dalmatian female, red wag female, and Mickey mouse male as well as a Dalmatian molly female and a red Dalmatian molly, although he's more yellow than red. <<Okay.>> The red Dalmatian molly started having difficulty eating and now has white to clear stringy feces. Also, my daughter insists she looks blacker around the mouth. Tonight we added malachite green and a natural antibacterial. We are concerned we overdid the malachite green. Have we harmed them? <<Given the characteristics of Malachite Green, this is completely possible but difficult to qualify/quantify on my end without knowing the specifics/dosages.>> Also, we fed frozen bloodworms which the red Dalmatian ate! <<A good sign, certainly. In the case of very sick fish, even favorite foods are typically ignored.>> However, we slipped and a fair amount went in the tank. How harmful is one overfeeding? <<Not very provided the uneaten food is removed to prevent contaminating the tank water. Again, though, overfeeding is a somewhat subjective term. Was this a matter of a few extra bloodworms or were enough dumped into the tank to feed 20 fish? I think you see what I mean.>> Is there anything we can do about these problems? <<The overfeeding doesn't constitute a 'problem'. Just a mishap that can be easily remedied with some clean-up. As for the Malachite Green, I'd place activated carbon in the filter immediately to remove the medication. This chemical wouldn't have been my choice based on what you described regarding the fish. Intestinal issues would be better treated with a medication such as Metronidazole particularly if the fish will still eat.>> We have checked water quality and it has remained stable since we established the tank and it cycled (around Christmas). She syphons weekly. <<Very good on both counts. You might find that large water changes on a weekly basis will do as much for your Molly as medicating, anyway. The other fish will be stressed by the medication, as well, which is never good. Something you'll want to be aware of is that Mollies do better in brackish water conditions than in a pure freshwater environment. Their immune systems will be greatly bolstered in brackish conditions which can head off potential problems before they arise.>> I searched for an hour, but just couldn't find the answers to these questions, although they are likely there. Thanks for your help! She is very attached to these fish. <<I understand. Remove the medications as I suggested and simply observe for a short time. We don't want to be too conservative but the fish were hit with a toxic medication -- possibly overdosed with it - and I'd like to see things settle out for a bit before subjecting them to another round of anything. Stay on top of the water changes. Best of luck. Tom>>
Re: Symptoms not yet described in platy 
  9/16/07 Tom, <<Ladies.>> Thanks so much for your quick reply!! Obviously I was very tired when I wrote as I meant it was the red Dalmatian PLATY who is under the weather. <<I confess that a Red Dalmatian Molly was a new one on me. :) >> I'm assuming treatment is much the same. <<Correct.>> So far, all are swimming and do not seem stressed. My daughter fed flakes last night as we read the bloodworms should not be fed daily. <<Also correct.>> She reduced the amount due to the slippage of the night before. The platy just kept spitting them out. Would you recommend bloodworms again since she ate those? <<If she's eating the bloodworms, I'd stick with these for the time being. Better that she's eating any type of food than to concern yourselves over what type just now.>> Also, we will try the Metronidazole as you suggest. <<Good.>> Would you also recommend discontinuing the MelaFix? Can it be used in conjunction with the Metronidazole? <<Since I don't believe the Melafix will be effective, I'd prefer that you discontinued its use. There are certain instances where two medications used in conjunction with one another can be extremely effective. In this case, I don't feel you'll see any benefit from using both. Better for the fish to use only one medication at a time.>> One last question, please. She is using the heater that came with the tank and it is very hard to regulate. <<Not uncommon. Many heaters are difficult to regulate, first off, and most that come 'packaged' with tank kits are 'economy' units.>> Is there a heater you recommend for a ten gallon tank? <<A 50W Ebo Jager heater should serve just fine. A small locking pin on the dial allows you to 'calibrate' the thermostat for a precise setting. May not even be necessary but it's a nice feature if you find the dial off by a degree or so.>> I must say we are very excited to have discovered this site. My daughter takes animal care very seriously and is great at research. This site is a find! <<Wonderful to hear and thank you for your kind words! Best of luck to you both.>> Susan and Sarah <<Tom>>
Re: Symptoms not yet described in platy
 -- 10/18/07 Tom and/or Esteemed Crew Members: <<Susan and Sarah. My apologies for not getting back faster than this.>> Last month my daughter and I inquired about a female red Dalmatian platy whose appetite has greatly diminished and who appears to have difficulty eating (unless it's blood worms, but even then she doesn't snatch like her tank mates). She swallows a worm, but spits pieces of flakes back out and no longer snatches. At the time I wrote, other than poor appetite, her only other symptom was clear, stringy feces. We treated with Metronidazole (sp?) as recommended. <<Okay.>> She seemed to improve for a short while, and then became symptomatic again. We re-treated twice with the same results. Now she is symptomatic again, only this time her middle appears grayish. Her head and tail are still reddish orange. She does appear more lethargic than usual. My daughter siphons regularly and the water quality is fine. The only other issues we know of are an algae bloom in spite of weekly algicide. <<Don't use the algaecide. Algae blooms occur but it's best not to treat this chemically. Despite manufacturers' claims, it's still a chemical being added to the tank and not the best way to go for the fish. You might look at other reasons for the bloom such as exposure to direct sunlight, nitrate levels, etc. Almost always, there are better ways to deal with this sort of thing than exposing the fish to chemicals.>> We use aquarium salt and added some slime coat as well. At this point the filter has been off for almost 1 week due to medication. Is there any thing else we should do? <<Yes, on a couple of counts. First, turn the filter back on. Activated carbon should be removed -- if used -- but the filter shouldn't be turned off completely. (Still very necessary for mechanical and biological filtration.) Second, stop all use of the aquarium salt and slime coat additive. Platys prefer 'hard' water but there's a bit too much going on in the tank right now. Stick with the regular water changes and don't be shy about these. A couple of 50% changes each week would be fine.>> Are we doing something wrong? <<Other than turning the filter off, no. Please understand that fish can/do get sick. We don't always know whether the cause, in this case, is bacterial or fungal. The Metronidazole was a good choice of medication given the symptoms. We can't even disregard the possibility of 'genetics' here. You aren't doing anything 'wrong' at all. There are just some ways to do it a little more 'right'. We, me included, originally started out believing that 'this, that and the other thing' must be good for our pets because 'they' say it is. Experience and research often teaches us otherwise. Fresh, clean water is always the best.>> Please help, as my daughter (11 years) is quite attached to "Poppy". <<I totally understand.>> The other fish seem just fine (a male Mickey mouse platy, a female red wag platy, a female Dalmatian molly, a male red Dalmatian molly ?(appears more yellow than red, somewhat aggressive guy). <<Glad to hear that all the other 'guys' are fine. (Funny about names, isn't it? The Red Devil Cichlid, for example. Never seen one that was red. Always yellow to a yellow-orange.)>> This is a ten gallon tank. <<I can tell you that smaller tanks need more attention. Less stability with water conditions/quality than larger tanks tend to be. I'm betting that your regimen is good, based on what you've shared here. Stick with the water changes on a very regular basis and stay away from the 'additives'. (Fish did fine without them until we put them in aquariums.)>> We truly appreciate your assistance and thank you for your time. Susan and Sarah <<You're welcome and I'm sorry, again, that you had to wait for this. Tom>>

Another sick platy, hypochondria, iatrogenic troubles   7/12/07 Hello. I have read and read and read ... I've seen the symptoms I'm interested in listed here and there in all kinds of different scenarios but never see them specifically addressed in a way that helps me narrow down what might be wrong with this fish and one that I lost several weeks ago. So I'm asking ... very timidly ... first: I have a 20 gallon tank with a power filter that I recently gave a thorough cleaning. <How thorough? A note to others who will read this re the danger of subtending biofiltration with too much at one time "cleaning"> Biological filter is established ... nitrites and nitrates zero. <And ammonia?> Gravel substrate. System is nine weeks old. I use aquarium salt 1 TBS per 5 gallons per instructions on package, <I would NOT routinely add this... see WWM re the use of salts in FW> replace it with water changes, and currently have CopperSafe <... why? Not advised> in my tank which I have replaced with water changes. I was using the copper safe because of velvet which took many fish over a short period of time about five or six weeks ago. I change 20%-25% water/gravel vac once weekly. Temperature is 80 degrees F. <A bit warm for Poeciliids/livebearers... If there are no other livestock that require such high temp. I would allow this to drop to the mid 70's F.> I have one male fancy guppy very healthy, one very healthy and beautiful female sunset platy who gave me ten fry one week ago, one female black molly ( who I plan on moving to a separate tank as soon as it is finished cycling, but who actually seems to have been somewhat trained by 'time-outs' in a breeder box, to stop bullying the other fish), and one female Mickey mouse platy who gave me 20 fry four weeks ago. I still have all of my fry in this tank in breeder boxes in the w/artificial plant cover. I am in the process of making arrangements for them. I feed the fry Hikari first bites three times daily, and the adults crushed flake twice daily. The problem is with my Mickey mouse platy. She and the molly had some white patches show up a week and a half ago. <... likely environmental in nature... the changes you list, the exposure to copper, salt> On the molly, it was white showing up inside her mouth and one small patch on top of her head. On the platy, it was two milky looking spots on one side, but hard to tell if they were injuries or flat or raised ... I have stared at that fish for so long so many times. The guppy was chasing her around nibbling at her spots, whatever they were. They seemed more raised than what was showing up on the molly, but I treated with triple sulfa. Molly completely better, one of the spots on the platy is gone, but one near her tail is still there and seems to have wrapped around under her so that it is on both sides of the same part of her tail. Her fins are clamped and she is starting to hide. She really only comes out to eat, and she swims 'jerkily' ... mostly normal, with a flick here, and dart there ... doesn't seem to be scratching on anything unless she's doing it while hidden. But I penned up the guppy in a vacant breeder box to stop him from nipping at whatever is on her. I don't have a QT tank ... if the molly keeps up her good behavior maybe I'll just turn the tank intended for her into a QT tank. So ... before I dump more chemicals into my tank, I just wanted to see what y'all had to say about her. <"Don't dump more chemicals into the tank"> I was going to try another round of triple sulfa since it seemed to get rid of one of her white patches. But with her jerking, I just wonder if it's something parasitic - which confuses me because I thought CopperSafe takes care of that. Her feces have looked whitish and cottony (?) I guess is the best description. I had a platy die several weeks ago who did this same thing. I could never really see any patches on her, but the guppy used to nibble her sides, too, and then she started jerking, then hiding, then wasted away. It took about a month for her to die from the first signs that something was wrong. Is this likely something parasitic that I need to medicate my tank for ? Or is it more important to remove her and medicate her ? I realize I am in need of several additional tanks ... I'm doing the best I can to get more. If not parasitic, what does it sound like ? I also should mention that she seems to be turning transparent. No film of any kind, just especially around her 'face' she's 'see-through'. I don't remember her looking like that when I got her. I already have '1rounded tablespoon per five gallons' Aquarium Pharmaceuticals aquarium salt in my tank - should I add any more ? Should I raise the temperature any ? <No, no> I would love to hear your diagnosis and suggestions. I just don't know what to do next. <Can diagnose nothing with the above information. Do you have the means of sending along some digital pix?> I have almost reached 30 days of the CopperSafe, so I was going to stop replacing it with water changes soon. Given my sick fish, should I keep it in my tank, and if I should stop, do I need to do anything special to remove it from my tank, or just let it diminish over time with water changes ? <I would use activated carbon here> Thank you so much, Jennifer <No more "treatments, salt"... BobF>

Another sick platy (additional info)  7/12/07 This is additional information to an e-mail I sent a few minutes ago (forwarded below) Come to think of it I do remember seeing a slight cloudy film in the place the guppy was nibbling at on my first platy (red wag) who died in this way. And on the same side and area of her body. I guess at the time I just wasn't sure if the guppy had caused the irritation by picking at her, or if he was picking at something already there. (this was waaaaaaaay back in the beginning of my fish weeks) <Your problems are highly likely environmental at root... Your fishes need stable, optimized conditions... Bob Fenner>
Fwd: Another sick platy (additional info 2)  7/12/07
I had finished the triple sulfa treatment (previous letters forwarded below) five days ago, and I just noticed this morning that there is white appearing inside the black molly's mouth again. It's not cottony of puffy, just visible. Update on the Mickey mouse platy ... I put her in the breeder box so I could watch her, let the guppy go free. She is not eating, has definitely lost weight, her fins are clamped, but she actually seems more at ease in the breeder box. She still has the previously mentioned filmy patch on the underside of the fleshy part of her tail. (I am not currently treating for anything because I was confused as to what to do next) She is still jerking and darting every now and then. All of the other fish are happily and merrily going about their fishy little day ... beautiful fins, healthy weight, normal behavior. Should I not worry about the white inside of the molly's mouth unless he starts to act sick ? <Depending on the species, this Mollienesia should be housed elsewhere (in a separate system, and it kept under more brackish conditions... Please see WWM re> The more I think about it the more it seems that the platy must have two different things going on ? One external, one internal or secondary ? Please help, Jennifer <Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm and the linked files above. RMF>

Re: 'another sick platy' photos  7/13/07 Here are some pictures. I think I followed the rules. I hope it might help you help me identify what is wrong and whether or not I need to do anything. I don't mind not doing anything. But when you see white stuff growing on your fish, and you've had many die because of that before, when you did nothing because you thought it would be ok, it might lead one to try a treatment. Love, the hypochondriac iatrogenist <OK, excuse me for coming into this part-way through! The photos are a bit blurry and to be honest I can see much of anything. But going back through Bob's comments. I agree with him you don't need salt. A little salt won't harm a platy, to be sure, but it doesn't do anything good. Platies need hard/alkaline water, but contrary to myth, salt doesn't add anything in this regard. You need to get a bit of coral sand or crushed oyster shell and add this to the filter, to act as a chemical filter medium. As it dissolves (slowly) it raises the pH and the hardness. Your Platies will thank you! He's also right about temperature. Mollies alone of the common livebearers appreciate a little extra warmth, but certainly not 80F. Very few aquarium fish want that. 75 to 77F is adequate and in fact healthier. Letting things cool down slightly in winter is also beneficial. One species of Platy, Xiphophorus variatus, is actually a *subtropical* species and enjoys 68-70F, but since all the Platies sold are hybrids, this is academic really. Now, when it comes to "white patches" these can cover a variety of things. Excess mucous production because of environmental stress is common. This looks like off-white slime. Fungus can also cause something similar, but it is usually distinctly thread-like, like cotton wool. Then there are the various "slime diseases" caused by any number of pathogens and problems. These mix excess mucous with sheets of dead skin. As Bob has said, adding chemicals *without* knowing the exact problem is dangerous. Imagine as if your medical doctor just randomly pulled stuff off his medicine shelf without checking out your symptoms first! Most medications are more or less toxic themselves, and work by killing the pathogen before they manage to kill the fish (just like most human medications, it's only the dose and duration that separates a medicine from a poison). So, until you're sure your Platy is actually sick, don't treat him! Observation and water tests are always the things to do before reaching for a medication. Your Platy looks fine from what I can make out from the photos. If you can send something that's in focus and zooms in on the bit you thing "is bad" then we can have another look. But otherwise concentrate on water quality, water chemistry, and diet (Platies are herbivores and need lots of greens to do well).> How come all of the other people who write in having done just about the same things I have, don't get those nice labels ? <Luck o' the draw I guess.> And somebody actually kindly answers their questions, giving them lots of comfort and information in the process ? ; ) <There's a time for good bedside manners, and then there's a time to wrestle someone down to the ground and prise the bottle of pills out of their clenched, clammy hands. Here's a news-flash: Most of the time, fish don't need treatment. They have very robust immune systems. The fact they thrive in such overcrowded, polluted conditions compared to the wild as even a well maintained aquarium is a testament to the fact that fish are extremely adaptable animals. All you as the keeper need to do is provide conditions that approximate to what they enjoy in the wild. In the case of Platies (and most other livebearers) that means a tank with a moderate water current, lots of oxygen, a high level of hardness (ideally 15 dH upwards), a decent level of carbonate hardness (ideally 10 KH or more), a high pH (7.5-8.0), and a moderate temperature (75 F). Diet should be at least 50% algae or plant based -- either livebearer flake, Sushi Nori, or green kitchen scraps of various kinds like lettuce or cucumber. The rest of the diet can be regular flake or better yet frozen bloodworms and other insect larvae. But that's it! Livebearers are generally very, VERY easy to keep animals if you manage to get all those things line up nicely. Experienced fishkeepers hardly ever treat their tanks because their fish don't get sick in the first place. There's no magic involved or even anything difficult. It really is a "follow the numbers" hobby where stuff works if you do everything in the correct way. Good luck! Neale>

Wasting platy... hypochondria, a/the "western" ethic/syndrome    6/21/07 Hello !! I've read a lot on your website, but still wanted to see what you would say about my platy. <Okay> My tank is 4 weeks, 3 days old. The Ph and hardness tested consistently for three weeks, so I've gone to checking only ammonia (nitrate/nitrite test strips). (Is that ok ?) It is a 20 gallon tank. <Ok...> I would never add fish again more than one at a time or without preventative MelaFix treatment <I wouldn't rely on this homeopathic "remedy" for much> (currently I have no quarantine tank) but I have had up to 14 fish in my tank (following guidelines for adding fish that came with my tank) and now I'm down to 5. The last one to die was about a week and a half ago. My tank has been medicated with MelaFix and CopperSafe. <Why? As in "what for"?> I'm finished with the MelaFix for now, the CopperSafe has been in for a week and a half to two weeks. I had removed the active charcoal and that left only my biological sponge filter during the MelaFix treatment, and in ignorance, because of all of the disease, <Of what nature?> I did away with my sponge and now have had a new one for only four days. The ammonia seems already to have peaked and fallen, perhaps because of the old water/beneficial bacteria already present in the tank in the rocks and on artificial plants etc. ? <Likely so> So ... currently I have three platys, one guppy, and one black molly. One of the platys just gave birth to 20 fry which I have in a floating plastic breeder box (with artificial plant cover inside) in the same tank. They are a week old and I haven't lost one yet despite my 'cycling trauma'. I have had aquarium salt added since almost the beginning - recommended amount on container, and the temperature is between 76 and 78 degrees F. With water changes, I have added back the correct amount of salt and now CopperSafe. Any suggestions you have regarding the fry or anything about tank maintenance are welcome ... <Yes... to wait for another few weeks...> I've done regular water changes and as I said, I think I'm towards the end of my second 'cycling' ... my nitrates are at 20 ppm, nitrites at 1ppm, decreasing. <... these are toxic values... See WWM re> So ... my main question is about one of my platys. It started hiding about three weeks ago when the first few fish died. And has hidden increasingly until I'm not sure it has even been eating. It used to come out at feeding times, but has stopped. yesterday when I realized how much it seemed to have wasted, I put it in an empty breeder box. It keeps itself 'upright' (not fallen over on it's side) by resting in the grate at the bottom of the breeder box. It will swim to the top to feed when I put food in. But spends the rest of the time resting on the bottom. Breathing is definitely labored. I can't see any external signs of disease. Just the hiding, severe wasting, and also I noticed the few times it did swim freely in the tank, it twitches and jerks. <Likely just the poisoning from the nitrite...> I got some medicated food today - in case it is internal parasites. But I wondered about fish tuberculosis. <... please... NO more medicating... You're poisoning your system, the livestock...> None of the other fish seem ill in the least - they are all the healthiest they've been since I've had them - the molly even seems to have come back from the brink of death after the MelaFix treatment was finished and the CopperSafe was added (but has white gills - is this normal? <No, and are not white gills... would be dead... Maybe the branchiostegals are what you're seeing> nothing hanging out of gills, just white) Since the other fish seem so healthy and this one has been acting strangely for so long - can I assume that all will be well with parasite treatment ? <... what parasite?> Or do you think it's fish TB and the whole tank is doomed ? Do I need to take immediate action of any kind (besides trying the medicated food) ? My mom is bringing me a two gallon tank this weekend which I was considering for a short time for the fry. Should I make it a hospital tank instead ? Or is that too small ? <I think you're subject to the general ethic of the "west"... "buying things" and hypochondria... Best to just wait, let all re-center here... Focus on the world you've made, are making... read re getting rid of the nitrite and nitrate...> Thank you very much - I am so very grateful for your site and for all of your knowledge and experience. Jennifer Whiteford <Read my friend... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm Bob Fenner>
Re: wasting platy
Dear Mr. Fenner, Thank you so much for answering my mail. Believe it or not I've read most of what is contained in the link you sent me, I just can't go back in time and make it so that I did everything 'right' to start with. <I see> Sorry I gave incomplete information about why I had medicated my tank. I started out with two fish for cycling my tank, <Not a good practice... often over-stresses the stock... Introduces pathogens... sound familiar?> but added five more fish a week later, and six more fish the week after that. I realize that is a recipe for disaster. And it's hard to remember precisely when what happened to which ones now, but I medicated my tank first of all with Melafix <Correction... "Melafix" is not a medication...> because the first few fish that died (died right after adding the first several new fish to the tank and was also one of the new fish - all had been well up until then) had whitish clearish tissuey stuff hanging off of them (which had to have been extremely fast-growing because it wasn't visible until the fish were nearly dead) and the person at the fish store, looking at my dead fish, recommended that's what I use. Then even with the MelaFix treatment, several more fish died <...> and the conclusion I was coming to was velvet. <...> My black molly seemed to be following suit <... doesn't live in the same water quality as...> with the others and one person at the store who I consider very knowledgeable, listening to how some of the other fish were acting when they died, and listening to how my molly was behaving recommended CopperSafe to treat for velvet. <My friend, please stop! Do investigate a bit further than my and this stores opinions... you are responsible for the life here> I think most of the fish did have velvet. What I had been reading about fish diseases matched up with what the store clerks said both of these times, so I went ahead with the treatments. So the answer to your questions ... treating for what ... Mela-fix for what looked like a bacterial/fungal infection (I also had some fin and tail rot), and CopperSafe for velvet. <...> I do realize that my fish were more prone to disease because of the nitrites and the cycling and the stress of how quickly everything was done. <Oh? Then why do you continue to expose them? Why did you keep adding more?> From now on, I'll go with my gut and with sound scientific information and not what impatient husbands and children and simple pet store instructions say. <Yay!> I apologize for being one of those irresponsible, uninformed people, but I've done all I can so far to better myself and will continue. <Good resolve> Even though all of my other fish seem to be thriving, the fry also, you really think it's the nitrites making this one platy behave so extremely and waste away so much ? <This and/or the treatment/s> Definite 'No' to the medicated food ? <For what? Unless you're very sure of what you're treating... I would NOT continue to further damage these animals with chemical exposure> Even though the nitrate/nitrite levels are even lower this morning than reported in my e-mail last night, do you think I should just water change as much as it takes to get everything to zero, or allow the tank to finish cycling ? <Please see WWM re...> What sort of situation would call for sterilizing a tank/starting over ? I can't get over feeling like everything is tainted with that first whitish-clearish tissuey stuff. I think all of the disease ( though I do recognize my part in it) came from a bad 'batch' of fish that were already sick at the store. It's funny how looking back I had a negative feeling about every too-quick decision I've made, and now I have the info. for why. The fish that I was concerned about even before they started to show symptoms and had an unexplainable 'urge' to take them back or get them away from the other fish ... I'm learning a lot not only about how to do this right, but about listening to myself. If I could do it all over, I certainly know exactly how I would do it and what not to do again. Can a two gallon with a bubbler, but no power filter be used as a quarantine tank ... like ... in the far future when I add fish one at a time and only after I've kept them outside of my main tank for several weeks ? Or is it imperative that I get a larger tank ? I'd like to have two tanks running for fish that need isolation ... either because of illness or because they are new. I have limited space, so given the limits, I'd just like to know the most responsible way I can do that. Thank you so much for your time and patience and such a quick response, Jennifer Whiteford <Have just skipped down. Please peruse WWM re FW set-up, cycling, disease... env./induced. BobF>
Re: wasting platy
Haha ... hypochondria. I saw that. I wish. Thanks < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypochondria. B>
Re: wasting platy
(no response necessary) This has been a month-long process now. I thought I was acting responsibly in the beginning, but I was not and had no way of knowing it . I found your website two weeks ago and have found many answers here. I did find even more last night and today. In the already messed up situation I found myself in from adding too many fish too quickly, not allowing the tank to cycle completely etc, I think I've done the best I could do. <Good> The Mela-fix didn't seem to fix anything or save any fish and I wouldn't use it again, wish I had found this site and read about it sooner, but I do think the velvet diagnosis was accurate and the CopperSafe has halted that, brought the molly back. I have also discovered now that she's well that she picks on my platys entirely too much and shouldn't be in the same tank with them. I have read that they prefer brackish water and that unless they are in a really big tank, they shouldn't be with platys. The people in the pet store assured me that these fish would be fine together. Like I said ... I didn't know not to trust anybody back then. I'm learning. <Also> Now that I have my wasting platy in a breeder box, she is feeding and pooping. She seems like she feels better and is swimming around a bit more. With her in the box, I can see her very closely while she is holding still and I see some white things, not stringy, sticking out from her gill covers, can't tell if it's peeling ON them, or something coming from inside them, and either she is peeling or has some white things attached to her side. I will continue to study her and look up more info on parasites to try and determine which thing it is. Peeling or critters. I'll reference your site for how to treat it if it's critters. I'm guessing something besides 'medicine'. <Yes... good, consistent water quality, nutrition... Unless there is an obvious, identifiable pathogen, I would avoid chemical treatments> I see now that a two-gallon isn't an ideal QT but might be ok for a short time for one of these small fish with the addition of a heater. I also did find where many people asked about white gills on a black molly and it is well established in your articles that this is just part of the fish, not their actual gills. <Yes> I was hoping anybody besides you would have answered my mail because it is well-documented how you insist on punishing people, <Mmm, no interest, value in such> but that's ok - I can handle that. I do apologize because I guess my e-mail was unnecessary now that I have answered my own questions with more research and further observation. Sorry to have been 'one of those people'. <Mmmm?> I'm a slow processor ... ( Although I think a chatty person who enjoys giving other people helpful information whether or not they 'deserve' it might have responded well to my emails.) Love your site, and your crew, Jennifer <Thank you, BobF>

Platy Tank, hlth.  4/18/07 <<Tom here. (Didn't catch your name from your post so I'm sorry I can't 'personalize' this a little more. ;) >> I have three platies in a five gallon tank. There are two females and one male. Two days after buying them from Petco, the gold twin bar platy had a white spot on her tail fin. She feeds fine, but she keeps her fins clamped and doesn't move very much. I think she might have ick. <<I'd be more concerned about the clamped fins now than a single, white spot.>> The temperature is at a constant 77 degrees. <<Okay'¦>> She is chased sometimes by the other two fish and might be stressed out. <<I can practically guarantee it.>> Should we exchange her? <<No. With our help, hopefully, we'll get her back on her feet (fins?). The store will only destroy her in, Lord only knows, what fashion. Let's give her a chance.>> Should we put salt in the tank? How much if so? <<Good way to go. If you can elevate the tank's temperature to the low-80's, please do so 'slowly. Also, purchase some 'aquarium' salt at your pet store (Kosher salt from the supermarket will work well, too). Remove about one gallon of water from the tank. Dissolve one-and-a-half to two tablespoons of the salt into fresh, dechlorinated water and add this to the tank. >> We have two plants that might have spread ick. Or is that possible? <<First, your plants most certainly could have been carrying the parasites. Second, and unfortunately, the salt is likely going to do them in -- the downside of treating with salt. It's a safe and effective way to treat some of the problems that occur with fish but plants don't fare well with it.>> Respond as soon as possible! <<I'll take that as a desperate plea for assistance rather than an order. ;) Post back with my name if you need further help/clarification with anything. Tom>>
Re: Platy Tank, hlth.
   4/19/07 Tom, <<Hello, Elisabet. A pleasure.>> We are heating the tank now. Thanks for the help. <<Good, and happy to help.>> We decided to remove the plants and put them in a separate container. <<Excellent.>> Then we would add salt to the tank until everyone was happy again. <<Yes. This will take bit of time, however. You can research this but, in a nutshell, if we're dealing with Ich, it's life cycle is 'sped up' at higher temperatures (what we're trying to achieve). The salt is effective only when the parasite is in the 'infant' stage, i.e. looking for a host fish to infest. (This is true of any treatment that fights Ich.) In the meantime, the salt will also assist the fish in breathing and help in dealing with external wounds the fish might have. (Ich will leave wounds on the fish as the cysts- the 'white spots' - drop off.)>> Then after a few water changes of adding no salt the salt level would drop and we could add the plants again. Would that be OK? <<Certainly. The salt remains unless you perform water changes so you'll need to actually change the water in order to get the salt level down. (Some folks think that simply adding water lowers the salt level. Not so. You have to remove some tank water and replace it with fresh, unsalted water.)>> Elisabet <<I'll be here if you need more assistance. Tom>>
Re: Platy Tank, hlth.
   4/19/07 Tom, <<Hello, again.>> The red female platy is very, very aggressive toward the other, sick one.  She constantly chases her and bites. Maybe she needs some more  tankmates? <<Not uncommon in the animal world, Elisabet. What seems "cruel" to us as humans makes perfect sense to animals. Your healthy Platy sees the sick one as a "weakling", one unable to protect or procreate. Isolate the sick Platy if at all possible. Beyond that, we're going to have to let Nature take its course. Not what you want to hear, I know. Tom>>

Re: wasting platy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypochondria I know what hypochondria is. I even know what Munchausen is. lol <I see> I have gotten your point. People who don't have perfect water and haven't read volumes before they get fish have no right to ask any questions. I'm reading, I'm reading. Can't read any faster. <Heeee! Take your time, no rush! RMF> Re: wasting platy Giving medicated food. Peeling maybe from scratching ... severe weight loss, hiding, jerking, white stringy poop ... On my limited experience, I don't know how else to be any more sure of an internal parasite besides slicing the fish. <Unfortunately, the state of our understanding, abilities currently...> And sorry, I just don't believe I'm poisoning my fish. The fry would have been long gone or suffered in some way. Haven't lost one. Creation is pretty darned resilient. ; ) Thanks for everything, Jennifer <Agreed... or else "it" wouldn't be here. Cheers, BobF>

Platy Disease?   5/22/07 In the beginning for my 10G tank I had quite a bit for problems. All the fish died but left behind they're little babies, guppies and platies. I added some Hets and white clouds a while back. Nothing was wrong and everything proceeded very well with the babies. A few days again I  added a small Pleco. <Mmm, most "members" of this common name get way too large for such a small volume> I began to notice small white specks on the tails of my platies but not the guppies. I thought ick so I did treat them for three days. <With what?> It didn't seem to get better or worse but at the end of the three days, last night, I noticed a problem with one of my baby platies. It has a small bit of white on the tip of it's black tail. The thing that got me the most is that the platy is spiraling and flipping in the water. It's back tail doesn't move as it swims. The platy's still eating, catching food that falls by it or spiraling to the top and eating there. When the platy's not doing this it stays vertical with it's tail facing up. It seems like the fish has no/very little control over it's movements. Any suggestions? <... Depends on what your water quality readings are... The "medication" you used may have killed or stalled your biofiltration... it could have poisoned the young outright... There are often troubles with young fishes... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Platy thin and lethargic   3/31/07 I noticed that my platy is suddenly very thin and looks like she is having problems opening her mouth. She does try to eat, but doesn't seem very successful. When I first set up the tank I'd had some ammonia problems <Trouble...> and she developed purple gills that have never cleared up. <Yes, possible> Am I having more ammonia problem or did she give birth or is there some other problems? I have 5 others, 3 female and 2 male that are doing fine. Thanks! Julie <Mmm, that others of the same species are fine is indicative of your having no endogenous problem... perhaps this one fish was damaged by the transient ammonia exposure... Only time can/will tell here. I would not try to "treat" these fish with chemicals. Bob Fenner>

My Mickey mouse platy! No useful data  3/16/2007 Hello I have a Mickey mouse platy that is exceptionally thin, I noticed it yesterday and I am planning to bring it to a local pet store tomorrow, its gills are red and its really thin. Could you tell me what it is or is it going to die? Will it affect others in the tank as well? <Possibly... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisfaqs.htm and the linked files above... You provide no useful information re water quality, set-up, maint., feeding... BobF>
Re: My Mickey mouse platy! (follow-up information)
-- 03/17/07 <<Hi, Derek. Tom this time.>> Oops, so sorry about that, well there's a little algae, temperature is 78, pH and everything is fine. Well, there was a bullying platy; took him out after symptoms occurred. Could it possibly be Hexamita and Spironucleus? <<Could but there are other diseases/conditions that could cause this as well. The problem here is linking the reddening of the gills together with the 'wasting' of the fish. Not a 'silver bullet' but I would try adding some aquarium salt to the quarantine tank. This would help alleviate problems the fish may have with breathing by improving the gill function. In so doing, it will also help alleviate stress on the fish and could, potentially, get your Platy eating.>> And could this possibly spread throughout the tank? He is quarantined now, and I am hoping you could help me with this. Thanks! <<The fact that this Platy was being 'bullied' helps and, at the same time, hinders making a hard diagnosis here, Derek. Frequently, a sick fish will be picked on by its healthy tank mates, i.e. the 'illness' came first. In other cases, the bullying, itself, can keep a fish from feeding adequately, or at all, and bring on stress-related symptoms. Medicating without knowing what to medicate for would likely be a waste of time and money. The aquarium salt is a safe route to take and, in combination with quarantine, help us to eliminate some possibilities. With a bit of good fortune, both will bring your pet around to good health again or, at the least, narrow things down for us. Best of luck to you and your Platy. Tom>>
Re: My Mickey mouse platy! (follow-up information)
  3/18/07 <<Hello again, Derek.>> Thanks, well the aquarium salt I bought didn't work well and it is dying currently. <<Sorry to hear this, Derek.>> Could I possibly tame the bullying platy because it is a rare fish and I don't want to just kill it. Got any tips? <<One possibility is to purchase a plastic breeding container and sequester the 'bully' in it while keeping it in the tank. Some folks have used clear plastic bags filled with tank water and floated these the same way you might when acclimating a new fish. The point of this is that the other fish can swim around the tough guy without getting bullied and your 'roughneck' finds that trying to fin-nip or chase is futile. Unless he's a complete rogue, one or two of these sessions is all he'll need to discontinue his bad behavior. Animals rarely pursue activities that don't yield what they perceive as a 'positive' result. Doesn't always work but I think it's worth a try before giving up in him. Tom>>

Platy troubles  9/25/06 Hi. Some background first, so bear with me- Our first platy died a month ago. Suddenly and without warning. Nothing looked externally wrong with him and our water checked out fine, so we didn't think too much about it. Sometimes fish just die. <Yes... often without apparent cause> That was stupid. So last week we noticed that one of our other platys was acting strange. Sitting listlessly in the corner, breathing hard, pooping white stuff, <Bad signs> but still eating. Other than that he looked fine. And again we checked our water and it was fine. After spending exhausting hours searching the net trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with him, I decided to try to treat him for internal parasites because it was the closest I could find to his symptoms. Put him in a hospital tank and gave him Parasite Clear. Tried to feed him medicated food, but wouldn't touch it. That's when it got ugly. He started to poop out this horrible white poop- for hours! It was awful. Then when he was done, he died. I felt horrible. Now I was worried about the rest of the tank, which was acting and looking just fine. So I took my water and fish to the LFS. My water tested fine as I suspected and they couldn't find any external signs of disease. <Would need microscopic exam... including feces...> So their recommendation was to treat the entire tank with erythromycin, <?! No... what will an antibiotic do?> thinking that it was probably an internal bacterial infection. <Extremely rare...> They swore up and down the meds wouldn't kill my African dwarf frog and snail. So I went home and then I noticed that one of my platys had lost a patch of color on its head. Not fungus, or a growth, or anything like that- the scales were still there, the color was just gone in that one spot. Frustrated I went ahead and used the antibiotic, but my questions are this- 1. Does this seem like a bacterial infection? I couldn't find anything on your website with exact symptoms. <... no> 2. Am I using the right antibiotics? <There isn't any... in this scenario, that are "right"> 3. Am I hurting my frog and snail? <Not helping them... though low toxicity...> I know snails usually can't handle most meds. And will they catch whatever it is, or should I just take them out. <Better to have/house elsewhere for now> 4. My ammonia has spiked dangerously in the last 12hrs of putting in the meds, <... yes... killed off nitrifying bacteria...> is it okay to do a water change? Or will it make the antibiotic less effective. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks! <Where to start here? I would have done what you did initially... treated sequentially with an anti-protozoal (Metronidazole/Flagyl), then a vermifuge... likely Praziquantel... Too many "adopted"/imported pathogenic problems nowadays... w/o serious attention paid (by importers, wholesalers AND retailers... let alone end-users... i.e. hobbyists) to quarantine, isolation of new livestock... Too much to re-state here... Please, if you have earnest interest, read starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the linked files above... do this when you have time, can be calm... BobF>

Sick Platy - 06/07/2006 Hi, <Good evening.> I've had a high-fin blue platy for around 9 months now. She is in a tank with a smaller yellow platy and around 15 fry who are getting big enough to go to the pet store. <Neat!> It is a 10-gal tank. About two or three of the fry are the size you would see for sale in a pet store. I think overcrowding is becoming an issue with the fry maturing.   <Err, yeah, at that size I'd say so.> Recently, the blue platy has been lethargic and seems to not want to eat flake food (sucks it in and spits it out). She was eating some dried brine shrimp, but now will not. Just tonight, she passed some strange orange transparent feces. it looked a bit like a transparent sack of orange goo.   <This may just be the brine shrimp passing, but I suspect more.  Urgently test your water quality - ammonia and nitrite should be ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm.  If these are not so, do water changes right away to fix them.> She also has 5-6 spots on her tail fin only, and they seem to be getting fuzzy. These spots showed up a few weeks ago when the behavior started, and I thought it might be a fungus; I used Fungus Clear tablets and the spots went away (at least I couldn't see them anymore)....but they have returned. <Possibly a fungal infection, maybe bacterial....  I would remove this fish to a separate, dedicated quarantine tank for treatment and treat with Kanamycin or Nitrofurazone.> I can't find any mention of the strange orange feces on the net, any thoughts?   <I suspect that this was just the passing of the brine shrimp coupled with the fact that the fish is ill.  I would definitely quarantine the fish at the least, and consider treating as above.> Thanks,  -Brian <Glad to be of service.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

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