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FAQs on Platy Environmental Diseases

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

Related Articles: Platies, Poeciliid Fishes, Livebearing Freshwater Fishes

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

Need moderately hard, alkaline water w/ a dearth of metabolite content. NO NH3/NH4OH, NO2... little NO3


My fish's tail... Lernaea?     3/24/17
So I have attached the best picture I could take of my fish's tail. It is clear, but as you can see there's a white line on it, she never had this before, I've had her for about a week and saw she had it today. What is it?
<Can't be absolutely sure as your large pic file is blurry, but this appears to be an "Anchorworm"; crustacean parasite... common in imported livebearers and goldfish raised in ponds.>
And are my other fish at risk?
<Mmm; yes... There are a few approaches to treatment... Please read here:
and write back if your path is not clear. Bob Fenner>

Mickey Mouse Platy concern. Uncycled sys., rdg.        7/16/14
I've only had her for 3 weeks, but since the beginning I've seen her pooping white and now clear strings.
I thought she had internal parasites,
<Not necessarily; no>
but due to high ammonia
<Toxic... why is there livestock placed here? Have you read re cycling?
so, here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
and the linked files above>
in tank and the appearance of red gills I have been doing daily water changes and only feeding 1x a day
<... don't feed, nor change too much water... Read>
and not buying meds yet. She has a really huge belly, and a really good appetite. I don't know if adding anti parasite meds with the possibility of her having injured gills would make matters worse for her gills. I also don't know what will happen with the biofilter, since the water changes are working to lower the ammonia levels. I'd really appreciate any info that can save my fish from further harm. Thank you!
<Do the reading and we'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>
Re: Mickey Mouse Platy concern      7/18/14

Thank you, Bob. Please tell me if I should continue to change 25% of water daily.
<Yes I would... and limit the percentage to this; so as not to further disrupt, delay the establishment of nitrification>
Ammonia has been at 0.50 for past 3 days and has not gone down further. I really appreciate your help! Jen
<Patience. BobF>
Re: Mickey Mouse Platy concern      7/22/14

Hi Bob. Please help me I don't know what to do. My ammonia level remains at .25
<.... have you read on WWM re establishing cycling? Do so again>
with the daily water changes, and now it looks like my fish developed Velvet disease. Can I medicate even though the ammonia is not at zero? My platys are still swimming and eating, but I see dusty greenish/metallic
powder on their tops, and the Mickey Mouse's black spot has greyish streaks. Thanks in advance, Bob. Jen

Platy in a Tank (a 3-gallon tank, at that!)       8/16/13
 I am so glad I found your website, unfortunately I did not see my problem there. I have had one platy ( the one with the orange body ink black fins and tail) I do not know what kind it is and if it is male or female. She/he is the only one in 3gal tank and lived there for about 1 year and 9 mos.
Recently I have noticed at the base of the tail becomes see through. He is eating normally and swimming normally but I am worried as the spot gets bigger. He/she survived two times through ick and this is my only aqua buddy I do not want to kill him.
Thank you o much in advance,
<Hello Gergana. The bottom line is that this aquarium is far too small.
Your Platy may be too cold, or too stressed, to be healthy. Platies need ~15 gallons at minimum. I'm amazed yours has lived for almost two years, but they should live 4-5 years, so don't get too excited about your success just yet! It sounds like your Platy has Finrot, a common problem when fish are kept poorly. Do start by reading here:
Unfortunately for you, animals cannot survive on love alone, and if you care about an animal, you need to provide it with what it needs. You might care to start here:
And while this next article is about Goldfish and Bettas, the basic theme is relevant:
Hope this helps, Neale.>

Platy in trouble, env.     2/8/13
Back again....geez!!!  Thanks so much for being here for us in our time of need.  I lost two Mickey Mouse Platys about 2 months ago with dropsy which I'm sure was my fault because during the holidays I got behind on water changes but I have four fry two very small and two about 3/4 inch that seem to be fine and eat well, along with three male guppies a large red platy and a smaller orange platy.  The red and orange were introduced while the Mickeys were still in the tank.  I now have two peppered Cory's in a 26 gallon tank with artificial plants, two moss balls and a tower and two small treasure chests.  Ammonia and nitrites stay at zero, and I've had a problem with nitrates so I've bought a new and hopefully more efficient gravel vacuum.  Ph seems high at around 8 but conflicting suggestions on lowering it with babies in the tank scares me.  Water temp is at 84f
<Too high. Would be better ten degrees cooler... See WWM re for these species>

 and they have done well but now I have a big problem.  The big red one almost looks as though she has a bit of white fuzzy look to her and she stays in the tower most of the time and the orange one has white and black stringy pop and hovers at the bottom of the tank now.  I'm terrified of loosing <losing> them but I wonder if its from whatever took out the Mickeys.  Also my 3/4 inch which parents died with dropsy seem a bit bloated.  I am so frustrated I want to scream and sad because I truly am attached to them. Thought about treating with Maracyn two since the little ones look bloated and dropsy got their parents but with the long stringy poop in the orange and bottom hovering maybe Tetra's Parasite Guard would be the best first step so I don't lose the orange platy but afraid to do anything because of the babies and my 5 gallon hospital tank isn't ready because I'm doing a fishless cycle in it although I could get a heater for it and do a water change taking the tank water from the large tank and add it to the small tank.  What do you suggest because I don't feel I have much time for my big red and orange platys!!!  Thanks so much for helping me!!!
<Read... likely the environment is all that needs fixing here. Bob Fenner> 

New guppies bald spot area on top of them    10/24/12
I am a newbie but have read, and read and read prior to getting 4 sunrise tequila guppies in a fishless cycled 26 gallon tank. 
<Everyone starts as a newbie. Good to see you reading.>
I am running two over the top filters, one that came with the tank set up and a 20 gallon that I added new cartridge pads rinsed in treated water ( dechlorinated) but my large water change prior to adding fish sent my nitrites up to 2.0(I know its horrible!!!)
<A water change increased your nitrites? Very odd.  I suggest getting some java moss or Christmas moss and other live plants for two reasons. first, it will help to absorb the nitrogen compounds and second, it will provide cover for the eventual fry, allowing you to leave them in the main tank.>
so I added Prime to help lower them and provide a stress coat for the fish., ammonia is staying at zero and nitrates rose to 20 so I did another small water change today( just added fish yesterday) but am a little worried because two seem fine and active, two hover at the top but are not gulping for air.
<You should be able to do this volume of water change every day no problem.>
Wondered if its just stress, their nature or am I missing something???
<Guppies do tend to like the upper levels of the tank, so could just be normal.>
My other concern is they have beautiful color(4males) except on the top of their heads where it looks kinda dark or bald.  Is this a normal marking on some or a disease waiting to devastate them and me???
<Probably just natural variation on the color pattern.>
 It took 4 months and two tries to get my fishless cycle and 1 day to screw it up with a large water change so I'm scared to death to do anything else!!!  Please help because I've fallen in love with them already!!!
<A large water change shouldn't screw up a cycled tank.  The beneficial bacteria resides on surfaces, so you won't lose much with a water change unless possibly you forget to DeChlor, but even then a lot should survive. 
Try testing the water right out of the tap and see if it contains any ammonia or other nitrogen compounds.  If not, we need to step back and analyze where the nitrites are coming from. - Rick>
Re: New guppies bald spot area on top of them    10/24/12

Thanks so much for such a quick reply!!! 
Any ideas on where to look for other sources of my nitrite spike???
<It's possible (and even probable) that the nitrite to nitrate end of the cycle crashed. It should recover in a few days.  Just keep monitoring and if the levels get too high, do a partial water change.>
You guys are awesome for new fish enthusiasts!!!  Thanks again!!!!
<You're going to make me blush. - Rick>
Re: New guppies bald spot area on top of them - 10/25/2012

Me again!!! 
<Hello Karen>
Sorry but one more question please.
 I still have zero ammonia and 2.0 nitrites
<Are you sure you are measuring nitrites and not nitrates?
Big difference.  How are you measuring it and how old is the test kit being used?  And, if you are correct and nitrites are 2.0, what is your nitrate reading?> 
so I did another small water change tonight with AquaSafe and Prime to try to protect this fish but should I vacuum my gravel to get any missed food and poop or leave it alone to help with my apparent re-cycle???
<Unless you have a planted tank with substrate specifically for planted tanks, vacuuming the substrate is a good idea.>
So many different opinions but I trust you and I'm afraid of causing more problems!!! Also, are 4 guppies in a 26 gallon tank enough to keep my ammonia eating bacteria going???
<Enough to maintain the 4 guppies.  However, if you have both males and females, you won't have only 4 guppies very long.>
Thanks again!!!
<Welcome, Rick>

Sunburst Platy "Sleeping"    3/23/12
Hello! I've been reading from this site for a couple days now and still don't have an answer for my question. I have a 1 gal tank (I know, very very small, but it's best for my college dorm)
<Why your fish are dying…>

with 2 fish, a Red Wag Platy and a Sunburst Platy. I originally had 2 small goldfish in the tank and the lady at the pet store said that the same tap water cleaner I used for my goldfish would work for the platies. I'm unsure of the pH, temperature, and ammonia/nitrate/nitrite levels, but I'm planning on getting some things to help me with that.
<How are you keeping the water warm? You have a heater? What about filtration? You do need a biological filter. These aren't options.>
My problem, the Sunburst Platy (Leo) is always laying down on the rocks, completely still as if it's sleeping.
<Dying… water too cold perhaps if you have no heater, or else being poisoned by its own wastes if you don't have a filter. Even if you have both a heater and a filter, the water volume is so tiny this fish likely doesn't get the oxygen it needs and its metabolic wastes are becoming too concentrated too quickly.>
I'm always tapping the tank to make sure it hasn't died yet and it gets up and swims just fine.
<Tapping the glass scares the fish, so swimming merely implies it has just enough strength left to swim away from danger.>
I did do a 30(ish)% water change the other day and it was back to it's normal swimming behavior as when I got it. However, the next day it was back to laying down again. It's color seems to be the same as it was and I was told that they're both males, however I question that. It also doesn't seem to eat, and at first I thought that the Red Wag (Jackson) was being a pig and just hogging all the food, but Leo just seems uninterested. I'm feeding the Omega One Tropical Fish Flakes (same as the pet store). These are the first platies I've ever had, but a couple friends said they weren't too hard to take care of. Also, Leo seems to do a little "dance" when he is up and swimming. My grandma looked it up and said it had to do with mating and attracting females,
<Er, no.>
but there are no females (according to what I was told). Just wondering what this means. And one more question...what would be the best way to travel 2.5 hours with these fish back home after school? I got these because my two goldfish died on the trip to school and don't want to kill 2 more fish if it can be avoided.
<Compared to life in a 1-gallon vase, being carried about in a 3 or 5 gallon bucket will be positively healthy for these fish!>
Thanks for the help! -Cecily

What is wrong with my platy? Env.   3/15/12
Hi, I am at a bit of a loss as to what to do with my sick platy. I am new to fish keeping and so far have relied on the advise <advice> of a chain pet-shop. Having started researching online though about this current problem I'm worried that I have been misinformed. Ok, so the tank is 25L
<Too small for platies, and much else>

 and was set up with sand, pebbles and plastic plants 3 weeks ago.
Everything was washed and I added aqua safe. The tank has a filter with water jets. After 4 days I tested the water and all looked ok (NO3 25-50,
<Too high
... see WWM re Nitrates in FW systems>
 NO2 0, PH 8.0, Cl2 0) I wasn't entirely sure what all this meant so I took a water sample to the pet shop and they said it was great?

 So I bought 2 male platys. All was fine, I did a 20% water change after a week (and every week thereafter). About a week ago my partner (much to my dismay) came home with 2 minnows
<What species?>

and 2 danios. Everything was fine for the first few days but then we noticed our larger male platy charging at our smaller one.
<... the too-small world>

The smaller one started to take to hiding amongst the plants where it seemed to be getting left alone. Yesterday evening though all the fish seemed to be picking on it. On closer examination I noticed that it had a chunk missing from its tail fin and it has got really skinny. We tried rearranging the plants so that they were in separate areas of the tank (thinking it may be territorial) but it didn't really help. I watched the tank for a while and I think it is our minnow nibbling at it?
Later I saw that it's top fin was missing? We removed the poorly platy from the tank and as we don't have anywhere else we are currently keeping him in a 5L plastic bowl (not ideal but we had no alternative). Since he has been in the bowl I have noticed he has two large fuzzy patches on his back end and he is passing white/clear poo? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
<... You need to "go back three steps"... Learn what you're about. Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platysysfaqs.htm
then on to the linked files above.>
I want to save this platy as my son (who is very ill himself) is very attached to him, but I an also worried about the other fish.
<Educate yourself on WWM. Bob Fenner>

<These fish need a bigger world.>
Hey, I just sent a message to you about 30 minutes ago and had some more information about my Sunburst Platy, Leo. I got back from class and noticed that he does have a white spot growing close to his tail. Everything I've found suggests this is Ich. So I noticed you've told some other people that salt is a good way to treat Ich, so I went ahead and did a full water change (it needed to be changed) and added around 1 Tablespoon of plain table salt. I'm hoping this will work, although I know it's about a 50/50 chance of survival. There isn't any way I can quarantine my fish, otherwise I would. Please just let me know what you're thoughts are on this. Thanks again! -Cecily
<If you only have 1 gallon, get some cut flowers. This tank is too small for this fish. It is/they are dying. Hmm… what else, do read:
No magic or mystery here… your fish need more space, proper care. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sunburst Platy "Sleeping"    3/23/12

Thank you for the advice. I realize my tank is very small, and I did mention that at the store before I bought them.
<Not sure I understand this. Did you buy these fish and tell the retailer you planned to keep them in 1 gallon of water?>
The tank has a light on it
and also has a stone that has air blown into the water.
<Also irrelevant.>
I know it's not filtering the water, but I can only do so much while I'm at school.
<No heater, no filter. That's what counts here. Not wishful thinking.
Neither the light nor the airstone have any impact on the environmental conditions in the tank.>
Leo seems to be doing slightly better already,
<Wishful thinking.>
and Jackson has been the same as when I brought him home.
<For now. Fish can put up with dire conditions for a while -- days, weeks depending on the species and the individual. But these fish are on Death Row for all practical purposes, with no future at all.>
As for the cut flowers, is that suggested in place of using salt? Or is that to help with oxygen production?
<Neither. I meant remove the fish to another, sensible, humane aquarium.
And use this 1-gallon box of water (death trap for fish) as a place to put cut flowers, i.e., use it as a vase. It's not an aquarium, so don't delude yourself if into thinking that it is. I'm sorry I can't offer any better help here, but you're effectively keeping an elephant in a garage, and wondering why it isn't doing well.>
Thanks again.
<Do please read, learn from others who have made the same bad choices as you have. I'm happy to help where there's a point in doing so, but there's no solution to keeping Platies in 1 gallon. It's not possible, long-term.
You need at least 10 and really 15+ gallons for this species
. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Platy and Mysterious Fry. Need data   11/21/11
<Hello Belle!>
About three days ago I noticed that my only platy, a red female, had started alternating between resting at the bottom of the tank and floating near the top, seemingly weak and/or sick. All other fish seemed perfectly fine, and her tank mates were 2 female mollies, 2 catfish, and a little school of neon tetra.
<Mmm... the mollies and Neons need quite different water... temperature et al. wise. All posted on WWM for your review>
I checked the water parameters and all seemed fine
<Need values, actual measures to help you>
except that the pH was slightly low.

Yesterday, I went and bought two young female Platies, two male swordtails,
<... how large is this system? Swords can be rather rambunctious; and get much larger than many people realize. Please see WWM re these as well>
and one male molly to add to my tank.
I've had my female fish for about 3 months and the platy has always been the smallest of the group and never appeared pregnant. The two new females are also definitely not pregnant.
Today I noticed for the first time a tiny fry hiding in a plant and I have no idea where it came from. Could the platy have given birth even though it has always been thin?
It continues to seem sick and resting towards the bottom of the tank.
<I would not be adding more life to a system w/ an apparently ill fish...
Please search/read on WWM (the search tool is on every page at the bottom)
and write us back w/ the requested information. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Platy and Mysterious Fry    11/23/11
Thanks for your advice!
Luckily my female platy is now doing much, much better and swimming around like normal. I'm starting to really think it was her that gave birth, though she never got bigger and still doesn't seem smaller. The PH in my tank is around 6.6 so, but it used to be around 6.4, so I'm not sure if that's super low or if its okay.
<Much too low.
Platies must be kept in moderately hard to hard water, and the pH must be above 7. Read here for more on water chemistry:
A simple approach is to use about one-half the Rift Valley salt mix. This mix is extremely cheap and works very well. So per 5 gallons of water, add half a teaspoon of baking soda, half a tablespoon Epsom salt, and half a teaspoon of marine salt mix. That should deliver around 10 degrees dH general hardness and a pH around 7.5. Do this gradually. Mix up the three mineral salts in a jug, enough for your 15 gallon tank, top the jug up with water, stir well, and add only about a quarter per day, adding another quarter the next day, and so on. This should ensure the fish have time to adapt.>
My tank is 15 gallons and houses 9 fish and a school of 4 tetra. I read not to use the PH balance chemicals for aquariums with plants in them, is that true?
<No; it's rubbish. But don't add pH-up or pH-down liquids like those sold in aquarium shops. You don't have anything like the experience to use these safely, and will simply waste money and/or kill your fish. Do what I've said above, and it'll cost pennies a month and work very safely.>
I didn't realize mollies and tetra weren't suited for living together because of temperature... I also have another separate 10 gallon tank with 2 small goldfish where the water is kept colder, around 73-75 degrees, if you think that would be a better home to add my tetra to, as my main tank with my mollies/swordtails is around 80 degrees. Thanks for the help!
<The Platies, Mollies, and Tetras can/should get along at 25 C/77 F in medium-hard water if you keep the water spotlessly clean through regular water changes and excellent filtration. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy fry red spots? Slimy snails? Moldy filters?    10/5/11
Hi, I'm Jenny. I am a proud-ish owner of a.... rather crappy-looking ten gallon aquarium...
Nonetheless, most of the fish and snails are doing fine.
Well, this rather overstocked aquarium has a 1"5 fantail,
<Goldfish I take it>
1"5 angelfish,
<Umm, not compatible, nor will either live long or well in such a small volume>

1" gold panda platy, who is the happy mother of two beautiful broods, and a rams horn snail, with seven "snaillings."
I need my bedroom ceiling to be redone (it caved in because of a collapsed air duct) so as soon as I get the furniture moved back in, I'm buying a twenty gallon for the platy, angelfish, etc, and a pond set next summer so I can put the fantail in it.
<Ah good>
Yesterday I had just put the first platy brood in the tank- three bright, happy, energetic platy. They seemed fine to me, as they were swimming around and nipping the algae off of everything, chasing the bigger fish and eating more algae. Then, this morning, I noticed the smallest of the three (they're all almost 3/4 of an inch) was missing. I look around to find him/her lying on the gravel, jus sitting there. I didn't have time to examine it, though. So I got home from school this afternoon to take a closer look. He has light, reddish splotches on his sides, right around the middle of the space between his anal fin and pectoral fin.
Water conditions:
Nitrate: 40 (trying to lower it)

<I'd keep at half this maximum>
Nitrite: surprisingly at zero
<Why surprising? How did you cycle this system?>
Ammonia: around .25 ppm
<Any is dangerous, toxic>
pH: 6.8 ppm

I'm still concerned, but since he still comes up to eat, I'm not sure of what will happen to him next... If he'll stop eating? He dies and the other fish eat his corpse?
........ If he dies, I shock him with a 2 volt battery and he comes back to life?
<Ah, no>
(I watch way too many science videos, but that would be pretty cool...)
All he does is sit a the bottom, nestled in between rocks or hiding behind a plant in the back. He doesn't just hover over the bottom, either- he literally sits ON the bottom. First thought was he was having buoyancy problems, but the red splotches threw me off.
It worries me so much...
<Stop worrying and read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
and: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/NH3TrbFixF.htm
and the linked files above>
I have to clean the gravel because it got very dirty, so all of the decor was taken out except for a rock to hold down cucumber slices that I give them, all of the live plants, and a breeding net for the second brood of 6.
Two more questions:
If there are too many snails in an aquarium, will they produce too much slime?
<Mmm, have never seen this happen>
I have several in a breeding net, only about 2mm in diameter, and there's a bunch of spots floating in the top, like oils on the surface of water. Is this normal or is it bad?
<Can be bad... from household aerosol/s, cooking... best to "wick off"... or dip a pitcher in the tank at an angle to remove>
Also, there's a bunch of different algae and slimes growing in my filter.
Some are red that grow under the water, some are greenish brown that get stuck in the nooks and crannies, and some are white and fluffy/slimy that grow on or right underneath the surface. It's kinda gross and makes cleaning the filter a HUGE hassle, taking me two days to clean it all with the spare time have. There's also molds, just green, brown, or white, growing on the filter lid or on the cartridges. I had to take my biofilter out (the one with a bunch of white, tangled stuff inside a cartridge) that comes with the filter set. None of this will stop coming back. Are there any suggestions you have for getting rid of the crap growing in my filter?
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm
and the linked files...>
Anything you can tell me will be much appreciated. I hope you can help me figure out what's wrong with my platy fry.
<Water quality... uncycled system>
Thank you for your time,
<Please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: Platy fry red spots? Slimy snails? Moldy filters? 10/3/11-- 10/05/11

> <Please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM. Bob Fenner>
<You obviously have not done as I previously requested... a shame, and waste of y/our time. B>
Thanks for the reply.
Boy am I even more worried than before... my platy from the second brood was acting funny. I've heard of it before, but I can't remember. The platy was turned sideways (nose pointed all the way down) and it started spinning like a drill spins.
I'll probably look it up after I send this message and try to identify the illness. Sadly, it died...
Well, the nitrates I'm trying to get down, nitrites were surprisingly, and in a good way, at zero. Usually when my nitrates are high, my nitrites are, too, that's why it was surprising.
<... these two are almost never positively correlated>
Also, we don't use aerosols or anything near the fish tank, and it's only inside the breeder net where the snails are staying. I'm wondering if the snails are diseased or something... I'm not planning on keeping them, anyway- they kill my plants! I'd stick with the Plecos, but they either get too big or die because they won't eat the cucumbers or algae wafers I give them.
<Search WWM re smaller Loricariids>
Oh, and it doesn't get any better: the fry that stays to the bottom won't budge. I put him in my fishnet and placed it at the top of the water. He won't come near the surface to eat. I don't know whether to add salt or turn up the heat, treat with Fungus Clear or just euthanize him. And I kind of had to work hard to keep them healthy, so all of them dying is a big waste of my time.
Not to sound cruel, but it's probably just easier for me to euthanize them all. It saves me the trouble of finding homes for them and paying for shipping and all of that good crap. But with all of the money and time I put into the tank, I want to earn a bit of it back with these fish I can sell.
Also, the water is definitely cycled. I'm guessing it's just the water quality. No other fish are showing signs of illness so far. The roofing guy hasn't called back yet to fix my ceiling, I can't get the bigger tank until it IS fixed, and I'll still have to cycle the thing for a month at least!
And even when I'm doing water changes every day or other day, nothing has budged. I don't know what to do. Are there any other things
<READ: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
and the linked files above>
I can do besides water changes, which will, if I do any bigger than 20%, shock my snail to death? I've tried some nitrate and nitrite removing chemicals, but they didn't do anything either.
If any more of these fish die, I'd probably just tear the whole thing down and start from scratch.
If there's any other suggestions, tips, or anything, it would be much appreciated.
<See the above>

Sick Platy 11/17/10
I am reading for days all over the internet to figure out what is going on with my fish. Few background information: first time fish tank that my son wanted to have and now I am stuck with :(. 10 gal tank, no life plants, was cycled over a month ago, tem 78 F, ph unknown, nitrate and nitrite 0 but ammonia picked up this week to 0.25-0.50 (changed 40% of the water after this). The tank started with two platies, they were happy, always swimming around and looking for food when I came near the tank. Before the tank was cycled one of them gave birth, the fry died short after. After the tank was cycled one of the platies stared to hid in the treasure chest, I assume maybe pregnant again. The other platy stayed active and ready to eat but it seemed to be losing weight and after a while died. The other play still hiding, no new fry, but eating and getting bigger. I did not have time to buy another platy for a while so I assumed that the remaining platy is just scared of being alone. Two weeks ago I bought two new platies, one died 2 days later, the other one seemed to be active and happy until few days ago when it started to hid as well. They both come out to eat but other wise are hiding on the bottom of the tank and if they are out, as soon as I come near they react very scared and swim crazy around trying to hid again.
I know they are sick but it is kind of hard for me to see what it is if they are hiding like this. If I see them I still am not able to tell what it could be after going over all those symptoms listed here. I do not see any white spots but the colour of the first platy looks subdued. Not sure how the breathing should look like, not sure of anything anymore :(.
Was not really my idea of a hobby but I hate to see any living organism sick and unhappy.
Thanks in advance for any help, info or advice that you could give me
<Hello Katharine. One problem is that 10 gallons is really too small for Platies; I'd recommend at least 15 gallons. The difference might not sound very much, but in fishkeeping, the amount of water makes all the
difference! Read here to learn more about stocking small tanks:
Next up, temperature! Platies come from relatively cool, lowland habitats.
They will not do well kept warm. Aim for 22-24 C/72-75 F. Thirdly, Platies need hard, basic water conditions. In other words, if you have soft water, they will get sick and probably die. Aim for 10-25 degrees dH, pH 7.5-8.0. Read here to learn more about water chemistry:
Sometimes adding small amounts of marine aquarium salt mix has a tonic effect on Platies (and livebearers generally). You don't need much, 2-4 grammes/litre, so this is a very economical way to keep these fish healthy.
Marine salt mix is MUCH better than "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt" so don't make a false economy here! Marine salt mix contains salt but also other minerals that harden the water and stabilise the pH, so the overall effect is strongly positive. Fourthly, review feeding. If you have non-zero levels of ammonia and nitrite there's a good chance you're overfeeding. A small pinch per day is adequate, and Platies are primarily herbivorous so use algae-based flake food not plain flake food. The fact your fish are hiding suggests they're stressed, not "sick", and my guess would be you're providing poor environmental conditions. Check water quality, water chemistry, and water temperature. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Platy
Hello Neale,
thanks for the fast response :). I will get over the points that you suggested.
The tem and the size will be a problem. We live in FL and during the summer I keep the house at 81 F, winter will be no problem but AC in Summer is money eating monster :(. The size is the only one that we can fit in the house as of now. I am now angry at the store that sold us the platies, I trusted that they will know the best fit for us.
Thanks again for your help.
<Hello Katherine. Keep the aquarium out of direct sunlight, and it shouldn't get too hot. Platies can handle a few months of warmth during the summer. They do come from Mexico after all! But if kept very warm all year long, they will not do well. Aquarium size is a problem. Few fish do well in 10 gallons. Platies really do need more space. The females get quite large, and the males can be aggressive, and in both cases the result is stress. When fish are stressed, their immune system stops working. And then they get sick. Hope this helps. Tscheuss! Neale.>

What is wrong with my Platys? Am I doing everything correctly? -- 11/9/10
Dear WWM staff,
<Not staff, merely volunteers, but hello back at you!>
I am a new aquarist. I purchased a 20g tank on October 3, 2010; I set it up and introduced the fish a week later.
<Do understand that filling a tank with water doesn't do anything. You have to provide a source of ammonia for a filter to start the maturing process. Since you haven't done that, it's almost certain your fish were exposed to non-zero levels of ammonia and nitrite.>
I started with 4 male platys (two grey and 2 red wagtails), 6 neon tetras, and 6 X-ray tetras, some decoration and 2 live plants (one of them is a fern).
<Do also understand that many plants sold aren't aquatic and will die, and in dying they rot and remove oxygen from the water. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/keepoutfw.htm
Selaginella willdenowii and Trichomanes javanicum are two NON-AQUATIC ferns commonly sold to inexperienced aquarists.>
On the third week, I introduced an Anacharis plant, and the water started to get cloudy. I could see very small particles floating towards the surface. I did a 30% water change, and after two days I lost 1 neon tetra and the Anacharis rotted (I had left the led weight on!). I bought another Anacharis and 2 small moss balls.
<Moss Balls are coldwater plants and will not do well in a tropical aquarium above 22 degrees C.>
After another week or so, I tested the waters and the ammonia was 4.0.

On week 5 or so, we added 4 female platys. Also, the tank suddenly cleared up, and the ammonia levels are 0. I think it has cycled, or it is at the end of the process. I am feeding everyone the same flakes (for Homnivores), and they all seem to get along well, and are active. Now, did I do everything correctly?
<No; read here please:
Your fish are sick, dying because the aquarium filter is not mature.>
I am asking because in the last two days, all my platys (4 boys and 4 girls) are sitting at the bottom of the tank, on the gravel, behind the fern, the Anacharis and a natural rock; they do not look or act sick, and if I approach the tank they will come out. They will just stay there unless they see me and I feed them, while before they used to swim around the tank at all hours of the day. They are still responsive to food and one or two will swim around.
<DO NOT FEED until the ammonia is below 0.5 mg/l; do 20% water changes per day for the next couple of weeks. Do not add any more fish! Check the filter is working, and make sure you understand how it works and how to maintain it. Clean filter media gently, squeezing in a bucket of aquarium water.>
Of the first four (the males), one of the grey wagtail will chase the other grey male, but would leave the red males alone. That is when I decided to bring in the girls. I might have overcrowded. Please give advice. BTW, I am buying some veggie flakes, would that help them?
<Yes, vegetarian flakes are a good staple for Platies. But that isn't the problem here.>
Thank you in advance for your input. Francesca B.
<Glad to help. Do read, learn; any questions, write back. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: What is wrong with my Platys? Am I doing everything correctly? 11/9/10

Thank you for replying.
<My pleasure.>
I forgot to mention that I purchased a Marineland Set, with heater, light, BioWheel three stage filter with carbon in it, and that I used Stress-Zyme and StressCoat as directed at set-up, and the following three weeks.
<Okay, well, the carbon is pretty pointless in a tank like this, but Marineland will happily sell you that because the profit margin is colossal. As for Stress-this an Stress-that, they're fine enough so far as they go, but they don't replace the need to cycle the tank. You need a source of ammonia, and that's traditionally a couple of hardy fish, e.g., feeder as opposed to fancy guppies, but more recently people have favoured fishless methods, i.e., small daily "feedings" of flake for the first few weeks before adding fish, or the daily use of ammonia to create a concentration of about 2-5 mg/l ammonia. If you haven't done one of these three things, you haven't cycled your tank. The ammonia feeds the bacteria, and the bacteria multiply. Just running the tank without any ammonia source -- whether fish, food, or ammonia solution -- does nothing more than get the filter wet. It won't mature that way, period. There are some potions said to jump-start the filter so you can add fish that day, but frankly, they're pretty unreliable. I wouldn't recommend a beginner use them.>
I followed the instructions carefully during set up, and waited a week before introducing the fish. I do understand that the 4 male Platies, 6 Neon and 6 Pristella Tetras helped me 'cycle' the tank.
<That's the problem. Cycling is extremely stressful for the fish. Ammonia levels above 0.5 mg/l cause serious stress, and above 1.0 mg/l will be sickening or lethal.>
Currently, I change the carbon filter every two weeks,
<Get rid of this, and add more biological media, e.g., sponges or ceramic noodles. Do read what the different types of media do. Carbon has very, VERY specific applications and in most community tanks does nothing useful. Indeed, it can even do harm by absorbing medications.>
and do a 10% water change every week, but I do not touch the Bio wheel.
<You need to be changing 25% water change every week or two, once the filter is mature, and that takes about 6 weeks from the time the filter was exposed to an ammonia source (whether fish, flake, or ammonia solution). Prior to the filter being mature, and any time ammonia and nitrite levels are above zero, you need to do more water changes than this. 20% every day or two would be the minimum.>
Last night, when I got home from work, I found out that all the eight Platies have Ich, but the Tetras are free from it. I suddenly realized that Ich came with one of the females introduced lately.
<Perhaps, and stress will certainly allow Ick to emerge from the background into a serious problem. As noted, carbon will remove Ick medication, so remove the carbon before using such.>
I did a 10% water change, raised the temperature to 80 from 76F, cleaned the gravel lightly and partially (I also found some tiny snails) and today I have read all the FAQs on treatment (salt and heat) and will treat as soon as I get home (I am at work).
<Salt/heat would be ideal in this situation.>
Can I use CopperSafe (Mardel), or Rid-Ick+, or Super Ich Cure together with salt/heat?
Can I use Pima-fix to prevent other skin injuries and generally give them a booster?
<Would not do this.>
Also, the tetras show no sign of Ich for now. How are the elevated water temperature and the meds treatment going to affect them? How far can I raise the temperature before harming them?
<Raising the temperature to 30 C/86 F is necessary here; while Neons and Platies prefer cooler conditions -- ideally 22-24 C/72-75 F -- they will tolerate warmer water for a couple of weeks just fine.>
I started the hobby (on the wrong foot I know) to help my 5 years-old daughter cope with moving up to a new school - her old provider is successfully running two saltwater tanks (29G and 125G), and she was missing them.
<I see. A fine sentiment, and I'm happy to help. But please do visit your local library or bookstore and pick something up accessible and relevant. Manufacturers and retailers are of variable usefulness as sources of information -- much as they are when buying houses, cars, or anything else. Spend a little time understanding the cycling process, what ammonia and nitrite do to fish, and how to minimise problems through the cycling process. I'm not wild about Neons because the quality of farmed specimens is pretty low, and Platies vary in quality from good to bad, but X-ray Tetras are a superb species for beginners, one of the best in fact. In any case, to keep these together aim for moderately hard water that is slightly basic, i.e., 10-15 degrees dH, pH 7-7.5. Softer water will kill Platies quickly, and harder water will dramatically shorten the lives of your Neons. X-ray Tetras are very adaptable, and do well in both hard and soft water, one reason I like them. As for temperature, as stated above, 22-24 C/72-75 F should be fine.>
Now I am genuinely 'attached' to all my fish, and hate to see them die.
Again, thank you for your time.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: What is wrong with my Platys? Am I doing everything correctly? 11/11/10

Hello again.
I have lost 3 fish: 1 female Platy (the first one I noticed with Ich), and 2 Neons (I suspect for the 86F temperature raise). I also noticed that one Pristella is affected by Fin Rot. Can I treat him/her with antibiotic as Maracyn products from Mardel?
<Yes; little choice in fact -- untreated Finrot quickly turns into Septicaemia, and that kills within days.>
Or do you have any suggestions? I am trying to 'do damage control/salvage as many as I can'. The other Platies Pristella and Neons only show signs of Ich.
<Do the salt/heat thing, but do understand it *doesn't* stop the white spots, it kills the free-living stage, so you do have to wait a few days to see results.>
I read all your suggested readings, and I am looking for a good informative book on aquaria in use in the US. When I read the WWM article on Tank Set-up, I performed everything it says, EXCEPT the most vital steps like performing quarantine on fish and plants, and letting a local LFS sell me too many fish to start the cycle.
<Ah, I see'¦>
If I end up losing all of them, I will let the tank run fallow, and start again.
<By all means do so, but keep adding small pinches of fish flake every day otherwise without ammonia in the system (ordinarily from the fish) the filter bacteria will die. If left fallow for a week, Whitespot should be exterminated, especially if kept warm as stated, because the free-living stage needs a host within a day or two otherwise it dies. At 30C/86F, the white spots should mature and burst into the free-living stages within a day or so.>
I have a question: for a beginner, what is best, a 20G or a 55G?
<A bigger tank is always safer and easier, but above a certain size maintenance becomes more difficult. For what it's worth, anything between 30-55 gallons is a "sweet spot" in terms of healthy fish and easy maintenance. That said, a 20 gallon tank isn't impossible to set up; if you begin with half a dozen X-ray Tetras, which are an excellent species, and keep them in the tank for a month before adding, say, half a dozen Peppered or Bronze Corydoras, you should find things very simple. With them all settled down, after another month you might add a personality fish, perhaps one Angelfish or a male/female pair of Banded Gouramis, these latter being very easy to keep (unlike Dwarf Gouramis or Three-spot Gouramis!).>
Thank you for your time again.
Francesca B.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

very skinny platy 8/2/10
I'm really baffled about one of my fish. About 4 weeks ago I noticed my orange platy laying at the bottom of the tank and she appeared to be pregnant, so I moved her to a 2.5 gal tank along with a pregnant guppy.
<As a rule, moving fish from proper-sized tanks to silly-small ones like this doesn't usually do any good. It'd be kind of like having a hospital in a cramped, damp basement. Wherever you move sick fish to, conditions have
to be *at least as good* as where the fish is coming from. Since Platies need 15+ gallons for regular maintenance, I'd not consider anything below 8-10 gallons useful in terms if a hospital tank.>
This tank is a little warmer and has more hiding places so they can have their babies in peace and comfort.
<Platies don't like warmth; optimal temperature range for the standard sort is 22-24 C/72-75 F, and a couple of degrees cooler for Variatus Platies.>
About two days later she was back to her normal size and swimming at the top of the tank. I assumed she had her babies though I didn't see any. I put her back in the regular tank and checked for the babies. I removed all
plants, stored the gravel and even checked the filter...no fry.
<Cannibalism is not uncommon, and miscarriages frequently follow on from stress, e.g., by confining Platies in too-small aquarium or breeding traps.>
Then a few days later I saw her laying at the bottom of the tank until I got closer, then she swam to the top for food. I noticed she was REALLY skinny.
I assumed she'd die soon but 3 weeks later she's still alive, eager to eat but still lays at the bottom of the tank until I come by to feed them. She doesn't gain any weight no matter how much I feed her.
<I'd try deworming before anything else.>
There are 3 other platys in the tank and several guppies. They show no signs of sickness. Just this one. I'm a fairly seasoned fish owner. About 2 yrs now. Started with goldfish, moved to African Cichlids and since I needed to do something with my 10 gal tank I decided to get some guppies and platys.
<10 gallons is really not big enough for either species. I'm sure you've noticed aggression between males and from males towards females. Plus, in a tank this small females can't find much shelter, so they're prone to miscarriages.>
I've made a lot of mistakes and learned from them all and now have very healthy tanks. But this one fish has me stumped. What could possibly be wrong with her and what should I do? Thanks for your help.
<I'd go with worms. In any case, check water chemistry and water temperature are in the zone for Platies, i.e., pH 7-8, 10-20 degrees dH, and temperature as stated above. Guppies tend to prefer warmer water, so the two species aren't really compatible.>
P.S. I love your site. It's been really helpful these past few years : )
<Thanks for your kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: very skinny platy 8/3/10

Thank you so much for your help. It really explains a lot. Looks like I'm still learning : )
<Happy to help. Good luck, Neale.>

Platy, Molly and Frog in 1.5 gallons; ooh, surprise, they're dying! 6/1/10
Hello :)
<Hello Kacie,>
I'm really quite new to this owning frogs and fish business.
<Indeed. Do read.
Do a degree, most problems come with keeping the wrong fish in the wrong-sized aquarium in the wrong set of environmental conditions.>
I have two African Dwarf Frogs, a Sunburst Wag Platy, and a Dalmatian Lyretail Molly.
<Mollies are not really compatible with these other animals. While Dwarf Frogs and Platies should get along fine provided the water isn't too warm, Mollies need much warmer water and typically need slightly saline conditions.
If you have hard water and keep the aquarium water very clean -- by which I mean 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and less than 20 mg/l nitrate -- the Molly may be okay. But it's difficult to predict.>
I've only had them for a couple weeks but the very next day after I clean the tank (1.5 gallon)
<Far too small; these animals WILL die in there. The frogs may be viable in 5 gallons, the Platies need at least 15 gallons, and the Mollies 20 gallons+. It's not just about swimming space, though that's important; it's also about social behaviour and their sensitivity to changes in water quality and water chemistry. Very small containers of water expose livestock to constant changes in conditions, and inevitably this leads to death. Me telling you anything else is a total waste of time unless you upgrade this aquarium to at least 20 gallons.>
it gets cloudy and this white, cloudy, cotton like weird stuff forms at the bottom of my tank.
<Fungus and bacteria consuming organic waste, essentially doing the same thing as mould on bad cheese.>
I have no idea what this is and it spreads really fast.
<Because the aquarium is too small, overstocked, and under-filtered.>
Within two days the water in my tank is so bad I can't see through to the other side and I think the nastiness of this mystery substance killed my other Sunburst Wag Platy, though I'm not too sure.
<You are wrong. Rather, the death of the Platy and the appearance of the white mould in the aquarium are both symptoms of the same problem: this 'aquarium' is far too small.>
I change the filter often.
<Meaning? Do you understand that filter media needs to be cleaned, not replaced, and that it takes 6 weeks for cycling to take place before the filter can effectively remove ammonia? Furthermore, in a tank this small, no amount of filtration will save the fish.>
I've tried using a product called Clear Fast by Nutrafin which says it is supposed to make a difference in the water within 3 hours. I've never seen a change for the better.
<Indeed not; you've replace lack of knowledge with blind faith in marketing. The Capitalist Way perhaps, but not particularly useful.>
Also upon reading the question/answers I've seen some people say they only feed their fish every other day.
<Depends on the fish. Frogs need not be fed every singly day, but Platies certainly should receive a small meal of algae-based flake food once or twice per day. Problem is, in a tank much smaller than 15 gallons, any amount of feeding Platies properly will overload the filtration system.>
Am I not supposed to feed mine every day? I feed my frogs little foggy bites from HBH (though they don't often eat that, they do eat the fish flakes). Is that bad?
<Least of your problems.>
Thanks for your time,
<You need to do some serious reading. You ARE killing these animals through ignorance of their basic requirements. Hope this helps. Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  2/10/10
One last point of potential interest. I have been leaving the tank dark for most of the day. I was told that the medications and supplemental bacteria are more effective in a dark tank.
<Nope. Again, your retailer exhibiting skill at marketing to the uninformed rather than offering useful advice. Antibiotics will work regardless of light intensity. Carbon, on the other hand, will remove many medications from the water, so if you use carbon, you have to remove it from the filter. Did your retailer mention that?>
I have had the light on for about one hour in the morning while feeding, then off to add life bearer and bacteria, then on for a couple of hours late afternoon/early evening then off to add antibiotic.
<Couldn't make the least difference.>
Again, thanks for your help.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Fwd: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  2/10/10
Hi Neale,
My original message is below. Thanks again and cheers.
<Diana, you sent 32 (!!!) images and I really don't have the time to go through them all. Please, send one or two that are germane to the issue at hand, and I'd be happy to examine it. Nonetheless, my basic argument
stands. This tank of yours is far too small for the livestock being kept, and in the case of the Platy, some combination of Finrot, Fungus and/or Columnaris is to blame. These three diseases are caused by chronically poor water quality, so I'd urge you to review the needs of Platies, and act accordingly. If euthanasia is appropriate, do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  2/10/10
Thank you Neale, your responses are very helpful. I have a feeling, though, that you may not have received my original email regarding my poor sick fish and the attached pictures. I've got your thoughts on my supplemental
emails but not yet on the real problem-namely my platy with no mouth and his chance for survival. I have resent it.
Thanks again,
<It's the tank! The tank! It's too small! The fact the fish has mouth fungus (Columnaris, actually a bacterial infection) is incidental to the fact a tank this small cannot provide the right water quality (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite) and stable water chemistry (for Platies, pH 7.5, 10+ degrees dH) that the fish needs. If the fish has no mouth and can't eat, then yes, euthanasia is appropriate. But killing fish that don't survive in this tank won't fix the fundamental problems. Anything else in there will, eventually, go the same way as this Platy. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. - 2/10/10
Dear Neale,
<Hello Diana,>
I have read through your website extensively looking for help with my situation. While I didn't find exactly what I was looking for I did notice that most readers asked questions while giving you little or no practical information (i.e. water reading, photos, etc.). So, as not to waste your time I tried to be thorough and give you what I had hoped was helpful data so that you could assess my situation accurately. In trying to do this it appears that I have done just the opposite as evidenced by your response below. I am sorry.
<It's okay. But we do have limited e-mail space, and if folks send 32 images, as you did last time, or 3 MB of images, as you did this time, cause problems for other people. If the e-mail space is used up by one message with lots of photos, then other peoples' messages get bounced back. So it's not about me being crotchety, but more about making this a level playing field for everyone. We do ask for people to send around 500 KB
images, right on the page where our address is listed.>
I have attached two images, one of my frog and one of my platy.
Water readings today: 7.0ph, 0ppm nitrite, 0ppm ammonia, temp 80 deg.
<A little warm for Platies, and the low pH suggests a low hardness, and that's crucial for Platies. Check what the hardness is, and if necessary, harden the water.>
No carbon filter.
I just do not see how the sick platy can possibly survive and after reading the article you sent I may decide to put him down today. That leaves me with just the two seemingly healthy fish.
<For now.>
I understand now that the tank is too small for what is living in it.
I was obviously misinformed by the place that sold me the creatures.
<The "misinformed" bit is the key. As I've stated, and as I'm sure you know deep down, you don't buy pet animals without at least reading one book beforehand. Any aquarium book would tell you what Platies need in terms of
aquarium size, water chemistry, and temperature.>
But, this is what I have and I would like to try to give them the best care possible in a tank that is healthy.
<Hmm... unfortunately, life doesn't work this way.>
Until this tragedy they had all coexisted nicely for over a year.
<Indeed. While the fish are small, the loading on the filter and water buffering capacity isn't too great. But a threshold point comes where the fish have grown so big the filter and aquarium capacity aren't enough.
Conditions start to go bad, the fish become more and more stressed, and then various diseases get established.>
So, in that spirit, can you advise me as to what to do next?
<I'd be lying if I told you there was a solution. With the best will in the world, a 5 gallon tank isn't adequate for Platies. Sure, more frequent water changes will help, and check the water hardness (especially carbonate hardness) will go towards keeping pH stable. But still... it's little boy's finger in the leaking dyke.>
Should I give the two Platies back to the store
that sold them to me and keep only the frogs?
<If you really want to keep this 5 gallon tank, then perhaps.>
Thanking you again,
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  2/11/10
Dear Neal,
Thank you again for your help. My sick platy has died and I have a few questions about how to proceed.
<I'm sorry he died.>
1. I am inclined to return the two other Platies to the store and keep just the frogs and snails in my tank.
I am assuming I should continue to treat the tank with the full 12 day supply of antibiotics (tonight will be treatment #6) before doing so.
<I'd stop treating if none of the other fish have symptoms of disease. Overuse of medications can cause problems of their own, and since Finrot-type infections are opportunistic and latent in all aquaria, it's not like you can "kill off" the disease in any meaningful way. In other words, prophylactic treatment is pointless.>
2. Should I continue treating with the Life Bearer medication? If so for how long? (none of the surviving creatures are exhibiting signs of fungus or protozoa but the platy with the mouth infection who died did)
<Only medicate if fish show symptoms of disease. If they don't, don't medicate.>
3. When should I start water changes? Immediately or after treatments stop? Should I change the filter material and reintroduce charcoal?
<Water changes should be regular and as frequent as possible. It's wise to do a 25% water change when you stop medicating, primarily because during treatment you're not usually allowed to do water changes. But medications
typically get broken down within a day, so the idea you need to flush them out is a bit misleading. In any case, yes, do a water change tonight, and then get back to the normal 25-50% water changes per week. Do review how
filters work. Changing biological media (e.g., sponges) is hazardous because you throw out the filter bacteria, so normally you should simply rinse them off in a bucket of aquarium water, and then put back in the filter. Only mechanical media (e.g., pads of filter floss) and chemical media (e.g., charcoal) need to be replaced. In most freshwater tanks, charcoal is redundant. So unless you have a problem with yellowing water or rapid pH drops, I'd forget about carbon, and focus on biological media.>
4. When can I give the tank a light cleaning? (plant pruning, algae scrubbing, substrate vacuum etc.) I haven't wanted to disturb my fish while they were healing and the tank looks a little worse for wear.
<Clean whenever you want. It's a good idea to stir the gravel with a pencil or chopstick just before you siphon out some of the water, so you can slurp away some of the detritus.>
Thank you for your guidance,
<Happy to help.>
PS Per the question I had asked about my frog who looked like he was turning white - he shed his skin. Found a perfect empty little frog shaped skin floating in the tank this morning. Looked a bit like a frog wet suit.
<This isn't at all normal. While they do shed small sheets of skin all the time, shedding a lot of skin tends to suggest irritation. It's like comparing the little bits of skin we lose every day to an all-over sunburn!
Or more accurately, it's a way aquatic frogs deal with toxins and parasites in the water. Not fatal or even dangerous in itself, but if a frog is forced to react this way repeatedly, it's stressful. So while I wouldn't lose any sleep just yet, if the frog keeps shedding skin, review water quality and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
Thank you.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  2/11/10
Dear Neale,
One last set of questions and I think I will be all set:
<By all means.>
I did a 50% water change today, replaced the filter pad, trimmed up the plants, scrubbed the algae, "vacuumed" the sand and added some beneficial bacteria.
<Why? Why? There's really no such thing as a potion that adds beneficial bacteria. The bacteria are there already; they're either happy or they're not. It's really up to you to create the favourable conditions. Please please please save your pennies for a bigger tank, rather than wasting it on stuff you don't need.>
Everyone seems to be doing well.
I had added 3 teaspoons of salt to the tank last week during the first 3 days of medication. I added 1 teaspoon today when I changed the water. So I have about 2.5 teaspoons of salt in the 5 gallon tank presently.
<Again, why? Salt brings nothing useful to this system. Have a read here:
Salt is one of those things shops will happily sell, but hardly any beginners have a clue about what it can do.>
I have read WWM that Platies love salt in their water but frogs not so much.
<Platies tolerate salt; they don't love it. There's a big difference. I tolerate girlfriends who smoke, but I don't smoke myself. So it is with your Platies; they'll put up with salt at low doses rather better than most other fish, but they don't come from brackish water habitats. At this trivially low salinity, the salt won't inhibit Finrot or Fungus; to do
that, you'd need enough salt to kill the frogs (or at least severely stress them). So you're doing something here with no benefits and plenty of risks.>
Should I add more salt or am I good?
<"Good" isn't the word I'd use. Diana, please take this in the spirit of helpfulness in which it is meant: you're reacting, but you're not understanding. It's time to sit back, read a book on frog or fishkeeping, read through some of the articles I've sent you to, and try to understand what's going on. Once you understand the situation, you'll be able to care for these animals rather better.>
Also, I am slowly reducing the temp of the tank. What would the ideal temp be for the Platies and frogs while they are sharing the tank?
<25 C.>
Once I am sure the Platies are indeed healthy I will be returning them to the store. Once they are gone and I have only frogs in the tank what is the proper temp and should I discontinue any use of salt?
<Yes, stop with the salt already.>
Thanks again for your help. You have been very patient with me and I am grateful for your advice.
<I am always pleased to help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. 2/23/2010
Dear Neale,
Diana here again. My second Platy has passed away.
<Oh dear.>
I am now down to one platy who has started to show signs of the same mouth condition that killed my first and I am not sure how to treat it this time around. Last time I treated the tank with a combo of Life Bearer and Metronidazole on a daily basis for 8 days.
<Do water changes when medications are done. Remember not to use carbon while medicating, but you can use carbon when "cleaning up" after medicating to mop up any remainder.>
Tank now has one platy and two ADFs.
PH 7.2, Nitrate 0ppm, ammonia 0ppm,
<Good. pH a bit low for Platies, but depends rather more on the hardness than anything else. Platies hate soft water.>
temp 77 degrees
<Bit warm for Platies, to be honest, but shouldn't kill them.>
After initial 50% water change I have performed two 20% water changes and added no salt.
In addition I have purchased a gravel vacuum and have been cleaning small patches of the sand on the bottom during these changes.
<All good.>
I have also added a BioMax filter insert.
<Not really sure what BioMax might be... some type of biological filter media? That's good.>
Thanks again,
<Happy to help.>
PS So far my frogs appear to be holding up although they are hiding more and eating less than in the past. Understandable considering everything this tank has been through in the last month.
<Yes, indeed.>
I am feeding them every other day at this point to reduce the waste.
<Is ample of Hymenochirus spp. Stick a thin slice of cucumber in the tank for the Platy to peck at; this'll provide some energy, but without much protein, so water quality won't be harmed. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. -- 2/23/10
Thank you Neale.
<My pleasure.>
Yes, you are correct, BioMax is a biological filter material. Figure this will allow me to change the flossy pad (and all the fish poop that it collects) without throwing out my bacteria colony at the same time.
<Yes; ceramic media lasts ten years or more, especially if rinses regularly to keep the pores from becoming irredeemably clogged.>
Are you recommending that I repeat the same round of medications for this fish that I did for the others that died (Life Bearer and Metronidazole)?
<No, wouldn't do any more medicating. Would suggest sitting back, leaving things to stabilise for now.>
Or, is there another course that you feel would be more beneficial? And, if you are recommending the same course, should the two meds be administered at the same time or one in the morning and one at night?
<Shouldn't make any difference when in the day you dose. But do follow the instructions on the packet.>
Will slowly drop the water temp a bit to 75 degrees and am off to purchase a water hardness kit today.
<Cool. If you have hard water, you probably know, because the kettle furs up and the washing machine needs water softener, like Calgon, added to each load. If you have a domestic water softener, don't use that water in the
tank, but rather the unsoftened water from the drinking water tap (it's usually recommended you don't drink softened water).>
So grateful for your advice!!
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
Thank you. I do not have high hopes after seeing what happened to platy #1 with the cotton mouth, it looked like a very painful ailment.
<Certainly stressful.>
And, platy #3 is already having a hard time eating, if he is even eating at all.
<Wouldn't push it. Fish can go a couple of weeks without food, no problems.
Much better to focus on water quality.>
I will add the cucumber and will wait and see with my fingers crossed.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
This is silly but...
1. Should I peel the cucumber (I am thinking yes) or do they like the peel?
<Makes no odds.>
2. should I anchor it to something or let it float?
<I use lead weights to hold it down. But Platies will peck at floating cucumber, too.>
3. how often do ADFs need to eat? Should I be feeding them daily or a couple of times per week?
<"A little, but often" is a good approach. Daily if you want, but not too much, and their bellies should be gently convex, never swollen.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
BioMax is the ceramic rings layer in Hagan's AquaClear Power Filter (top layer) and also Fluval.
<Would seem to be the case. Thank you.>
I'm glad I got a chance to write because I wanted to offer you what our NASCAR drivers often take in times of stress:
<Yikes! Sometimes I need the industrial strength alternative though... there are only so many sick Bettas a guy can read about without needing a (very) stiff drink.>
It'll make you an honorary Southerner.
<My mom, Chicago girl that she was, would be horrified at the thought. But the sentiment is much appreciated!>
Charlotte, NC
<Take care, and thanks for writing! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
Once again thank you. You are a wonderful source of information, as is WWM!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. -- 02/25/10
Dear Neale,
<Hello again Diana,>
Well, just when I thought I had gotten everything squared away...here I am asking for your help once again.
As promised I purchased a water hardness kit today, and I am glad I did!
And, after reading the results I am beginning to see where things started to go terribly wrong (above and beyond having too many fish in my tank which I now know was the heart of my problem).
My temp is 75 degrees, ph is 7.2, ammonia and nitrite still 0, GH is 196.9 and the KH is off the chart!
<In itself, hard water isn't bad. Hard water fish -- such as livebearers, Rainbowfish and shell-dwelling cichlids -- will love this "liquid rock". On the other hand, there are soft water fish -- like Neons and Rasboras -- that wouldn't like it at all. Here in Southern England liquid rock just like this is very common, and not an impediment to successful fishkeeping.
But you do need to be careful about what fish you choose.>
And when I say off the chart I mean it - the highest the chart measures is 12 drops of solution to change the water from green to yellow. It took 28 drops for me to accomplish the color change with my sample of tank water.
I tested my tap water and it turned in 3 drops - 53.7.
<Okay, so while your tap water is fairly soft, your aquarium water has been much hardened. This would mean you've added something to the water in the tank. On the whole I recommend against that unless you know precisely what you're doing and why. If your tap water is soft, it's best to choose fish that like soft water, and simply do regular water changes (25% weekly is fine) and largely ignore water chemistry. It really depends on what sort of fishkeeping you want to do. If you just want a tank of pretty fish for minimal effort, then test your tap water, determine whether it's hard or soft water, and then choose either hard or soft water species. If you want to keep specific types of fish, perhaps because you want to breed them, then you may need to adjust the water chemistry to match the requirements of that species. That's usually harder work, so something most hobbyists are better off avoiding.>
So I started thinking about what could be in that tank to cause such a situation when I remembered that a while back I asked my fish guy why all of my snails had thin shells with holes in them - he suggested low calcium in the water and gave me some crushed coral to put in the tank. It was not long after that I started losing my snails, then my algae eater, then my 2 Platies.
<If you mess about with water chemistry, and don't fully understand what you're doing, it is possible to stress or kill your livestock.>
I have picked out as much of the coral that I can find and will continue to remove any pieces that pop up during future cleanings.
Additionally, I have been using Neutral Regulator to condition my water (again as instructed by my fish guy - rather my ex fish guy), which has been keeping my ph in the 7.0 range - not knowing then as I do now that my fish prefer a higher ph.
<Now, this is where the wheels come off the wagon. It's actually quite difficult to create an aquarium that's all things to all fish. Much better is to choose fish that match the water chemistry of your tap water, and therefore avoid having to add anything to the tap water other than water conditioner (I will remind you and other readers to avoid using water from a domestic water softener because of its rather odd water chemistry).>
My question is this, what do I do now to get my water hardness squared away in my tank.
<I'd do two things. Well, three really. First is establish your local tap water chemistry. If I read your message right, your tap water has fairly low General Hardness and Carbonate Hardness; see the charts on the linked page to compare your readings against these descriptions:
If you have water that isn't too hard, anything from "soft" to "moderately/slightly hard" then you can keep a wide range of species including tetras, barbs, loaches, South American cichlids, gouramis and catfish. If the water is "hard" or "very hard", then you're better off with livebearers, goldfish, Rainbowfish, Malawian cichlids, Central American cichlids, Tanganyikan cichlids, and "critters" such as frogs, shrimps, and snails.>
I have found a lovely new aquarium supply store who has sent me home with the following:
Water conditioner with no ph corrector ("Superbac")
African Cichlid Conditioner ("Nutrafin")
<The first product is useful, though no more or less so than any other water conditioner. All you want from water conditioner is that it removes chlorine, chloramine, copper, and ideally ammonia (from agricultural run-off rather than your fish). Not really sure why you need African cichlid conditioner since you're not keeping any African cichlids, are you?>
How do I proceed with increasing water hardness and ph without shocking the %#$@ out of my tank. And, do I need to increase both KH and GH?
<Go slowly. Do 25% water changes once a week, and let the water chemistry change that way. After a month, the tank should essentially have the same water chemistry as your tap water. Since this is fairly soft, that's ideal for soft water fish. I'd rehome the Platy and the frog if at all possible, since neither is likely to do well in soft water. Both prefer hard water.
If you explain to the nice man at the new pet store what the situation is, it may well be that you'd be able to swap these chaps for something appropriate to a soft water aquarium, like half a dozen Neons.>
Also since my tank holds 1 platy and 2 ADFs what should my water hardness and ph be to make both kinds of creatures happy.
<Now this is the tricky bit. To keep Platies happy, you need moderately hard water, let's say about 10 degrees dH (178 mg/l calcium carbonate) with a pH around 7.5. If your tap water is substantially below that, Platies simply won't thrive.>
Last but not least I have purchased flaked Spirulina to feed my platy and some moss to attach to a piece of bog wood that I going to add to the tank (have boiled it for hours and have been soaking it for weeks to try to get rid of the tannin). I saw on WWM that my platy might enjoy snacking on the moss and I know my frogs will love having the hiding place.
<Certainly the frog will enjoy the hidey-hole. As for the Platy, the Spirulina will certainly be appreciated, and they do like eating the algae and detritus that accumulates in moss.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
PS I explained to my new fish guy the tank struggles I have had recently.
You should have seen his face when I told him that I am going about rectifying this latest round of illness by stabilizing the tank and improving my water quality rather than medicating the tank to death. It was as if someone finally got it - then he gave me two thumbs up and a high five. Thank you for your support!!
<Sounds like you've made a new friend there! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   2/28/10
Good morning Neale,
<Good evening Diana,>
I wish I were writing with better news but I am not.
<Oh dear.>
My lone male platy is showing no signs of improvement and is in fact slowly getting worse.
<I see.>
Like the first platy to die this one's mouth is becoming increasingly infected and is virtually disintegrating day by day.
<This is likely Columnaris, what is sometimes called Mouth Fungus. It's notoriously difficult to shift once severe, but should respond to Finrot treatments early on. Is the Platy by itself or with other Platies? I can't remember. If it is, or with other livebearers, salt can significantly slow down the progress of this infection, allowing medications to work in time.
Up to 10 ppt (10 grammes per litre) is recommended and widely used on fish farms where tilapia are being reared, but I'd go with half that for now.
Anyway, you do need non-iodised salt, but apart from that restriction, even cooking salt will do. Raise the salinity slowly, across a few hours. How much to add? Work out the capacity of your tank in litres. Let's say it's a 100 litre aquarium. Make up a jug of warm water with 6 grammes per litres, i.e., 100 x 6 g = 600 g for the 100 litre aquarium. Over the course of the day, dribble in some of this brine a bit at a time, maybe 10-15% at a time, with about an hour in between. By the time you're done, you'll have added all the salt you needed. This will be pretty gentle on both fish and filter.>
He has not eaten since we started this conversation (week or so). He constantly trolls the surface of the water as if he is looking for food. I have offered cucumber, lettuce and Spirulina but I just don't think he is able to nibble or swallow anything. In fact, I am not sure he can even move his mouth any longer.
<May well be the case. After treatment should improve, if the bacterial infection goes away.>
Is it kind at this point to continue to wait and see?
Sadly I am feeling that he is too far gone to recover.
<Hard to say from the photo you've sent me... too small. But if you can see the bones of the mouthparts, yes, it's probably fair to say this isn't likely to heal.>
Water parameters are stable, temp 74 degrees, Ph is 7.4, ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, GH 5, KH 23, performing 25% water changes bi-weekly, no salt.
<Carbonate hardness is really 23 degrees KH? Or 23 mg/l? If the latter, that's VERY low, if the former, that VERY high.>
My frogs are loving the bog wood but it is growing slime, which I know from your website is not dangerous just unsightly.
<Yes, and largely inevitable if the wood hasn't been cured properly. Fungi break down the remaining organic matter. Eventually clears up. Fungus is off-white to grey threads, very different to the blue-green algae that form coloured (green, blue, red, black) slimes.>
I am trying my best to vacuum the slime off when I change the water but it isn't very effective. I am frustrated about this condition as I boiled the wood for over 6 hours and soaked it for over a week.
<Seriously, it takes at least 6 months to cure wood, so sticking freshly cut wood into an aquarium always produces slime. Wood sold in aquarium shops should be fully cured: if it isn't, I'd take it back.>
However, within days of wrapping it with the moss and placing it in the tank - slime. Will this slime eventually stop
or should I remove it, cure it some more (perhaps in the tank of my toilet), reattach the moss then replace it in the tank?
<Could do this too. But until the organic matter is consumed, fungus will keep coming back. If blue-green algae, that's something else entirely, and caused by other things, typically slow water movement and direct sunlight, coupled with high nitrate levels.>
I hope you are enjoying your weekend.
<So far, so good!>
We are having a glorious day and a nice break from the rain here in San Francisco.
<Making me jealous. It's freezing cold, grey, and wet here in England.>
<Cheers indeed, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   2/28/10
I have a 10 gallon tank. My platy is the sole surviving fish but shares the tank with a number of plants and 2 ADFs.
<The frogs WILL NOT tolerate the salt. So this isn't an option without moving them someplace else.>
I will do conversion for salt. Should I leave the frogs in the tank?
The plants?
<They will be fine.>
Or, should I set up a hospital tank (it would be un cycled)
<Good money after bad, to be honest. Better to save your pennies for a 20 gallon tank, which is the minimum I recommend for casual (i.e., easy) fishkeeping, and reserve the 10 gallon tank for hospital/quarantine purposes.>
Should I increase temp a bit or leave it at 74 degrees?
<Leave as is.>
KH is 23 degrees due to coral that was in the tank. Has since been removed and I am hoping it will Decrease over time with water changes. Tap KH is 8 degrees.
<The latter is much better, healthier.>
Thanks again. Have a nice evening.
<You too.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   2/28/10
I don't have anywhere to move my frogs other than a 5 gallon tank that I already own which would have to be set up from scratch for them to live in for the time being (I suppose I could fill it 1/2 way with water from their existing tank which would leave each tank with about 2.5 gal).
<A 5-gallon tank would, for the short term, do for a couple of Dwarf Frogs.
Mature the tank "instantly" by using some of the biological media from the existing aquarium in the filter you place in the 5-gallon tank.>
As an alternative can I treat the platy with the fin rot meds and no salt without removing the frogs?
<Absolutely. All the salt does is slow the bacteria down, making treatment easier. It isn't by any means essential. But do choose a medication that treats Columnaris, and ideally one that treats Fungus and Finrot too, to avoid problems with misdiagnosis (the three diseases often looking very similar). Among US aquarists, Seachem KanaPlex has a good reputation in this regard. Don't get mislead into buying tea-tree oil medications that purport to treat all these diseases, as such products are too unreliable.
Do remember to remove carbon, if used, from the filter while medicating.
Almost bedtime here in England, so signing off for now Diana. So good luck!
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   2/28/10
Thank you Neal. One last quickie. If I move the frogs do you suggest I use some of the current tank water plus filter from tank or new water treated for chlorine and biological material from the tank filter.
<The bacteria are in the filter media. Moving mature media from an old tank to a new tank is a good idea. Water itself carries little in the way of bacteria, so is neither here nor there. It's a fine idea to put some old water in the new tank simply to moderate any water chemistry changes (if you think such things probable) but in terms of water quality (i.e., ammonia and nitrite levels) "old" water has little impact.>
Sent from my iPhone
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   2/28/10
Thanks Neale. Good night.
<It was indeed! Thanks, Neale.>
Re: African clawed frogs...   2/28/10
Neale, Just wanted to thank you for helping me get through my cycling drama.
<You are most welcome.>
My clawed frogs are happily swimming in a cycled 20 gallon low. They are spoiled with a diet of earthworms, frozen bloodworms, ghost shrimp, feeder guppies,
<Would avoid these "parasite bombs".>
super worms and crickets. I usually take one or two days off a week from feeding if I see their bellies bulging.
<Are these Xenopus frogs? These are VERY easy to overfeed, and it's often recommended they are fed just 2-3 times per week.>
Just added a nice little clump of hornwort last week for them also.
Anyway, my question is about my new 20 gallon low which is currently fishless cycling. I have read your article and many FAQ about African dwarf frogs and was wondering about a few more options as to tankmates. I am adding 2 dwarf frogs, 5-6 Danios, and 5-6 small Corys (Green or Bronze?).
<Xenopus frogs are (VERY) predatory and prefer cool water, so are best kept alone. Hymenochirus are tiny little things and can be kept with small, gentle fish like Kuhli loaches and Hatchetfish that wouldn't steal food or nip them as the frogs swum to the surface. But generally with amphibians, the best advice is keep them ALONE.>
Do you think I have room for a few more colorful hardy midwater fish? I was going to keep the water temperature around 78 degrees.
<Much too warm for Xenopus laevis. In most cases, these frogs do best at room temperature. Xenopus tropicalis needs tropical temperatures, but it's not sold in the pet trade so far as I know, so unless you bought your frogs from a lab supplier, you can safely assume they're Xenopus laevis.>
Appreciate all suggestions. Thanks again, Alex
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   3/1/10
Good morning Neale,
<So far, at least!>
While you were sleeping here is the plan of action I have put into effect:
Moved my frogs into their vacation home along with the filter material, bog wood and ferns that were planted on rock rather than in the sand
<Very good.>
Added 18 teaspoons of salt over several hours to the platy tank (according to WWM 6 gm.s = 1 teaspoon, 5 gallons = 18.95 liters - god I hope I calculated that right, because it seems like an awful lot!)
<It's the right amount. Do look at my Brack Calc application if you're concerned or want to convert into US units.
Normal seawater has 35 grammes per litre, or, 4.75 ounces per US gallon. So yes, seawater contains a lot of salt, about 22 teaspoons if I've done the maths right.>
Started phase 1 of a 4 phase dosing schedule with EM Erythromycin which states is for treatment of fin & tail rot, open red sores, mouth fungus (cotton mouth), bacterial gill disease and hemorrhagic septicemia. Dose is 100mg per 5 gallons.
<Sounds about right.>
Frogs look happy and dare I say platy looks happy...swimming, not hiding.
<Although Platies aren't normally found in brackish water in the wild, their tolerance for brackish water is considerable, and it does have a "tonic" effect on them. Old school fishkeeping often recommended keeping livebearers in slightly brackish water for precisely this reason, and while not essential, if you're having problems with them, adding a little salt can pep them up just enough to get through the bad times. Brackish water effectively stops Velvet and Ick too, and reduces problems like Fungus and Slime Disease, so within reason, it's quite a good way to keep fish, if they'll tolerate the salinity. Unfortunately, most freshwater fish won't, at least not indefinitely.>
I will let you know how everyone is doing. Hope you had sweet dreams.
<Weird dreams, actually. For some reason I was leading an army of ghouls fighting some sort of dragon thing. That'll teach me to read H P Lovecraft at bedtime, I suppose!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. -- 3/3/10
Good morning Neale,
<Hello again, Diana,>
I just wanted to update you on my platy and frogs who are all doing remarkably well. The frogs seem MUCH happier in their temporary home.
Their color has returned to a darker brown, they are hanging about rather than hiding and the male has been acting very, shall we say, romantic towards his lady friend - which I have not seen for quite some time. While I started their tank out from straight treated tap water and a bit of transferred biological media they seem to be thriving once again.
My platy, also, is making vast improvements. He is swimming and attempting to eat. I have been watching him closely and have witnessed a few tiny bits of food make it through his swollen little gullet. I am on dose 2 of a 4 dose treatment so I am halfway through, but feeling very optimistic.
<I'm glad to hear all of this.>
Which leads me to my next question. Now that I have removed most of the plants and bog wood into the temporary frog tank I see that my platy tank is a dirty mess! Once my platy has recovered is there a "healthy way" to give his tank a serious spring cleaning before moving the frogs back to their permanent home?
<Sure. The best approach is to separate cleaning the tank from cleaning filter. Leave at least a week between the two. In other words, do your best to keep the filter running while cleaning the tank. If you have a filter that can be removed to a bucket of water and then restarted there, with the bucket filled with water from the aquarium, then that's a great way to do things. Internal canister filters for example are breeze to manage like this. External canisters can be handled like this too, simply by switching them off, moving the inlet and outlet pipes into the bucket of aquarium water, and then switching them on. Hang-on-the-back and undergravel filters can't be moved about like this though. So if you have these filters, leave the tank more or less filled with water, but remove the rocks, gravel, etc to a sink or bucket where you can clean them. When you're happy, move all this stuff back to the tank. The water will likely get a bit murky, so a water change afterwards will likely be necessary, but don't get too paranoid about this, and it's fine to change 25-50% of the water if you need to.>
I was thinking I could temporarily move the platy to the smaller tank that currently has the frogs, bio filter media and plants for a day or two while I remove the medicated and salty water (which the frogs won't tolerate), give the sand a good vacuum, scrub all the algae off the sides, clean the filter housing and heater which are both caked from minerals and yuck and fill it back up with clean treated water.
<Actually, this would all be overkill and a bit of waste of time. The problem is that there's nothing you can "kill" this way in any meaningful sense. An aquarium is like a garden, so while you can certainly tidy it up, you can't sterilise it. Stirring sand is not only pointless but a bit counterproductive, since settled sand actually becomes a quite efficient biological filter (in marine fishkeeping, called a Deep Sand Bed). So, concentrate on tidying rocks and stuff, and if the water is murky, do some water changes. Boosting mechanical filtration by adding mechanical filter media (like filter wool) will help water become clearer than ever.>
After letting the tank run a bit with a carbon filter to mop up whatever medication is left in the tank I would move the filter media, plants, platy and frogs back. Would this be too much or a much needed change?
<I think overkill. Think of what "the wild" looks like, and that's your aim. Tidying up is fine, but a deep clean doesn't make much sense, especially if that would entail switching off a filter for more than 20 minutes, after which point the bacteria start dying. Always better to clean the tank in little increments every couple of weeks with everything running normally. Trying to have a massive blitz isn't a good idea.>
Thanks and have a lovely day,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. 3/3/10
Thanks Neale. I am guessing that the best way to reduce the salinity of the tank water is slowly through 25% water changes.
Certainly need to remove the salt before returning the frogs.
How long post treatment should I wait before doing this?
<I'd expose fish infected with Ick, Velvet or Costia (Slime Disease) to saline water for at least a week, and preferably two weeks. After then, you should be fine.>
Your friend,
<Who needs Facebook!>
<You are most welcome. Always glad to help! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  3/7/2010
Good morning Neale and happy Sunday.
<Sunday's almost finished, but thanks!>
Everyone is still doing well in their tanks. Frogs are happy in their temporary tank, platy is recovering in his tank. In fact, I gave him frozen brine shrimp yesterday and he went nuts!! He is once again able to eat and was zipping around the tank chasing the shrimp through the water gulping them down.
The Spirulina flakes are still hard for him to get down.
<With time...>
I have now completed one full course (4 days) of the antibiotic, and while the platy has made huge strides his mouth is still not fully healed and continues to be a bit rough around edges and his lips a tad swollen making it hard for him to nibble. The instructions on the box of medicine instruct that that the treatment can be repeated. Do you think that this would be beneficial?
<I'd wait maybe 5 days, and see if the fish was showing signs of recovery.
If he was, I'd leave things be. If the situation is no better, or worse, then I'd do the second treatment.>
Current water readings are:
Platy tank (5 gal)
Temp 74
KH 11
GH 6
Ph 7.8
Nit 0
Ammo 0
<All good.>
Frog tank (2.5 gal)
Temp 74-78 depending on time of day
KH 9
GH 6
Ph 7.8
Nit 0
Ammo 0.25 (water change scheduled for today)
<Good; the ammonia level there might cause problems. Cut back on the feeding in the meanwhile.>
Have a lovely day,
<Thank you! I'm actually looking forward to tonight: unusually for England, we have clear skies, and that makes I can set up the telescope and check out Mars. Last night it was amazing! Cheers, Neale>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
Thanks again. Funny question, but do you ever use unmedicated, unsalted water from your water changes to water plants?
<All the time. Saves a fortune on Baby Bio! And my garden looks lovely.
Also good for pot plants (by which I mean houseplants in pots, rather than, well, pot pot).>
Seems like such a waste to dump it down the drain on a weekly basis if I could be using it on my back porch garden instead.
<Absolutely! The water you remove from the aquarium is rich in nitrate and phosphate.>
Enjoy the night sky.
<I will!>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
Wonderful news!!
<Well, that's good. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   3/17/10
Dear Neale,
<Hello again Diana,>
I came home from a long weekend away and my last platy has died.
<Too bad.>
He seemed fine when I left Saturday morning - swimming, eating, clear mouth and body - but dead upon my return today (and has been dead for a while as he was basically jelly as I removed him from the tank).
So, that leaves me with my two ADFs who continue to thrive in their little temporary 2.5 gal tank. When I originally moved the frogs to this temp tank I brought with them the biological filter media and all but one java fern from the 5 gal tank. All that remains, really, in the original (and now lifeless) 5 gal set up is the sand and the one java.
<Not quite lifeless. Keep adding little pinches of flake food every day or two until you decide what to do with it. Why? Because you want to keep the filter bacteria happy. By all means give the gravel/sand a bit of a clean, and do a general tidy up if you want, but there's no need to sterilise the tank or anything like that. Instead just let the tank tick over on this maintenance dose of flake food (as an ammonia source) while you think about what you want to use it for.>
My question is this...how do I go about transferring the frogs back to the 5 gal tank that has had a dead fish in it for a number of days as well as salty water from his treatment?
<For now, just gradually empty the 5 gallon tank, replacing it with plain vanilla dechlorinated tap water. Do 20-20% water changes every day for a week, and by the end of that you should be done to a trivially low quantity of salt. At the same time, you'll be lowering the salinity gently enough the bacteria can adjust. So by the end of that week, you should be free to move the frogs over to the new tank. Just as if you were bringing the frogs back from the aquarium, "acclimate" them carefully using something like the drip method. One approach is to put the frogs in a bucket or large carton and covered with a couple of inches of water from their aquarium. Over the next hour, add a cup or so of water from the new aquarium every 10 minutes. This will adjust the frogs to any differences in temperature and water chemistry, so all you need do then is net them out and pop them in the new tank.>
Also, did the antibiotics I used to treat the platy kill all of the beneficial bacteria in the sand or just some of it?
<Antibiotics can stress filter bacteria, but rarely kill them completely. If you have a nitrite test kit, test some water after a couple of days of water changes and see what you get. You should fine a 0 level of nitrite because the filter bacteria are processing the flake food.>
Would it be beneficial to wash the sand or better to leave it alone?
<Err on the side of doing less rather than more. Tidying up is fine, but deep cleaning is pointless. The bacteria that killed the Platy are otherwise harmless, even beneficial, and part of the ecosystem. Like much in nature, it isn't so much the bacteria that cause disease, but rather when we as humans do something unwise, the bacteria take advantage of the destabilized situation and *then* cause problems. Classic Finrot bacteria are Aeromonas, and in "the wild" these bacteria break down dead organic matter into the chemicals like ammonia that the filter bacteria process. Of course these bacteria try to eat living organic matter too, but ordinarily a healthy fish's immune system fends them off, just like our immune system does with regard to the bacteria all over our bodies. But when a fish is stressed that no longer works, and the bacteria overwhelm the immune system, enter the skin, eat the cells, and cause the Finrot.>
This unfortunate turn of events has taught me a valuable lesson - it is impossible fool Mother Nature.
<Correct. Or rather, Nature is going to do X, Y and Z anyway, so you might as well use that to your advantage rather than try and fight against it.>
When I fist told you of my plight you predicted exactly what has happened. As hard as I fought to save my fish the damage had been done.
<A hard lesson.>
While I did not intend to overcrowd my tank and tax its little ecosystem (and had been told by my fish provider that this would not be the case) that is exactly what I did.
<Likely so.>
And as hard as I tried to make up for my naiveté© Mother Nature ultimately won. Thanks to you, and WWM, I now know better and will never put any fish in the same predicament. Sadly, I have learned this lesson the hard way. May my three little Platies rest in peace.
<Poor little chaps. But you can turn things around. I've seen some great 5 gallon tanks stocked with frogs, cherry and bumblebee shrimps, and tiny, non-breeding snails like Clithon corona and Clithon diadema. Java moss is a wonderful plant for encrusting rocks, and you can create just the most fascinating little ecosystems using species like these. Cherry shrimps are great because they breed reasonably easily, and watching tiny shrimps appear and grow is just wonderful.>
Cheers and enjoy the day.
<Likewise to you, too.>
<Hope version 2.0 of this aquarium works out better. Good luck! Neale.>  

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   3/17/10
Thanks again Neale. Tidying of the tank underway. With regards to the flake food, does it matter whether it is Spirulina or regular?
<Either is fine. Add about as much food as you'd give the two frogs, so that the bacteria are "prepared" for the workload the frogs will exert.>
And, do you give any credence to the "starter bacteria" that is sold in the fish stores?
<None whatsoever. You have a healthy, vibrant culture of bacteria already. In real estate terms, the tank is a nice fixer-upper, rather than an empty lot upon which you'd build something new from scratch.>
Enjoy your evening,
<Have enjoyed it already. Finished teaching my adult education astronomy class, was given a nice bottle of wine by the students, and found a £10 note on the sidewalk whilst walking home. Enjoy your evening too! Neale.>

Is my platy sick? Env.   1/20/10
Hi, I have a small tank, 2 gal, that I keep 2 fish in.
<Two gallons is too small for any fish. Except possibly a Betta, but that's more about cramming a poor Betta into a jar than actually treating an animal well. So let's be clear here, you can't keep any fish properly in a tank less than 5 gallons in size, and the only fish that will do well in a heated, filtered 5 gallon tank is a single Betta. For all other tropical fish you need about 10 gallons or more. Please read here:
Shops sell 2 gallon bowls because there are lots of people out there who don't read books before they buy animals. Perhaps they were beaten up by a book on the school playground when they were little or something. I don't really know. But the point is that NO BOOK EVER WRITTEN would recommend a person keep fish in a 2 gallon tank. Indeed, most will explicitly tell the reader not to. It's a shame shops sell these 2 gallon tanks, but they do.>
A couple days ago one of my fish died.
<Not so much "died" as "killed". Let's be crystal clear here, the fact you kept this fish badly ended up killing the animal. Does it give me pleasure saying this? No, not really. I'd just as soon your pets lived happy lives.
I don't actually enjoy scolding people who killed their pets. Actually, it makes me rather depressed doing this day after day, seemingly without an end in sight. So please take this advice for what it is, honesty rather than about being nice to you.>
It may have been old age as it didn't have any superficial symptoms, but I didn't have any testing strips left so I don't know what the water was like.
<Wasn't old age.>
I did a 50% water change and got strips to test the water. It reads fine for everything except maybe slightly high on nitrites.
<No such thing as "slightly high" nitrites. There's zero (safe) and then there's non-zero (dangerous). It's like being pregnant; you're either pregnant or you're not, you can't be a "little bit pregnant".>
My issue is that the remaining fish is now hanging on the top of the water.
<Dying... gasping...>
Previously he was up and down all over the tank. He is still very active and tries to swim down occasionally, but as soon as he stops making a strong effort he seems to float back up to the top.
<You are killing him.>
He'll swim around at the top, but his top fin stays resting against the edge of the water. He is still eating fine and shows now bodily symptoms. Is there something wrong with him or am I needlessly concerned?
<Needlessly concerned! Oh, boy, no, you should be VERY CONCERNED. You're killing this poor fish. Despite what Fox News and MTV might suggest, ignorance is actually a bad thing. In the case of keeping pet animals,
ignorance of their needs ends up stressing them, poisoning them, and then killing them. I wish I could say something nice to you, to make you feel better, but I fear unless I write this message in crystal clear language, you'll miss the point. Firstly, a 2-gallon "tank" isn't home for anything except perhaps an amoeba. It's worthless. The shop saw you hadn't a clue about keeping fish, and sold you a piece of junk. Secondly, these fish are being poisoned by their environment. At absolute minimum, Platies need about 15 gallons of space. They need a heater (water warmed to about 22-24 Celsius) and they need a filter (0 ammonia and 0 nitrite). Water chemistry is important, and needs to be hard and basic (10+ degrees dH, pH 7.5).
Unless you provide all these things, yes, you will kill your fish. I won't say your fish will die, because that makes it sound like Mother Nature's fault. Instead, I'm going to say you're killing your fish, because you are.
It would be more humane to have bought the fish and then smashed its head in with a mallet, because at least that would be painless. What you've done is passed a death sentence on a couple of poor Platies who are dying by
slow poisoning. Now, I really don't want you to run away from the computer crying because I'm a horrible person. Actually, I'm a very nice person. I'm spending my time answering your query precisely because I like fish and
like chatting with people who keep fish. I genuinely want to help. But it is crucially important you understand the situation here. Nothing, no tablets, no medicines, no nothing, will save the remaining fish without a better aquarium. Your move. Feel free to write back, blow off a little steam, even yell at me. I won't mind. But do also rush to the pet store and buy another aquarium. It's your pet fish I care about. Hope this helps, Neale.> 
Re: Is my platy sick? 1/20/10

Neale, I appreciate your feed back.
<Happy to help.>
When I got the tank several years ago, I did do some reading prior to purchase. I did try to understand what I was doing first. I read that I needed one gallon per fish, so that's what I have.
<You mis-read something there. Think about it for a second. One gallon per fish. Fine... a Whale Shark is 30 feet long, and a fish. Think that would be happy in one gallon of water? Obviously not. Of course, that's an extreme example. But the old (fairly crummy) rule is that for SMALL FISH such as Neons and Guppies, you can allow an INCH OF BODY LENGTH per gallon for water. So a 10 gallon tank would hold 10 inches of fish nose-to-tail, or about 10 inch-long fish such as Neons. All well and good. But the bigger a fish, the more space it needs. Something like an Oscar is about 12 inches in length, but it's the bulk of a housecat. Obviously going to need more space than 12 one-inch fish. Bottom line, even if you used that rule the way it was meant to be used, you'd have to modify it somewhat depending on what you were keeping. Finally, no book ever told you that you could keep one 1-inch fish in a 1-gallon aquarium, two such fish in a 2-gallon aquarium, and so on. All books would have said there's a minimum size at which aquaria work. For all practical purposes, that's about 10 gallons.>
While I'm sure you're right that I killed my fish,
<I am.>
I'd had her for a year and a half, so I'd say I kept her from poisoning for a good while.
<Well, sure, someone with lung cancer can live quite a while too. Doesn't mean it's healthy. Platies should live around 4-5 years, and in that time reach a body length of about 2 inches.>
I'd had a Betta in the tank previous to getting the platys and he lived for several years until my dad knocked the tank over.
So for lack of space, as I live in the city in a small apartment, I will take my platy to the fish store where he can be better taken care of and get a Betta.
<Honestly, if you don't have the space, why keep a fish? It's never really going to be happy in 2 gallons, except in the sense it lives. It's a marginal sort of life, at best. There are some "Nano" pets that are fun in small tanks, such as Cherry Shrimps and Crystal Red Shrimps, and with a clump of Java moss and a couple other plants you can create quite a cool habitat. Over the years, I've managed to talk other folks into carnivorous plants, which are fun without needing much space. I know the need to have a pet animal is often very strong, but really, where's the pleasure if the animal isn't happy?>
Still not ideal, as you said, but I'm diligent with the water changes, so hopefully I'll keep him happy.
<Good luck with whatever you do. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy Problems   12/2/09
Hi There, I have a female sunset platy that has had several broods of fry.
She looks pregnant again but the spot (vent?) where she would deliver the fry, there is something protruding from her. It's orange in color.
<Does it wriggle? Camallanus worms are quite common with farmed livebearers. These look like red threads (often more than one) poking out of the anus. Camallanus needs to be treated with an appropriate anti-helminth.>
She is eliminating ok and eating ok. At first I thought that she was going to pop out a fry but on closer inspection it isn't a fry. Can females get fry stuck or worse yet can the sac where the fry develop come out.
<I'm sure it can happen, but it's not something I've come across before.>
I had another female platy have the same thing happen only what was sticking out was larger. She didn't survive. I thought it was a fluke or something but now it seems to be happening again. Also while I have this email going are swordtails more aggressive than platys?
<Male Swordtails are much more aggressive.>
I had lots of babies in my tank and when I got a swordtail that all stopped.
<Likely the Swordtails simply ate the Platy fry. The two species are not really compatible. While both want hard, alkaline, not too warm water (around 22-25 C) Swordtails come from streams and need strong water currents, whereas Platies come from ditches and ponds, and prefer slow moving water. So you wouldn't keep them in the same tank; at least you could, but one or other species would not be receiving good care.>
I have had only the ones that I rescued from my filter. I have one of those BiOrb tanks with the round filter in the bottom and sometimes the babies will get sucked in.
<These "designer" tanks are almost always overpriced garbage. Bearing in mind Platies need upwards of 15 gallons, and Swordtails upwards of 30 gallons, these tanks likely won't be big enough. Even if they had the right
volume, they have this stupid tall rather than long shape that is COMPLETELY useless for fishkeeping. Swordtails for example need a tank some 60 cm/24 inches long, at least, to have enough swimming space. Just look at how streamlined they are! Do they look like fish that want to be cooped up in a glorified jam jar?>
Most all that I have rescued and put in a separate baby tank have grown up.
The female pineapple sword that I have did have a few of her own babies that survived but now that they are bigger I swear that they go on the hunt for baby fry to eat!
<Yes indeed. In the wild the fry hide among plants or in very shallow water. There is no evolutionary pressure for adults to "know" what their babies look like, since they wouldn't ever see them. To an adult Platy or Swordtail, anything small and wriggly at the surface is food.>
Hopefully you will have an answer for me or have at least heard of this condition that my platy has. Thank You Michelle
<Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: Platy Problems   12/3/09

Hi there, No the mass bump or what ever it is doesn't move at all.
It's just there. All I had before were platys and I really like them the best. I am going to give the swords to the guy at the pet store that I give my babies to. They are OK but I like the platys better. I have two other tanks that are larger and rectangular than the one Biube, which was a gift from my husband.
<I suspect many of these designer tanks are bought as well-meaning, if impractical, gifts.>
They all have platys in them too. The 3 tetras and couple of platys that I had in the Biube were fine before the swords. I didn't realize that I had bought a sword. One of the local fish stores that I went to told me that it was a platy. I know now they just wanted to make the sale. Not going back there again.
<Oh dear!>
So the difference between the platys and the swords are the body shape.
<Yes; adaptation to the environment. One streamlined, the other more compact.>
I can see that with the pineapple that I have, she is much longer and slender than my sunset. When I got her she was small and I couldn't really tell although now I can see the difference in her babies and my platy babies. Do mollies do ok with platys?
<They can do. Mollies tend to prefer slightly brackish water -- around 3-5 grammes marine salt mix per litre, and Platies will tolerate such conditions perfectly well. However, Mollies do need quite warm water, around 28 C, and this will shorten the lives of Platies. How about looking out for Limia nigrofasciata?
This species is golden with purple vertical stripes, and the males have a wonderfully marked Sailfin just the male Mollies. This species is very peaceful, and like Platies, is essentially vegetarian, so the same mix of Spirulina flake and Sushi Nori suits them very well.>
I did have one balloon belly but she was so freaked out and scared that she didn't last long, I think she died of fright. I decided that I wouldn't take any more chances with mollies.
<As mentioned, Mollies are sensitive, and they're much easier to keep in slightly brackish water. Your best bet is to set up a slightly brackish water aquarium just for the Mollies, and then choose suitable salt-tolerant tankmates as needs be: Knight Gobies, Glassfish, Wrestling Halfbeaks, Orange Chromides, and so on.>
I have had the best success with the platys. They come is so many colors and mostly they are easy.
<While I like my Limia nigrofasciata even more, I do agree that Platies are excellent fish, and perhaps the best of the "common" species traded. They tend to be less aggressive than Swordtails, and easier to keep than Guppies
or Mollies. Do think about buying a book about livebearers -- there are lots more species than you can imagine. I have some Ameca splendens, a species extinct in the wild, but as its name suggests, splendidly coloured and while too nippy to mix with other fish, they're so full of life you can happily keep a "swarm" of them in a planted tank and never regret it.
Upstairs I have a tank for breeding Celebes Halfbeaks.
Once you get into livebearers, and make an effort to find the oddball species, you'll soon become addicted!>
Thanks for your input. Michelle
<Cheers, Neale.>

Impossible platy, impossible situation   12/2/09
I hate to barrage you with one more question, You have been so fantastic about answering other people's questions you'd think I'd find what I'm looking for. It's an amazing site! I love your approach to problems, and your mater <Ahh!>-of-factitude.
<Me too... is actually the only "way" I know of being>
There's a lo-o-ong story leading up to this point, but I'm going to cut it short and start with now:
NO3 = 0
<Likely you mean NH3, NH4OH, ammonia>
Nitrates = 0
<And Nitrites>
Nitrates = 10-20
GH = 150-ish (hard to tell on the test kits exactly)
KH = 70-90 (the API kit varies from 4 drops to 5 day to day)
pH = 7.8 (again, hard to tell with the API kit)
For both tanks. They're both Marineland Bow front, handy "habitat-in-a-kit" tanks.
2 Platies, 1 female in the six-gallon tank, 1 male in the two-gallon tank.
(I was originally advised to keep 3 Platies in the two gallon; six was/is as big as I could/can fit into the human environment.) Two tiny (8mm), cherished snails in the six gallon.
I wanted the female to get squatters'
rights, which is why I moved the boy out.
<I do wish you had larger systems. Much more suitable and easier to care for>
As little history as possible: I trusted some dip strips for testing and wasn't changing the water as much as I needed to. This month I've treated the female in a clean, borrowed hospital tank (nearly a fishbowl) for dropsy/bacterial with Maracyn and Maracyn2, Ich/parasites with 86 degrees, 2x Aquarium salt and CopperSafe. When she seemed good, really good, for three days I moved her into the six gal. She went south again, clamping/hiding, I immediately moved the boy into the two-gallon, and gave away the other, more aggressive male, to give her a break (I also gave away a pile of snails, we bought only one, that were contributing to the overstock problem).
She's got a white cottony fluff at the base of her tail on one side.
Today she's darting around, I'm guessing she's flashing but doesn't seem itchy (she reminds me of when I was delivering a child w/o epidural and I wanted out of my own body), sometimes hovering, often hiding. She's been listing for about two hours. Her inner gut, in a crescent-shape behind her ribs, looks dark to me (she might just be losing color), but that's been since she started getting sick a month ago. Her poops look like an ordeal and are
wide. I give her peas (I mince them into fish bites with a tiny knife, totally AR) and it doesn't seem to make a difference, and I've already got plenty of Epsom salt in the water. She eats really well, and has always been a good eater through all of it. She looks thin, to me, though, and muscle-y, like a 70-year-old yoga instructor.
<Good descriptive term choices>
Do I stress her out, switch the fish and treat her with meds in the two-gallon tank?
<Very likely so, yes>
Do I just put the snails in the two-gallon with the boy and treat the six-gallon (it's the perfect hospital tank size, if you ask me now that I know something about fish keeping)? Do I just leave them and wait and see, keeping the water good now that I know how to do that?
<This latter is what I would do, and...>
(Yeah, you got to just change enough of it no matter what you think the parameters are..) If I do treat her, do I treat her for the fungus (I'm pretty sure, but if you have better ideas.) *and* what I now think might be an internal
parasite? Other ideas?
<Just the environment. All that is concomitant w/ it being too small>
The boy, who's about 5 months old and used to be one of our fry, is OK.
He's occasionally mad, and I wonder if putting the female (his mom, of all things) out of his sight might be easier on him, or if he's just feeling too confined. I worry about getting him too stressed out, though, too.
In retrospect, fish are the worst pets for the 4-year-old child of a single, formerly fishless mom.
<You may be correct here. Unlike mammals and birds, they don't/can't vocalize when in duress, in need of help... And when they die... is very hard on children>
I learned an invaluable life lesson about trust with these fish (not to mention the near-online-PhD I got in water chemistry). I owe them one. Technically they belong to my daughter, and she really does need some kind of pet. These are the ones we've got for now.
Thanks so much for your time,
<I do consider that the doctorate investigation is of great worth of and by itself, and do wish I had more to state per your present situation. If it were me/mine, I would trade in the Platies and use these small volumes for more suitable aquatic life. Do take a look either into keeping a single male Betta, or perhaps a pair of Paradisefish (Macropodus sp.) or other possibilities you'll be led to by reading here:
Bob Fenner>

A few platy questions! Hlth. f' 12/1/09
Hi WWM Crew!
<Hello Suzanne,>
I hope you can help and promise to be to the point. I bought 4 Platies 2 weeks ago (3 female, 1 male so keeping the ratio correct).
a) One female keeps blowing bubbles on top of the aquarium which I thought might be a bubble nest but isn't that usually males and also if they are live bearers why would they build a nest?
<Indeed. Neither sex should be making a bubble nest. So I think this is "gasping" behaviour.>
b) Another of my females is black and I can see very clearly a problem with her skin, it's as though she is covered in bubbles? She's very agitated and swimming in a full body manner quite unlike the others.
<Likely a secondary infection such as Finrot caused by opportunistic bacteria; like the gasping, probably associated with water conditions.>
c) Another of my females keeps laying on the bottom of the aquarium until feeding time when she comes alive - all other times she just stays put.
<Again, unnatural behaviour, and probably associated with water quality problems.>

The only happy fish in the group of four seems to be the male - but then he has 3 females to keep him company!!
Would be grateful for any help and advice you can give.
Thanks and keep up the good work - this site is excellent!!
<Thank you.>
<Unfortunately, while I'm sure your fish are sick, I can't say anything about why. I need more information. So, to pre-empt anything else, let's clarify what Platies need. Firstly, good water quality. Zero ammonia, zero nitrite. Next, adequate space and filtration. A 15 gallon tank is the absolute minimum, and realistically, you want 20 gallons or more. There needs to be a filter rated at not less than 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. In other words, for a 20 gallon tank, an 80 gallon/hour filter would be required. Temperature should be moderate, around 22-24 C; none of the Xiphophorus species will do well if kept too warm. Finally, water chemistry should be hard and alkaline. Aim for 10+ degrees dH and a pH around 7.5 to 8. Note that "pH up" products aren't what you need here; the water should be hardened if you live in a soft water area. Use Rift Valley salt mix, not tonic salt or marine aquarium salt.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A few platy questions!   12/2/09

Thank you so much Neale
<You're welcome.>
I'm going to carry out water tests today and make sure everything is as it should be. I would be a little surprised if it isn't as I've had the aquarium for 6 years and all my other fish are okay but this could just be because they have got used to it.
In the meantime do you think the condition of the female with bubbles might be Ich?
<Ick/Whitespot is very distinctive: it looks like salt has been scattered on the fish. Bubbles on the skin can be caused by a variety of other things, ranging from simply too much aeration of the water through to bacterial infections.>
I have started to bring the temperature of the tank up bit by bit so that it gets to 28 deg.s as I believe this helps the chemical to work and also kills off the bacteria.
<What? This doesn't make any sense to me. Upping the water temperature will stress those fish that don't like warm water. Platies for example are cool water fish, and prefer something between 22-25 C. Unless you're using a salt/heat method to treat Ick/Whitespot, there's no advantage to warming them up. As for killing bacteria, remember, most bacteria are either helpful or harmless. You may be dealing with Finrot, but that's something specific, and not the same as, for example, the bacteria that cause internal infections. Treat against Finrot bacteria; in the UK, I like a product called eSHa 2000 that I have found effective and safe (and very economical!). I have to confess to never finding the Interpet anti-Finrot or anti-Internal Bacteria products any good at all, as well as expensive to use per litre/gallon.>
Basically I am willing to try anything in an attempt to keep my little family happy and healthy.
<The "anything" aspect is questionable. Remember, diagnose the problem, and then treat against it. Better not to treat, and have one fish die (or be humanely destroyed) than to treat wrongly and poison the aquarium. Almost all medications are poisons at some level.>
Just one more question before I close, the platys are 2 white (male and female) and 2 black. The poor white female is being pestered by the male constantly (24 hours a day from what I see!), should I separate her off for a short while to give her a rest or is that normal behaviour?
<Isolate the male, instead. She's already stressed, so being cooped up won't make her any happier. As/when the tank is stable, add more females of whatever Platy breed you like. Add some floating plants, such as Indian Fern. Heck, if you're anywhere near Berkhamsted you can come grab a clump of Indian Fern because I'm always throwing out surplus stuff onto the compost heap! Indian Fern makes a great place for female fish to rest, and also provides cover for the baby fish.>
Thanks again Neale, very much appreciated.
<Always happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A few platy questions!   12/2/09

Thanks Neale!
I'll drop in next time I'm passing!! I'm down in Nettlestead, Kent so it would probably be easier to buy some locally...:O)
<Indeed! Do also try various fish forums. Many have buy/sell/swap threads, and people like me who have these fast-growing plants are usually only to happy to give away surplus plants. I have done this myself, and likewise,
received plants this way for nothing other than the cost of postage.>
I'll keep you posted on my aquarium events if you are interested?
<Please do. I will make the point though that the WWM forum is a good place to chat with other fishkeepers, especially if you want some feedback on decor, etc.>
Kind regards
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A few platy questions! 12/4/09

Hi Neale
<Hello Suzanne,>
A very quick update....I did a partial water change (about 10%) as thought it may be a cycling problem (new filter put in about 2 weeks ago) and all appears to be well.
<Good news.>
The gasping/bubble blowing appears to have stopped, no further lying on the bottom of the tank that I can see and additionally....the female with the bubbles over her body gave birth to about 30 fry overnight! I managed to save 6 of them from being eaten so they are in the nursery right now and are fighting fit.
<These should keep you busy for a while! Raising baby fish is a hoot.>
The strange thing is that the bubbles or white spots that she had all over her have now gone too. I cannot believe that it was something as simple as a partial water change so I have to believe that whatever it was managed
somehow to sort itself out naturally.
<Most of the times we get ill, our body fixes the problem given time. The tricky bit is making sure the environment and diet is favourable.>
So for the time being, all is right with the world.
I just wanted to say, thank you for metaphorically "holding my hand" through the last week as it was a bit stressful to see my extended family so unwell. Just having someone around that I could panic to was worth more than gold! Forums and websites which are generic are also brilliant but nothing quite like having tailored advice.
<I'm glad you see the value to what we're trying to do.>
So thank you very much and keep up the good work for all the other aquarists in the world - you and your team ROCK!!! (to use an Americanism).
<We use that phrase here, too -- though it does sound a bit weird if used in Buckingham Palace while addressing the Queen.>
Kind regards
<Good luck! Neale.>

Platy with clamped fins and tail 5/5/09
I have 2 platys in a 10 gallon tank
<Too small for this species... maintaining good health will be difficult. Haven't we discussed this before?>
and one of them seems to be clamping its fins and tails.
<Sounds like "the Shimmies", usually an issue with water quality and/or chemistry.>
It can still swim around though, by swooshing its tail side to side. It does not have other disease symptoms like weird poo or abnormal appetite. I tested the tank water last week and everything was fine except that the pH was high (7.8).
<Bit worried you don't actually understand what "fine" is. The optimal pH for Platies is between 7.5 and 8, so 7.8 is perfect. But that assumes the water is also hard (10-25 degrees dH) and there are zero levels of ammonia and nitrite. In a tank as small as 10 gallons, ensuring pH and water chemistry remain stable will be difficult.>
Is there anything I can do to help the fish?
<Buy a bigger tank...?>
<Much written about maintaining livebearers here at WWM; do please read.
Cheers, Neale.>

Platies (health; environment?) 9/21/08
I had two Platy's, one male, one female. The female just dies yesterday, and I believe it dies in labor by its behaviors the previous day, but am not sure.
<Very unlikely; fish don't go into "labour" in anything like the same way as humans. The baby fish just come flying out the hole there, with little stress on the mother. On the other hand, the females are easily stressed when pregnant by bullying males and poor water quality. So those are the things to check.>
My male Platy has been acting strangely. It has been darting around the bowl and when I put any food in the bowl at all, the fish darts for the food and practically inhales it. He has been acting this way for about a week, so both before and after the death of the female.
<I'm a bit concerned by the word "bowl" which is anathema to sensible fishkeeping. Platies CANNOT be kept in bowls. They need filtered, heated (around 22-25 C) tropical aquaria at least 20 gallons in size. The water must be hard (10+ degrees dH) and basic (pH 7.5-8.0). Platies cannot be kept in "Nano" tanks 10 gallons or smaller, and they cannot be kept in unheated tanks. So, review the environment: that is by far the most likely reason this fish died. Almost always, mystery fish deaths come down to environment. Darting about looking nervous is a classic symptom of a fish that feels stressed by its environment. If you're confused about the habitat you've created for your fish, get back in touch, describing the system, and we'll comment on whether or not it's suitable.>
I am just wondering if this seems typical of any diseases or illness. I appreciate your help so much. Your team is very knowledgeable, rapid in response, and overly helpful!
<We're glad to help!>
Have a wonderful day! Marion
<Cheers, Neale.>

Sunburst Platy no longer has a bulging belly 9/8/08
Hi, I have a 30 gallon tank with 2 sunburst platys. I used to have 3, but one recently died. I noticed that over time, the one that died developed a "flat" belly. It used to be plump and happy. The other two during the time were plump and happy as well. But now, a second platy has developed the "flat" belly and is starting to wrinkle up. Any idea what this is and how to resolve it? Thanks!
<Hello. Nine times out of ten, when a succession of fish sicken and die, especially where the symptoms are as generic as this, the issue is water chemistry and/or water quality. Your 30 gallon tank should be perfect for Platies, so overcrowding isn't an issue (assuming that's all that's in there). But Platies are sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, so we have to make sure that this tank has a fully cycled filter. Cycling _isn't_ leaving the tank empty for a week before adding fish, but providing the filter bacteria with a source of ammonia. If this is a brand new tank and you've added Platies as your first fish, then you have to be extremely careful what you do. Don't feed more than one very small meal per day. Change 25-50% of the water every day or two. Use a nitrite test kit to ensure the nitrite level stays as close to zero as possible, and certainly no more than 0.5 mg/l (sometimes written 0.5 ppt). Cycling a brand new tank takes about 4-6 weeks, after which you will see the nitrite stays at zero, and you can switch to changing 25-50% of the water weekly. Next up, water chemistry. Platies need hard, basic water; aim for pH 7.5, 10-20 degrees dH. In soft water areas, adding a small amount of marine salt mix (not "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt") will make your Platies much healthier and less disease-prone. Finally, temperature is an issue. Platies need warm but not hot water; around 22-2F degrees C is fine. Do read here:
If you're still unable to figure out what's wrong, get back to us with data about your system (in particular nitrite and pH) and we'll talk further.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sunburst Platy no longer has a bulging belly 9/10/08

Thanks for the reply. I did a test with a 5-1 test strip by Tetra and the following are the results:
Nitrate - 50ppm

Nitrite - 0ppm
Hardness - 180 to 280ppm
Alkalinity - 50 to 100ppm
pH - 6.4

Temp - 80F
<Ah, here's at least part of the problem: the water is acidic. Platies need basic water. You need to find a way to raise the carbonate hardness or stabilise the pH ay around 7.5. Various commercial water additives will "buffer" the pH at 7.5 for you, and if you prefer not to get involved with water chemistry manipulation, that might be the way forward. If the only fish in the system are livebearers, you could also add a small amount of MARINE salt mix (not tonic salt or aquarium salt). Marine salt mix contains lots of carbonate, and this raises the carbonate hardness and the pH. At a dose of up to 6 grammes per litre you should fine the pH shifting upwards and staying there.>
I also did nitrite and ammonia level tests with the API freshwater test kits.
Nitrite - 0ppm
Ammonia - 0ppm
<All fine.>
The tank is not new. I've had it running successfully for over a year with these Platies. These Platies have been with the tank since I got it last Aug 2007.
<The problem with water chemistry is that it is a problem that can get worse over time. All aquaria have background acidification, and this is causes by a variety of biological processes including the production of nitrate and phosphate in the filter, decaying plant material, and the CO2 given off by the plants and animals in the tank. It's very unpredictable in some ways, which is why regular pH testing is important. Moreover, the impact the "wrong" pH has on fish doesn't always manifest itself instantly, although it can. If exposed to slightly acidic water over months, Livebearers may not show immediately signs of sickness, but their overall healthiness declines, until something else forces itself past their immune system, causing problems. In any event, acidic water isn't appropriate for these fish, and without fixing that, it's impossible to guarantee their health.>
I perform a 40% (12gallons) water change every month. I use API Stress Zyme and Stress Coat with each water change. It uses a Filstar XP1 filtration system with the BioChem Zorb every 3 months and BioStars which I do not disturb during the filter cleanings (done once a month). Of the items that you mention, my pH is on the low side.
My water temp is on the high side (how do I cool the tank?),
<Difficult without a chiller, but opening the hood and placing a fan nearby increases evaporation, reducing temperature. Making sure there is no direct sunlight on the tank, and increasing ventilation in the hood are also important. If all else fails, you can freeze a plastic container filled with water, and then place the (closed) container in the tank like an iceberg. Works quite well.>
and I've been using "aquarium" salt (1tablespoon each 12 gallon change).
<Aquarium salt is plain sodium chloride. This has zero effect on hardness and pH for reasons you doubtless recall from inorganic chemistry at school. The functions of NaCl by itself on freshwater fish is obscure and much debated in the hobby. It certainly has no function at all as a regular additive, but it can be used to treat certain diseases and to detoxify certain poisons (specifically, nitrite and nitrate).>
But do I need marine salt given that the water hardness is on the high side?
<Remember, hardness and alkalinity are different things. General hardness (GH) has very little to do with pH. It's all about osmoregulation; the balance of water and minerals inside and outside the fish. Alkalinity (almost identical to carbonate hardness, KH, for practical purposes) is the ability of *certain* mineral ions in the water to mop up acidification. It is perfectly possible to have lots of minerals in the water (high hardness) but not much of the specific minerals like carbonate and bicarbonate (alkalinity/carbonate hardness) that neutralise acid.
Adding marine salt mix is a cheap-and-cheerful way to up the alkalinity. It isn't very efficient (most of the mineral content is sodium chloride, not carbonate hardness salts like calcium carbonate) but because livebearers have a high tolerance for salt, this isn't really a problem. If you want to raise the carbonate hardness efficiently, you need to use something like Malawi cichlid salt, albeit at a low dosage. A standard Malawi salt mix per 5 gallons is something like this:
* 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
* 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
* 1 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements)
Because you're not keeping Malawi cichlids, you'd need to use only a fraction this dose, perhaps 1/4th the amount. Basically play around until you get the pH/alkalinity you're after. You won't do any harm because these minerals are non-toxic at these dosages and much loved by livebearers anyway. It goes without saying these three ingredients are very cheap, and using them thus will cost literally pennies per water change.>
Are the Platies just getting old?
<Quite possibly.>
I want to replenish the tank with a few more Platies, but if there is something wrong with my setup, I want to fix it before I do that.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Can you help me? Platy hlth. 7/22/08 WetWebMedia, I'm new to your site and I understand that you don't want questions that have already been answered. I took the time to look at Neale Monks' chart and I'm still unsure as to what plagues my platy. <Oh?> I have a 10 gallon tank with 6 platys. <To be honest, a bit small for this species... likely to be prone to poor water quality and pH instability.> All the fish are looking healthy and fine, except one. He is a large male platy- a twin sidebar- and the biggest fish in the tank. When I got him from the store he was perfectly healthy. I've had him for about a week and half and he was fine right up until the drastic Ph drop. <Ah, and there it is: small tanks experience pH crashes more easily than big tanks. Either you aren't doing enough water changes (I'd recommend 25-50% weekly) or else you have water lacking in carbonate hardness. If the latter, I'd recommend grabbing some marine salt mix -- not "aquarium salt" -- and adding 3-5 grammes per litre. The carbonate salts in marine salt mix will provide extra carbonate hardness, inhibiting pH drops. Platies will tolerate the slightly brackish conditions very well.> Most of the fish showed signs of Ph sickness, but I brought the Ph back up slowly and now all my fish are seemingly fine, except the big fish. I think he has some kind of internal parasite, because when he swims he seems to be using his head instead of his tail to move. He looks as if he's literally shaking his head at everything- I know this can't be normal. <It's not a mystery parasite; this is standard issue "Shimmies" or similar. A generic reaction to stressful conditions in livebearers. Most often seen with Mollies. No real cure as such, but if conditions improve, it should get better by itself.> He didn't do this when I first bought him. I would consider maybe water quality, temperature issues, but the other fish are fine. <Not everyone succumbs to stress at the same rate: not humans, not fish.> They're happy and normal. No one else seems to be getting what the big fish has- it doesn't appear contagious. On top of the constant 'wagging' motion of his body, he also can't seem to recover from the Ph spike. First he was floating at the bottom, tail clamped, now he's floating at the top, tail clamped. Other fish will swim past him and bump him and he won=E 2t move or react sometimes- something is definitely wrong. Maybe I read over the list of symptoms and simply didn't know what to look for? I'm sorry for troubling you. Can you please help me? <Do first check the pH. It should be 7.5-8, and it should stay there week in, week out. Use marine salt mix (Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, etc.) as an additive as described above. Will help considerably. Also keep up with your water changes. Your Platy will recover if conditions are good. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Can you help me? 7/23/08 Neale, Thank you for your advice. <Most welcome.> I'm going to try the marine salt out. I already have dissolved aquarium salt in the tank, so does this mean I should change all the water before I put the new salt in? I don't want to over-saturate the water with salt. <No need. Add the marine salt mix to each bucket of water (at the dosage stated, taking care it dissolves before use). So when you take out a bucket or two of water this weekend, replace with a bucket or two of water with 3-5 grammes/litre marine salt mix. Always be careful not to overdose. If you're not good with sensible measurements of mass and volume, I have a software tool (for Mac and Windows) that helps you calculate salinity and convert between Metric and US units. http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Programs/brackcalc.html > Can I ask you one more question? <Fire away.> Around the same time I bought the large male platy in question, I also bought a smaller male who is yellow and slightly see-through. When I first bought him I noticed he had some red around his gills, but I chalked this up to his natural coloration. <Likely just the blood in the gill filaments being visible through the gill covers. Quite a common "thing" on fancy versions of all sorts of different fishes.> While researching the symptoms of my fish in question, I came across information that stated red gills could be an indication of ammonia poisoning. I had never heard of ammonia poisoning before and didn't even know that fish secreted ammonia through the gills. Is it normal to buy a yellow twin side bar platy and see red coloration around the gills? <Don't worry about this. If the fish had Ammonia Poisoning, it would be obviously very sick -- e.g., skittish, gasping at the surface, clamped fins, etc.> I don't mean to be paranoid, but the coloration around the gills seems to have darkened. I'm worried my ammonia levels could be out of whack because I don't have equipment to monitor ammonia. <I'd highly recommend buying those little dip-strip test kits. Over here you get 25 strips for about £10, but you can slice each strip down the middle to make twice as many. These have ammonia, nitrite, pH, hardness, and sometimes other useful tests -- all on the one strip. While expert fishkeepers will make the point they're less accurate than the tests with liquids and plastic bottles, I think these dip-strips are indispensable, especially for beginners. In general, if you don't have nitrite in the water, you likely don't have ammonia, so I'd not be worried anyway.> This should be my last question- I don't mean to bother you. <No bother.> Again, thank you for your help. I really appreciate it. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Can you help me? 7/23/08 Neal, Thank you so much. You need not reply back and your questions have been very helpful. I will do all you suggested! Thank you! <Glad we could help. Cheers, Neale.>

Another sick platy question 6/16/08 Hello all, <Hi> I'm very nervous that this question has been asked and answered, but I've been reading and reading and can't seem to find this combination of circumstances. Please accept my apologies in advance if I've just missed something. <No problem, promise this won't hurt much.> I'm new to aquariums and realize that I've already made some mistakes. That being said, I have a 29 gallon aquarium that had been set up for about 3 weeks. I now realize that it is not cycled and I maybe shouldn't have added the fish yet. Ammonia, nitrates and nitrite all test at zero. I can't seem to get my PH below 7.6, although it isn't fluctuating. it's 7.6 consistently. <Is fine for Platies.> In residence are 3 fancy guppies, 5 ghost shrimp, 1 Cory cat, 2 Mickey mouse Platies, 3 banana plants and 4 small sword plants. The substrate is glass beads and store bought river rock, like the kind used in table-top fountains. I also have a rock structure that has hidey places and is aerated. All were washed thoroughly before they were added. <Ok> My problem...one of my Platies is definitely sick. I think it's a female. She isn't eating, even when I dropped food (flakes) right on her, she stays at the bottom of the tank, her mouth moves constantly like she's gasping, her vent is very red (she's a gold MM), her fins aren't clamped. Today, I noticed what appeared to be thin, white lines (about 3 of them) running through the MM pattern on her body and it looks like someone took a bite or two out of her tail. <May be stress marks, and weak fish are often picked on by tankmates, I would try to move her to a hospital tank.> So I have two questions... I think I need a hospital tank. <Yes> What is the minimum size I can have (not much space) and does this tank need a heater and filter (I'm thinking yes)? <I would go with a 10g, and yes to heat and filtration.> And can I treat her for something now, in the tank with the others, or should I euthanize her? <I would get the hospital tank going and go from there, and would not treat the main tank in any way.> I'm afraid the gasping means that she's suffering. <It is definitely a sign something is wrong, perhaps just environmental, try some water changes.> Thank you in advance for any help. Cindy <Welcome> <Chris>

Platy with a swollen gill Hi crew, I set up my first aquarium approximately 5 weeks ago. <How was it cycled?> It is a 28 gal tank. We started with 3 sunburst Platies (2 females, 1 male) and two days later had 6 babies swimming around. The water circulated really well and everyone was doing fine, so we decided to get 3 red eye tetras. <Mmm, can be nippy> They seemed really stressed and two were bullying one and wouldn't let him out of the corner of the tank. After more research, I realized we needed more tetras. So this weekend we purchased 3 more red eyes. They have all since settled down, although we now only have 3 baby Platies. We also bought some new live plants and put them in the tank on Sat. <Good> The water has been great, until this morning when the ammonia level went to 0.25 and the nitrates climbed to 20 ppm. The nitrite level was at 0, pH was 7.6, alkalinity 120, and our water is hard. The temperature has been stable at 78-80. All the fish seemed healthy and active and eating well, except one of the female Platies. She was hovering about 1-2 inches from the surface of the water and her left gill was bulging out. She was breathing through this gill heavily and seemed to be mouth breathing. Not knowing what else to do, I did a 30% water change. <Good move> Approximately 5 hours later she seemed much better. Her gill is still bulging, but only slightly, she is no longer mouth breathing, and is swimming around the tank normally. Was this a case of ammonia poisoning or something else? <Possibly just the ammonia> Is there anything else I should do for her? Thank you so much for you help. Katy <Not much else I would do here at the present set of circumstances. Very important to note that many "fish medicines" are quite toxic, none have zero negative effects... and your system is not stable... not thoroughly cycled. I would just hold off, be observant. Bob Fenner>
Re: Platy with a swollen gill 4/16/08
Hi Bob, Yes I did receive your response, and thank you so much. I will continue to watch and monitor. The water this morning was better: pH 7.6, nitrates 10 ppm, nitrites 0 ppm and ammonia 0.25. <Ah, good. But the ammonia must need be zero as well> The platy is still doing well despite the swollen gill. She is no longer mouth breathing and she is acting like her old self. It has been so hard to obtain reliable information on fish and how to properly take care of them. You and the crew provide an invaluable service, thank you. Katy <Welcome our friend. BobF>

Dying, sick platys and others 2/11/08 Dear Crew, <Julie> First of all, THANK you for the fantastic site and the great work you do. I have come to your site so many times to find answers to some of my more straightforward problems. It is the best on the web! <Thank you for your kind words> Alas, I am having some serious problems now, and I'm not sure why. Please forgive the length of this email, but I know that you like to have as much information as possible. <Yes> I have two freshwater tanks: - 55 gallon tank -- has 5 black skirt tetras, 4 harlequin Rasboras, 5 white clouds, 2 dwarf Gourami, 1 Pleco, 4 albino Corys, 6 platys (3 female, 3 male), 4 glass cats, 4 cherry barbs (brand new), some live plants, a lava rock, a driftwood (bought at high end aquarium store) and a sand/gravel substrate, Fluval filter, heater and power head. Current readings: pH=7.8; Ammonia = .25; <Mmm, should be zero> Ni <Something missing here?> - 10 gallon tank -- 3 dwarf African water frogs, 5 algae eating shrimp (very small), 4 male fancy-tailed guppies. The problem all began with one of my female platys (let's call her "Greenie"). She was in the 50 gallon tank, hanging with her mate, "Hi Fin," Hi Fin was getting exhausted and mean chasing all the other males away, so I moved them both into the 10 gallon. After a water change of about 20%, and decent water conditions (Amm and Nitrites at 0, nitrates a bit high, around 40), <Too high by about twice...> she looked stressed and listless. This did not improve, so after a few days, I moved them both back into the 55 gallon, hoping that she was just reacting poorly to something in the 10 gallon. Meanwhile, I moved an aggressive male platy ("Bubba") who kept bugging Greenie. Put Bubba in the 10 gallon tank. Bought Bubba a mate ("Li'l Red") and put her in the 10 gallon with him. Greenie did not improve. Rather, she was flashing a lot, getting weak, having trouble staying level, hanging out on the bottom or at the surface, hardly moving much, not eating. All bad. Hi Fin stayed close by her side. Things continued to deteriorate and, not knowing what else to do, I moved her back to the 10 gallon (stupid, I know). She continued to do poorly. At that point, she had developed a sore on her head -- scales gone, looked like the white flesh beneath. To be honest, I was very surprised she had lasted this long since she has been sick for well over a week (flashing, doing desperate flip circles at the surface, etc.). I finally moved her to my small QT (about 2 gallons), and treated it with some Myacin. <Maracyn, Erythromycin...> Meanwhile, back in the 55 gallon tank, Hi Fin was looking morose -- hiding under the drift wood. This was unusual for him since he is a pretty dominant platy and usually survives just about everything. I did a cleaning of my 55 gallon tank. Vacuumed up some good yuck from the sand, took out about 5 gallons, replenished with 7.5 gallons of tap water that I treated with Amquel+. The next day, I went to my LFS. From the description I gave them of the platy, they thought it was a parasite. I bought some Copper medication, <NO!> and treated the QT appropriately for its size. Since Hi Fin was still morose, I put him in the QT too. On that same day, two of my albino Corys bit the dust. <Yikes> This morning, I noticed that pretty much **all** the platys were listless, in both tanks. Also, my Pleco was now dead, as was another albino Cory. I realized I would have to move all of the platys, and probably the cherry barbs (who were looking a bit listless themselves), to the QT. Only problem is it is too small. So I removed the frogs and shrimp from my 10 gallon, leaving in the 4 fancy tail male guppies. I did a 50% water change on my 10 gallon. I removed all of the platys and cherry barbs from all of the tanks, and put them in the 10 gallon (with the 4 guppies). Treated the 10 gallon with copper, and treated the new water with Amquel+. I got rid of the copper-treated water from the QT, cleaned it well, refilled with Amquel+-treated water, and put the frogs and shrimp in that. <Good> By the way -- before I did the 50% water change on the 10G, it had a 7.2 pH, Amm=0, Nitrite=0, but high Nitrates -- around 80 (!!! -- due to Tubifex for frogs, Grrrr). GH was at 9 drops. Immediately after the water change, pH was 7.5, Nitrates had gone down to 40, GH was up at 11-12, but the Ammonia went up to .5!!! <Yeeikes> I waited about 45 minutes, retested the ammonia -- it had dropped a tad, but still above .25. <The ammonia may be anomalous... there are types of test kits that produce false positives with Amquel and other such products...> So here are all my questions: 1. What the heck is wrong with the platys? I do not notice any white spots, other than the big sore on top of Greenie's head. So I don't think it's Ich. I haven't noticed any white poop, so don't think it's internal parasites. Could it be external parasites? Some bacterial infection? <Could be these... Tetrahymena, Costia, Epistylis... maybe a bacterial involvement... Only way to tell definitively is through microscopic analysis> 2. What's with the bottom feeders -- Corys and Pleco -- dying? Associated with the very modest water change? <Possibly... there was something anomalous in the tap/source water that day. Hence my/our proviso/encouragement for folks to store/save water a week or so ahead of use> Or with gunk being pulled up from under the sand/gravel, and possibly eaten by them? <Maybe> Or are they more sensitive to whatever is ailing the platys? Parasites? <Possibly> 3. How come the ammonia levels in my water went from 0 to .5 just by adding tap water treated pretty thoroughly with Amquel+. <See above> If anything, shouldn't there be no ammonia? (By the way, a LFS said ammonia may have increased because my cleaning might have stirred up stuff on the bottom. I've never heard this before.) <Can/does happen. Best to do so only while siphoning...> Thank you to the whole crew for your kind assistance. You guys rock!!! Cheers, Julie <I do hope whatever the root cause here has abated. I do encourage you to read on WWM re Nitrate control, keep this under 20 ppm. and to store your make-up water... and quarantine all incoming livestock... Perhaps reading of other instances of Freshwater Disease Troubleshooting will lead to revelation: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmystdisfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>
Re: Dying, sick platys and others - UPDATE 2/11/08
It is now a few hours later, and the fish in the 10G are distressed, probably from the ammonia that hasn't gone down. I took out about 35% of the water and replaced it with the water from the 55G tank, which has only a tad of ammonia. The levels remain high -- hovering around .5. <Yikes... Do NOT feed anything> Could the Mardel CopperSafe be causing anomalous readings? <Yes... the copper could have poisoned your nitrifying bacteria period... See WWM re the use of copper...> Or could the ammonia have spiked literally instantly on an Amquel+-treated water change? <Yes... BobF>

Re: Dying, sick platys and others - UPDATE 2-12-08 Wow -- thank you all for the amazing feedback. It's now the next day. Ammonia levels in the 10G tank have dropped to slightly over 0 (maybe 0.1?). Definitely less than 0.25, which is the next increment from my test kit. Nitrates are down too -- around 20'ish. <All good news> I'm pleased about that. The fish are looking a bit better. I fed them a bit of flake food (sorry -- hadn't seen your email about no feeding yet) and was very happy to see that all but one was eating quite heartily. The cherry barbs are looking great, as are the guppies (who were never sick in the first place). The platys are still a bit low-energy. One platy looked to be nearing the end. I put him back in the 55G tank in the hopes that he would improve. Alas, he's not looking too good. And this morning, one of the black skirt tetras in the 55G tank is in distress. There **may** be white spots on him (Ich) though it is hard to tell. None of the other fish in the 55G are showing distress or white spots. Should I remove him and put him in the 10G (that has the copper)? <Mmm... I'd be reading... on WWM re Ich... and waiting at this point, starting to raise the system temperature... All fishes will have to be treated if...> Warmly and gratefully, Julie <BobF>

Platy Problem  11/12/07 Hi WWM Crew, I have a two week old 20 gallon tank currently going through the usual start up cycle but I'm changing water regularly and doing everything I need to get the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels as they should be. So far all is going well with my four platys but I have noticed one has developed a severe head shake. I have found answers about twitching, shaking, flicking against rocks etc but this seems different. Just a very rapid twitching, almost vibrating of the head for a few seconds 'then it stops and my poor little platy looks a bit bewildered before swimming of as if nothing has happened. Also my female platy went through a phase of tensing all her fins and straining her body but this seems to have passed. Before going into too much detail about water condition etc I was wondering if there as anything specific that could cause this kind of shaking other than general start up water conditions or parasites. Thanks for your time, Ruth <Ruth, what you're describing is the "Shimmies", a catch-all name that describes neurological problems caused by poor water quality. Imagine a human getting dizzy from carbon monoxide poisoning, and you have a pretty fair analogy of what's going on here. While classically associated with Mollies, which are incredibly intolerant of pollution when kept in freshwater tanks, most fish can exhibit Shimmy-like symptoms if unfortunate enough to find themselves in the wrong water conditions. Ammonia and nitrite are the #1 causes, but too-cold water will cause similar problems in Cichlids, for example. In any event, the solution is simple enough: restore good water quality. If you're cycling a new tank with fish, you should be doing daily water changes. Anything less is signing their death warrant. Minimum, 25% per day, but ideally double that. For the first 4 weeks these regular water changes will dilute the ammonia and nitrite sufficiently that the fish will come through the cycling phase. Once you find ammonia and nitrite are both consistently low (and ammonia has to be zero, and nitrite no more than 0.5 mg/l) you can relax the water changes to a couple per week. After 6 weeks, the tank should be cycled. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Platy Problem  11/13/07
Thanks for the reply Neale. I thought my fish problem was due to the water quality so everything you say makes sense to me. I've been doing 20 percent water changes, more after a pea or spinach dinner!! every day but didn't want to change too much water each time in-case I was slowing down or stopping the start up cycle. Many websites only recommend a 20 percent change. Now I know it's the "shimmies" I'll certainly change more water each time. My platy seems a lot better today and hopefully will continue to thrive. Thanks again for the advice and thanks to the rest of the crew for running a great website. Regards, Ruth and the Platys <Good luck Ruth. Yes, water changes are the way to go when cycling with fish. You really can't do to many. Keep the ammonia as low as possible, and by the end of the month you should be fine. Platies generally come through the cycling process well, and you may well find some baby Platies swimming about as well! Cheers, Neale.>

Sudden death of platy's 03/22/07 Good morning, <Hello.> I have a question regarding the sudden death of a couple of my platys (both the same type sunset wags).  I have a 55gal livebearer tank, water parameters are pH 7.4, ammonia 0, nitrates 0, nitrites 0, GH 4, KH (not sure - have to retest). <Mostly sounds good, but the GH for platies (and indeed most other livebearers, should be a bit higher, at least 10-degrees GH.> A couple of my older female platys have suddenly died.  One died without any visible cause Tuesday morning.  The other one died yesterday.  There is nothing on the fish indicating infection or fungus.  No strange behavior except that they both segregated themselves only hours before passing.  I have not noticed any sign of disease on the other fish. <Odd indeed. Perhaps old age if it was just one fish, but two at once is unusual.> Currently I have around 20 fish and fry in the tank.  Since these girls were rather large when I got them, I'm not sure how old they were.  I have only had them 3 months.  If I have anymore deaths I'm going to treat the water with tetracycline. <Do you mean "tetracycline"? That's a broad spectrum antibiotic that should only be used in very specific circumstances. Here in the UK at least, only by prescription from a vet. Your local laws may be different. Either way, it isn't something to use without first confirming there's a problem with bacterial infections. It'll do nothing a protozoan parasites, intestinal worms, fungus, etc. let alone water quality/chemistry problems.> I am already adding salt to the water to keep parasites at bay. <Why are you adding salt? Salt at low concentrations has little to no effect on parasites and at high concentrations will stress your fish. Platies are *freshwater* fish and do not normally inhabit (or want) brackish water. Please keep the salt in the kitchen, not the aquarium!> I did add some guppies and new swordtails about 2 weeks s) ago so I'm looking for signs of Columnaris infection.  One of the half black guppies (female) died shortly after added it to the tank.  I noticed that she was badly mutilated so I'm thinking she was attacked while dropping fry.   <Swordtails can be a bit aggressive to keep with platies and guppies, so that combination wouldn't be one I'd recommend. But even so, I'd be surprised if the swordtails actually mutilated another fish to the point of causing death. I'd be thinking more along the lines of fin rot.> I added cardinal tetras to another tank and they all died along with half the other tetras in that tank with similar symptoms. <Why are you adding cardinal tetras -- fish from soft, acidic waters -- to a tank with fishes that need hard, alkaline water? Please buy a book about aquarium fish and learn about their water chemistry requirements. Freshwater fish no more need the same conditions than panda bears and polar bears.> Until I added the new fish I had not lost a fish in that tank in over a year!  These fish segregated themselves and within hours were dead.  Water parameters and the same in the 37gal tank as the 55 gal.  That's the first thing I checked when the fish started to die.  In fact one of the new tetras died about an hour after being introduced to the 37 tank.  I went back to the pet store and noticed that they had no living tetra's in the tank I bought them from. <Just a spelling note, the plural of "tetra" is "tetras".> The LFS would not say whether or not they had a problem in that tank.   I've been treating it with salt and water changes and haven't lost any more fish. <Again, why the salt? That will certainly kill the cardinal tetras or any other soft water fish. Salt is for brackish/marine aquaria, not freshwater aquaria.> I want to hold off on the antibiotics until I have to. <Quite right too. Almost all fish deaths are related to problems with water chemistry, water quality, and diet. Disease, particularly "mysterious bacterial infections" are much less common than aquarists believe.> Any other advise or ideas on what is happening?  I've never lost so many fish without any visible symptoms.  Like I said the only thing I noticed is that the fish break away from the group and seem to breath very rapidly (at least the tetras did) and then die.  The platy's just went to a corner didn't eat for one feeding and were dead. <Difficult to say. Could be a variety of things. Chronic constipation for example (you *are* feeding your livebearers vegetarian flake, not regular flake, right?) These fish need lots of greens and algae and relatively little meaty foods. Sure, they'll eat bloodworms and daphnia until they burst, but it's no more good for them than it is giving steak to a horse. These fish are omnivores in the wild, and eat a lot of algae along with small insects. Cooked peas a very useful for constipation. There should *always* be something green in the tank for them to peck at, such as thin slice of cucumber or zucchini. The water hardness is far too low for livebearers, and I'd suggest raising the GH by incorporating some buffering agent, such as coral sand, in the aquarium or filter. Please have a read through the Poeciliidae page and related FAQs, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm > Thanks, <Cheers, Neale> Linda Ritchie
Re: Sudden death of platy's
   3/22/07 Hi Neale, <Hello Linda> The livebearers (swordtails, guppies, platys) are in the 55 gal tank and the tetras black neon, Pristella tetras, harlequin tetras and one Betta, one catfish, and a clown Pleco) are in the 37 gal tank. <Very good. Livebearers mix best with other hard water loving fish, like gobies and rainbowfish. Lots of people keep them with tetras and barbs, but it isn't a great combo for the most part. Only relatively few tetras or barbs are adapted to hard water conditions (though Pristella tetras are one).> I have been advised by many regarding adding a small amount of salt to the water on a regular bases... <Lots of people think carrots help 'em see in the dark, but it doesn't make it so. Aquarium "tonic" salt is basically a device for extracting cash from unsuspecting aquarists. It serves no purpose in modern fishkeeping. It doesn't harden the water or raise the pH, so doesn't help the livebearers, and at 'teaspoon per gallon' concentrations has little effect on parasites or fungus. It won't harm your livebearers, so use it, don't use it -- it's your money you're wasting. But it certainly won't make your fish any healthier. Proper pH/hardness, decent filtration, regular water changes all much more useful.> ...in fact one website indicated that salt is actually required for swordtails. <Swordtails do not come from brackish water. The addition of salt to tanks with mollies may help, because salt reduces the toxicity of nitrate, which mollies are extremely sensitive to. But in a clean aquarium with low nitrates and regular water changes, adding salt is redundant.> The livebearers do get veggie flakes and there are living plants in the aquarium. I give them several kinds of flake food and occasionally Tubifex worms (freeze dried). <Good, a nice varied diet! Platies especially like to have something to peck on algae-wise, so don't clean the tank too aggressively.> I will closely monitor the situation and look for any kind of bacteria infection.   <Forget about the bacteria for now. Such infections are uncommon. Water quality first, water chemistry second, diet third, disease last. That's the order of play when fish get sick. Just like people -- how many diseases are caused by environment and diet, and how many by bacteria that suddenly spring out of nowhere and kill otherwise healthy people living healthy lives?> I agree the GH is low and I'm working on that but don't want to do anything to suddenly. How do you raise the GH without raising the pH to undesirable levels? <Various methods, but the simplest is put crushed coral in a filter media bag, and stuff that inside the filter. If the tank has an undergravel filter, replace some of the gravel with coral sand. There are also hard water-creating salts you can add to raise pH and hardness, sold for use with Lake Malawi and Tanganyika cichlids. Discuss with your retailer what's available.> It's currently around 7.4. <Acceptable.> I do have some coral and seashells in the tank and it has helped a bit. <No, they won't help much. Algae and bacteria cover them, stopping the lime in the shells getting into the water (think the crispy shell around the chocolate on an M&M). With calcareous filter media, you can run under the hot tap to clean off this slime each time you maintain the filter. Maybe even replace entirely every few months. Also, because the water moves past the calcareous stuff in the filter, it "picks up" hardness more easily than when stuff is just sitting in the tank.> I have both solutions for correcting the problem either way.  If this is a protozoan or a parasite problem what do you recommend for a solution. <I'd not worry to add anything yet. Correct the water, and sit on your hands for a bit. Let things settle down. It doesn't sound like any of the other fish are sick. Knee-jerk treatment of fish is no better than doing the same thing with humans -- diagnose, then treat, not the other way around. Once the hardness has risen a bit, your platies and swords will be so much more robust.> I've used CopperSafe in the past for flukes. All the fry are doing well and everyone else is happily picking on the plants and rocks and acting normal.  Kind of a mystery to me. Thanks for your help. <Maybe the older fish never adapted to the water conditions in your tank, but the fry have and are fine for now. Keep a look out for the usual things like Finrot which is often the first thing to go wrong with livebearers. Treat only when you have securely diagnosed the situation. Otherwise, buy some crushed coral, put it in the filter, sit back, and enjoy your fish!> Linda

Sick Mickey mouse platys; likely due to poor acclimatization, poor water quality...  -- 2/26/07 Please help! <I'll try - Jorie here> I have a relatively new tank that is a week old.   <Not relatively new, *very* new!> It is a 15 gallon (24*12*12), with a aqua clear 3-stage filter, and a submersible heater.  Water temp. is at 24.5 degrees Celsius.  I have dechlorinated the water and treated for hard metals, added organic waste management... <Don't know exactly what this is, but with regular water changes on the tank, it shouldn't be necessary> , and added 'Cycle' to my tank.  I gave everything a double dose for the first application and let the bacteria multiply for 3 days. <I don't use the "Cycle" product myself, but I understand it can work.  I would have suggested that you tested for presence of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate before adding livestock - *if* the tank indeed cycled that quickly, then all should be at zero (well, maybe nitrates as high as 20 ppm)> I then got a collection of five Mickey Mouse platys from the local pet store.  I brought them to the tank and let the bag sit in the water for 15 minutes as I slowly brought the tank  temp. up from 22 Celsius to 24.5 Celsius. <Probably should have had the temperature up prior to buying any fish.  In any case, 15 min. is a relatively short time to go from approx. 71 degrees F to almost 76 degrees F. I would have done this over a period of hours.> I then netted them and transferred them into the tank without spilling any of the water out of the bag. <Good>   However two of them look sick.  The first one the fins beside his gills are white and seem to have little tears at the end and are very small, and for the most of the time his fin on his back, his dorsal fin, is down.  He stays up in the top corner of the tank without moving and only moves when he's fed. <These are not good signs. First thing to do is test the water - you need a quality liquid test kit, if you don't already have one, to determine if ammonia, nitrite and/or nitrates are present. Also, a pH reading would be helpful.> He will not even move when I tap on the tank right where he is.   <Don't tap on the tank!> The second platy also has fins beside his gills that are white and torn.  He also has a silvery, whitish, dull patch on his sides which he seems to try and flick himself onto the fake plant to try to 'itch'.   <This behavior is called "flashing", and can be caused by toxins in the water...> I do not know if this is itch because it is just one blotch and not white specks.  He swims actively and eats fine, he seems to even have a darker scale tone then the rest of the fish.  I don't know what is wrong with these fish.   My guesses are that I did not wait long enough for the tank to cycle? <My guess also. If you don't have a water test kit at your disposal, I'd suggest doing a 50% water change ASAP, and then go invest in one...> But the other three seem healthy.   <They may have stronger immune systems...if the water quality if really that bad, it'll catch up to these three as well...> They have fin rot, as there fins seem to be tearing at the ends and they are white. <All 5 are we talking about? Fin rot is almost always caused by poor water conditions...> Or the one has velvet, because of the velvety sides of him. <Velvet looks like a very-fine sprinkling of gold dust. The dull coloration you describe could be a sign of a bacterial infection, but my first guess is it's merely a reaction to poor water quality...> I am going to do my first 10% water change today with treated water.  What should I do? <I'd start making up more water - I'd do a 50% change in this relatively small tank.  As far as test kits go, this one's my personal favorite: http://www.amazon.com/Aquarium-Pharmaceuticals-Freshwater-Master-Test/dp/B000255NCI/sr=8-1/qid=1172529198/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-8672312-4778220?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden > <My best suggestions are above. Here's a helpful article on cycling, for your info.: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm Good luck, Jorie>

"Ich"y Platies  2/18/07 Although I am pretty new to this hobby, I did quite a bit of research on freshwater aquariums, yet none of the sites I visited fully answered my questions. First, I bought 3 danios as "test fish" and they died within a day. <...?> It could have been the water, but my little Neptune heater didn't seem to shut itself off where I set it to, and the temperature went from 76 to 82 overnight, and rising until I unplugged it. My dad thinks the temp fluctuation did them in, but I wasn't so sure. <Likely at least a contributing cause> I took in a water sample to the pet store, and ammonia levels were very high. <Could have been "after the effect"... the fish's stress, deaths> I felt really bad, then I took the heater out and let the tank run on its own for a little while. After another water test, it showed the parameters were "safe" for fish, <... Uhh> so I bought 3 platies (for the record, they all came from separate tanks): a gold twinbar, a Mickey Mouse, and a sunset. When they arrived to their new home (a "cozy" 5g tank, kind of a trapezoid shape with a curved front and 2 live plants) they seemed a little nervous about their new surroundings and they didn't eat, but they got along okay. In fact, they spent most of the afternoon huddled together in the corner. Hmmm. <Indeed> I read online that they might be doing this because of high ammonia levels. <Yes...> I changed out some of the water <... what re cycling?> and fed them, and they were doing much better. They were actually swimming around and they even ate. During the night, the temp went from 78 to 74. Living in Southern California, I figure the temperature at night won't get too drastic, even in the winter. The fish started acting lethargic again. Then I saw them rubbing against the plants and realized they showed symptoms of Ich. <Maybe> That made me panic a bit, because I read that temp fluctuation actually makes them more susceptible to Ich, <Yes> and the tank is heater less. Luckily, they showed no signs of having the infamous white spots I've read so much about. The only heat source I have for them is their overhead lamp, plus the afternoon sunlight from the window (I know it's not the best spot for them because of algae, but there is literally no other place for them to go). To try and get the fish happy again, I changed some water again, and I added 2 tbs. salt. I risked taking advice from one site that claimed that up to 2 tbs. salt would not harm the fish, even though several sources said 1 tbs. for every 5 gallons water. <Should be fine here, for platies... but maybe not the plants> Day number 2 (this was written on day 2 by the way) is where I confirmed my fear that they have Ich, because my Mickey has some visible white flecks on his tail and fins. The other two don't have any white spots yet. I turned on the light to warm up the water in the morning, <Need that heater...> left for a while and in the afternoon, came back to find the water at 82. I did more research and found a site that told me warm water  is more difficult to get oxygen through. <This is so> I debated with myself if they should be stuck with parasites or if it's better they suffocate. Then I went back a few years to my biology lessons and recalled that plants give off oxygen! <During "light" periods... the opposite in the dark> So, I'm sacrificing their (I'm hoping extra) oxygen levels for warmer water. And finally, after a thorough, if not lengthy, description of my situation, here are my questions: 1) I don't have any extra tanks, nor do I have a gravel vac. Is this a huge problem, or do you think I could get by without either? <Will want some maintenance gear in time... can make... or buy> 2) Would leaving the light on at night be too stressful on the fish, <Yes> or should I put the heater back in (or go without either at night)? <... need a heater...> 3) Can I expect Ich to go away with salt and warmer water alone (even with possible temp fluctuation)? <Not with low temp. or fluctuation> 4) How long should this treatment last and can I know for sure if the Ich is all gone? <Read on WWM re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm scroll down...> 5) Should I change a little bit of water each time the fish start acting lethargic? <No... need your own simple water test kits... and to read...> 6) I know at this point getting another tank   buddy wouldn't be a good idea, but if the Ich seems to clear up, could I get another fish sometime in the future? <Yes> And last, 7) Judging by the size and shape of the tank, at what point would mine be "overcrowded"? <No> Thanks so much for taking the time to read this...I know that it's really long, and apologizing for it just makes more words to read.   Sorry. Thanks again, Angela <Read Angela... your fish are in peril... only you can preserve their lives. Bob Fenner>

Platy w/ fungus - probably poor environmental conditions; need more info.   2/13/07 Hello all, <Hi Tim- Jorie here> I'm writing about my Mickey mouse platy. As of now he is in a 2 gallon hex tank. <Is this is permanent home, or have you isolated him to this tank? Does he have tankmates, and if so, how many and what sort? Also, is the tank cycled? What are the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate readings? This is a VERY small tank, and is big enough for, well, about this one fish...> When I looked in his tank this afternoon of his side fins looked like part of a cotton ball. I immediately called LFS and they said that it was fin and tall rot. <It doesn't sound like fin/tail rot, as that would appear as though the fins/tail were disintegrating, but rather "cotton wool disease", or external fungus.  This is usually caused by poor water conditions - do test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate ASAP if you haven't already - ammonia and nitrite should be zero, and nitrates no higher than 20 ppm. If you don't have a quality test kit at your immediate disposal, I'd suggest doing a 50% water change right off the bat. I'm betting dollars to donuts this is caused by poor water quality - what is your water change schedule like? How often and how much at one time?> I put MelaFix in the water. Was that the right thing to do? Any more suggestions? <The jury's out on MelaFix - my personal thought is that it can help, when coupled with good husbandry, the latter being essential and the MelaFix not being paramount. I suggest testing the water ASAP and doing a water change - first thing to suspect here is water quality. Improve that, and add some aquarium salt to treat the fungus (generally 1 tsp. per 5 gal.)> Thanks, Tim E. <You're welcome. Go do a water change ASAP - that's my best advice! Also, if the 2 gal. is the platy's permanent home, and he has any tankmates at all, I'd suggest upgrading to a bigger sized aquarium. Jorie>
Re: platy w/ fungus - probably poor environmental conditions PART 2
 - 02/15/07 Hi Jorie Thanks for the quick response time. As of now I'm stuck. We just got a foot of snow and there's no going to the pet store now for water testers (I ran out). <I understand - we got pounded in Chicago a couple of days ago as well...> The person at my LFS whom I credit as extremely knowledgeable say that the three platies in the 2 gal. hex tank is fine. <It's really pushing it, since the hex. shaped tank has less swimming space than a "regular" 2 gal. does. I've got a 5 gal. hex, and my 3 male guppies and 1 female molly seem crowded...> You don't seem to like this idea so what tank size do you recommend? <Minimum 5 gal., but larger is better, easier to maintain in the long-run...> The platy with the cotton thing is swimming fine but the cotton thing is still there I put in the aquarium salt and he is doing o.k.! Would you recommend continuing to use the MelaFix? <Even though you don't have a test kit at your disposal, I recommend doing daily water changes on this tank.  Ideally, you should isolate the sick platy to his own tank, so he doesn't infect the other two. If you don't have that option, daily 50% water changes, coupled with the appropriate amount of Aquarium salt should help.  MelaFix is optional - I'd probably stop using it only to be able to evaluate whether the salt/water change method works on its own.  If this doesn't improve things, you may have to medicate the sick fish with an antifungal medication - something like Jungle Fungus Eliminator.  If that becomes necessary, you really do need to isolate the sick fish, as it's a bad idea to medicate fish not showing signs of disease. In the meantime, the daily water changes and addition of aquarium salt will help, if not completely resolve the problem. Keep in mind that the main cause of fungus of this sort is poor water quality, so even in the future, best to remember to do at least weekly water changes - 75% of so would not be excessive in such a small tank!> Thanks, Tim E. <You're welcome. Best of luck, Jorie>

Platy Disease, env.  2/5/07 I'm kind of new to the whole aquarium scene and I've been running my first tank for a little over a month now. The nitrite level is still a little high (between .25 and .5 ppm) <This is way too high... toxic. There should be no fishes present> so I can imagine that's causing a little stress on my 4 platies. One of them has developed a white sheen on its tail over the past 3 days, and my only aquarist friend can't help here. <With?> I'm hoping you might be able to identify the disease and suggest some cures. <Environmental at root> Right now it's quarantined from the rest of the fish to prevent further spread. I have attached several small pictures to help. It's not spots...just more like a coating of sorts. thanks in advance, Josh <BioSpira, a dearth of feeding... See WWM re FW nitrites: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwno2faqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Platy aquarium: fry, poor water quality 10/16/06 Hi Bob, <Hi Meridith - you've got Jorie instead of Bob this evening...> My name is Meridith. I am a total novice with fish. <That's OK - we all start somewhere, right?!> I have developed the interest because of my  2 and 3 yr. olds joy of fish. <Yes, I have a 3 1/2 yr. old niece who loves to come visit my boyfriend and me to watch the "Nemos"!> I have a 5 gallon hexagon tank with a type z rite-size filter and a BioWheel. <I have the same tank myself.  It's not currently set up, but I've used it in the past.> We had 3 different types of platies and a black Molly. The black Molly died about a month ago and all has seemed fine with the rest. <In my experience with mollies, especially black ones, I've noticed they greatly appreciate either a little aquarium salt, or being in true brackish (part salt-water) environments.  Seems to keep them healthier and happier.  Just future info. for you.  Your platys may benefit from a bit of aquarium salt as well, but in my experience, it isn't as essential.> The other day I discovered a very healthy looking tiny baby with good color. <Welcome to the wonderful world of livebearers...soon there will be more, then more, then many more...> I did not even know that any were pregnant. <Pretty much any time a female livebearer (guppy, platy, molly) is kept in a community tank with males, it will become pregnant. Also, these fish have the ability to store sperm for up to 6 months, and pretty much become "pregnant at will"...> I did not even know what the difference between a male and a female was.  I started trying to see, who's the Mommy? <The female has a more rounded anal fin, whereas the male's is more pointed and elongated.  Do a search on "Google" and you'll find pictures - once you see the difference, you'll see it is quite easy to tell the two apart.  Also, when the females are pregnant, they become more round in their bellies, and the gravid spot (right by the anal fin) will become dark and enlarged once they are ready to give birth.> I did some research and found your web site. <Glad you did - welcome!> I found a Mommy all right, she kept hiding and laying around, I was worried because she did not look good and then I saw her pop out 2 babies. <The females tend to hide when giving birth - this is totally normal.  Hopefully she's back to normal now?> I went to the store and purchased a small maternity tank and put her in it. I decided that she was just laboring hard and I watched her have 7 more babies in the little tank. (the kind that hangs inside the big tank). This morning she was dead. My kids don't know yet. <I'm not a fan of these "breeding boxes"...they tend to stress the fish out and don't allow for proper filtration.  Have you recently done a water change and/or tested the water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate? I'll bet it's time for a water change.  Do read here if you haven't already: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm > She appeared to have a slight case of ick. <Like a dusting of salt?> I teetered back and forth because of the babies and I treated the tank with Quick Cure. <Very harsh medication.  Better ways to treat Ich such as adding heat, salt...also, you never want to medicate your main tank.  The link I sent you to above talking about establishing a cycle will address why - the medication destroys the cycle.> After reading on your site I am more worried because I have treated for this now for the 3rd time since I have had the tank and never removed the BioWheel. The directions say remove all carbon filters, I read about people removing the BioWheel on your site. Now what? I am like 12 hours in with one baby a couple weeks old, maybe and some others born last night that seem very iffy health-wise one newborn escaped into the tank along with the 2 that were born there. I also have 2 Cory cats in the tank one seems healthy and the other is missing most of it's fins. I feel very overwhelmed and not sure what to do next. Please help! <OK, take a deep breath - we can fix this.  First off, I'd like to recommend a very helpful beginner's book by David E. Boruchowitz - it's called a Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums.  It's a very good starting point.  With regards to your situation, you may be overstocked.  How many fish are in the 5 gal. hex? 2 Corys, 3 platys, and the babies?  If that's all, you are likely OK, *if* you keep up on your water changes.  You should be doing 50% weekly.  Second, ditch the breeder box - you don't need it.  I highly doubt the Corys will touch the babies, and most livebearers don't eat their own fry, in my experience.  Third, replace the carbon pad along with a 75% water change...you need to get the medication out.  Re: the BioWheel, yes, I'd replace it.  Normally, you don't ever want to replace a BioWheel, but if you truly had ick in the tank, that is a parasite and quite hard to get rid of.  Fourth, if you have a spare tank, I'd isolate the coy with missing fins, and treat that tank with MelaFix.  Make sure to keep the water pristine, as the fish will be more likely to get an infection due to the injuries.  I think most, if not all of your problems, are due to poor water quality - let's get that in check and re-assess. Do you currently see signs of Ich in your tank? You haven't mentioned it, so I'll assume not... Do check out the book I've recommended, along with the link.  Also, see here for more useful info.: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/taptrtmnt.htm Thank you. Meridith     <Hope I've helped.  Please be aware also that the babies are even more sensitive to poor water conditions than the adult platys are.  Do invest in a good test kit (liquid kind, the dip-sticks are very inaccurate) and keep ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels at zero.  Good luck, Jorie>

Platy with clamped fins   8/22/06 Hi, <Hello> I have been doing lots of reading the past few days since I have developed some problems in my tank.  I recently had a Mickey mouse platy and a dwarf blue Gourami die and I have another Mickey mouse platy that is showing signs of illness (or something I can't identify).  Both platies have been hovering in the corner of the tank for a while with their fins clamped.  The platy that recently died got really emaciated in his belly even though he was eating.  After about a week and a half he died.  He didn't have any other signs on him to help me know what was wrong (no ulcers, mucous, funny looking scales etc.)  The Gourami had a hole in his tail fin and had slowed down his movement as well.  After a few weeks, he died too.  My other platy hovers in the corner of the tank with clamped fins but eats well and also doesn't have any ulcers or other (external) signs of disease.  We have well water and it is VERY alkaline-it reads 300ppm on the test and our water is also very soft (25ppm).  (We don't have a softener it is just naturally that way.) The ph is always the darkest pink on the litmus test strip reading 8.4. Nitrates are 20ppm, <I would keep these no higher> Nitrites are 0, ammonia is 0 too. It is the Eclipse 12 gallon tank and has been running since this past Christmas.  We have 4 zebra danios and 1 Oto (which are all healthy) and one more healthy platy in the tank.  I have read a lot on your sight about hard water but not much on soft water.  Do you think that some of the problem could be from our water being soft? <Yes... some troubles are greatly enhanced with too-soft water> I did notice recently that there are the little white worms around the bottom of the tank.  I think it is Planaria which I know won't hurt the fish but it is a sign that something is wrong.  After taking a closer look I noticed a lot of "stuff" on the bottom of the substrate that has built up over time.  I have been consistent at doing a 30% water change every 1-2 weeks and I do a gravel vacuum every time. <Good>   I am thinking that I need to do a gravel vacuum every week now.  I have been doing a daily vacuum and water change for the past few days to get all this extra gunk out of the bottom.  My substrate is about 2 or 3 inches deep because I have some live plants.  Do you think the substrate is too deep and that is why there is so much buildup? <Mmm, no> Could that be part of the problem? <Not likely> One more thing-I realized this week that the water change I did at the beginning of August was a major mess because I had ran out of dechlorinator and had bought some more at the store.  I realized last week that I actually didn't buy dechlorinator but some kind of water clear stuff. So I did a 30% water change with no dechlorinator.  It is amazing that the fish survived-and not only that but I had a lot of brown algae on our rock and had soaked it in a bleach solution to clear it up.  I guess that could be part of the problem too? <Yes... a contributing influence> I am still learning as I go and have been doing tons of reading. I did recently add some aquarium salt to help with all the water changes and hopefully to ward off any more illness that is lurking around.  Any advice would be great.  I want our fish to be healthy and feel like a dork for not catching some of this sooner.  Thanks-Amelia <Mmm... I encourage you to look into a reverse osmosis water filter... for your potable (drinking and cooking) uses as well as to blend in with your well water for aquarium use. A simple addition of "Baking Soda" (Sodium Bicarbonate), about a teaspoon per five gallons, mixed in with new water while you're doing water changes... will safely raise your water hardness here. Bob Fenner>

Platies not doing as well as usual... new system/hobbyist syndrome   7/28/06 Hi  - Thanks for reading this - I need your help as I'm not sure what's going on. 25 gallon tank set up for 1 1/2 weeks. <... cycled?>   Fish added six days ago. Temp 82 Ammonia 0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates 5 ppm pH 7.5 We bought 6 platies (3 red wag, 3 blue spotted).  One died two days after coming home. The rest of the platies are usually very curious and very entertaining. They would swim to wherever you were, follow your finger around the tank glass, if I put food in the tank they were quick as lightning finding it. We enjoyed them so much.  A couple days ago we found 3 fry, and I know at least 2 are still alive (not been eaten) as I saw them both today.  There could be more, but with 25 gallons and lots of java fern, <Ah, good to read that you have live plants here> they're excellent hiders.  All the fish seemed very happy and healthy until this evening. My husband did a 20% water change as we've been doing every 3 days to control the ammonia/nitrites. <Not a good means... this tank, the fishes are suffering for/with "new tank syndrome"...> After he was done, all 5 fish stayed near the bottom, breathing extra heavy and frantically waving their front fins though not moving anywhere.  I also noticed the usually bright blue colour of the blue spotted platies is more of a dullish gray-green around their head/eyes.   If the water quality is really bad, then wouldn't the babies have already died? <No, not necessarily. Young are more resistant to some types of malinfluences than adults> Could this be the sudden (and all 5 at once?) result of less than optimal tank conditions over the past few days due to it's newness? <Ah, yes> The tests now look OK.  Or could it be that the gravel vac water change scared them for some reason?   <Perhaps a small factor> They've seen it before, in fact, once they even went directly under the water fall 'just to check it out' when we were replacing the water.   I'm sad because our little characters seem a lot duller than usual.  What do you think it is? <"New water", non-cycled system...>   What can I do?  (I added a 1/2 tsp of salt today because I read that that reduces stress.)  Anything else?  They are looking a little more active now but definitely not their usual selves.  Any suggestions? <Look for the product "Bio-Spira", cut the water changes and feeding way down to keep ammonia and nitrite under 1.0 ppm... read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Platies not doing as well as usual   7/28/06
Hi <Hello again> I just thought of something else that might possibly be relevant. The water we added today had been sitting in a bucket overnight (to get the temp acclimated) with conditioner (dechlorinator) and aquatic plant fertilizer (my husband mixed it in there as opposed to pouring it directly in the tank). Is it possible that the fertilizer, having sat in the water overnight without plants to absorb it, broke down into something toxic to the fish? <Mmm, no... a very good idea to have a strictly fish-use only plastic container for this purpose. Bob Fenner>

Sick Platy - 05/17/2006 Hello There.  I have a question that I hope you can help me with.  I have a 12 gallon freshwater tank that I've had about 8 months that has:  4 platys, 3 Dalmatian mollies, 2 Cory cats and 9 Dalmatian molly fry.  I'm getting ready to move they fry to a 5 gallon tank I just purchased.)  My problem is with one of my platys.  She is sick...the scales around her bottom fin are sticking out.  Her poop has been kind of thick and pink lately.  Looks weird, like an intestine sticking out or something (not that I know what a fish intestine looks like).  I'm worried about her, but also the other fish in the tank.  Last night, I tested the water for the first time ever (sorry, just found this site yesterday) , and everything looked good except two things:  Nitrate was very red (couldn't tell exactly what it matched on the card, but was 40-80) so I did a partial water change.  The PH was 7.8.  So I just went over to the tank to retest the Nitrate level...and I found out that one of my Dalmatian mollies (that just had the fry 2 days ago looks terrible!)  She is not really moving, kind of stuck near the filter tube.  Oh no!  What is happening?   <Likely just this poor water quality.  When you do a water change, you need to be sure that thee temperature and pH of the new water is the same as the water in the tank, and be certain to use a chlorine/chloramine neutralizer.> So my Nitrate level still looks like 40 or 80 today.  Should I do another/bigger water change?   <Yes.  This alone may be the problem.  Try to get your nitrate below 20ppm; preferably lower if possible.  Also be sure that ammonia and nitrite are ZERO; anything above zero for either of these should be considered toxic.> My poor fish - the fish store is closed and I'm not sure what to do!  Please help if possible.  Thank you very much,  -Anne <Have patience, and get some water changed.  Once the water quality is improved, hopefully the fish will improve in health.  Wishing you and your pets well,  -Sabrina>

Healthy livebearer tank except for my platies  9/3/05 Hello fish folks- <Hello healthy livebearer... or is that your fishes?> I did as much digging as my toddler would let me through your archives and didn't find quite the same situation that I have. Here's the deal.  I have a 100G tank that contains an 8-member brilliant Rasbora school, and the rest of the fish are livebearers: 3 blue-spot platies, 2 red wag platies, an untold number of red tuxedo platies descended from 3 original adults (all now deceased), 1 silver molly and some babies, 3 gold dust mollies and some babies, and 4 gold and red velvet swordtails and their babies (very few swordtail babies compared to the other species, though).  I guesstimate that there are about 50-60 fish in there.  They have adequate filtration (AquaClear 110: 500gph), a bit of algae growing on some very healthy java fern to eat, and many, many places to hide amongst the plants, rocks, and wood decorations (all bought from fish stores so I know they're safe, I hope).  I have tried to maintain a salt level of one tablespoon to 5 gallons of water, and I always use AmQuel.  Generally the tank is busy and healthy. So what's my problem?  My platies are dying.  They develop large white patches that do not resemble any fungus that I've experienced (been keeping fish for about 7 years now) nor are they from Ich.  The red tuxedos were the first to go, though they showed no sign of disease other than staying in corners with their fins clamped.  However, the 3 adults produced at least 20 babies before they died: perhaps they were near the end of their lives.  That doesn't explain some of the juveniles showing white patches and dying, though: some juvies die without showing the patches.  The red wag platies show the white patches the most.  The blue spot platies aren't showing any physical symptoms of disease, but they don't look happy: one is on the bottom under a rock with its fins clamped.  If she's a female, she could be birthing, but I can't tell from my angle. Every other fish in the tank is fine, although I did have my adult speckled silver molly spontaneously die yesterday.  I did read an article at The Krib (or at least, my printed archive of it) that said that tuxedo platies are prone to tumors.  Could this be the problem?  A species-specific malady? <Much more likely conditions (environmental) that favor the other life, disfavor the platies... the salt for instance is of use to the mollies, not harmful at this concentration to the Rasboras or Java Fern, but disliked by the swords, platies> Any help you could offer would be most welcome.  Thanks in advance. Antares, worried fishkeeper <Am concerned enough to mention the possibility of "Columnaris Disease"... please search this on the Net, and consider the addition of the antibiotic Neomycin sulfate to the fishes' foods, along with vitamin supplementation. Bob Fenner>

Question re cycling (& tragic platy death) 7/16/05 My 9 year old daughter has set up a 55 gallon freshwater tank after reading an adult book on tropical fish (proud mom here - she read it, reread parts, talked about it in great detail, made a compelling case for why a 20 gallon aquarium was not a good beginner tank, relinquished her allowance for the foreseeable future to pay for the new tank, and carefully researched what kind of stocking scheme she wanted - end of proud mom).  To jumpstart cycling, she took a BioWheel and filter cartridge from my long-established, cycled tank (goldfish, not tropical, but the water tests on the goldfish tank were always perfect - no ammonia or nitrites, low nitrates, stable pH).  We let my daughter's tank run for 2 days, during which time the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates were at 0 and the pH was at 7.4. <Two days... not long enough... not cycled>   The temperature was a stable 78F.  We then got 6 sunburst platies from a large chain store.  These were recommended by an aquarist (not at the unnamed chain store) as good fish for cycling a tank, <Uh, no> as they are supposed to be less sensitive to tank nitrogen.  We very carefully acclimated the fish to the new tank by putting it in a gallon aquarium with their existing water and adding 1/2 cup of aquarium water ever 5-10 minutes until the fish were in water that was 75% aquarium water, then netted them quickly into the aquarium and tossed the old water out. <Actually... if these are/were the only/new fish, adding the shipping water would have been better/recommended> She tested the water a few hours after the fish were put in, chemistry stable.  Same thing after 18 hours, except that one fish had died.  We returned the fish to the chain store, got a new one, came home to discover that 3 more fish had died.  She retested the water and found ammonia at .25 ppm, nitrites, nitrates, pH and temperature unchanged.   We then did a more than 50% water change, making sure that the temperature of the new water exactly matched the temperature of the tank.   <Too much change... forestalling establishment of cycling> We did not treat the water, since we have lovely non-chlorinated water from an artesian well.  One of the 2 surviving original fish has a large white fuzzy patch on his body just in front of his tail, and I am not optimistic about his chances, although his swimming and activity level seem fine). My daughter is upset, and I am annoyed at myself for getting fish at a chain store, since there seems to be no reason that I can discern for the fish to die except for stress related to possible poor conditions in the shipping and in-store care. <You are likely right here... the biggest/bigger part of the problem here is likely the initial (lack of) quality of the platies> I'd appreciated any ideas... Antonia <At this point I'd just leave the remaining fish in the 55, feed sparingly and hope for the best. No need, use for "medicines", or water changes lest the ammonia or nitrite exceed 1.0 ppm... and then no more than 25% in any given day/period. Please read here re cycling: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. I encourage you, your daughter to quarantine all new livestock... this is discussed on WWM as well. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question re cycling (and tragic platy death) - additional info 7/16/05
For what it's worth, I wanted to add that we have a Penguin 350 BioWheel filter, no real plants, and rinsed the aquarium thoroughly and drained it before refilling. Antonia <Mmm, okay... you might benefit from the addition of some simple, floating plant material at this juncture. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question re cycling (and tragic platy death) - additional info #2 7/16/05
Oh, and we haven't been feeding the fish, having read that fish do fine without food for a couple of days and that feeding should be extremely cautious until one is certain the tank is cycled properly.  Great site. Antonia <Ah, good. BobF>
Re: Question re cycling (& tragic platy death) 7/18/05
I asked earlier about cycling and my daughter's new platy tank.  Just wanted to let you know that the water chemistry is stable, with ammonia etc. at 0 and no more water changes, the platys are swimming happily, and the one with the white stuff appears to be healing. <Ah, good>   Thanks for your useful advice and for reassuring my daughter that the biggest problem was probably the condition of the fish from the chain store.  She was very upset that she might have done something to kill the fish, which, given the stable water chemistry, seemed relatively unlikely to me. Antonia <Thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Sick Platy in new aquarium... actually platies in a poisonous non-cycled system I have, well had, a red wag Platy that showed definite signs that something was wrong. He was fine in the morning before I went to work, seemed to eat well, and was almost dead when I got home about 12 hrs later. He couldn't seem to tell which direction was up, and seemed to be tossed around in the tank by the currents from the power filter and the bubbles from the lift tubes from the undergravel filter.  He also seemed to have a white powdery substance around his head and his eyes were glazed over. There are 2 females in the tank also, plus 1 week old baby in a breeder net. All are platies. I know the tank is still cycling, it is a 10 gal, and the ammonia is running a bit high, about 1.5 ppm... <Yikes... dangerously high> ...nitrites at about .3 ppm, nitrates at about 20 ppm, pH running about 7.4-7.6. Tank temp is at 80 deg. There is charcoal in the power filter, and the lift tubes. I have added a " C-100 Aquarium Water Purifier" pillow a week or so ago hoping to help keep the ammonia down while the tank cycles. I did a 10% water change last Saturday, then added some Stress-Zyme and some Stress-Coat per the instructions on the bottles. The fish were fed twice daily a mixture of flake food, and sometimes some crushed baby shrimp, and some bloodworms, all commercially packed foods. Any ideas what I'm doing wrong? Thanks, Steve Wickham Wytheville Va <Really? Putting fish in/through a non-cycled system... The one/male platy might have had some serious problem before you got it... but, please, no more livestock, and no feeding period unless the ammonia is under 1.0 ppm. Bob Fenner> 

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