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FAQs on Platy Diseases/Health 9

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 10, Platy Health 11, Platy Health ,
FAQs on Platy Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments,

Related Articles: Platies, Poeciliids: Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks, Livebearing Fishes by Bob Fenner,

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

Platy sick...but from what?? & repro. f'     10/20/12
I have 3 Platies in a 10 gallon tank, all the chemistry is fine.
<Based on what?>
I just did a 20% water change yesterday. For 2 days the Mickey Mouse Platy has been sitting at the bottom but will come up for food and will go for it and beat the other Platies to it.  The other Platies didn't really eat it but the MM did.  The MM is the pig of the three, she eats the most. I think maybe she is stressed and constipated. I gave her Epsom salt  twice in tank
and fed her a green pea or two....she is still acting all stressed, dorsal fin down, and stressing out way to easily, which is not normally like her.
<Did anything pass after you used the Epsom and fed pea?>
She was the one who was the happy go lucky and like to nip and chase and play. She looks okay on the outside, and i am thinking maybe she has a bacterial or viral infection internally.
<What led you to this conclusion?>
No reason to think parasites, at all.
<Why not?>
Just fed them TetraColor and TetraMin flakes only, but I do admit I overfed, to make sure that one of them got enough to eat, cuz she always ate less, smaller bites....and this one and the 3rd one ate a lot.
<They won't starve if they are eating at all.>
..the MM ate the most. She looked bloated at first to me, but now I realize she just doesn't feel well, she always had a lot of food in her belly. No way can she be pregnant cuz she was less than 4 months old when i got her..
<How do you know the age and how long have they been in your tank? Did you get her from the breeder or from a store?  Also, do you have a male in that tank?  Livebearers can breed at a surprisingly young age.>
.still growing. I was told to only feed them peas for a few days and see how she is doing then...but I am scared she is going to get worse if she has an internal bacterial or viral infection.
<If the condition worsens, be ready to use antibiotics.>
 She doesn't look like she has dropsy yet, as her fins are NOT pointed out.
I am scared that whatever is wrong she is going to get worse. But she does want to eat, so that is good unless she doesn't ever poop. I was told the peas act as a laxative.
<Again, have you seen any results from the peas?  My first inclination is that the fish is indeed gravid, preparing to drop her fry.>
Please advise.
<Monitor and note any changes for better or worse. Look for additional symptoms, especially red markings on the skin. - Rick>
Re: re: Platy sick...but from what??  /RMF  10/20/12

I took my water in, and everything was normal, they checked everything..
<Mmm, not everything is check-able>
  I do my small water changes once a week, religiously!
I change my filters when needed. I keep their water clean!
If the MM is pregnant, then she got pregnant at Dallas North Aquarium before I bought her.
 She did look big in pics I took on Oct. 6th.
I had read that they could not get pregnant until 4 months old which it said that is when they are full grown to their 2 to 2 1/2 inches.
<Mmm, I disagree... can/do "become pregnant" at smaller size, younger age>
She was way shorter/smaller than that when I bought her on Sept. 26, she was listed as between small an medium size...less than full grown for sure, very obvious. The bumble bee and her were much smaller than the Red Wagtail. I fed them too much apparently and no veggie based food or frozen veggies and both the bumble bee and the MM got bigger and big stomachs. I can see through how full they are. Since I got the MM, the Red Wagtail started eating less and does not have a big stomach anymore, normal sized.
The sick MM was/is the Pig of the tank!
I was overfeeding the MM because she ate most of the food...I had to put out extra so the Red Wagtail could get some food.
No, unfortunately, I have not noticed any poop from the sick MM. If she does not get better (or give birth)
Question:  What kind of antibiotics should I give her, considering I have no idea what kind of internal bacterial or viral infection she has?
<See WWM re... am not a fan of such use w/o real demonstrable possible benefit>
The others Platies are pooping fine and feel great, but one pooped white, but wasn't all long and stringy. I also saw short strings of red poop on the gravel. The one that pooped white feels great. 
The reason why I do not believe they have parasites is because another expert who has proven himself to me time and time again told me this:
"White stringy feces can be a sign of a bacterial digestive infection, a viral digestive infection, or possibly some kinds of parasite.  It can also be an indication of an overly rich diet, consumption of vegetable matter that did not agree with them, consumption of meaty foods that were starting to decompose, consumption of fungus-based foods (or moldy food), liver failure, or any of a number of other things... It is unlikely that domestic raised fish would have any parasite (your platies are DEFINITELY domestic raised)."
<Mmm, while I do agree w/ most of the above stmt., it may well be that these domestically raised fish are infested... many to most are... coming either from Florida or imported from the far east... ONLY livestock that is captive produced (in aquariums) locally is likely to be parasite-free>

The sick MM has had her dorsal fin up sometimes now and is swimming normally but kind of fast, cuz she does not want to be messed with.
Then she goes back to her place.
I did buy Veggie Spirulina flake food by Aqueon at PetSmart. Only brand there that had it for Tropical fish.
I will alternate it with the TetraColor and TetraMin when the fish are all better.
Question: Can I feed the Veggie Spirulina flakes to the Platies after tomorrow? It will have been 3 days without flaked food, and the two that aren't sick did not eat it yesterday, I think they nibbled a little on it today. If not, how soon?
<Can, and only time will tell>
Question:  I think it could be Constipation and Stress, but then again she IS wanting to eat.????
<Can't say from here... >
Please, please, please advise. I really need your help. Thank you,
<Please review what we have archived re this species... Start here:
the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: re: Platy sick...but from what??    10/20/12

I read online that Platies cannot possibly get pregnant at such a young age of 2 months or so,
<Mmm, can do so shortly after this time in my experience>
Today she is feeling better, and actually had her dorsal fin up when I fed the peas, but she is still stressed, I know why now, being bullied by one of the other Platies, and they both like to be with third Platy, so I think I should get one more Platy soon...I heard they do better in pairs.
<Trios... more females than males>

Her gills were pinkish/red when I got her, they did get a little redder, and I will keep an eye on that. But, she is feeling better today, still haven't seen any string of poop from her, but maybe she will poop today since she ate another pea.
The reason why I wrote no reason for parasites is because another expert told me this, when I asked him about short white poop:
"This is another case of non-veterinarian giving out not entirely accurate or necessarily clear information.
White stringy feces can be a sign of a bacterial digestive infection, a viral digestive infection, or possibly some kinds of parasite. It can also be an indication of an overly rich diet, consumption of vegetable matter that did not agree with them, consumption of meaty foods that were starting to decompose, consumption of fungus-based foods (or moldy food), liver failure, or any of a number of other things... It is unlikely that domestic raised fish would have any parasite (your platies are DEFINITELY domestic raised)."

Please respond with your comments on what i just wrote, or recommendation for me to do next.
<Read where you've been referred... especially re "Platy System FAQs"... am wondering if you have suitable water quality... temp., hardness, pH...
Re: re: Platy sick...but from what??   /Neale    10/20/12

I took my water in, and everything was normal, they checked everything..  I do my small water changes once a week, religiously! I change my filters when needed. I keep their water clean! If the MM is pregnant, then she got pregnant at Dallas North Aquarium before I bought her.
<Easily possible. Female livebearers can have anything up to 6 broods following mating, with each brood around a month apart, so for  if they're ever kept with males, it's almost certain they'll be pregnant.>
She did look big in pics I took on Oct. 6th. I had read that they could not get pregnant until 4 months old which it said that is when they are full grown to their 2 to 2 1/2 inches.
<Size doesn't matter for fish any more than humans. It's age that matters. Female livebearers are capable of breeding at around 3 months of age, males are fertile and able to father offspring at about 2 months of age.>
She was way shorter/smaller than that when I bought her on Sept. 26, she was listed as between small an medium size...less than full grown for sure, very obvious. The bumble bee and her were much smaller than the Red Wagtail. I fed them too much apparently and no veggie based food or frozen veggies and both the bumble bee and the MM got bigger and big stomachs. I can see through how full they are. Since I got the MM, the Red Wagtail started eating less and does not have a big stomach anymore, normal sized.
The sick MM was/is the Pig of the tank! I was overfeeding the MM because she ate most of the food...I had to put out extra so the Red Wagtail could get some food.
No, unfortunately, I have not noticed any poop from the sick MM. If she does not get better (or give birth) Question:  What kind of antibiotics should I give her, considering I have no idea what kind of internal bacterial or viral infection she has?
<Use a combination against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria; in the US, the use of Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 is frequently recommended in such situations.>
The others Platies are pooping fine and feel great, but one pooped white, but wasn't all long and stringy. I also saw short strings of red poop on the gravel. The one that pooped white feels great. The reason why I do not believe they have parasites is because another expert who has proven himself to me time and time again told me this: "White stringy feces can be a sign of a bacterial digestive infection, a viral digestive infection, or possibly some kinds of parasite. It can also be an indication of an overly rich diet, consumption of vegetable matter that did not agree with them, consumption of meaty foods that were starting to decompose, consumption of fungus-based foods (or moldy food), liver failure, or any of a number of other things... It is unlikely that domestic raised fish would have any parasite (your platies are DEFINITELY domestic raised)."
<Actually, it's extremely common for farmed fish to have gut parasites.
Most tropical fish come from farms in the Far East where medications rather than hygiene are used to minimise losses. In practical terms this means they factor in a certain number of fatalities, and price their livestock accordingly. This ensures mostly healthy fish at a low price, but does mean intensive farming is commonplace, and that in turn means cross-infection of parasites is very common. With this said, though parasites may be common, even ubiquitous in some cases, most of the tropical fish we buy are healthy enough that any low level infections don't cause problems. It's only when fish are stressed that the parasites multiply sufficiently quickly to cause real harm.>
The sick MM has had her dorsal fin up sometimes now and is swimming normally but kind of fast, cuz she does not want to be messed with. Then she goes back to her place. I did buy Veggie Spirulina flake food by Aqueon at PetSmart. Only brand there that had it for Tropical fish. I will alternate it with the TetraColor and TetraMin when the fish are all better.
Question: Can I feed the Veggie Spirulina flakes to the Platies after tomorrow? It will have been 3 days without flaked food, and the two that aren't sick did not eat it yesterday, I think they nibbled a little on it today. If not, how soon?
<Spirulina flakes are a recommended staple for livebearers, but should not be used while treating fish for constipation because they'd have the opposite effect. Plain algae (such as Sushi Nori) would be okay though.
Otherwise, stick with the cooked/canned peas, spinach, etc. Feel free to stick an algae-covered rock in the tank for the Platies to graze upon;
algae is something like 90% of what they'd eat in the wild, and the perfect food.>
Question:  I think it could be Constipation and Stress, but then again she IS wanting to eat.????
<For sure. Cooked peas and spinach will provide good nutrition for herbivorous fish like Platies. But it does take weeks for fish to starve, and if constipated, the focus has to be clearing out the gut before returning to dried foods.>
Please, please, please advise. I really need your help. Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Re: re: Platy sick...but from what??  - 10/22/2012

Oh, I did read everything on your Platy site, and am just more confused.
<Your water quality test measures? BobF>
Re: Re: re: Platy sick...but from what??

<Hi Tracy>
The water is fine, we do have hard water here. PH is fine, they checked all that. I take very good care of the water...regular water changes, change filters, clean filter media, I am very good about taking care of my tank water and fish. But something is wrong with her.
<The water sounds like it is not related to the problem.>
I did see her rub the side of her face against the submersible heater, although her gills are normally reddish anyway.
<One time may be nothing. If she rubs again (called flashing) it may indicate problems.>
I will feed her a pea again today and look for poop string.
<Look specifically for a segmented string, like sausages. That indicates parasites. Otherwise, it should be pretty solid.>
It has been too long for her to have a big stomach like that and not already dropped the fry. I do not even believe she is pregnant. Actually her color is better and dorsal fin is up sometimes, but it is not even like her to not want to play. I think it has to be constipation. Maybe it will take another day. But I read on your site that the rubbing on her face could be a gill bacterial infection. I also read that it is bad to treat them for parasites or infections or anything they do not have.
<Right, treating for something that isn't a problem is not suggested.
That's how humans helped to create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.>
I am very frustrated...and do not know what to do. There are NO fish Vets anywhere. So i guess i am screwed until what?
I don't know.
<A fish vet would probably be pretty expensive anyway.  Would it be possible to get a photo of this fish so we can see the shape of the belly? 
Gravid livebearers often have a distinctive shape.  Otherwise, I'd just continue feeding with pea and keep a close eye on her. - Rick>
Re: Re: re: Platy sick...but from what?? - Sabrina's Go, Part A

<Firstly, Hi Tracy, I'm Sabrina.  I thought I might try to clarify some
things from your previous correspondences with Rick and Bob and offer my own views as well.>
Today she came out but seemed stressed but did swim around while I was feeding the fish peas.
<This does sound like an improvement, yes?>
Although I believe she was hungry earlier, when I fed the peas, she did not eat any.  However, her dorsal fin is up more than ever.
I wish you could just tell me what is wrong with her and what and how to medicate with.
<You know, Tracy, I wish so, too.  That would make life so much easier!  Unfortunately, like many/most things in life, fish disease is not something with a miracle fix, or even a certain diagnosis, in this and many cases. 
The symptoms you've described....  big stomach, clamped fins, transparent string from the vent, etc., are all symptoms, and just like how in humans fever, upset tummy, and chills can be symptoms of cold, flu, food poisoning, food allergy, internal infection, and more, the symptoms you've described really can be attributed to many different causes, from simple constipation to parasites to bacterial infection to organ failure.  There just isn't an immediate answer.  Even improper environmental conditions could contribute, which is why the actual readings for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, pH and hardness are so very important.  Hearing that someone tested "everything" and it was all okay really gives us zero information about the environment the fish is in, which is why we kept asking for that.>
Is it contagious, do I need to treat the whole tank and the other fish.
<It could be contagious, especially if it's a parasite.  Or it could be entirely not contagious, if it's simple constipation, or (worse) organ failure causing the fish to retain fluids.  Some of the possibilities have fixes, and others (like organ failure) just don't.>
I swear, none of you experts agree on anything.
<It's not so much that no one can agree, but that there are just so many possibilities that, even if we saw the fish with our own two eyes in our own tanks, we might still not be 100% sure what the cause may be, or how or even if it could be fixed.>
And since there are no Fish Vets, I amXXXed!
<There are some fish vets, actually, but they're very few and far between.  The very few I've met would probably be saying something similar to what any one of us has said, and if you asked three different vets, you might even get three different answers, because the symptoms are so common to such different complaints.>
Sorry, but tomorrow is my birthday, and I have to go to the god XXXX dentist, my beloved Stepmother of 30 years died unexpectedly 2 weeks ago, and she was my best friend too.
<This is most unfortunate....  Tracy, I am so very sorry for your loss.>
FTW (XXXX the World...a tattoo that Tommy Lee has)
<When crap comes, it comes in waves, doesn't it?>
If it wasn't for the Silver Surfer, my dog, I wish I would have been the one to die.
<Hon, it seems to me you're in a pretty bad spot right now.  I've been in bad spots myself, and I know what it's like for life to suck.  I won't say I know what you're going through; I don't, only you do.  But I've had my share - more than my share - of hurt, and I know I've wished the same at times.  The way your words indicate that you're feeling is frightening, Tracy.  Life can seriously suck, and it can be really, really hard to work through it.  But I do absolutely promise you that everything always does work out, one way or another.  Try to remember that, and try to hold on to the things that are important to you in your life - Silver Surfer, your Stepmother's memory, anything you hold dear.  And bear in mind that, as much as life can suck at times, the awesome parts are just so, so awesome....>
I am going to get drunk, wake up with a XXXX hangover, and then have to get my teeth drilled on. Do I deserve it. XXXX no.
<Hey, at least getting your teeth drilled is a very temporary thing.  There's totally an end in sight to that, right?  You'll live through it, and then you'll have better teeth.  It's worth it.  And hangovers.... 
Well, drink an equal amount of water for every alcoholic beverage you have, and maybe that'll help some, it does me.  Or maybe you'll just pee a lot.>
Sorry, but I had to vent...do not have my Stepmother to talk to anymore.
<I do hope very much that you'll find someone to talk to.  You DO deserve the support that you so clearly need right now.  Losing your Stepmother is an awful thing, and even though I totally don't know you, I'm pretty sure your Stepmother wouldn't have wanted you to have no support through this tragic time.  Honor her memory by taking care of yourself, and giving yourself the support that you deserve.  Perhaps you have a friend that would let you lean on them a bit, or if not, it might be really helpful to talk to someone professional, like a counselor or a pastor or anything like that.  Even just joining a club - like a fish club! - where there are folks that share a common interest will help. Life DOES get hard, and you DO deserve to have help when you need it.  No one gets through life without needing help during rough times, and you're not alone in the world.  You've got people around you to help - you may just have to reach out to them.>
<Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Re: Re: re: Platy sick...but from what??  Sabrina's Go, Part B

I have some new information:
Right now, the sick MM has a very long, about an inch and a half or so, of white and clear string coming out her back end.  Will you please tell me what that means?
<This is a symptom that, like many of the other symptoms you've described throughout the correspondences with the Crew, can indicate many different things....  With all luck, it's that she's starting to pass any gut blockage.  It could mean much more dire things, too, and without looking at some of the "poo" under a microscope, it can be tough to say.... and may not be definitive even then.  I would say, at this point, it'd be best to cross your fingers and hope for the best.>
Thank you,  -Tracy
p.s.  Sorry I had a nervous breakdown while i was emailing you before.
<Happens....  Do please take good care of yourself.  You're the most important person in your whole world.  Best wishes always,  -Sabrina>
Re: Re: Re: re: Platy sick...but from what?? - Sabrina's Go, Part C

I do not understand how the Spirulina Veggie flakes can have the Opposite effect than veggies such as peas and spinach??
<Often, Spirulina flakes contain quite a bit of stuff like fish meal and shrimp meal, which are very high in protein.>
Opposite to veggies to me would be meaty food.
<Like fish meal and shrimp meal, right?>
Anyway, last night, the MM Platy had a long inch and a half string, mostly clear, but small part white. 
All the platies went to sleep.
Then, at about 11:00am the MM was all happy and back to normal and loving on me. Yay!
<Yay!  This is wonderful news!  Hopefully it was just simple constipation. 
I would still advise that, the next time you have your water tested (or even better, get kits and test it yourself), have the shop tell you the actual readings, and write them down, and then do a bit of poking around online to see how your water compares to water that platies like. 
Hopefully it really is great, but then at least you'll know.>
I think the Red Wagtail Platy does not like the peas or the Spirulina Veggie Flakes and is upset about that.!
<She'll give in eventually, I'll bet.>
But all okay now...thank you for your support and getting back with me. 
Very much appreciated.
<Once again, I'm glad the platy is doing better now, thank you for letting us know.
<Do please take good care of yourself, Tracy.  I do wish you the best. 

Sick platy   9/27/12
Dear gang
Long time no speak!  I hope all is well with you all.
<So far>
I bread <bred, unless you were cooking> a large batch of panda platies about nine months ago.  Mostly, they have done very well.  I have one female (cross breed of panda and orange) who is showing some odd signs of ill-health and I cannot work out exactly what the problem is (except that she may just be weak and prone to illness).  Her symptoms are clamped fins and a worsening deterioration of the tail.  She also appears to pant with her mouth and is thinner than the others with occasional white stringy faeces.  She frequently hides by herself and is becoming less and less sociable.  I rarely treat the tank if just one or two fish become ill. 
However, I sometimes do three days of ESHA 2000 if I suspect signs of fin-rot or any fungal/bacterial signs when normal weekly water changes aren't enough - I've added some today just to see if she responds.  Tank is 110 litres, 3 yrs mature, fully cycled, heavily planted, lightly stocked, 24 degrees, zero nitrites / ammonia. No new fish have entered tank for several months - fish are fed on mixture of dried flakes, frozen brine shrimp, Microworms and occasional peas.  I suspect it's just one of those mysterious illnesses that come about due to weak genetics as all other fish appear fine, but I thought I'd throw this one your way before I give up on treatment.
Dr Patrick Nunn
<Mmm, considering the age/establishment of the system, that others of the same kind are doing fine... the most reasonable assumption is that this one specimen is poorly due to its genetic heritage. Unlike tetrapods (including ourselves) "lower vertebrates", fishes "do" a good deal of their initial development as juveniles... This one is likely an example of a "runt". Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick platy   9/27/12

Thanks Bob!  And apologies for the bread - it was a late night!
<No worries Pat>
<And you, B>

Platy can't open mouth   6/28/12
Great site, I've learnt a fair bit from reading through the FAQs on here.
We have a 125 litre tank that currently contains 1 Bristlenose Pleco, 2 pearl gourami, 5 Amano shrimp, several snails, 2 upside down cat fish, 1 angelfish,
<Mmm, may be or become too aggressive for the Platies...>
 2 male blue platys and 5 female Mickey mouse platys. Nitrates = 20, Nitrites = 0, Ammonia = 0, pH = 7.The Mickey mouse platys are the latest addition, bought 2 weeks ago and added to the main tank last week.
4 of them are doing well. However one isn't doing too good. She sits quite near the surface with her mouth touching the surface but her tail lower, and she does not appear to be growing at all. When watching them eat I noticed that she moves towards the food but then just swims through it (flake and prima being fed as well as bloodworm occasionally,
<A note re these larval sewer flies. They've been implicated in some freshwater health issues. I'd cut them way back as food items>
 looking to add more vegetable based foods). Looking closer I've noticed that her mouth doesn't actually seem to open (I've not see it open despite hours of watching her) and it seems to be shaped slightly differently to the others.
I'm now not sure if she can open it. Could this be an infection stopping her from opening her mouth?
<Might be... or perhaps a physical trauma has damaged it>
There's no sign of any whiteness or fungus
around the mouth. How long can she actually go without eating?
<Several days to a few weeks>
 We've been trying to crush the flake up very small but she just seems to have no interest at all now. All other fish are doing fine. Thank you for any help you can give,
<Not to alarm you; but I would do a bit of reading re Chondrococcus/Columnaris disease... though you state there is no "whiteness" in the area, no others affected. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/ColumnarisF.htm
Bob Fenner>

Fry tank issues and medicating fry.    6/24/12
Hey crew! I've written before and you are all so awesome with your expertise! The hobby is very lucky to have you!
<Thanks for these kind words.>
I've been having issues with my platy fry tank.
In the past, I've never been able to keep fry alive for longer than a couple of months, but I had them in a plastic breeder trap back then.
<Ah, now, fry should be released from the trap once they're about 10 mm long, which is usually within 6-8 weeks. Water circulation within the traps isn't great, and that causes problems with water quality if nothing else once the fry get above a certain size.>
This time around I decided to keep them in their own tank because all my females decided to drop fry at the same time and I ended up with like 30 of them! My set up includes a 10gal tank with two sponge filters: one rated for 20 gals and the other for 10 gals. I've recently been losing fry. They just seem to drop dead.
<Shouldn't do. Platy fry are very tough and easy to rear (by fry standards, anyway) provided you're offering the right basic conditions.>
I'll check on them before bed and they are all swimming around and perky and I'll wake up the next morning and find 1 or 2 dead or close to death.
Now my first instinct would be water parameters, like ammonia or nitrite problems, but both are zero. Ph is 8.2, gH 14, kH 7, nitrate 10, and temp 80 deg (maybe that's too high?).
<Darn right! Platies are low-end tropicals (Variatus Platies are subtropical fish) and need to be kept relatively cool, around 22-24 C for standard Platies (and around 18-22 for Variatus Platies).>
Now, the tank has been up and running for approximately 4 months. I initially had problems with ammonia, (not getting over 0.25ppm) due to my inexperience with sponge filters and maintenance, but I learned a lot of lessons and now the tank has been ammonia free for over a month. I seem to be losing more fry now than when I had ammonia. Maybe from the stress? All fry seem to exhibit the same symptoms and the onset is sudden: lethargy, frayed fins, crashed on the bottom, and loss of appetite. I don't see any physical problems like spots or anything.
<All fry, including livebearer fry, benefit from a combination of small but frequent meals (ideally 4-6 meals/day) and regular water changes (10% daily is good, but the more the better, provided water chemistry stays more or less steady). Siphon out detritus from the bottom of the tank if you can, or use a turkey baster to pipette it out; either way, the less "gunk" in the tank, the healthier your fry will be. Don't be afraid to use a bare-bottomed tank -- a plain glass aquarium with just the sponge filter and some floating vegetation (Indian fern is ideal, but ordinary pondweed will do) for shade. You don't need (or want) gravel, rocks, etc in a fry-rearing aquarium. Anything that traps food, faeces or bacteria is BAD.>
Again, most times the onset occurs so quickly that they are already dead in a matter of hours. I attempt to remove the sick ones to a small 2 gal tank and treat with salt and Methylene blue, but they never recover. I've been adding salt to the tank along with stress coat additives to try and reduce stress so they do not get sick, but it seems to be in vain. At this point, I'm not sure what else to do to prevent more fry from dying besides keeping great water parameters by cleaning and doing water changes more often, adding salt, and adding stress coat products. Do I dare medicate the water in case I have some kind of epidemic? Is it safe to medicate fry and which meds are safest?
<Both Methylene Blue and salt are safe for Platy fry. But there's no need to use either routinely; only use them if you need to. I would use a little salt, 2-3 grammes/litre, if the water was soft, and remind you that livebearers need hard, alkaline water and no tropical fish should be kept in tanks with water from a domestic water softener.>
I know to expect some fry loss, but I've lost maybe half of them. That seems like a lot. I've started to feed them antibiotic medicated food just in case (Minocycline). Maybe I just have to roll with the losses at this point due to the earlier problems, I don't know. Any advice would be most excellent! Thanks. ~Hannah~
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy with weird skin issue going on. – 05/13/12
Hey guys at WWW. I have an interesting case for you that I am having trouble solving. I have a Platy that has a weird skin issue. It almost looks like the skin is peeling off.
<Yes. It's probably Finrot, despite being on the body.>
I'm tempted to call it fish psoriasis because that is what it looks like.
It is occurring on top of the fish in front of the dorsal fin, and then straight down vertically on both sides (not laterally along the sides). It almost looks like the scales have been rubbed the wrong way and they are sticking up and peeling off. It's not dropsy I know for sure as I've seen it first hand. It is not occurring all over and the fish is not bloated. I first noticed this skin thing a few months ago, when it started at the top and crept down a little on the left side. I didn't think much of it because I thought it had been scarring because the fish had gotten stuck in one of my decorations a little while ago and I had to pull him out. The spot was approximately where it had rubbed on the decor when he was stuck. He also didn't show any signs of distress; no flashing or rubbing.
Well after a couple of months it seemed to become more prominent and looked more like peeling so I thought maybe it wasn't scarring after all and maybe it was a developing disease so I thought I'd be conservative and try some Methylene Blue and salt dips. That almost seemed to make it worse, with the peeling now noticeable on the right side. I decided to quarantine him in a 10 gal cycled tank. All references to skin peeling and eroding on the web pointed to Hole-in-the-Head disease and Lateral Line Erosion, and the recommended treatment was Metronidazole. So I used some API General Cure (250mg Metronidazole, 75mg Praziquantel) with two doses, 48 hours apart. It did nothing. I then thought maybe it was bacterial or fungal so I thought I'd do a 1-2 punch with 300mg of Kanamycin and 2.5ml of Maroxy daily with 25% PWCs. For the first few days, it seemed to help, but unfortunately the Maroxy nuked the bio-filter and I ended up with an ammonia spike (which is not helping the situation!) I suspended treatment with the Maroxy so I could try to build up the bio-filter and continued with just the Kanamycin and the PWCs to deal with the ammonia. Free ammonia levels never made it above .25ppm and I've been using an ammonia neutralizer and Tetra's SafeStart along with the daily PWCs, but the free ammonia will not drop below .05ppm. Total ammonia is between .25ppm and .50ppm.
Well the Kanamycin course is nearly complete, but it did not improve anything. Hard to know though if anything will work when the fish is stressed from the ammonia. I thought I'd give the Metronidazole one more shot in case it is stubborn case of Lateral Line Erosion, so I started adding just pure Metronidazole at 200mg every other day. I just did a second dose last night, but still no improvement. I ordered some Nitrofurazone because I thought that since the fish was showing improvement when I was using the Maroxy, maybe it is more fungal even though it's not fuzzy looking. The Nitrofurazone is also not supposed to harm the bio-filter, so maybe it would be a good next attempt. It is supposed to come on Monday.
The Platy has not shown signs of illness really. He's a little schitzy and hyperactive, but it's hard to tell if that is from the ammonia, illness, or the medications. I would like to do some Methylene Blue dips again to detoxify the affects of the ammonia, but I've been kind of waiting to get a hold of the ammonia problem first. Any clue as to what this could be or if I'm on the right track with treating it? I have some photos, but they don't really show the peeling effect very well, they just show up as white blotches. The areas are circled. Tank parameters: PH 8.2; KH 8; GH 10; NO2 0; NO3 <5; NH3 .05; NH3+NH4 .25-.50. Thank you in advance.
<Treat as per Finrot. Ensure ammonia and nitrite levels are zero at all times. The Finrot infection (Aeromonas and Pseudomonas spp. infection) is likely caused by water quality issues. Most commonly seen on Platies in environments where the hardness isn't sufficiently high; adding some marine aquarium salt mix can be a helpful supplement to a good quality Finrot medication. The problem won't go away until water quality problems are fixed, so attend to both these issues, the tank and the fish, together.
Also remember to remove carbon, if used. Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: Platy with weird skin issue going on.    5/14/12
Thanks for the fast response! So fin rot on the body and not the fins, so... body rot? :)
<Heh, heh...>
Just a few quick follow up questions if you don't mind. So why marine salt mix?
<Because marine aquarium salt mix includes both salt (sodium chlorine) and lots of other minerals that raise carbonate and general hardness, and these other minerals raise the pH and keep it steady. Plain aquarium (or tonic) salt doesn't contain these, it's basically just cooking salt, so has zero effect on hardness and pH. Given how inexpensive marine aquarium salt is, and how convenient to use, using it is a no-brainer in situations where you want a bit of salinity *and* steady water chemistry.>
I was planning on putting in some plain rock salt since I had thought the GH was high enough. Should it be higher?
<The higher the better for livebearers, and if you're having trouble keeping them healthy, the addition of a little salt will help too. Use marine salt mix at 2-3 grammes/litre to start with and see how you go.>
Do you think that the Kanamycin was just not helping because of the stress of the ammonia spike, or do you think that the Kanamycin is not effective for this disease or is it just impossible to tell which?
<Both or either. But the reality is that medicines won't help if the underlying cause of infection remains.>
I just am a little puzzled with what would cause the fin rot, because fin rot is usually from poor water quality and when this had started, the fish was in a completely cycled 40 gallon tank. Parameters were Ph 8.0; KH 9; GH 8; NO2 0; NO3 20; NH3 0.
<Earlier message said you had non-zero levels of ammonia -- that's the problem.>

My phosphates were high around 8, could that have been the stressor?
<No, but high levels of phosphate will try to push pH down, which can be bad if the water lacks carbonate hardness to resist this.>
Or that the GH maybe needed to be higher? I finally got the phosphates down to 2 and am still trying to eliminate them. Anyways, I will continue to get my parameters in my quarantine tank under control. Maybe I'll put some gravel from my main tank in there to help with the ammonia, but it seems like whenever I do that, it causes my ammonia levels to raise instead. I also have some Tetracycline, which is suggested for fin rot, but I am hesitant to use it because I've heard it can damage the nitrifying bacteria. Is this true?
<It can be. Why not use something safer? Here in England, there's a medication called eSHa 2000 that I find works well, if that's any help to you.>
I think I will do what you have suggested, and continue with my plan to start the Furan2 when it arrives, and when all else fails, use the Tetracycline.
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Platy with weird skin issue going on. 7/11/12
Hi Neale, Hannah again. It's been a couple months since I last wrote to you and I'm still fighting this skin issue. I've done everything you've suggested: I raised my hardness with a gH of 17, kH of 8, I've added salt, and I've tried eSHa 2000. I also tried furan2 and nothing has helped.
<Oh dear.>
I even waited a couple of weeks between treatments to try and not stress out my fish or water parameters. It's looking worse. My ammonia problem has resolved and has remained 0 for many weeks now. The weird thing is, is that my fish is acting fine. He doesn't act sick. I'm starting to wonder if this is a viral or chronic issue. In your last response, you stated that this sickness was a result of poor water quality because of the ammonia. What I don't think I got across very well in my previous emails is that I only had ammonia problems in my treatment tank after I already tried to treat the fish. The skin thing started when I had him in my display tank where I had no ammonia. So that makes me wonder what caused this, and if this really is an issue of Finrot/body rot.
<Sounds like it isn't. Mycobacteria spp would be the other thing to consider.

It's incurable, so you may as well destroy the fish humanely (30 drops clove oil in 1 litre aquarium water works well; immerse fish for 10, 20 minutes and will be unconscious in a few seconds, dead within a few minutes, but allow more time to be sure if you don't know how to test for death). Mycobacteriosis (sometimes, erroneously, called "Fish TB") has a range of symptoms including red and/or white patches on the skin, listlessness, wasting, and ultimately death.>
I have tried very hard to treat the tank with mild meds that won't disrupt the filter, but now I may need to break out the big guns. Here are my thoughts: One thing that I thought helped in the beginning was Maroxy, but that completely killed the biofilter and raised my ammonia, so I never finished treatment. If I try it again, I can always use filter media to recover the biofilter, but in order to lock up the ammonia that will build up while treating with this med I need to find a product that only locks up ammonia and not remove chlorine and chloramines since the med is neutralized with dechlorinator. The directions say not to do water changes either so I would need an ammonia neutralizer. Another option is that I could try another antibiotic like Maracyn, Maracyn 2, or Tetracycline. I don't know what would be most appropriate. I've heard Tetracycline is not very effective in high gH situations, and I'm not fond of the icky yellow foam that seems to linger forever. I'm leaning towards the Maroxy and Maracyn as next options. Right now I'm extending the eSHa 2000 treatment until I leave on vacation for a week, as I don't want to try another treatment before I leave in case my tank crashes. Any other ideas? I feel bad for my fish because he's been away from the other fish and I think he's lonely...and horny haha. I think pretty soon, regardless of whether he is healed or not, I'm just going to put him back in the main tank. I'm pretty convinced this isn't contagious and almost convinced it isn't curable. At this point what course of action should I take, or what would you do?
Highest regards and many thanks,
<If a fish doesn't respond to the first couple rounds of treatment, and isolating a fish isn't an option, I'd tend to euthanise. At some point it becomes good money after bad, and if it's in the community tank, you risk infecting other fish. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Platy with weird skin issue going on.    7/13/12

Thank you Neale you have been helpful. I sure hope this isn't fish TB.
<Can we please not call this Fish TB. It isn't Fish TB, and freshwater fish hardly ever get Fish TB. What we're talking about is a Mycobacteria infection; Fish TB is one kind of Mycobacteria infection, but there are others, so don't assume the symptoms of Fish TB apply to the other Mycobacteria infections.>
He hasn't wasted or developed a crooked spine however.
<I see.>
I did have some danios die in my display tank that had symptoms of fish TB like wasting and curved spines so it didn't shock me too much when you suggested it. When the danios died, I decided to get a UV sterilizer.
<Can be useful.>
Never got around to plumbing it in since no other fish became ill, but I think I will make time now to get it up and running.
<For sure. While these don't prevent all diseases, they reduce the risk of many types, though not so much opportunistic bacteria like Mycobacteria or Finrot. They are good for minimising problems with Whitespot and Velvet following the introduction of new fish, which is why pet shops use them.>
As for my ill fish, I will keep him isolated and try a couple other things before I give up on him. I know fish TB isn't really curable, but there are references for treatment using Kanamycin for 30 days along with vitamin B6.
<Good luck.>
I already have Kanamycin and I think I will start making medicated fish food with that. The person feeding the animals while I'm on vacation can feed the medicated food to him and when I get back, I can try some Maracyn and Maroxy. I guess we'll see, but my hope for him is waning. If I let a mixture of flakes or freeze dried bloodworms soaked in water with Kanamycin and Seachem Focus dry out so the flakes/worms can be fed over a couple of days, will the medication still be active?
<Likely not. Use as instructed on the packaging. Antibiotics have a limited lifespan out of the bottle, and organic material (such as food) reduces this even further as bacterial decay progresses.>
Or what's the best way to bind the medicine to flake food for use over a couple of days?
<Buy medicated food; else consult your vet for a specific dosage.
Antibiotic resistance is a major problem as I'm sure you know, and in part this has been caused by "trial and error" dosing by the non-medically trained. A vet can help you calculate the dose required for a fish of given mass/weight, and as you will have read in Myron Roth's piece on Mycobacteria, if you don't get the right dosage, nothing will happen. In the UK, antibiotics aren't sold over the counter, so this isn't an issue I have ever had to deal with; you have to go to the vet to get antibiotics for fish, and that means you'll use the correct dosage anyway. This holds true across most of the world as well. But in the US antibiotics are still -- to some degree -- sold over the counter, and this creates a very grey area in terms of antibiotic use, with aquarists reporting all sorts of results, from great success to total failure! This is why web pages often seem so inconsistent; unlike the scientific literature, American fishkeeping web sites cannot possibly be expected to provide you with good, reliable dosages. Either speak to a vet, or use medicated food where the manufacturer tells you precisely how much (and how often) to use.>
Again, many thanks and I'm really hoping this is just a resistant bacteria and not fish TB, but if he starts to suffer or get much worse, I will most likely have to euthanize.
<Indeed. Good luck, Neale.>

Redwag Platy, whitish/bluish large spot on top of body   4/25/12
I have been searching your site and cannot seem to find an answer.
I have a 20 gallon relatively new tank, cycled and planted with 7 different sized/shaped plants. It has a Aqueon Quietflow 30, with a sponge pre filter. I am not using the carbon inset - instead made my own insert and added matrix to increase the bio filter capabilities and a little Purigen (separate in a bag). After some trial and error it is working well.
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 10-20 (it's hard to tell with the API liquid test I have)
<Doesn't much matter precisely what. Anything from 0-20 mg/l is "low" by freshwater standards, and good for most types of fish you'd be keeping.>
pH: 8.0
Temp: 74-76 recently lowered from around 77-79.
I have 7 zebra danios (started with 3 to cycle), 8 neon tetras, 4 red wag platies, and 1 albino Bristlenose Pleco. The platies and Pleco were added Saturday. I drip acclimated and did not add the store water.
This morning I woke up and noticed one of the female platies flashing on the rocks an driftwood. I have kept an eye on her all day. I was worried it was Ich. There is no sign of white spots. However, there are larger whitish grayish translucent spots on the top of her body. I don't know what to make of this. Her energy seems normal, but I think she is rubbing on the side of the aquarium. She also seemed to tilt her head/body to the side while swimming for awhile.
The other fish seem fine.
I just did a 30% water change and gravel vacuum.
Any clue what this could be. I am worried it could spread or get worse. I'm new to this and any help would be greatly appreciated.
<Almost certainly Whitespot (Ick) and should be treated quickly. Could be Velvet though. Both attack the gills first, so the fish "flash" against rocks (effectively trying to itch themselves) long before you see the mature white spots on the body (or the golden sheen if Velvet). Salt/heat can work well at low levels.
Good quality Whitespot medications are available and shouldn't harm your filter or your Bristlenose Plec (catfish and loaches react poorly to those medications with copper or formalin in, so avoid those). I happen to like eSHa EXIT because it doesn't harm catfish and treats both Whitespot and Velvet. So choose whichever approach you want to take. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Redwag Platy, whitish/bluish large spot on top of body   4/25/12

Hi Neale,
Thank you very much for your answer. I read quite a bit about both Ich and velvet on the website, but wasn't sure if I was missing something because of the larger whitish patch I was seeing... some sort of fungus or something.
<Could easily be. Whitespot and velvet open up the skin, and secondary infections set in. But could also be Slime Disease (Costia) which looks like white slime but is actually caused by yet another skin parasite.>
Anyway, I will start treatment this morning. If there's a chance that it is velvet, I'm going to look for the eSHa EXIT at the store,
<Not sold in the US; only in Europe. Alternatives in the US are available; do look for something that treats Whitespot, Velvet, and ideally Costia.
Something along the lines of Seachem Paraguard. Avoid the tea-tree oil stuff though.>
and if they don't have that I will use the salt method.
<Real good.>
Thanks again for you response. It's really appreciated.
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: Redwag Platy, whitish/bluish large spot on top of body

Hi Neale:
I just did more research regarding what gravity actually means.... and that normal water has a gravity of 1.000, so my calculations don't make sense. I am going to redo the salt mixture measuring teaspoons.
<Do find and download my Brack Calc tool (for Mac/Windows; grammes/ounces and litres/US gallons). Makes all this very easy. For treating Whitespot, all you really want is about 2 grammes per litre. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Redwag Platy, whitish/bluish large spot on top of body
Thanks so much! I really appreciate your help with this. You have a great site. I will keep you posted (hopefully) of a full recovery.
<Most welcome and thanks for the kind words, Neale.>
Re: Redwag Platy, whitish/bluish large spot on top of body

Hi Neale:
Really sorry to keep bothering you - but one of my old zebra danios (original 3) is hanging out at the bottom of the tank barely moving. He went downhill very fast. He seemed fine earlier. I am really, really worried. I am trying to find something on him.. and it looks like he maybe has a few of the same patches as the platy on the very top of him as well... but maybe not. Just wondering if this gives you any indication as to what this may be... or if I need to change my treatment. Right now I plan to continue using heat/salt for the Ich.
<Do review Slime Disease/Costia. It's quite common and can be contagious.
Use a proprietary treatment available in your country. Can be safely used alongside salt/heat, so you can preemptively treat all three possible problems here. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Redwag Platy, whitish/bluish large spot on top of body   4/25/12
Hi Neale:
Quick update. The Danio died. So sad. I was really attached to him, because he was one of my first fish.
<Oh dear.>
Upon closer inspection I realized his scales seemed sort of inflamed down his top... Like someone had brushed them back and they were sticking out. He also seemed coated with some thick slime, making him sort of opaque. He also had bright red spots on his gills and mouth (blood I assume). The tank currently is treated with salt at 2 g/l, and temp is close to 80 F(slowly increasing to 82 F). I read on WWW that if it is slime coat disease the salt should be increased to 3 - 5 g/l. Will that level damage my fish/plants/biofilter? Would it be better to track down some para guard, do a large water change and start over?
<Worth a shot.>
I am sorry for pestering you... I just really don’t want to lose any more fish and am at a loss on what is the best tactic
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Sick Platy     4/5/12
I have a question about a sick platy and was wondering if you could help.
<Let's see>
First, the basics: we have a 10 gallon Tetra half-moon tank with two platies. The tank is kept at about 75-76F. The water quality is good (about 7.4 pH, 0 ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels).
<No NO3?>
 We do water changes about every 7-10 days, about 30-40%. The water filter seems in good condition as well (and change the carbon filter monthly). The tank has a gravel bottom and some artificial plants, and a large rock. The two platies are the original fish in the tank, from when we set it up about 18 months ago. Both fish are male, and have displayed some signs of aggression towards each other from time to time over the period we've had them, especially in the beginning, but generally had been fairly peaceful to each other.
The problem with one of the platies (the smaller of the two) has been manifesting for about 3 weeks, and it started with him clamping his fins a little and not eating as much. I have been trying to make sure that the other platy is not bullying him, so when I feed them instead of putting the food in all at once I have been putting a little at a time to make sure he gets to eat as well. For food I use a mixture of Tetra Color flakes, Tetra Algae flakes, and Hikari micro-pellets, trying to vary the diet over time - lately, I have given them one meal a day of algae flakes, and the other meal has been one of the other three.
The smaller platy has been eating a little better when I feed him more carefully, however he still seems unhappy, much more lethargic than usual, and his fins are often clamped (though not always). The last few days, his swimming patterns have been particularly bad, seeming to flip sideways sometimes before recovering, or just floating. When I come close to the tank, however, he usually seems to recover and come towards the front or wherever my hand is (I never tap on the glass, just move it close), seemingly to investigate or look for food. Usually when he does that his fins also perk up as well. Also, the bad swimming isn't constant - sometimes he does that, and other times he is fairly active through the tank. Even when he is active, though, his movements seem somewhat uncoordinated, moving in jerky, inconsistent patterns. One thing that he seems to do is get close to the water filter and let the water jerk him around - I cannot tell whether he does this intentionally or just gets trapped in the water flow and can't escape right away. The bigger fish is often around him, but doesn't seem to bully him, just crowd him. The only time when I see them touching each other is during feeding, when the bigger fish sometimes "swats" the other with his tail - which is why I have been trying to feed the smaller/sick platy directly, dropping a little food at a time right where he is then.
I have not noticed any signs of parasites on his body. His scales seem intact, as do his fins (other than being clamped they do not appear torn or damaged by the other fish). I did notice, however, that the top of his head seems rather transparent (he is orange with black fins and tail), whereas the bigger platy (which is red and black) appears more solid and with no transparent regions. The sick platy's gills also seem a little white.
Another thing I noticed is that he sometimes has trouble swallowing, his mouth opens fairly wide but he just bats the piece of food around a few times then moves on. The pieces of food are easily small enough to fit, since I crumble them before putting them in the tank to make sure he gets something, at least.
Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated...
<Mmm, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisf5.htm
and the linked files above>
Thank you very much,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

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

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

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
<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.>

Re: Newbie that did EVERYTHING wrong-UPDATE 2--things were going so well...    3/16/12
Good evening Bob,
<Morrow Carrie>
Like a bad penny, I am back. First of all, the good news. Thanks to your advice, we are now on day 4 without a single Ich spot. We are on day 8 of the temp at 85.5 to 85.8. I am cautiously optimistic that Operation Kick Ich is near success. I intend to keep the temp elevated through the weekend just to be safe.
<Ah good>
Unfortunately, with good news comes bad. I searched the site for an answer, but could not find anything that fit. I suspect I am not using the right key words, so I apologize if the answer is here but eluding me.
The platy that had been hiding, glancing, fin clamping actually seems much improved, but just as she was improving, another platy started exhibiting the same symptoms. Still coming out to eat, just acting lethargic. No external symptoms. After about four days of this, yesterday I noticed a red "blotch" under her skin on her side.  She was somewhat transparent, so I could tell that it was internal and along what I think was her spine.
Today when I came home from work, the internal red spot was much bigger (maybe 2 or 3 cm around) and the area around the spot was visibly swollen.
It seemed like internal bleeding, if that is possible. She was lying on the bottom, and would list over onto her side like she could not sit up straight. Occasionally, she would dart frantically around the tank, crashing into things, then fall to the bottom on her side, gasping.
Because she seemed to be truly suffering, my husband and I decided to euthanize her. Thanks to your website, we used the clove oil method, and my husband said it was peaceful and quick. Thank you for that.
Do you have any thoughts on what was wrong with her? Could it be a continued effect of the initial poor water quality? Particularly, is it likely to be contagious or should I be considering treating the tank?
<Can't tell from here>
My water parameters have been consistently good since the nitrite spike of 3 weeks ago. Ammonia and nitrite 0, nitrate 5, ph around 7.6. Because of the elevated temp, we have been doing 20% water changes every two or three days.
<Also good>
Thank you again for everything, especially the euthanasia information, which gave us much comfort.  Yours is the only site I look to for information. It has been invaluable.
<And you, BobF>

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>

Re sick platy   3/11/12
Hey again I sent a letter about my sick platys three fish have died since I sent my last email one male and one female platy and a male guppy.
<Too bad.>
Today I noticed tiny little fish like things in my tank they are about the size of a pencil tip and they are a clear whitish color and it looked like they have whiskers ( not sure about the last one). At fist I thought one of my fish had laid eggs that hatched but then I thought what if their parasites because my fish have been dying I was wondering if you know what they are?
<Difficult to say from your description. The common "mystery creatures" in freshwater tanks are these: Firstly, baby fish. These should be obvious! In the case of Platies and Guppies they're easily big enough to see their eyes and fins. They're around rice grain size when born, swim at the top of the tank, and grow quickly. Next up, there are baby snails. Again, very obvious what these are! Usually stuck to the glass, and they hatch from jelly-like clumps of eggs. Thirdly, springtails and other small insects. These skim about on the top of the water. They feed on tiny bits of organic matter.
You can't do anything about them, but luckily, they do no harm. Fourthly, there are nematodes and flatworms. While there are parasitic forms of both, the ones you can see in the aquarium are harmless (usually). Finally, there are tiny crustaceans, usually introduced via live foods (such as Daphnia) but can come with plants too. Also harmless, though if introduced from a garden pond with fish in it, there's a slim chance they could carry parasites, but trying to kill them off would likely do more harm than good.
Given that most fish are killed through environmental causes, instead of worrying about these animals, review your aquarium. Ensure the filter is properly cycled and adequate to its workload, that the tank is big enough for the fish you want to buy, and that your environmental parameters (including water chemistry and temperature) are appropriate to the species of fish in question. For example, Guppies and Platies need slightly different things, so if you try to keep these again, double-check you understand their differences, and select one or other species rather than trying to keep both. Cheers, Neale.> 

Re Fish are getting better...? Lost...  Mycobacteria f'   3/4/12
Just a little update on the fish and how they're doing.  They've gotten so much better, and they no longer seem panicked or stressed.  I do have one more little problem.. The golden female platy in my tank has become very, very thin, and her spine is starting to curve strangely.
<Hmm… do suspect Mycobacteria infection… very common among farmed livebearers (including Platies but especially Guppies). Essentially untreatable; would recommend at least isolating, else euthanising.
To some degree Mycobacteria infections are environmentally-triggered, but that said, the quality of farmed livebearers (and a few other groups of fish) is so low that these bacteria are especially likely to become a problem.>
She also has developed little black speckles all over her body, all of them no bigger than a fleck of pepper.  She shows no signs of illness, she's eating properly, nothing wrong with her digestion, but it still worries me.  (The angelfish also has very tiny flecks of black on the bases of its ventral fins, but I'm pretty sure they've always been there, since she's white with black patches/spots)
My little sister recently purchased four neon tetra and a fancy guppy for my tank, so to spare her feelings, I had to keep them (and the fact that she threw away the receipt..) Despite the addition of the fish, the ammonia stays at zero, nitrites at zero, and the nitrates at 10-15 ppm.  I also got a big piece of Mopani, and I soaked it for five days in a separate container, but it leached more tannins into the water when I put it in the tank.
<And will do, for months if not years. Do check the pH; livebearers mustn't be exposed to pH below 7, so it's important to ensure at least moderately hard and alkaline conditions to keep the pH in the 7-8 range.>
So there are two possibilities for the platy to have the black flecks: contraction of disease from the guppy and tetra, or something from the driftwood's tannins.
<Or a third possibility, that "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" isn't true, and the Platy got sick at a time purely coincident with the arrival of the new fish.>
All of the fish are still doing fine, but I'm just a little worried.  The black specks do not protrude or intrude on the body, so it looks like part of her coloration.  She is a panda platy, but she is mutated, so she's completely yellow instead of both yellow and black.  She originally had little flecks of black around her tail area, but I'm not sure if her coloring is just coming in a little more, or if it's something else, like a parasitic or bacterial disease. There's also the fact that she looks anorexic, and her body is starting to curve a little bit, her back arching up more and her tail curving down. Do you think she could have a disease that's making her so thin and curving her spine?
<See above, and the linked articles.>
Should I be feeding her any special foods?
<Platies are herbivores, as are Guppies, so a Spirulina-based flake is recommended.>
I feed them all Ocean Nutrition: formula two flakes, which has a lot of protein and vitamins for the fish, and the only one that's getting fat off of this stuff is the baby platy.  The momma is starting to get a little bit bigger, but I don't know if that's because I'm feeding her a little more or because her back is starting to arch more.
All of the other fish are fine, except that the male guppy loves to watch himself go up and down the glass every other hour, and they're all eating fine. I'm cleaning the tank more often to keep algae from building up, keeping the nitrates lower, etc.  I'll have them in a bigger 30 gallon tank by the end of this spring, so I'll just have to work harder on this tank until then.
If you could reply back, that would be great  :)
Thanks again, Jenny.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: Fish are getting better…? (RMF, photos consistent with Mycobacteria?)<<Could be>>     3/4/12

Thank you for the reply.
I've read both of the links, and I now realize that the infection may not be treatable, but if I were to try and treat her, what medication should I use?
< Mycobacteria? Not really worth medicating, if it is this.>
There should be two pictures attached, but I don't know if they will show up.  In the first picture, the black specks didn't show up very well, but you could see that her tail is slightly curving downwards and her back is arched more than usual. You could also see that she's very. very thin.  The second picture kind of shows the black speckled area near her tail which has always been there, but the new specks that have appeared look like the specks in that area, so again, it could be part of her coloration.
<The black specks could be anything. "Black Spot" in pond fish is a parasitic infection, and when it happens in aquarium fish, generally clears up by itself because the parasite can't complete its life cycle in aquaria.
Black patches on a fish are more likely to be bacterial infection, dead tissue, defective colouration cells in the skin -- a variety of things.
What makes me think this is Mycobacteria is the deformity and thinness of the fish, entirely consistent with Mycobacteria infections of livebearers.>
I forgot to mention this, but she started getting thin a little while ago, long before we got the new fish and the Mopani wood, so that excludes the possibilities of the new fish or the wood contracting the disease. I just wasn't very worried then because she was still eating, and she seemed perfectly fine other than that she was starting to get thin. But when her spine started to curve like that, I got a little worried. I probably should have emailed sooner.
But she seems to be getting better, eating a little more than she used to and grouping together with her tank mates more, looking a little bit bigger than she was before.
<Since Mycobacteria are opportunistic, it is possible for fish to get better under their own steam. Rare, but possible. Treating is difficult.
Mycobacteria are considered to be Gram-positive bacterium from the perspective of medication, so an antibiotic that treats Gram-positive bacteria, such as Maracyn, as opposed to a Gram-negative antibiotic like Maracyn 2, is the way to go, and if the fish is feeding, may help the fish's own immune system pull the fish through.>
I read in that first link that you can treat the fish three ways: through immersion, feeding orally, or injection.  It seems that oral would be the easiest way to treat, since she's gulping down food just as well as the others, but I wouldn't know how to feed her the food with the medicine. I could do it one of the mentioned ways, food mixed in with the Jell-O, but again, I don't know which medication to use. (are any of the medicines listed on that first forum oral medications, or can be used for food?)  In the end, I'd probably have to euthanize her, but I at least want to try to help her: she's a very nice tank mate to have and she has a very good temperament.
<Do refer to the instructions on the antibiotic used.>
And thank you for the links, and I'm sure they'll be very helpful to me. 
I'll try to set up a separate tank for her, but I don't have anything over 1 or 1.5 gallons. Maybe I can get a bare 5 gallon for her, and I'll need to buy a new filter to go with it.    I also mentioned getting a 30 gallon at the end of this spring, so this new tank will be disease free. :)
<Antibiotics can be "hard" on biological filters -- after all, the things do the filtration are bacteria, and you're treating with a bacteria-killed chemical! So use of zeolite instead of a biological filter, plus regular (ideally, daily) water changes will help.>
Thanks, Jenny
<Cheers Neale.


Re: Fish are getting better…?     3/6/12
Actually, just one more really quick question: can you use medicine for immersion in food instead of putting it in the water?  <If you're a vet and know how to dose according to body mass. Otherwise, no, not if the medicine doesn't come with instructions for doing this.>
I'm going to set up a separate 2.5 gallon, using water from the tank to avoid any more stress from uncycled water, and have her in there for a little while, feed her the food, then put her back in the main tank, just to avoid any mess-ups with the water quality in the main tank.   I went to the LFS, and they didn't have any five gallons, just 15 and up or 2.5 and below.
If I were to feed her the medicine, I will use the gelatin method, blending the food with the medicine and some water, mixing in some gelatin and freezing it. Then I can give her the recommended dose on the box.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Sick platy after birth? Bashin's try
platy health/env 2/26/12

Hi! <Hello>I have 2 female platys that gave birth to fry a couple of days after I got them but after they gave birth they sort of got way deflated and inactive. <Almost assuredly unrelated.> One is super skinny and it's belly sagged. <Not sure what you mean by this. Sagging of any sort, is not a good sign.> The other floats in the corner and does nothing. There are
two other male platys and three platy fry, <Should be separated if you want them to survive>  three guppies (one female and two males), one male molly, two golden Chinese sucker fish, and a red face tetra in a 20 gallon tank.
<Okay, that's a large number of fish for a 20. Moreover, even though they are mostly livebearers, they do require different water conditions. What are the tank parameters? Have you tested your water?> What should I do about my two platy females? <Please test your water. The symptoms sound environmental.>
Sent from my iPad
<Please search WWM regarding the specific conditions required by the fish.
Cheers, Sugam>
Sick platy after birth? Neale's go   2/27/12

Hi! I have 2 female platys that gave birth to fry a couple of days after I got them but after they gave birth they sort of got way deflated and inactive. One is super skinny and it's belly sagged. The other floats in the corner and does nothing.
<Not good. Do check water quality, water chemistry and water temperature.
Zero nitrite and ammonia are needed, and water chemistry should be hard and alkaline (10+ degrees dH, pH 7-8). Water temperature should be between 22-25 C/72-77 F, no warmer. Do also ensure you don't have too many Platies.
Keep two females (at least) per male, and ideally, include some floating plants that the females will use for shelter when trying to avoid the aggressive/pushy males.>
There are two other male platys and three platy fry, three guppies (one female and two males), one male molly, two golden Chinese sucker fish,
<These do not belong in this aquarium, and will eventually cause harm to water quality and/or your fish. Gyrinocheilus aymonieri requires 55+ gallons, is EXTREMELY territorial once mature, and is a pretty poor algae eater as well.>
and a red face tetra in a 20 gallon tank. What should I do about my two platy females?
<Read. Do start here, and follow the links at the top:
Most problems with Platies come down to the wrong environment, wrong tankmates, wrong diet, and wrong temperature. Livestock quality can be pretty iffy too. Cheers, Neale.>

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

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

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

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

Sad Platy?  2/4/12
We bought our son a 5 gallon tank
<Too small.>
for his b'day back in Oct and 2 male Platys,( one yellow Mickey and an orange one) we don't want babies -  They got along just fine up until about 3 weeks ago. Swimming normally, eating/playing normally.
<Fish don't play. What you call "playing" was actually aggression. Male Platies compete with one another for females, and they don't compete by playing games!>
Now I noticed our yellow Mickey is hiding in the cave all day, won't come out for food ( how long can they go without eating??). When the orange one goes near the cave the yellow flicks his head or tail at him, trying to push him away. The yellow has even chased the orange one away and then retreats back to the cave.
<Aggression; trying to protect itself.>
I haven't seen any aggression from the orange one, if anything it seems like he's trying to tell him to come out and eat! Very occasionally the yellow will come out the cave and go hide at the top of the tank.
We have artificial plants and one small rock cave. I clean the tank once a week - and had my water tested a few times. The pet shop told me that my water is in great condition - better than theirs even!
<Meaning what? Really do need the numbers here, not their opinion. After all, they seem to have told you 5 gallons was enough water for Platies -- and that's utter rubbish. Platies need 15 gallons, minimum.>
They don't show signs of fighting, no missing tail or fins! So, could he be depressed, or not happy in his environment?? Would a 3rd  Platy help?? I certainly don't want to over crowd my small tank.
Thank you!
<As Bob would say, keep reading! Start here:
Follow the links. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sad Platy?  2/4/12

Thank you for your quick response!! We appreciate it.
<My pleasure.>
We have never owned fish and just wanted a smaller tank for my sons room - can you suggest some fish that would be ok in that size tank??
<For 5 gallons? Not much. A single Betta, or else a small colony of Shrimps or African Dwarf Frogs. But really, that's about it. Sadly, 5-gallon tanks are pretty well useless for fishkeeping. Here's some reading to get you going.
If you think about it, 5 gallons is a bucket. Can you imagine many fish living a happy life in a bucket?>
Should we take the sad Platy out, separate and feed him??
<These fish will need rehoming, yes. Long term chances of success are very low; likely one fish will die within the next couple weeks, and the other will last a few months before something goes wrong.>
I love that size tank, its easy to maintain, especially for a complete novice :)
<Actually, it's not, as you're learning to your cost! Five gallons is a terrible size for beginners. It's difficult to stock for a start, but also cannot provide healthy, stable conditions without a great deal of skill and effort (and experience!). Bottom line, a 5-gallon tank is usually a waste of money. Much better to start with 15-20 gallons; even 10 gallons is smaller than most people will find "easy".>
Thank you!!!!
<Cheers, Neale.>

sick platy?   1/15/12
I apologize if my questions are redundant, but I've searched through the FAQ and am still in need of some direction.
<Am hoping we can help>
We have a 6.6 gal Chi vertical aquarium which currently contains 2 red salt and pepper platies (both male and purchased at the same time from the same tank of a local fish/aquarium store)
<I have read your following email and seen that you realize this is too small a volume for these fish>
, an apple snail, ~2 inches of Fluval substrate for planted aquariums, and 3 live plants. Water temp is 78 degrees F, ammonia and nitrites = 0 ppm, nitrate = 5.0 ppm, pH = 7.6. All three animals were purchased approximately 1 month ago and placed in our already cycled tank. I constantly top off the water level due to evaporation, and change ~ 2 gallons of the water every couple of weeks.
Every time I add water I make sure the temperature is appropriate and it has been treated with a water conditioner. The tank is relatively new; we set it up and I cycled it just before buying the fish. In addition to some natural light, I leave the aquarium light on about 12 hours/day.
Both platies and the snail were eating (TetraMin tropical flakes) well up until Jan 5. Both platies would come to the front of the tank (I find that area best for feeding due to the filter design and placement; the flakes are inevitably pushed toward the front of the tank and then down into the water regardless of where the flakes are originally placed) and wait for the flakes to be pushed down into the water. Lewis, one of the platies, was more of an active feeder while Clark, the other platy, was more tentative and shy. Lewis definitely ate more of the flakes, but Clark certainly ate his share and would often skim the substrate for leftover flakes.
I was out of town until the 10th, and had a friend of mine feed the platies every day as well as check water levels/temp and top off the tank. For the past few days Clark has not been eating the flakes, although he skims the glass interior for algae. He also is a bit more shy, tending to hide close to the heater. He looks somewhat thinner, but not emaciated. No fin clamping, no visible white spots or other problems. Lewis, the other platy, looks considerably larger than Clark, is much more active, and has become an aggressive feeder, consuming all of the flakes. He has even started consuming the flakes at the water surface instead of waiting until they are pushed down by the filter. He's an exuberant eater but doesn't bully Clark. Clark just doesn't seem interested in the flakes (or freeze-dried bloodworms). I did notice Lewis excreting a long string of whitish poop;
<Mmm, could be evidence of worm, protozoan lumenal issues...>
have seen nothing from Clark. Also noticed since my return that several times Lewis has dive-bombed a few of the Anubias leaves. Edward (the snail)
is acting normally, although perhaps not quite as active. I've tried different feeding strategies, but Clark just does not appear interested.
Can you help me?
<Mmm, am hesitant to suggest other than moving the Platies to the 10 as you note in the next mail... But I would read a bit re the use of commercially made Parasite Foods... A few companies make these... in flake... Do search the web, ask your local fish store/s re. Bob Fenner>
sick platy Part 2   1/15/12

I should mention that I just read on your site that 10 gal is the recommended minimum tank size for platies. The 6.6 gallon tank was originally purchased for our Betta. Since Geppetto disliked his tankmates we left the platies and snail in the 6.6 gallon, and purchased a 10 gallon for Geppetto. It just finished cycling a few days ago. Both tanks were cycled using daily additions of Ammonia and daily tests for Ammonia and then nitrites. Should I transfer the platies and snail to the planted 10 gallon and put Geppetto in the 6.6 gallon? I know the vertical aquarium probably is not the best for any species but I thought it was particularly inadvisable for a Betta. Thank you for your help!
<I would place the Platies in your 10 gallon, move Pinocchio's maker if they can't/don't get along. Bob Fenner>
Re: sick platy?  1/16/12

Thank you very much for the suggestions! I'll move the Platies and snail to the 10 gallon while also researching the parasite issue. Hope that does the trick.
<Me too! Cheers, BobF>
Re: sick platy?   1/17/12

Hi Bob,
An update on the platies...I moved them to the 10 gallon 1.5 days ago. The thinner platy (Clark) seems to be doing better in general, although this morning I noticed that he is not so thin anymore. He looks a bit bloated, although I still have not observed him eating.
<Perhaps he found something in the new digs to eat>
 The other platy (Lewis) still looks plump, and excreted a long string of white poop yesterday. I picked up some Spirulina pellets and aquarium salt per the LFS. Do you think I might try adding 1 TBSP aquarium salt (10 gallon planted tank) and see if this helps?
<You could>
 Or perhaps I should avoid feeding for a couple of days in case they are constipated?
Thanks for your help!
<I'd keep feeding. BobF>
Re: sick platy? 1/17/12

Thanks, Bob. I added a shelled cooked pea to the tank this afternoon.
Maybe tomorrow I'll try salt. Your help is much appreciated.
<Ah, welcome. B>
Re: sick platy? 1/17/12

Okay, one more question. Could this be dropsy?
<Dropsy... is a condition... not a root/caused ailment. Read here:
Clark is now much bigger than he was yesterday. Does the swelling associated with dropsy occur within hours?
<Not that I've ever encountered>
 No eye-bulging or pinecone scales. I'm worried....
<Will worrying change the future? B>
Re: sick platy? 1/17/12

Thanks for providing me with the link. I gave the fish a pea this morning, and will continue to add a pea to the tank every day. Also gave the very bloated Clark a salt dip (and added 2 tsp of aquarium salt to the 10 gal tank), after which he perked up considerably. So much information out there, so hard to diagnose the problem.
<Yes; near to impossible w/o necropsy... and then...>
 Will see what happens, and try not to worry. If worrying changed the future my life - and Clark's - would be much different :-). Thank you SO much for your help and for graciously tolerating my ignorance :-).
<Happy to help. B>
Re: sick platy? 1/18/12

A sad postscript...I just checked on Clark. He had passed away, just like that :-(. Can you tell me what I might have done wrong?
<I cannot>
All of the water parameters in both tanks, the 6.6 gallon and then the 10 gallon, were perfect. He and Lewis were both doing great before I left for my 5 day trip. Could they have been overfed by my fish-sitting friend during my absence?
<Can't tell from here>
 Could I have overfed them? For a few days Clark wasn't really eating, then we switched him - and Lewis - to the larger tank, and within 1.5 days he bloated up almost overnight and then died suddenly. Lewis still looks good, but seems kind of agitated. I feel like crap.
<Not your "fault"... think on the positive; what you did to amplify this fish's life. B>
Re: sick platy?   1/19/12

Hi Bob,
Thanks for the encouragement. We treated the tank once with Parasite Guard, and are also feeding the surviving Platy a bit of Jungle Labs anti-bacterial food each day; PetSmart was out of the anti-parasite formula and our LFS had only Melafix :-(.
<Not of use>
 More importantly, we also purchased "Freshwater Aquariums for Dummies" :-) so we don't have to scour the internet each time we have a question. Is there another more detailed - and scientific - book you would recommend?
<For general FW aquarium keeping? I strongly agree w/ Neale's list here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/bksfwbrneale.htm Lewis is not swimming quite as erratically, is eating well, and has not developed bloat. Hope it stays that way.
Thanks again,
<Welcome. BobF>

Sick red wag platy? Need data   -- 1/3/12
I have a question regarding my female red wag platy. She is strangely lingering at the top of the tank: front fins moving, but overall, she is stationary. She is a generally active fish, and I'm wondering if she acquired some sort of disease.
<Mmm, maybe...>
 She seems normal to me in appearance, nothing resembling Ich, etc. She has had many fry in the couple of months that I've had her (I recovered and am currently raising four of them), so could she possibly be birthing?
<Do you see signs of such? See WWM re Platy repro.>
But she doesn't show typical signs of that. My other sunset platy (male) is doing fine, three other mollies and snail is fine, and four fry are well.
Tank conditions are good and stable.
Thank you for any advice, as I am a new aquarist, having had my 20g up and running for a few months.
<... what re water quality tests? The system? Maintenance, other livestock present? Need input... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisf5.htm
and the linked files above for input and clues re the data we're looking
for. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick red wag platy?    1/4/12
Thank you very much for your input, Bob.
I apologize but am unable to provide stats on water condition right now; I ran out of test strips at home. Will get a water sample evaluated soon.
But here is some other info on my tank:
20g (planted)
1 female red wag platy (sick)
1 male sunset platy
2 male lyretail mollies
1 male Dalmatian Molly
4 platy fry (in maturation tank)
1 blue mystery snail
About the sick platy: I've noticed lately that, other than her "treading water" in a particular area of the tank (Aww, she just started moving around a bit more!), her belly is swollen (not birthing- this has been going on too long), and the area where the gravid spot should be is white and swollen also (like the page you sent, but not quite as extreme). Belly area is also very lightly-colored. Anything concerning so far?
<Any not-normal behavior is of concern to me>
Temp has been at 77 F, I know that's warm for these fish, so I'm lowering that gradually.
Water changes (1/3) weekly- gravel vacuumed and algae removed then.
Chemicals used- Stress Coat, Stress Zyme, Leaf Zone liquid plant food.
Adult fish are fed Omega One freshwater flakes; fry are fed Hikari First Bites and crushed Omega flakes at other times to supplement. Quick question about the fry- when are they big enough to put in the tank with the others?
<Usually twixt 1/2 and 3/4 inch overall length>
Once they don't appear to be able to fit in the big guys' mouths? :P
Tank includes appropriately-sized heater, Penguin 150 power filter with BioWheel, LED light hood.
Thanks again. Have a nice day.
<And you, BobF>

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