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Thalassoma duppery (Quoy & Gaimard 1824), the Saddle Wrasse (2) is the most common reef fish in its endemic Hawaiian Islands. To ten inches in length. A terminal (male) individual in Kona 2014

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Updated 5/3/2015
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
PLEASE: Write reviews of my works on Amazon! I need your input. BobF

Red belly Pacu; hlth.       5/4/15
Please HELP>>> our Pacu named Bubba is 10 years old and lately he has been having problems. About a month ago he stopped eating and breathing rapidly,
<Bad... what have you fed this animal the past decade?>

so we started to investigate his tank further. He is in a 75 gal
<Too small>

tank by himself the temp is 75 degrees water conditions are fair hardness is a little high, and so is the nitrites.
<Toxic... the environment is the problem here>

We are treating the tank
<Of no use; counter-productive. FIX the environment>

trying to get things back inline. we did a 50% water change 2 weeks ago.
Now he is pale and has bumps on the front of his face, We've had him for so long I don't want to loose
<Or lose>
him, but I don't know what else we can do to help him. Any advise would be great.
Thank you
Cheryl Me guess
<See WWM re Colossoma.... Here, I'll link it for you:
What do these fishes need? SPACE, soft-acidic water, NO ammonia or nitrite, less than 10 ppm NO3, vegetable foods, frequent partial water changes, current, high, consistent DO.... What will you do?
Bob Fenner>

How many pajama cardinals?      5/4/15
<Six megs of pix... is it a full moon?>
Hi Crew.
I can't find the information I need about schools of pajama cardinals, so I am hoping you can help me figure out what to do. I am not particularly enamored with single, mature pajama cardinals, but thought a youthful school might be interesting. I ordered 5 of them, but they are going to be really small and I want to be able to notice and enjoy them while they are
still cute, so I am wondering if the tank could manage a few more (they are supposed to be easy to catch, so if/when they fade, get ugly, or get too big, I will just take them out). My other thought is that because this species of fish forms an hierarchy, a greater number of them will mean less stress on the fish at the bottom of the totem pole.
<I do know you're right>
The tank is a 75
<Oh; too small for any more; in fact, you'll likely end of with three, possibly one.
See (as in READ) on WWM re the family of Cardinalfishes. There are other genera, species of use here>
gallon reef tank with fairly open rock structure which will give the fish some hovering options (attached a picture of the rockwork... tank is looking messy and bare because I lost most of my coral in a crash a while back, but I wanted to send a picture because I believe my rockwork makes a significant difference in livestock options when compared to walls,
mounds, and towers... I did it this way for the sake of a yellow tang which died a month ago, because I wanted it to have a lot of swimming choices so the tank would seem bigger). The other fish include: pair of clowns that only leave their Duncan host at meal time; little green clown goby that just perches around rather than using swimming space; one Firefish which
is mostly in the lower part of the tank; and a Kole tang to arrive along with the cardinals (not real fond of the Kole appearance, but my yellow tang died a month ago and algae is now on my outputs... there are no other tang options for a 75g besides Kole and yellow,
<.... no. See WWM re Ctenochaetus, other Zebrasoma>
and I will get too attached to another yellow so I ordered the Kole). The only tankmate that will really be swimming all over the tank (except at feeding time) is the tang, and since the pajama cardinals are nocturnal, the tang and the other fish will be resting when the cardinals are most active (plus I can feed them after dark, so they won't have much competition for feeding time either). I usually give a lot of thought and planning to fish choices, so I am hoping to hear from you while I can still change the order.
Thanks folks.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: How many pajama cardinals?      5/4/15
Thanks for the quick response Bob. I think some of my WAMAS buddies are trying to convince me to forget about the pajamas entirely.
<I do agree... the genus Sphaeramia are argumentative.... worse than Banggais; and much bigger species
I won't order more of them. I still have time to cancel the pajama cardinals, and if I do not cancel them, I still have a some weeks of QT time in which to make a final decision (indecisiveness.... one more reason to use a QT!). By the way, I hope you are going to visit us WAMAS folks when we host MACNA this year
<Had thought the folks would be asking me to present; if not; will be out dive-traveling>
(FYI, I was the person who made that plate we gave to you).
<Ahh; have the plate on top of my cabinets (writing and slide storage); see it every day. I thank you>
Sincerely, Forrest
<Cheers, BobF>

Pinkface wrasse - bad idea?      5/4/15
Hi Bob. I’m interested in your advice regarding a Pinkface wrasse (T. quinquevittatum). This fish was at the top of my list when I started my 260 gal FOWLR about a year and a half ago. However, I have not been able to find one until now.
<This Thalassoma and its near congeners don't make their way into the trade very often; mainly because the habitats that they most often are found in aren't fished by collectors... near shore, high water movement. A close second reason is that folks don't have the sorts of confines in turn that they require.... large, roomy, with lots of water movement>
My LFS has three of them in. Two are smaller (3-4”) with not great color, the other is about 5” with very nice color.
<All will grow to be well-colored if maintained properly>

All are very active and eating well. In researching the fish, though, I have heard that Thalassoma wrasses are pretty aggressive, and cam be downright mean if not homicidal (or piscicidal, as the case may be).
<Some more than others... this one is of the more aggressive>
I know lunare wrasses are particularly mean; I have heard that Pinkface wrasses are not as bad, but I still concerned. I have a well-stocked tank with several tangs in the 4-5” range, several angels in the 5-6” range, a 7” niger trigger, 5” Bluejaw trigger, a few smaller fish such as a flame hawk, royal gramma and purple pseudo, and a number of wrasses. My wrasses include a 6” harlequin tusk, 5” red velvet fairy, 3.5” exquisite wrasse, 3.5” melanarus, 4” quoyi parrot, and a 3” transitional red Coris. What are your thoughts on adding the 5” Pinkface?
<I'd start with one of the smaller individuals... in a system of this size; it should learn to get along>
I know it can hold its own, but is it likely to start harassing and even injuring or killing some of my other fish? My fish are generally bold, but I don’t want to upset the balance. I had to remove a murderous Picasso trigger a few months ago. I am afraid catching a Pinkface wrasse would not be so easy.
Thanks for your advice!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pinkface wrasse - bad idea?      5/4/15

Thanks for the quick reply Bob. You think the smaller ones will color up as they grow?
<Already stated>
Are these a fast growing species?
Interesting to hear you say pinkfaces are among the more aggressive - I had heard otherwise but not from as reliable a source as you. Sounds like you think it’s not so bad that I should just avoid it entirely though? I have also heard they can really harass other wrasses. I’m most concerned about my melanarus and parrot as they are closest in color and form.

Re: Can you identify this?      5/4/15
Thank you! I really appreciate it! I have looked in so many books and couldn't find it!
<Ahh! B>

Brackish water for Black Mollies      5/4/15
Hi. I'm keeping black mollies in a 20 gallon (76 litres) tank. After reading various articles on your site re: mollies, brackish water, salinity, I was very impressed & began to add marine salt to my tank. I like the fact that the brackish water helps ward off parasites & fungi & is inherent to good molly health. I am seeing the benefit to them with my own eyes.
<Cool. While brackish conditions aren't essential, it does make keeping this species easier.>
I've read your recommendation of an SG=1.004-1.006 being fine for black mollies but was wondering if I could go as high as 1/2 seawater = 1.012 without adversely affecting the biological filter/balance?
<No, this isn't a good idea. The Mollies will be fine. But the filter bacteria in tanks maintained around SG 1.003-1.004 aren't the ones at SG 1.010-1.012, which I believe are the marine, not freshwater, species of bacteria.
Whatever the science, the practical facts are that as you raise salinity, filtration suffers, and you get a "mini cycle" that lasts a couple of weeks, sometimes longer, as a new, higher salinity biological filter develops. While nothing the Mollies won't handle (they used to be used to mature marine aquaria, and are much hardier in saline than freshwater conditions) there's no real advantage to you. Indeed, SG 1.003 would be optimal for Mollies. Cheap, easy to produce (1 level teaspoon of salt per 2 litres of water) and every bit as effective in terms of preventative healthcare.>
Also is it ok for molly fry to be born in brackish water or is it better they be born in freshwater & gradually acclimated to brackish water?
<Any and all of these options are fine.
Mollies are euryhaline, even as fry. You can move them from freshwater to saltwater and back again, as required. As/when you visit the Caribbean coastline and islands, you'll be amazed how common Mollies are in lagoons, estuaries, and shallow creeks just a few meters inland from the sea. They're also found dozens of miles inland as well, in plain freshwater.>
Thank you for your help.
Richard V.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Mystery..... CP use; Velvet f's        5/4/15
Hey, I just wanted to pass a few things on to all of you and the huge following this website has.
<I/we thank you>
I have been treating with Chloroquine phosphate for about a month at double strength with no success.
<Time to change to summat else by twice>
I have lost 9 fish with the exception of an amazing Coris wrasse. My fear is that CP builds resistance extremely easy because this is now the third time velvet wiped my whole tank out. So, is it truly effective and the best treatment for this Dinoflagellate?
<Maybe not>
I no longer believe so. I've wasted thousands of dollars while keeping this drug as my only/best treatment for this parasite.
<Mmm; there are other treatments, even other quinine compounds>
With the combination of not being able to quarantine and failure to find a truly effective med for this parasite, I have walked
from the hobby..... For good.
<A shame>
Now, back to the or is wrasse, how is this possible?
<?... can't tell what you mean>
I mean, every other fish in this tank died within five days and we're breathing so fast I could barely see the gills moving. What is your take on this?
<Some sort of poisoning... perhaps hemolytic>
Should I remove him? Is this short-lived and he's just not showing signs of the parasite soon to die? Is he really resisting this
fierce monster?
<Again; can't tell; other than if you're stating this fish (Labrid) is still alive; it is likely resistant to whatever the source of mortality was here>
Thanks for your input and enabling me to "vent"
<Thank you for doing so. Perhaps a break from the hobby... a time to reflect, AND consider preventative measures (dips, baths...) to disallow the introduction of the more-aggressive reef parasitic diseases. Bob Fenner>

Problem with my aquarium
Hi Bob,
My wife Susan and I had the pleasure of meeting you and chatting for a while at, what I think was, your last visit to House of Fins in Ct. At the end of the conversation you presented me with your card and said that I could contact you directly at any time.
I need some help. My 120 gallon reef has been doing great until a couple of months ago when some of my corals first started dying. It started with a Montipora Digitata that was growing along fine. Over the course of about a month it died completely. Much of the tissue just sloughed off in patches. Most recently, my Acroporas have been growing (white or blue tips, etc.) but as they grow, the growth is covered with algae effectively killing the new growth off. Just Wednesday I noticed that that it appears that the sloughing off is occurring on them too.
<Mmm; to introduce ideas at this junction... something limiting possibly, something/s toxic perhaps.... biological or not
There are some Acros that are doing OK though not exhibiting the growth rate they were. Another Montipora is doing well. I have a large Deresa Clam that is growing like crazy.
<Good clues>

The thing that is growing the most is Halimeda, both the large dime sized "leaves" and the smaller version. Also, shaving brushes are growing really well too.
<This too>
The lights are AI Blue Sol - four of them spaced over the four foot length. These are the units I touched on with you on the WetWebMedia forum where I asked your opinion on the yellowing lenses. I know your answer, the AI people say there should not be concerns. Replacement lenses run $15 each (regularly $25 but they are helping me out because I would need to buy 32 of them) so I would like to make sure I
really need them.
<Mmmm; I'd be checking their output (PAR/PUR) before laying out the cash>
The tank has been up and running for the better part of 2 years and has been meticulously maintained.
Most recent measurement:
Salinity: 1.026
nitrate: .75
Alkalinity: 3.75
Calcium: 375
Magnesium: 1360
pH: 7.9 at night, 8.1 during the day (Kalkwasser used as make up water)
<You do have some/measurable phosphate and potassium in ratio I hope/trust>
The tank has a deep (4") sand bed with all the critters. There are a large number of Trochus Snails, many of them are tank bred. I have a large Protein Skimmer and run activated carbon in one of those towers through which water is pumped.
Bob, I am worried. I would hate to lose it all. I am watching my beautiful system deteriorating before my eyes and am at a loss as to where to go next. Is it possible that the strong growth of Halimeda and the other Macro Algaes is stripping the water of all the nutrients that the Acros need to survive?
<Possibly an influence... but you do have Ca present... I'd remove about half and see>
Based on your answers on WetWebMedia I picked up some ReefPlus and began dosing it. I imagine it will take some time for things to recover if the problem was the lack of nutrients supplied by the ReefPlus.
<Yes; in time>
Do you have any suggestions or comments that might help me save my corals?
<Yes: First and foremost moving them elsewhere. To another established setting. Whatever the root cause/s of their mortality, morbidity here, they are highly likely system-related>
Sorry about the long email.
<No worries. BobF>
Ralph Napiany (and my honey Susan)
Re: Problem with my aquarium

Hi Bob,
Thanks for the quick response. Phosphates measure .06 (Hanna digital electronic tester). I do not know about measuring potassium but assume the ReefPlus will be a good source over time. I will trim the Macro Algae tonight and see what happens.
<Real good. Do keep me/us informed. BobF>
Thanks for your help.

re: Compatibility
The water around here is hard do the wood was going to be a buffer and decor.
<Unreliable. Hard water (or more specifically, water with high carbonate hardness) resists pH change downwards rather well. Even in hard water the wood will release tannins that marked the water significantly, and this can look very nice. But if you do use wood to "colour" the water a bit, and it might do, use a pH test kit to keep a track of what happens between water changes. Reducing the pH without reducing the hardness is unwise, indeed, dangerous. Do review water chemistry management thoroughly before trying to do so. If your recipe for soft water doesn't include either collecting rainwater or using an RO filter, well, you're doing it wrong, so stop. Those are the only two options. Nothing else works reliably or safely.>
How do I pellet train my baby silver Arowana?
<Get it to associate you with feeding, via live crickets and the like (never feeder fish), and then try offering a known "carnivore" food when it sees you. Hikari make some good foods, but you'll find mention of other premium brands at websites focused on these fish (MonsterFishkeepers.com  for example). Indeed, there are pellet foods designed expressly for Asian Arowanas, including one from Hikari.>
They bagged him up with a new cichlid I got and so now I have 2 Arowanas.
<Two Arowanas won't cohabit in one relatively small tank. May do so in tropical ponds... but two is a risky starting point... watch them carefully. Youngsters are pretty tolerant, but adults can be lethally aggressive. Bear in mind the ecology of these fish at all times. They are huge, patrol rivers (not streams), and leap several feet out of the water to catch prey (natives call them "water monkeys" because they feed on things in trees by leaping out of the water). Aquarium fish? Nope. Plan ahead. Carefully.>
He is about 4 inches. Is he too young?
<Possibly, if the other Arowana is substantially bigger. They do bully weaker specimens. Do also bear in mind very young specimens (with yolk sacs still attached) are extremely sensitive and have a poor track record for surviving stress. The ideal size for new specimens is around 15-20 cm.
Cheers, Neale.>

Mystery fish identification help
Hi Bob,
Any luck?
<Frank, please do understand we're all volunteers here. Stuff gets done when it gets done. In this case, since Bob's "on his travels" over the weekend, so don't be surprised if you don't hear back from his until later next week. Cheers, Neale.>
No worries.... I thought he was stumped as I am on this one. Thank you
Fwd: Mystery fish identification help

Hi Bob,
Any luck?
<In life? Sure... Oh, this fish? Labropsis xanthonata likely... not aquarium hardy; though a beauty. See WWM re. B>

Mystery fish identification help
Hi Bob,
I have another mystery fish that came in as a radiant wrasse juvenile. I never seen them in this coloration and I am doubtful. It is beautiful with black, blue and yellow stripes and a yellow top fin. Could you identify this little fellow. Im thinking it might be in the blenny family by the face... I am probably wrong though. My lfs bought it from a wholesaler and I couldn't pinpoint the location where he was collected. Here are some pictures. Thank you
<Labropsis.... oh yeah; we've been over this. B>
Re: Mystery fish identification help

Thanks Bob,
<Welcome Frank>
You are the best!!! I believe you came across everything that swims.
<Ah no my friend; after thousands of dives... I still come across somethings novel almost every time>
I will let you know if I have any success. Im trying to see what it will like to eat. Maybe copepods?
<Possibly Mysis, Cyclops... I'd try most all; and soon. B>

Worried about my new Pleco
Hi I have just started a tropical tank I set it up and took a bucket of dirty water from my friends goldfish tank when she cleaned it out and poured it into my tank to start the cycle off after a few hours it was crystal clear I added a few plants and then yesterday bought a few starter fish ten barbs 5 tigers and 5 leopard also I bought a couple of albino long fin Bristle nose Pleco's they are only babies but I have just noticed that one of them has a red lump on his belly I have sent some pictures for you to look at .
Sent from my iPad
Please advice
<He's starving. You're seeing the blood around/inside his internal organs. Hmm... how to be clear? Plecs, including Bristlenose Plecs, aren't
scavengers. Even algae is a small part of their diet. These very young specimens slip from starved to dead within a week or two. Run to your fridge and find some fresh vegetables he can eat immediately. Cucumber is popular but contains little nutrition. Courgette (sometimes called Zucchini) is better. Serve both raw. Canned or cooked peas are usually taken as well. But in a starvation situation, something energy-rich is important too. A small piece of prawn or mussel will work nicely (though these are Thiaminase-rich, so shouldn't be used too often, once a week maybe). Most of all, buy some "algae wafers" such as those from Hikari or Tetra. These make excellent staples for Plecs of all types. Specimens under 5 cm will get by on half a wafer every couple of days; above that, a whole wafer ever day for specimens 5-10 cm long; above that, pro rata, to maybe 2-3 wafers for an adult Plec alongside the usual fresh vegetables and meaty treats you're offering. Feel free to give more if your specimen looks hollow bellied, but don't overfeed. Cheers, Neale.>

urgent ...! motoro problems!
I have a problem , big one, I hope you can help me out :/. I got two sting rays motoro, around 15 cm. They are around 45 days in 750 L tank, with discus and 1 cat fish. Recently I noticed that one of my rays has some damage below, bottom side of the disk, and one small part of the disk is
missing, around 5 mm width. After few days, I noticed more of it, similar damage under disk. I moved stingray from the tank, and after few days, I noticed the same on another stingray, the “healthy” one that left in original tank.
Now, I am healing first one with Sera Omnipur, but I don’t see anything going better....please check photos that I managed to make, and help me out :/
thanks in advance
Poštovanje/Best regards
<Greetings! Is the catfish a Plec? They don't cohabit with Stingrays well. Sometimes chew them. Sera Omnipur is similar to eSHa 2000 in being an antibacterial medication but not an antibiotic. So while it can help, it isn't as reliable as proper antibiotics. It's also less safe with Stingrays than antibiotics. In any case: if you do have a Plec, remove it, and optimise water quality. With luck, the Stingray will heal. Consult with fishkeepers in your country as to the best sources of antibiotics if you need them. In Europe, antibiotics are only legally obtainable through vets, but not all vets help fishkeepers! So ask around for one who does. If your Stingray shows no signs of healing in the next couple of days, you really do want to be using antibiotics. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: urgent ...! motoro problems!
Hello, Thanks a lot for fast reply. No, the cat fish is L ..something...picture is attached.
<Yes, it's a Loricariidae family catfish... a "Plec" or "Pleco" in common parlance. Quite possibly the source of the problem. Loricariid catfish are opportunistic feeders, and when they nibble on stingrays, they create little scratches that bacteria can infect.>
I forgot to mention that my tank temp is 31 degrees,
<Somewhat warm for them. Do let me direct you here first of all:
Stingrays are demanding. Not easy to keep.>
because of discus. I am feeding stingrays with , im not sure is this correct translation, but i think its earthworm.
<A good food.>
Both stingrays eat them without problems. Sometimes, when i try to feed them both, i actually put 4,5 inside tank ,and they eat them all. Picture also in attachment.
Regarding water quality, what would be the best? also temperature? Till the ray is inside "healing" tank, should i change water every day or not? I didn't changed it yet, its already 3 days in same water.
<Do change water regularly, as usual. But generally if you add medicine in the morning, and do water change in the evening, the medicine will work fine. The instructions may say something different -- follow the instructions!>
Didn't changed because i wasn't sure what to do...Tank is 100liters.
<100 litres? For a stingray? That won't work.>
The guy who sold stingrays to me, he gave me Omnipur and said to try it, but he is not so experienced with stingrays so ...but anyway, that's all help i could find nearby. Could you advise few best antibiotics for sting rays, also how to use them, please?
<Your vet will tell you what to do. For what it's worth, Nitrofurazone is a popular choice for stingrays. Do you have access to Richard Ross' book/books on Stingrays? Would recommend.>
Our country is really small and inexperienced with stingrays, so i don't think i will be able to find anyone who actually do know how to threat sick stingrays.
<Ah, well, definitely buy something from Richard Ross. He's the expert!>
You think ,this is bacterial infection or something else...?
<I think bacterial, because of physical damage.>
Please help with some antibiotics, please write few in case that i cant find it here so easily.....
<Antibiotics aren't sold to fishkeepers here in the UK, so I cannot offer any specific advice about them. Here we can only get them from a vet.>
Thanks once more for reply, i will be waiting for your reply...Regards Pedja
<Welcome. Neale.>

Re: urgent ...! motoro problems!
Hello thanks a lot for reply!
Ok, then i will remove L catfish from the tank
So, you suggest Nitrofurazone?
Ok, i will try to find that. Is this antibiotic or something else?
<An antibiotic. Sold under various names. See here:
Other Nitrofuran antibiotics will probably work too.>
Regarding book, i will try to find and order online.
<Freshwater Stingrays (Complete Pet Owner's Manual) by Richard Ross is widely sold and inexpensive.>
About antibiotic, you said "Antibiotics aren't sold to fishkeepers here in the UK, so I cannot offer any specific advice about them. Here we can only get them from a vet." what do you mean, only get them from a vet?
<In the UK (and the EU, and in fact most other countries) antibiotics will only be supplied by a drugstore/pharmacy if you have a prescription from a vet or doctor. There are good reasons for this (including antibiotic resistance, an extremely serious problem). The US is an anomaly, with some antibiotics being sold without prescriptions, including some sold for
aquarists, but even there the tide is turning. Overall this is a good thing for public health, though inconvenient for fishkeepers!>
You can't buy it in some drugstore or similar....?
<Only with a prescription.>
I doubt any vet in my city will know what to provide....any chance you know name or antibiotics, so i can try to find it?
<Within the EU, anyone telling you were to buy antibiotics without a prescription is breaking the law.>
Thank YOU!
Regards PV
p.s. when i said 100 Litres tank, that's just one for healing, tank where i keep my stingrays is 750 litres.
<I would medicate the Rays in a big tank, and isolate the Plec in the smaller tank if necessary. 100 litres isn't healthy for a stingray. Cheers, Neale.>


RES care
i have just bought a baby RES and her reaction is weird. she has not eaten anything from past 2 weeks. and now she is really very ill. taking long breaths, keeping eyes close ll the time, laziness in the motions she is doing. i have already given her the sun light for a day but her reaction is the same. she is not responding me well. i am worried about her. please
lemme know if you can help me out in this.
<Hello Kanchan. Your turtle has a respiratory tract infection. Very common (indeed, inevitable) when they aren't kept properly. Start be reading, here:
Then read here for treatment (about halfway down, under "Wheezing or bubbly nose"):
Warmth, UV-B light, and a trip to the vet are required. Without these, death follows... days, weeks, months later. On the positive side, keep turtles properly and they rarely get sick. So get this chap to a vet,
re: RES care

But sir she seems like she is dead she is not breathing. Her body is intact as she is freezed.
<Oh dear. Well, another pet turtle killed by its owner not keeping it properly. Do reflect on what you have done wrong. Don't get another turtle until you have read about their needs. Reptiles are not cheap or easy pets.>
M not able to get the situations
<I have no idea what this means. Cheers, Neale.>

We put some new fish in the tank a few weeks ago and all but one of the four new fish died. The majority of the fish that were already there before have also died off over the past week. When they all started dying, I moved all of the fish to a new tank for a few days while I thoroughly cleaned this tank and let the filter run for a few days. Shortly after putting the
remaining fish back in the tank, three more died and my Pleco developed small white spots on his eyes. Now he has one red bump on each eye. Do you have any ideas what might be happening? As soon as all of this started I started testing the water everyday and everything keeps coming up fine..
<Hello Michelle. Need some data here. At first glance this all sounds like New Tank Syndrome. All very generic symptoms of environmental stress. The fact your photo is a picture of a Pterygoplichthys species catfish, which grows to 45 cm/18 inches within two years suggests you have a very large aquarium. Or should have, anyway, as anything smaller than 55 gallons won't work (too much ammonia excreted), and anything smaller than 75 gallons will look filthy (these fish turn defecation into an Olympic sport). So please confirm the aquarium size. Also, your idea of "fine" might not be my idea
of "fine", so rather than a subjective editorial, can you let me have the actual nitrite, pH and hardness values. These are important. Things like Neons have totally different requirements to Guppies, so a tank that contains both will be bad for one of them. Make sense? Nitrite values tell me something about how well the filter is doing its job. Anything above 0 is toxic and explanation enough for sickness and fish deaths, while nitrite values above 0.5 mg/l are quickly lethal to fish, killing them within days of exposure. Put another way: if one fish dies for mysterious reasons, you could be unlucky. But when numerous fish die within a few days, it's almost always the environment. Exposure to toxins of some sort, whether intrinsic (ammonia, nitrite) or extrinsic (household cleaning products, paint fumes).
Conceivably, you can introduce diseases with batches of new aquarium fish, but almost always these are obvious problems such as Whitespot or Velvet. Even then, you wouldn't expect all the fish to die for no obvious reason.
Instead you'd see a succession of fish coming down with obvious signs of parasitic infection. That's not what happened here, so we're back to the environment as the problem. Review, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

re: Pleco
Nitrate is just above 0,
<Check your test kit. This is virtually impossible in a 55-gallon tank with an adult Plec.>
nitrite is at 0, GH is at 75, KH is at 60, pH is at 7.0, and ammonia is at 0.
<Given the dubious quality of the nitrate reading, I'd be skeptical of any of these. Could well be the source of your problems: thinking things are fine, when they're clearly not. Plecs are filth factories. They eat massive amounts of green and dried foods, and produce a lot of solid waste as well as dissolved metabolites. Unless there's massive amounts of plant growth, by which I mean you're pulling out overgrown plants pretty much daily, there's no way nitrate will be zero. Nitrate is the end product of biological filtration, as you probably know. Only water changes dilute it, and unless you change 100% of the water, you reduce nitrate level by a certain amount, you don't reduce it to zero. That's why I simply don't believe your nitrate reading. Double check you're using it right, and if
you get the same answer, then the test kit is shot.>
Currently they are in a 55 gallon (they being the Pleco, a rainbow shark, and two unidentified fish that I have attached a picture of),
<Both Trichopodus trichopterus, the "Three Spot Gourami". Nice fish, hardy, but males can be aggressive in small tanks.>
but we do have a 100 gallon tank that we will be buying soon.
<Much better.>
We inherited these fish from my parents as they are moving a few states over and it's kind of difficult to move fish that far. Currently the Pleco is about 10 inches long, 3 years old.
<Stunted somewhat. Quite common, especially when left to "scavenge" or eat algae rather than properly fed. Nonetheless, even at this size will be producing a lot of waste. Anyway, I'm 99% sure the environment is the issue here, notwithstanding the test kit results. The low hardness is a little troubling too; do bear in mind that low hardness can mean an unstable pH,
and sudden pH drops are harmful to fish. Low hardness and acidic pH levels also reduce the efficiency of filter bacteria.>
Our tank is about 5 feet wide, just over 2 feet tall.
<Cheers, Neale.>


re: Convict cichlid is sick.... ? Yes; but....
<6.6 megs of pix sent twice? Two strikes....>
Sorry haven't gotten back to u phonetic playing up,, I did 50 % change, don't seem much better though ph is 7.0_7.4 , temp 74 -76 f. Hi is very pale an puffy scales are sticking up across his belly an sides now an looks
kinda grose,,, makes skin crawl a bit,, eww,,, poor dude,,, his anus is bulging out to,, sorry best pics I can get the antiseptic Makes water go fluoro green

Re: 12 Inch Emperor Angel won't Eat
Hi Bob,
<Hey Chad>
Here is an update with pictures. Emperor was eating PE Mysis, Hikari Jumbo Mysis, NLS Thera A 3mm pellets, Hikari Marine A, OSI Spirulina pellets, clam and Nori so I think I made the switch to prepared foods but the persistent parasites just won't seem to go away.
<See WWM re the combo. treatment of Prazi and Metronidazole... in foods if poss.>
I have stayed away from treatment as the fish continued to eat but now today the fish seems interested in food but only nibbled at a clam and wouldn't touch anything else. Breathing is around 100-110 per min which is better than yesterday.
Based on the pics do you think I should still stay the course with no treatment?
<Mmm; no. As alluded to above>
I hate to move a big 13 inch fish and stress him out more.
Water parameters are still at 0 Ammonia, 0 nitrite, 20 nitrate, PH 7.9, KH 10, Temp raised from 77 to 79.5. I have been doing 50 gal water changes per week in 500 gal system to keep nitrate low with heavy feeding. Can you confirm if this is ick by the pictures?
<Nope. But doubtful it is this Protozoan... much more likely Flukes>
<.... an order of magnitude file size in pix. Am surprised your mail didn't bounce. B>

About Acclimation Saltwater Fish
My name is David and I have an aquarium shop in France. I apologize because
my English is not very good, but I hope we can understand each other :).
<Ah, oui. Your English is perfect. Much better than moi Francais!>
In the coming weeks we will receive our first import of marine fish from Philippines and I have some questions about the acclimation of the fishes.
I have read your website but I have some questions about this.
If I not misunderstood, the guerrilla method is:
- Open the boxes, float the bags and check the PH and Ammonia of the bags in the water.
- Prepare newly saltwater with the same PH of the shipping bags.
- Put the fishes with shipping water in to a container and drip new salt water (with the same ph of the shipping water) until it doubles the quantity or the ammonia test says that there was not ammonia (I'm not sure if this it's correct)
<It is>
- When the ammonia was undetectable, start dripping water from the system (at normal PH) until the ph raises up. When the PH raises... you recommend to make a dip or bath with RO water fish Methylene blue.. how can I dose the Methylene blue in the ro water?
<You can simply add the Methylene Blue... very safe at any dose... to the aerated freshwater of adjusted pH (sodium bicarbonate is generally all that is needed)>

- After the bath, we can put directly the fish in to the main system?
<You could... though better to place in separate isolation. DO try to not place new fishes with old; as the new are very weak>
Also.. I have to put aeration in any step?
<Best to yes; as stated above>

Thank you so much for your help!!!
<Certainly welcome. Bob Fenner>

Can you identify this?
Hello! I started finding this in my tank a few months ago. The kinda look like eggs but nothing seems to hatch. Seems to spread quickly.
<Ahh; very nice. These are colonial Ascidians; Sea Squirts. Indicative of good conditions in your system. Not harmful.
Bob Fenner>
Thank you!!!
Tamara Marshall
Ocala Reef

Miracle mud
Hey Bob,
Well it's time for me to change out some of my "mud". I'm worried about disturbing it in fear of releasing waste into the tank... My idea was to wet/dry vac the mud (about a third) and replace it with new. Should I turn off the pumps so it can settle first?
The fish may get stressed by the cloud...
<Ah yes; but this too shall pass>
Thanks as always.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

White Patches on Majestic Angel
Hi again gang. Need your help please. Just got a majestic angel
<... not usually aq. hardy... the ones from Bali a little bit better>
from a local fish store several weeks ago and just today noticed it has developed white patches on its head and body.
<... bad>
This is not ich, or at least I don't believe it is, as it is not a peppery covering. Please see the attached picture and advise your thoughts?
<Reading and quick... What sorts of preventative measures have you taken? Dips, baths, isolation...?>
Fish is currently swimming and eating normally
<Oh; good>
and other fish in tank or behaving and look normal as well. Possibly Brooklynella?
<Can only distinguish Protozoans, other single celled life via sampling and microscopic examination... SEE/READ on WWM re Euxiphipops species en toto... this is an environmental issue>
I am personally stumped and unsure how to treat. Thanks!
<Bob Fenner>

Some BGA influence now!

re: Compatibility      5/1/15
The tank is 404 gallons. Ths silver Arowana is about 16-18" long. The full size of the fish is known and I have plans for it once it reaches a certain size of about 28".
We cannot keep Asian Arowanas here as they are illegal.
<Curious. The Asian species are a bit smaller, which makes them nicer in some ways. Do track down "Jurassic Fishes" if you can... an excellent overview of Arowanas and various other "ancient" tank busters. An essential read for those keeping jumbo communities.>
We can only keep south American and African varieties.
<Ah now, the African species is a winner. Cheap and hardy. Grey, to be sure, and a filter feeder/sand sifter. But a nice fish.>
And the driftwood is some pieces I found along a lake shore.
It doesn't seem to be leaching tannins and it sinks nicely. So just soaking it will be fine?
<Yes, but will take some time. One bit of wood can usually be added straight to the tank after a decent clean and a few days' soak. But if you plan on adding a lot of pieces, soak all the pieces for as long as practical. Use a pH test kit to keep an eye on the pH after using the bogwood. There's also a chance for (harmless) fungi to grow on rotting wood, which indicates that the supposed bogwood you found wasn't fully cured. True aquarium bogwood will have been "cured" for some months prior to sale.>
I am not quite sure what cistern of lavatory is.
<The big tank of water you flush the water out of. So basically, each time you flush, the wood gets soaked in new water. Here in the UK, toilet/lavatory cisterns usually have a lid that lifts off easily, so you can put wood into the cistern easily. A couple weeks of this may be all you need, because the water is changed so often.>
<Welcome. Neale.>
re: Compatibility      5/1/15

I have them soaking in a 55gallon trashcan. I change the water daily. How will I know when it is cured and safe?
<You can't tell _a priori_ but only by measuring the effect they have on the pH of the water. Put one or two bits in the tank; if the pH stays stable or drops only slightly over the next few days/couple of weeks, the wood is probably fine. Add another piece. Test again. Repeat as required.>
I have never seen African varieties for sale around here. Don't know much about them. Are they predatory? Aggressive?
<Neither to any great extent. Will obviously eat tiny fish, but fine with stuff too big to swallow whole. They are truly filter feeders, adapted to consuming plankton and sifting sand for small animals (worms and insect larvae, for example) and prefer/need copious quantities of such foods (or a suitable substitute) or tend to starve. Big appetites! Generally pushy but
tolerant of obviously dissimilar fish: Plecs, spiny eels, bichirs, Silver Dollars and so on. May be troublesome with its own kind though, and probably other similar fish (Asian Arowana for example). Cichlids will vary, but so long as the cichlid leaves it alone, the African Arowana won't start any fights.>
They need to be able to hold their own in my tank. Otherwise they would probably be killed by the Oscar silver Arowana combo.
<Two Arowanas of any kind in one tank is a non-starter for sure.>
Those two are the best of friends, and often go onto each others levels.
They even rest together. Oscar was originally a feeder defect destroyer and then they saw each other in their own tanks. Inseparable ever since.
What do I do for bacteria on the driftwood?
<Usually not an issue. Wood contains little protein so tends to have little "rotting" effect or tendency to create bacterial blooms. But as it decays it releases tannins that lower pH, and if not controlled, this can be dramatic in soft water situations (less so in hard water). Cheers, Neale.>

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Marine Aquarium Articles and FAQs Master Index

  • Set-Up 1: Types of Systems:, Gear/Components:, Set-Up, Tanks, Stands, Covers:, Water, Seawater, Substrates, DSBs, Electricity, Heating/Chilling, Aquascaping, Biotopes, Travelogues.
  • Set-Up 2: Filtration of All Sorts, Skimmers, Sumps, Refugiums, Plumbing, Circulation, Pumps, Powerheads, Aeration & Light/Lighting:.
  • About Livestock: Regional Accounts:, Collection, Selection:, Stocking:, Disease Prevention: Dips/Baths, Acclimation, Quarantine, Behavior:, Territoriality:, Reproduction:
  • Non-Vertebrate Sea Life Identification, & Microbes, Algae, Plants, Live Rock & Sand, Sponges: Hitchhikers, IDs, Marine Microbes, Plankton, Live Rock & Sand, Marine Algae, Marine Plants, Sponges, phylum Porifera,
  • Cnidarians I. Corals to Hobbyists, Stinging-Celled Animals 1: Cnidarians Overall; Hydrozoans: Jellies, Hydroids, Anthozoans; Octocorals: Organ Pipe, Blue Coral, Star Polyps, Sea Fans, Sea Pens and Soft Corals
  • Cnidarians II. Corals to Hobbyists, Stinging-Celled Animals 2: Anthozoans; Hexacorals: Mushrooms, Zoanthids, Anemones, Stony Corals, Tube Anemones, Black Corals
  • Higher Invertebrate Life: Bryozoans, Worms of all kinds, Mollusks (Snails, Nudibranchs, Octopodes), Crustaceans (Crabs, Shrimp, Lobsters...), Echinoderms (Urchins, Sea Cucumbers, Seastars, Brittlestars...), Sea Squirts,
  • Fishes, Index 1: Sharks, Rays, Skates; Marine Eels; Marine Catfishes; Squirrelfishes, Soldierfishes, Lionfishes, Stonefishes, Gurnards, Sculpins; Anglerfishes, Seahorses & Pipefishes, Blennioid & Gobioid Fishes, Mandarins, Clingfishes, Wrasses and Parrotfishes,
  • Fishes, Index 2: Butterflyfishes, Cardinalfishes, Grammas, Grunts, Sweetlips, Snappers, Goatfishes, Jawfishes, Big-Eyes, Basses, Anthias, Dottybacks, Roundheads, Soapfishes, Damselfishes, Clownfishes, Monos, Hawkfishes, Croakers, Emperors, Threadfins, Sandperches, Miscellaneous Percoids,
  • Fishes Plus, Index 3: Marine Angelfishes, Tangs/Surgeons/Doctorfishes, Scats, Batfishes, Rabbitfishes; Triggers, Files, Puffers, Flounders, Halibuts, Soles, Really Old Fishes, Marine Reptiles, Marine Mammals,
  • Maintenance/Operation: General Maintenance, Vacations, Moving, Water Quality: Tests/Testing, Aquarium Repairs, Biominerals, Supplementation, Marine Scavengers, Algae ID & Control, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition,
  • Diseases: Identification, Avoidance, Causes, Organisms, Treatments & Pests: Acclimation, Quarantine, Dips/Baths; Disease: Prevention, Identification, Treatment, Pests/Control, Aquariums and Human Health, Chemicals of Use/Dis- and Mis-use, Pest Flatworm/Anemones/Worms... & Their Control,
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