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FAQs on Scats, Family Scatophagidae, Disease

Related Articles: Scats Scats and monos; Old favourites and new species for the brackish water aquarium by Neale Monks,

Related FAQs:  Scats 1, Scats 2, Scat Identification, Scat Behavior, Scat Compatibility, Scat Selection, Scat Systems, Scat Feeding, Scat Reproduction

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Lymphocystis in Silver Scat... rdg.        3/11/14
I have a 5" Silver Scat with Lymphocystis (my best guess).  It is a small fleshy, white/pink , wart-like growth in between nostril and mouth.  At first i did not know what it was.  I treated with Pimafix and Melafix with no luck. 
<... they're worse than worthless. If you were sick, would you drink leaf extracts?>

Next I tried Paraguard (aldehyde based) in quarantine tank and after a couple of days it seemed to dissolve away.  He was in there for about 6 days and I returned him back to the 55g with tanks mates (a green scat, freshwater moray and 3 Mono argenteus).  After a few days I could see it returning. 
<Of no use here either>
Should I retreat it again but for  longer time with ParaGuard in quarantine tank?
If it cannot be cured will my other fish be at risk of getting infected also?
Should the fish be removed/euthanized if it cannot be cured? 
If he will just have an ugly growth and live a healthy life I can live with that and leave him be.
<Good conditions and nutrition... perhaps a bit more. READ:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/virdislymphf.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Thanks,
Toby

Puking Red Scat (RMF?) >I agree w/ your stmt.s Neale<    4/24/13
WWM!
I was feeding my 240 gallon brackish water tank the other day, and noticed one of my oldest Red Scats (Scataphagus Argus) was not eating as vigorously as he use to.  I also noticed he seemed to be losing weight and was not near as plump as my others.  I went on and set up a QT tank, so I could monitor him better.  I originally thought that maybe he wasn't eating as vigorously because he is not the 'alpha', but even in QT, he isn't eating very well.
<A rare thing indeed with Scatophagus spp.>
QT water parameters are as follows: SG:1.013 Temp: 77 Nitrate:0ppm Nitrite:
0ppm Ammonia:0 ppm  When I fed tonight, I soaked his pellets in a garlic supplement, just to see if that would help.  He ate great, or at least I thought.  When I returned to the room, there were pellets in the tank. Then I literally saw the red scat vomiting the food back up.  I would be more willing to believe that it is a internal parasite, but I haven't added any new fish to the tank in over 6 months, and this red scat is pushing 5 years in age.  I am really at a loss, and don't know what I can do to get him to get some weight put on.
Words of wisdom are needed, and very much appreciated!
Katie
<Regurgitating food is not necessarily a bad thing, but if the fish is losing weight, I'd be worried about either "worms" or some protozoan infection of the gut (like Hexamita). So, with that in mind, I'd go with the Metronidazole plus Nitrofural combination in the first instance (Metronidazole is about the only thing that treats Hexamita reliably) and after that course of meds, if things aren't improving, an dewormer, such as Praziquantel, Levamisole or Piperazine. Hexamita-type protozoal infections are probably latent in many Perciform fish in the hobby, but we know about them being so common in cichlids simply because cichlids are so widely kept. Something happens in the environment and the Protozoans multiply wildly, and that in turn causes the health problems. Worms are similarly likely to be in many (most?) wild-caught fish probably a lot of farmed fish too, but again, only become a problem when something stresses the fish making it possible for the worms to "outwit" the fish's natural defences.
Age can be a factor, but at 5 years, your Scat is barely middle aged; this species should reach around 10-12 years in captivity, possibly longer.
Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Green Scat - 05/12/2012
Hello WWM!
wwm: Hello Katie,
I have spent the last couple days reading on your site trying to figure out what is wrong with my new baby green scat. For starters, I know you will need the history and water parameters.
wwm: For sure.
History: Got a green scat (nickel size) and 3 Sebae Monos on 5-6-2012. Put them in a 10 gallon quarantine until they are deemed healthy enough to be moved to the 240 gallon. They were in saltwater when I got them, and I drip acclimated them over the next 4 hours to get them down to a SG of 1.008.
wwm: Which should be fine for both.
I left the lights off that night, and did not feed them that night. Monday morning I turned the light on, and saw that Ich had set in from the move. I turned the heat up to 82 degrees,
wwm: A bit warm; 25 C/77 F is better. Marine fish in particular dislike very warm water. More heat = less oxygen.
and feed them spiralina brine shrimp (frozen). The green scat ate really good, but the monos did not.
wwm: Monos can be picky and are a lot more nervous. Mine always adored Hikari Cichlid Gold, but don't be surprised if it takes a few days for them to settle down. They travel VERY poorly; they're "surf zone" animals and used to very high oxygen levels, so being bagged does them no good at all, and by the time you set them loose in your home aquarium, they can be very stressed (black, breathing heavily).
I did a water change (15%) on Wednesday night, and continued to feed frozen food with a high algae content. I was out of shrimp and bloodworms on Wednesday night, so I feed them krill.
wwm: A good food for Monos.
It is now Friday, no signs of Ich, but the green scat is completely lifeless.
wwm: I see.
He will not eat any food, and is at the top of the tank. I thought that I may not have had enough air at first, so I turned the air up on the gang valve to allow more air through the sponge filter (I had the sponge filter in the my established 90 gallon for 48 hours before placing it in the hospital tank with the new fish).
wwm: Would turn the heater right down, and would also do a good sized water change (25-30%) with much cooler water, so they feel "freshened up" a bit. Don't worry too much about getting the salinity just right -- these fish are super-adaptable.
So, the scat will not eat, is nice and plump, but is at the top of the tank just floating around with the water current. To me it almost looks like he has a swim bladder infection or is constipated.
wwm: Ah now, swim bladder issues can happen, but often put themselves right. You see the fish adapts its swim bladder to marine conditions, where the water is more dense. When it gets moved into less saline water, it has the wrong buoyancy, so seems to swim badly. In time, it's put right by the fish.
The mono's are eating very well, but are still black from the move. I do not like to loss fish, especially a scat, and am hoping that you could help point me in the direction that will lead to sucess. I did a water change of 15% to try to see if that would help, but even after a couple hours, it looks like he is getting worse. At this point I am worried he is not going to make it though the night. I have attached a picture so you can see what I am trying to describe. Note: While taking the pictures I noticed that the Anal fin and the Caudal fin look as though they are getting red. I got the best picture I could take of it.
wwm: Do think this is more stress than anything else.
Water Parameters:(API drip test) SG:1.007 Temp: 82 Nitrate:0ppm Nitrite: 0ppm Ammonia:0 ppm Numbers are as close as I can read from the color slip that comes in the kit. ~So by the time I got done water testing, the green scat is on his side at the top. I have not seen him go potty the last day or two, and am hoping that he will not pass because of this. Is there anything I can do to make him better or is he a lost cause?
wwm: By no means! Make the changes as stated -- cooler water, more oxygen, and a nice water change to freshen things up. Turn the lights out. Don't worry about feeding. Scats are very, VERY resilient, and with luck, he'll pull through.
Thank you for this site, and for helping me figure this out. I do not know what to do, and am hoping you can walk me through this. Katie
wwm: Hope this helps, Neale.
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Re: Sick Green Scat      5/17/12
Dear WWM,
<Katie,>
I am sad to report that the green scat did not make it.
<Ah, too bad.>
Neale, you had said that 82 was too warm for the little guy, and I thank you for that suggestion. My real question now is how do you properly treat for brackish water diseases if you do not want to use that high of heat?
<Oh, you can use elevated temperatures, but as a short-term thing, a few weeks maybe. For long-term care, Scats are best kept at around 25 C/77 F, just like any other marine fish.>
I was always under the impression that raising the temperature and changing the SG would eliminate the Ick on BW fish.
<You should not get Ick on brackish water fish at all, heat or no heat! Something is very wrong here. Assuming at least SG 1.002, Whitespot simply shouldn't happen. So something else is going on here. Check you're measuring specific gravity right, and also keep an open mind to other potential problems, such as Finrot.>
I would like to know how to properly treat for this, using natural remedies, so I do not experience this again.
<"Natural" isn't the benchmark here -- after all, cyanide is 100% natural! What you want is the right medication used at the right dose at the right time. For the most part, Whitespot and Velvet are non-issues, since salinity should stop them completely. Finrot can be more of an issue, and should be quickly treated with antibiotics. Fungus isn't common at all among brackish water fish, but again, standard anti-fungals should work fine.>
I also have a question about BW fin rot and eye cloud. I know that fin rot and eye cloud is a sign of poor water quality, but conditions are well within acceptable range. (SG: 1.005, Temp: 78, Nitrate: 0ppm, Nitrite: 0ppm, Ammonia: 0ppm).
<All sounds fine.>
The one affected is a lone Mono Sebae,
<Monodactylus sebaeā€¦>
but is eating very well on frozen krill, brine shrimp, bloodworms, and a daily dose of some form of green.  The little guy is very eager to eat, swim, and school, but is declining in body condition.
<This does sound environmental. Do wonder if the salinity is where you think it is. Check. SG 1.005 is about 5 grammes marine aquarium salt mix per litre. Make some up using that amount, and then use your hydrometer to see what SG value you get. Generally, Scats and Monos are extremely hardy animals, but they lose conditions rapidly in freshwater or brackish water without sufficient salinity. Intestinal parasites and worms are two other possibilities, the former perhaps more likely, and best treated with Flagyl as you would treat Hexamita among cichlids.>
I prefer to not use medicines if I can help it (I personally think everything can be prevented and cured just in water changes and a change in SG through the course of a day),
<I strongly disagree. Think about human health. Good food, proper hygiene and regular exercise help prevent the majority of potential problems, but sometimes things happen that mean we need medications.>
but It seems that the Mono is not getting any better with the slight variation in SG and the 2 day water changes His right eye is also very cloudy.  Even though I am not worried about that, since I took it as him running into the heater or something in the tank, but I still would like to get it looking better.
<Yes.>
I know eating is a good sign, so I am very positive that this little guy will pull through, I just would prefer to help him get better faster.  I also am very glad that I QT everything before adding it to my current livestock.  This could have been devastating to my 5+ year old scats and Mono's (future reference, they LOVE the space a 240 long provides)!
<I bet.>
Also, what size Columbian shark is too little for a 12 inch Columbian shark to go with.
<Seemingly, almost any size! So long as a juvenile is too big to be eaten whole, they school together fine. I've seen juveniles 4 inches long kept with adults.>
I have had 3, 4 inch sharks in QT for 4 weeks, and was wanting to add them, since they school, but know the big guy will gladly eat one. Is the size difference too much to safely add them yet?
<Possibly, but honestly, this species is surprisingly social.>
If so, I am assuming to continue to feed frozen foods (eating directly from my hand), water changes, and plenty of space until they grow big enough.
<Wise.>
Thank you again for everything you all are doing on this site.  I read over things on here at least once a day, and really appreciate such fast responses when I do have an issue I cannot find an answer for.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
Katie
<Cheers, Neale.>

Scat problems...please help!!! 3/20/08 Hi, <Hi Michelle, Pufferpunk here> I have two scats in a 14 gallon brackish water tank. <Quite small for 2 scats. I hope they are tiny. Eventually they grow as large a a dinner plate & require 50g each.> My pH is in the mid 7s and my hydrometer reads 1.008. <Brackish tanks require a pH of around 8. Are you using marine salt?> I have used "Cycle" and "stress coat water conditioner", <Cycle is only dead bacteria & does nothing to cycle a tank--only adds more waste to the water. The stuff is complete bunk & a waste of $$$. Please post your water parameters whenever asking a question about your fish's health: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate.> I have crushed coral and plenty of plants, although I only have one artificial stump with a hole in it for hiding. One of my fish is having spasms and won't eat, when I bought them "he" (that's what I decided it was) was the dominant fish with the darker color and larger than the paler and more docile "female" fish, now the paler fish is now darker in color and has gotten very big. <Need water parameters.> My sick fish stays in the stump, and the other one "visits" him.....what do you think could be causing these spasms? <Possibly poor water conditions.> All he does is stay in the hole and jerk around all day! Thanks <Please write back with the proper info, so I can help your fish. ~PP> Michelle in Charlotte

Ruby Scats Dear Crew, I'm sorry to bother you, but I've posted in a couple of forums and haven't been able to get an answer.   <No bother at all, this is why we're here. :o)> Do ruby scats change color when they're sick/stressed?  I saw a pair I'd like to get, but they're very dark and not showing the colors I've seen on the net. <Nearly all fish will change color when sick or stressed but don't rule out normal color variations that occur within every species too. Do read and view the pictures at   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm for more info, especially notice the color variations between the 'greens' and the 'rubies' and the notations beside the pictures.> I was worried about disease and whether it would be worth bringing them home (no physical signs for fungus/bacteria/external parasites).   <With a proper QT period you should be fine. Do ask about how long they've been at your LFS. If it's only been a few days or a week, ask them if you can put a deposit to have them hold the fish until you're sure they are well.> I've read up on their tank parameters and feeding requirements, which wouldn't be a problem. <Very good> Thanks in advance! <You're welcome! Ronni>

Silver Scats <Hi! Ryan today!> I just have to say this is a terrific site. I'm so happy I found it. <I remember the feeling>I'm always looking for information. I have a 55 gallon brackish tank containing nine mixed African Cichlids and three Silver Scats. A couple of months ago two of my Scats developed something on their mouths looking almost like a pimple. I've been going crazy trying to find out what this is. I was told at first that it's a form of cancer and there's nothing that can be done about it, but was not satisfied with that. <Good> Recently one of the pimples disappeared but now it looks like the whole upper mouth is raw with a lot of missing skin & there's a lump now on the inside of his mouth. It doesn't seem to bother them but I have to know if there's anything I can do. The only information I've found was regarding Lymphocystis but my fish only seem to be affected in the mouth region.   Please help me. I'm afraid of this getting much worse. I would be really upset if I lost them. They really are beautiful fish. Thanks, Danielle <Hard to say without more info.  What were the results of your last water test?  What kind of equipment are you using?  What is the temp of the tank?  A picture would speak a thousand words.  Keep us posted>

Silver Scats #2 <Hi-Ryan Again> Thank you so much for getting back to me. <Ahh, the pimpled scats, right?> I do a 25% water change every 2 weeks. <Nice regimen> For filtration I use a Fluval 304. I test the water weekly and there is rarely even the slightest variation. Right now I have a PH of 7.8 ,  0ppm Nitrite & 0ppm Ammonia. The only variation I might get is a fluctuation in PH between 7.8 & 8.0. <Normal fluctuation> I keep the temp at 78. I haven't tested the hardness recently but that is usually the same also KH=8 & GH=6. This problem has existed for about six months. I've spoken w/numerous pet stores & spent countless hrs. on line & reading books, but haven't seen anything like this. It started as a pimple on the top lip (for lack of a better description) and now looks like top part of the jaw is just wasting away. I will try to get a picture to send you.<That would make this easier!>  I have one other question pertaining to my cichlids. I have what I believed was a Johanni & now think is a Maingano. <A picture could clear this up too> I believe she is holding eggs since 6/12/03. I do not have another tank & tried the net breeder but could not catch her. <tough, but keep at it.  You've either got to remove her or all the males...which sounds easier now?  2 nets makes should help.  The recommended time to move the female is 14-16 days after she develops the brood.  You're right on time.> So I opted for a divider. <Fry may be able to swim to their own deaths through the circulation holes> I'm worried because she hasn't eaten in all this time. <If your mouth was full of babies, you wouldn't dare eat either!  Totally normal, she'll eat like a pig once this is over.> I've read about stripping but would rather go the natural route. <Either way works, I like natural too> I've read that the incubation period is anywhere from 10-21 days. <Yes, about right.  Catch this fish without stressing her too badly.  Go get yourself a 10 gallon quarantine from Petco or Wal-Mart-best 10 bucks you'll spend in this hobby.  This fish is in a vulnerable time right now, and will need time to recover without being harassed.  The fry will need a space to grow!  This doesn't have to be fancy, and a sponge filter is your best bet with small fry.  You can even seed the filter by setting it inside your display for a few days, then transferring it to your QT.  Hope this helps!  Ryan> This was all rather unexpected so any info would be helpful. Nevertheless it is exciting. Thank you again <anytime-Ryan>

Silver Scat Problem >Hi, >>Hello.  Marina today. >I have a question, I searched through your boards and haven't seen anything related (not exactly anyway).  First let me tell you the setup.  I have a 50 Gallon Aquarium with a Fluval 404 and a Magnum HOT with a BioWheel.   I use the standard Fluval Media + 2 large bags of Chemi-pure.  I usually do about a 10% water change every 3 weeks or so.   >>Please elaborate "standard Fluval Media", do you mean the sponge, the ceramic noodles, one of the filter bags filled with any particular media?  I might suggest making the w/c a bit larger, on the order of 30% or so, but would be cautious, and increase the volume changed by about 10% each change (next change 20%, after that 30%, so on and so forth).  However, knowing the art aspect just as well, also know that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. >I have had the tank setup for over 6 years with minimal fish loss and am pretty experienced with maintenance and water chemistry do's and don'ts.  I currently have 2 silver dollars, 3 skunk loaches, 2 yoyo loaches, 2 silver loaches, 2 silver dollars, 4 scissor tails, 6 very small white clouds, 1 red tail shark, and a 1 Kuhli loach.   It may sound a bit overcrowded, but the fish are happy and healthy and seem to enjoy each other's company.  The only exception are my skunk Botias.  The stay in their little cave almost all day and only come out to explore and eat at night.   They don't bother with the other fish unless one tries to go in their cave, they are promptly warned and chased away.   >>To be expected, they keep hours to their preference, and I've found many loaches that prefer to be in the open at night. >All of my fish have learned to leave them alone, with the exception of the red tail shark who sometimes 'sleeps' in the cave with them.   >>Please know that Red-tailed sharks can easily be kept with the more aggressive South and Central American cichlids; they are that pugnacious.  If you begin to experience mysterious disappearances (those tasty little White Clouds, for instance) you might look to the shark. >No one picks at the others and healthy fins all around.  In fact, I have yet to see a red tail shark as perfect and vibrant as mine.  He is JET black and his tail is extremely bright, almost like a candle flame, but a little more red than orange.  I have very good water quality.  Nothing but de-ionized water (from Aquarium Pharm's tap water purifier) has ever been used because the tap water quality here is horrible (500+ general hardness and 8ppm chloramine).  I use Electro-right and Aquarium salt on all the water I replace during changes. >Now to the problem - I added 2 silver scats 3 days ago.  They are VERY small (about 1" in diameter).  All of the info I have read says they are fine in fresh water for a awhile when small, then require brackish or marine later.  The store I purchased them from had about 20 in freshwater tank, all the same size.  They have had them for 3 weeks, and all are healthy and happy (I had been checking before I purchased to be sure of their health).  They have pretty much identical water stats to mine, I brought my kit and they allowed me to test the tank before purchasing.   >>WOW!  Cool. >PH 7.0, KH about 100, GH about 145, 0 of the bad stuff (ammonia/nitrite) and about a 50ppm nitrate.  My nitrates are a bit lower (40ppm), but I have a much bigger tank than the 20 gallon they came from.   >>Ok, these readings are from *your* tank, or the shop's tank?  In any event, you mention nitrates twice, I will assume that you meant that you have 50ppm of nitrites (not nitrates), in which case you have an issue with this; persistent high levels will soon make less hardy fish ill.  You then mention the nitrates, which I will assume are, indeed, nitrates, and that they read at 40ppm.  I believe that larger water changes would be in order here, and test the freshwater for nitrates and nitrites.  If I recollect correctly, relatively high levels are acceptable for potable water (I've seen some reports with nitrates as high as 40ppm, for instance). >The salinity is about the same, as they use he same general dosage of Aquarium salt as I do.  I acclimated them VERY slowly (about 1 hour) before putting them in the tank and they immediately began swimming and exploring and eating a bit of algae within seconds.  I leave a small rock covered in algae for my loaches to eat, but I do not have a algae problem and the water is as clear as glass. >>No worries there, but a question as to the ingredients of the aquarium salt.  I don't recollect many loaches that appreciate salt, but being almost exclusively farm-raised, most, though not all, f/w fishes can tolerate very hard water and relatively high pH.  Anyway, about the salt, the scats would want something similar to sea water, so check out using that instead.  Ananda would know far better than I, so I'm forwarding this to her as well. >Last night, one of the scats began acting strange.  When they eat off the bottom (constantly picking at the gravel and algae) they point straight down head first much like my silver dollars.  One of them never came back to normal position.  I have seen sick fish before and know the signs of pH shock, parasites, bacterial infections, sever stress,  etc.  This fish shows NO signs of anything, and in fact is still putting his dorsal fin up and down and looks COMPLETELY healthy with the exception of one thing - he doesn't seem to be able to straighten back up.  He has been swimming while pointed head-down for over 12 hours now in a small corner of the tank.  It's a little funny, because he really does not look sick at all, and is still trying to eat during feeding. >>Oh my, I feel terrible!  I've only JUST gotten this email today, 5.13.03.  Please let me know how the fish are doing ten days later! >I have seen swim-bladder problems before, and usually the fish looks bloated and is unable to regulate the air in their bladders and float around the surface.   >>Indeed. >Not the case with this guy, he stays towards the bottom and his profile is fine, he's not 'bent' and his body doesn't look deformed like most ailments that affect their ability to swim would look. >>Can we rule out parasite?  Or...jeez.. swim bladder trouble would have been my next guess here.  Well, if he was in fresh before, try reacclimating him to fresh and see if there's an improvement. >Any possible idea what this could be, or if/what I should try to do to help him?  I KNOW they will require 'real' brackish water within a year or so and I plan on converting this 50 gallon to brackish and moving all the other occupants to a bigger 75 or 90 gallon within a few months.   >>Oooh!  Stop, reverse that, make the BIGGER tank the salt/brackish!  :D  (That's my vote, anyway) >The other scat is perfectly fine, and actually tries to mimic the strange swimming pattern of the other little guy as is he is trying to school with him.  LOL.   >>GET OUT!  Nuh uh!  LOL!!!  Such silly fishies. >It's really not funny, but it is at the same time.   >>I am relating with you at this moment, 1:30pm on this day.  And chuckling. >Any ideas?  What's the best possible realistic thing I can do to try and save him? >>Oh my, first let's find out what's happened with him in the meantime, eh?  Again, I'm so sorry about how late this message is, I do hope he's still with us at least.  Marina

Re: Silver Scat Problem >Hi Marina, >>Good morning, Victor. >Sorry if I confused you with all this info, but I was trying to give you an accurate idea of the tank setup.   >>No worries, my friend, I *much* prefer a bit too much to too little, and I would wager the rest of my crewmates would agree. >To answer your questions, the Fluval has the ceramic "macaroni" as I like to call it, as well as the sponges AND I add two bags of Chem-pure that I change about every 3 months (supposedly they last 6).  I have had this setup from day one for about 6 years with VERY low illness and or mortality problems. >>Yes, from your description you've had a fabulously stable setup. >My Red-Tail shark is extremely friendly, and never actually 'hurt' any of the other fish (unless you count psychologically, from chasing them to all hell...LOL).   >>Well, yes, I do.  This is how they kill lots of livestock by badgering constantly. >If he does get to 'bitchy' I just re-arrange the tank a bit and his 'territory' is no longer an issue.  I've only had to do this once in 6 years.  I've always heard the same thing you say about red-tails, and I tried keeping one with my first tank (all Cichlids) and they killed him in about 1 hour.   >>Indeed, when small, red-tails are quite peaceable, though I've only run across a few that didn't hold their own with cichlids.  In any event.. >They were Firemouths, Convicts, and a Jack Dempsey all microscopic in size.  I gave up on Cichlids years ago, I couldn't put anything in their tank but other Cichlids and my 2 convicts started multiplying like rabbits.  :) >>Oh my goodness YES!  And soon you end up with so many fry you can NOT give them away. >I was referring to everything correctly.  I have ZERO ammonia and nitrites (for 6 years straight now), and around 40ppm nitrates.   >>I wonder which measurement you meant when you spoke of the 50ppm.  No matter, if it's been going strong for 6 years, I see little need to change anything. >I do about a 20% water change every 2 or 3 weeks, so my nitrates usually hover between 20-40 ppm's.  Those readings were from the shop's tank, and they pretty much matched mine, except I had lower nitrates.  I only mentioned them as a reference for you.  Get it now? :P >>I *think* so... ;) >As far as the salt, I use Aquarium Pharm's Aquarium Salt (for freshwater fish).  I've used a half-dose of it for over 6 years now, and all my fish are very active and healthy so I guess it either helps or at least doesn't hurt.   >>Big proponent of salt for certain freshies here.  The only time I recommend *against* it is in the case of planted tanks.  Then I recommend the fish be moved.  Did you know that salt actually boosts effects of many antibiotics?   >My water is between 40-100 General Hardness which is the safe range for all my fish as far as I know.   >>Relatively soft water, actually.  Where I am my GH is more in the range of 400-500 (just add some sand, mix, and you've got concrete!).  But yes, your water is quite safe in that range. >All my water goes through Aquarium Pharm's Tap Water Purifier (de-ionizer) which is expensive but worth the money.   >>Indeed.  And if you've been using it from the get go, I'd have to go under the assumption that it's money well-spent. >To give you an example of how horrible my tap water is, I only get about 20 gallons out of each de-ionizer cartridge.  If your familiar with this product, you'll realize how bad my water is.   >>Not so familiar with the product as I am with municipal water parameters. >I use the Electro-Rite designed and sold with the kit to replenish the 'correct' amount of hardness according to them during water CHANGES.  I don't top off much, as my tank doesn't really evaporate much in 2-3 weeks between changes (it has a full glass top). >>Sounds all very good to me. And yes, I was serious about the healthy scat copying his swimming patterns.  I've never seen anything like it!  LOL   >>Now THAT is a completely new one to me.  What a hoot it must have been (even if he was mimicking a goner). >I wish I had thought of it at the time, I could have dug out my mini-DV camcorder and made a video of it, it was quite funny.   >>Heh, me too! >Don't feel bad about answering late, there's nothing you could have done.  A few days after I wrote the email to you, he finally died (still swimming and eating up to the end).   >>Sorry to hear that. >When I removed him from the tank after he died, he seemed a bit heavy when carrying the body to the trash.  I examined it, and felt something VERY hard in his stomach area.  This part is gross, but I got my utility knife out and 'dissected' him wondering what would cause his stomach to 'harden' so much.   >>Indeed! Quite simple really, he swallowed a piece of gravel !!!!!  Don't ask me how he fit it into his tiny little mouth, but he did and it was my gravel, the color matched exactly.  Strange indeed.   >>WOW!  I am shocked, familiar with this in HORSES, but *never*, ever, in all my days a fish.  Well...I'll be.. >Anyway, the other scat was still very healthy, but he was so lonely he started schooling with my Silver Dollars !!!!!  They were not happy about this, and were constantly trying to get away from him.  It got to the point were he got aggressive and started picking at the Silver Dollars.  Also kinda funny, since the Silver Dollars are almost fully grown (at 5 1/2 inches) and he was maybe an inch, if that.  Gutsy little guy.  Anyway, this was not a good situation, so I returned him to the shop and took to baby Silver Dollars instead.  Now I have 4, and the original 2 are MUCH happier for the Scat leaving and even more so gaining 2 more of their own kind.  I decided to wait till I actually HAVE a more suitable 'real' brackish tank, then I will get some scats then.  They are very fun to watch, and seem more 'aware' then normal community fish.  Much like Cichlids, but less nasty. >>Agreed, and they can be housed with other beautiful brackish fish (including the black mollies and Monodactylus). >Thanks again for trying, but honestly, what can you do for a tiny fish that swallows a piece of gravel, other than hope it passes it?  LOL.   >>Holy cow, yeah. >Surgery is not on my list of hobbies, so he was doomed anyway.  And by the way, cutting open a dead pet fish is not only disturbing, but very gross !!!!!!  At least I know it wasn't bacteria or a virus though, I HATE medicating fish that aren't sick. >>LOL!  I agree, we shouldn't medicate if it's not indicated.  Glad to hear that everything's worked out for the best (excepting himself, of course). >The rest of the tank is healthy and happy, so I guess it's a 'semi-happy' ending?  LOL >>Very much so.  Glad that all has settled down on the watery home front, and best of luck to you, Victor.  Marina

Scat With Acne - 06/03/2004 I was reading a question posted regarding a silver scat that developed a pimple on his upper lip. Then it developed into the entire upper lip getting infected. <Mm, could be a number of things.... Lymphocystis comes to mind first, also perhaps Columnaris, or HLLE/hole-in-the-head, even perhaps mycobacteriosis....> The same exact thing happened to my scat. He developed the "pimple" then died about 3 weeks later. <Do you happen to have recorded your water parameters? Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, salinity? Any other fish present in the tank? How large a tank? How large/old was the scat? Any other tankmates exhibiting symptoms?> I asked my fish dealer about it, and he said that sometimes the fish will bang into something that will cause the infection. Is this possible? <Well, yes, but not terribly likely.... the 'pimple' you describe, was it a pit, or a raised bump? Color? Texture - fuzzy? cauliflower-like? I would not be convinced that an infected injury/wound caused this, but possible that it was bacterial in nature. Without some in-depth details, it will be tough to pinpoint what, exactly, caused the fish's death.> It seems too simple for something like swimming into something will cause the fish to die. <If the fish gets wounded badly enough, and is in poor condition to begin with (or in improper water quality), it is quite possible for the wound to become infected, ultimately killing the fish. But the 'pimple' as you describe doesn't sound like an injury site, to me. Please do respond with more details, if you'd like us to help get to the bottom of this with you. I'd be delighted to be of further assistance.> - Frank <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Scat With Acne - II - 06/14/2004 Thanks for getting back to me. The "pimple" looked like a pinkish raised bump on the side of his mouth, that spread across his entire upper lip. <This does sound classically like Lymphocystis, to which scats are quite prone.> He was the lone scat in the tank. About a year and a half old, and about 5 inches long. <Still kinda small, eh?  ;D> I never noticed any health problems with him in the past. In fact, he always looked extremely healthy. No other tank mates had the same symptoms. My water quality has always been good. <'Good' is subjective.... it seems to me that, in nearly all Lymphocystis cases I've seen, there has almost invariably been quite a nitrate issue.  I, personally, like to keep my nitrates *very* low - I urge others to try to maintain them at less than 20ppm.> My Ph tends to get high sometimes, but not much, and I try to keep it constant as much as possible.   <pH should not have affected Lymphocystis, so no worries there.> I did, however, kept him in a 30 gallon, freshwater tank. <Yeah, that's a bit of an issue.> I always thought that this size tank might become a problem, plus not having him in brackish water. <Look at a good sized dinner plate - that's about the right size of an adult scat.  Moreover, scats tend to be social - and really deserve fully marine conditions as healthy adults.  I would guess that, yes, the small tank was likely an issue, as well as not giving him brackish water, increasing in salinity with age.> Most people I've talked to say that keeping scats in fresh water shouldn't be a problem. <My best assumption is that the folks you've talked to haven't had them past juveniles....  These are very large, long-lived fish in the wild and, if kept properly, in captivity as well.> He was doing so well, so I figured everything was OK. Anyway, I've recently bought 4 new baby scats and all are adjusting well to my tank. I'm looking into purchasing a larger tank soon. What size is recommended for Silver Scats? <As large as you think you can manage....  Scats are hefty waste producers as adults, which can lead to health complications if you're not careful - as they age, you will need to observe your water parameters, and plan on hefty water changes, if you don't go with something quite large.> The other fish in the tank are: 2 Bala Sharks (about 6 inches each) 1 Banded Leporinus (about 7 inches) 1 Angelica Catfish (about 4-5 inches) 1 Leopard Pleco (about 3-4 inches) 1 Red Tail Shark (about 3-4 inches) All the fish seem to get along with one another, and don't seem to overcrowd each other. <.... and this is in a 30 gallon tank, along with four juvenile scats?  I daresay, unless you're doing some big water very frequently, I would be surprised if you don't have nitrate issues.  This is a very hefty bioload.  Also, the worst long-term issue, provided the fish all do tolerate the water conditions (or you do very large, very frequent water changes), is that none of the above list is truly compatible with the scats' continuing needs.  We're really talking about a marine animal that is born in fresh water, and none of the above list will tolerate the increasingly saline conditions that the scats may die without.  Please do take a look at Bob's very informative article regarding these neat fish:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm .  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Convulsing Scat  10/7/04 Hey there.  <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I just read through your article on scats at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm, and I wanted to contact you about a pair of Scats I've kept for about a year now.  The most peculiar thing happened to the one I have now (the first one died unexpectedly) that I'm at a loss as what to do.  I observed him one night having what I can best describe as a convulsion.  He darted about the 26 Gallon brackish tank for a while, perhaps 45-60 seconds and then began to float upside down, unable to correct himself.  He would then twitch violently and sink to the bottom to lay there stiff.  He laid there a while, while I prepared to put him into a hospital tank, until it seemed he was dead.  I removed him immediately and put him into a small transport tank to take him across my place to the office.  But he did not move, so I kept him in the little plastic tank.  After a good 30 minutes or so, his gills began pumping and he started moving around, but still flat on the bottom.  I put him in the hospital tank and observed him at the bottom, sometime violently twitching and convulsing.  I decided to euthanize him, and as I prepared to do something, He steadied himself and began swimming upright.  Intermittently he swam well and convulsed a little bit, but after a day, he was normal again.  Fearing for wasting disease, I medicated the tank with Paragon 2 for a few days.  I kept him in the hospital for about a week or so, without a single incident.  I returned him to the main tank (2 silver dollars, 2 silver shark catfish, 2 tiger barbs, 1 albino tiger barb, 2 Corys, and a small frog) and he was fine for about 2 weeks, than another episode.  I've had him in the hospital tank for just over a month now and have not seen him have another episode.  I know they are brackish high PH fish, but my hospital is about 7.4 and the main tank 7.8.  I'm not sure what happened, but it occurs to me that the first fish, whom I found on the bottom of the tank when I came home, assuming him to be dead, may have had the same condition.  Any ideas or directions would be appreciated.  I got to figure out a way to get him out of that small tank... <The 1st thing that comes to mind is that if the fish improved in a separate tank, the water conditions in your main tank must not be suitable for your fish.  That tank is way overstocked & none of the other fish in there are BW fish (except the silver shark catfish).  Scats & silver sharks actually require a high-end BW environment (made with marine salt) & a SW environment towards reaching adulthood.  Just those 3 BW fish will eventually require at least a 75g tank.  I think you need to decide if you want BW or FW, 1 tank or 2 & rethink your stock of fish--fast!  In the meantime, large water changes & consistent testing for ammonia, nitrItes, & nitrAtes will be necessary.  ~PP> -- Dariush

Miserable scat I am new to this stuff.  Had a scat, that had obtained ich.  did a salt dip for him yesterday.  Seems that he is really stressed out.  Now he is lethargic and appears to have difficulty swimming.  Is eating but not as voraciously as before. <The reason this fish is not doing well is that Scatophagus argus is a Brackish/Marine fish and needs to be in a brackish environment.  When given proper water conditions these big boys eat like there is no tomorrow. You will need more info on these fish and how to properly care for them.  WetWebMedia has a good article dealing with this fish here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm There also is a FAQ section to help with your questions.> He is in a freshwater tank with a couple tetras, Chinese algae eater, Cory catfish, coolie loach, and a peacock eel.  All other fish are doing well.  No signs of ich on scat since   salt dip.  Now he is at surface of tank almost on his side.  Appears to be gasping for air, rapid gill movement.  Any recommendations.    < My suggestion is to immediately set up a Quarantine tank, if you don't already have one set up already.  This fish really should be in brackish environment, and I don't think that this fish will get any better without it.  Once the tank is set up with the appropriate heated brackish water then you can think about adding medicines.  I found that many of the Mardel Laboratories medicines work quite well on these fish.  For example Maracyn-Two cured my scat of bacterial infections.  Hope that helps, and I do hope the scat gets better. -Magnus>

Mottled Coloration in Scat  8/22/05 Hi WWM Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I need your expertise. Does this look like Velvet to you? See how about 3/4 of my Scats body is dark brown? Is this normal coloration based on mood in Scats? I can't tell if they were like this when I bought them and I'm getting paranoid or if they are sick. The facts... I have a 55g BW tank, about 1.007 specific gravity with 2 Colombian sharks, 3 mollies, 3 platies (starter fish, moving to a new home when I have the money for the tank), a milk spotted puffer, a Betta (neighbor didn't want him anymore, had to adopt), 3 green scats and 4 glass catfish. Before you lecture me about being overcrowded, they are all juvenile and will be split up into separate tanks as I can afford to set them up. <Just to let you know (so you can start saving), the scats will eventually need around 50g/fish & require SW as adults.  The puffer will also require salt water.  The Columbian sharks are schooling fish that grow quite huge (up to 18") & need marine conditions as adults.  Please put the Betta in a 2g bowl (or larger).  It will be killed with the aggressive fish you have & will not appreciate the salt.> Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate about 20 PPM and PH is about 7.6 to 7.8. <BW fish are best kept at a steady pH of around 8, generally by using aragonite as substrate.> The water is clear and everyone seems happy and healthy, with the exception of the scats. One of them appeared to be very sick yesterday. He was hanging out behind the power head and would not eat. The other two scats were beating up on him real bad and he was doing nothing to defend himself. I looked all over the net for info about what might be wrong before finally deciding that he was probably just getting picked on too much. I cut the top off a 2 liter coke bottle, cleaned it up real good and poked holes in for water flow. I caught him in it and dug it down into the gravel. This protected him from the other two Scats. I checked him this morning and he seemed much better. I let him out and fed everyone and he ate and was his normal racing around the tank self. Now he's doing it again, and I've been watching him close all day, there hasn't been any excessive aggression by the alpha. This coloration issue may be new or it may not be, I'm not entirely sure. I've never seen velvet before, can someone help? Oh, and I did a 50% water change today. <I would say this is stress coloration, due to his being picked on.  You could try moving  the decor around a bit to alter territories.  Make sure there is plenty of decor to break up lines of sight & ample room for everyone to have their own territories.  I'm afraid, even though you are aware of the fact that these fish need larger tanks, it will be sooner than you think.  Scats grow quickly, are messy eaters & high waste producers.  ~PP> Thanks, Erik in Oceanside P.S. Two of the three Scats have this coloration, the third is all green except the spots. The alpha, one of the discolored ones, has shown no signs of stress, neither has the third that has no discoloration.

Green Scat Question  9/28/05 Hi, <Hello, Justin with you here.> I've had a brackish tank for over six months now with a large green scat, a green spotted puffer, a mono, and a white cheeked moray. <Mm interesting choice of tankmates, hope it works for you and also hope its a big tank with good filtration.  Those particular fish are waste heavy other than the scat.> A little over a month ago, both the moray and the scat developed a half inch long white mark on their sides, and the scats gills are completely white inside. <Sounds like either a fungus or Lymphocystis. Either way do several water changes and treat with an antibiotic mix of nitro and fuzo based meds if the area is cottony looking.  Most are premixed together for you to better use them. Jungle products makes one called fungus eliminator.> I'm not sure if they were like that before the mark got there or not. I didn't think it was Ich, since I had a pretty high salinity level at the time. <No parameters of your tank to work with here so a simple high salinity doesn't help me.  WE really need ammonia, nitrite, nitrate ph, and salt, as well as anything and everything about your tank to really help narrow it down.> After a week or two, the moray's mark disappeared but its been weeks now and the scats mark is still there, and he is showing a slight decrease in activity. I treated him for ich with no result. Any suggestions? <Hmm  well with so little information its hard to be sure but I think you should try these things.  First do major water changes, clean out your filters and vacuum the gravel.  The best way to keep fish healthy is to maintain the highest water quality possible.  In that regard feed your meat eats less too.  if the scats on their food that's fine but once every 2 hours for now is a lot better for the tanks health.  Next get your salinity slowly to 1.012.  The reasoning for this is that ich both freshwater and marine seem to have an incredibly hard time maintaining virulent levels in that salt amount.  Too low for marine too high for fresh. As for the lines id try the antibiotics listed above on the scat in its own tank set up as a q/t.  Also keep an eye on the puffer if the lines are curved the puffer may be nipping on them.  The last thing it could be based on your information is maybe a nutritional deficiency.  What are you feeding your fish? Is it the same foods all the time?  If so please consider getting a vitamin supplement to add to the water and try other foods to vary the kinds of foods given.  That should help as well.> <Justin (Jager)>

Sick green scat  - 4/11/2006 Hi.  Almost a month ago now I bought two green scats from a pet store. I gave one to my mother and kept one for myself.  I didn't notice until a day or two after I bought them, but they both had small white flecks on their tails.  The flecks later grew into a fluffy white fungus.  The fungus spread to all the fish in my mothers tank before she noticed the scat was sick.  She successfully treated all her fish with MelaFix and PimaFix, but her scat didn't get better. <Is this a brackish system?> She put it in a hospital tank, increased the salinity (I don't know by how much) and used a stronger antibiotic instead of the MelaFix with the PimaFix. <These are not antibiotics... just tea/extract homeopathics>   The scat seemed to get better at first, but it still died.  My scat has been in a hospital tank since I bought it.  I've tried treating it with MelaFix, chemafix, PimaFix, MarOxy and Maracyn (not all at the same time) and nothing has worked.  I'm not sure what to try next. <I am> In addition, my dojo loach was bitten on the tail, and so I put in in my brother's empty hospital tank to treat it.  It's fine, but when he gave it back to me he used the water from his aquarium tank to bag it with.  A day later one of his fishes died from ick.  Now two figure 8 puffers, and  a clown loach have 2 or 3 tiny crystals on them.  The crystals don't look like the ones on his fish, and they are very small.   I took the puffers, and clown loach out and started treating them for ick, but I wanted to know if you think it is ick, and if so should I treat my whole tank for ick, not just the puffers and the clown loach.   Sorry the letter is so long, and thank you so much for your help. Jenna D. <Jenna, quarantine new livestock to avoid such problems... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/scatfaqs.htm Sorry for the late reply. Bob Fenner> Scat with Mouth Problems  3/2/06 Hi, <Hi Ellen, Pufferpunk here> Despite no change in care for the past 5+ years, my scat suddenly appeared to become the victim of what looks like lock jaw.  More specifically, his mouth is open all the time to the point where you can see his tongue moving up and down.  At times, his lips and tongue have turned bright red but always return to their natural color. He appears to want to but is incapable of eating.  He also makes jerky movements on occasion but can still negotiate the tank fairly well.  Can anyone help me save this fish? <It would help to know a few things: tank size, water parameters (ammonia, nitrIte, nitrAte, pH & SG), water change schedule & tank mates.  ~PP> Thanks, Ellen Kortum

Re: Scat with possible lock jaw, Posting Water Parameters  - 03/05/06 <Hi Ellen, Pufferpunk again> It's a 30 gallon high tank, all levels are optimum.  FYI...I have a puffer fish, bought at the same time, in the same tank, who is healthy and happy.   <A 30g is way too small for a scat. At 5 years old, it should be the size of your outstretched hand.  What kind of puffer?  Any other tank mates?  When someone asks you for your water parameters & then lists them all, that means we want to know exactly what they are--not just "optimum".  I also asked for your water change schedule--important to know, especially with the size tank you are keeping 2 very messy fish in.  When a fish is in a tank that is too small, it will get stunted.  That means the body stays small enough to fit the tank but the organs continue to grow.  Not good for any fish.  This will compromise it's immune system & shorten it's lifespan.  ~PP> Thanks!

Sick Silver Scat  -- 10/24/07 I have a pretty big Silver Scat in my 120 gal Brackish tank that has Pop eye disease. He is about the size of a large grapefruit. I have taken him out and put him in a qt. tank. I talked to the fish store that I frequent and they recommended Melafix. They said it was a mild supplement that won't harm the fish since it is a scaleless fish. I have been adding a teaspoon to the 10 gal quarantine tank since Thursday just like the bottle says. He seems to be pretty healthy looking besides his eyes. One seemed to clear up, but since I moved him, his other eye got pretty swollen. It doesn't seem to be getting any better. He also hasn't eaten anything in about two weeks. He is still swimming strong though?? Is there a lot more to this, or is he on his way out. I've had him for about two and a half years, he was the biggest fish in my tank, and the most aggressive eater of all my fish. Is there something else I can do, or should I just give up and get a new fish? I would love to save him, but don't want to spend an arm and a leg on several expensive medications. My water quality is good, I have two emperor 400's and a Magnum 350. I change the water about every three weeks, all the rest of my fish are fine??? Please help!!! Thank you Shawn <Hello Shawn. Silver Scats (and indeed other Scats) do seem to be prone to Pop-eye disease. Broadly speaking, Pop-eye is caused by something, and doesn't come out of nowhere. Water conditions are often to blame, though often in conjunction with mechanical damage, such as rough handling or accidental scratches against sharp objects in the aquarium. While its true brackish water fish are exceedingly tough, just like any other fish they depend on good water conditions for good health. So the thing you need to do to prevent Pop-eye and/or favour healing is check the water conditions regularly. Scats want very hard and alkaline conditions. I'd suggest a pH not less than 8.0 and hardness upwards of 10 degrees KH. Marine salt mix should be used to provide a salinity of not less than 25% normal seawater (i.e., SG 1.005) and ideally around 50% seawater (SG 1.012). A protein skimmer is extremely useful in tanks with Scats and Monos. At SG 1.010 upwards, a skimmer will effectively remove organic wastes directly, improving water quality and making it easier to manage the nitrogen cycle in your aquarium. Water changes of 50% per week are essential for adult Scats. If the cost of salt is a factor in your maintenance of this species, here's my take: water quality trumps salinity. If maintaining the fish at SG 1.008 would allow you to do substantially bigger, more regular water changes than if you kept it at SG 1.012, then keep the fish at the lower salinity. But for optimal health, keeping these fish at or below 1.005 is not a good idea. Most Perciform fish seem to be sensitive to nitrates to some degree, and Scats are no exception. Aim for a nitrate concentration of less than 50 mg/l, and ideally a lot less. This can be difficult with Scats because they are such heavy and messy feeders. Part of the art to keeping Scats is not overfeeding them; the other major part of the art is leaning towards plant rather than animal based foods. At least half their diet should be "greens" of some sort: unwanted aquarium plants, Sushi Nori, tinned peas, spinach, algae, etc. Really, the sort of diet you'd give Tropheus or Tangs. Because green foods are low in protein, you can let your fish graze more or less constantly without having to worry about water quality so much. Now, as for direct treatment. Scats ARE NOT "scaleless fishes". Any medication safe on marine fish or cichlids will be fine when used with Scats. Treating Pop-eye is difficult, and that's one reason prevention is more important than cure. Pop-eye sometimes goes away by itself if the fish is kept in perfectly clean conditions. But much better is to use an antibiotic such as Maracyn-Two formulated specifically for this sort of infection. Regardless, the infection will take quite a while to settle down. In extreme cases, the eye might not heal at all, in which case you will need to consult a vet. Good luck, Neale.>

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