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FAQs on Scats, Family Scatophagidae 1

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

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

Freshwater to brackish (Scats) 10/30/07 Hi there and thanks for taking time to read this. <Hello.> Last April I purchased 2 silver scats for my 55 gal FRESHWATER tank. This is a bit of a sore subject as my mom and pop fish shop sold them to me as FW fish, they claim to sell nothing related to salt or brackish water systems. Yeah right! I recently discovered several of the species of fish acquired from them are brackish which most likely explains their deaths (puffers, flounder and a shark species). <Brackish water fish can and do last long periods (certainly several months, but in some cases years) in freshwater. Unless these fish died after a period of multiple months, then there's no reason to assume lack of salt was fatal. Check other factors, such as water quality.> Although I am happy to say the Scats and Flounders are doing well, for now. <Don't bank on it. The sooner you move them to brackish water, the better.> They (the Scats) are getting close to 5 inches in length and from what I have read they would prefer to be converted to a brackish environment at about this size. <Correct.> This is a subject that I know next to nothing about but I am trying to educate myself about the brackish tank setup. <Many articles here at WWM to set you on your course. There are also at least two books on the subject, one edited by me for TFH, and another from Aqualog written by Frank Schaefer.> My question(s) are: How long can these guys live in a totally FW tank? <Months, but not indefinitely. After around 6 months you will notice them becoming more sensitive to opportunistic infections. Fungus, Finrot, Lymphocystis, and Pop-eye are all things that plague Scats kept in the wrong conditions.> Will adding aquarium salt, designed for FW, help or hinder them? <Not much help.> Are fish covered in the federal governments "cruelty to animals" laws? ( I know this last question is from left field but I thought I would throw it out there) <In theory many countries have rules about cruelty to vertebrates generally, including fish. Here in the UK, labs and zoos certainly do have to adhere to specific guidelines about avoiding suffering and providing adequate care. How these apply to home aquarists is less clear, but in theory you could be prosecuted. I'm not a lawyer and can't speak for your country (which you don't name) but I can tell you that here in the UK the Animal Welfare Act 2006 would allow a private citizen to be prosecute for things like "Failing to ensure the welfare needs of an animal are met" and "Causing an animal to suffer unnecessarily". Under this Act, the covered animals are any "living vertebrate animal", which includes fish. Of course, I should like to think anyone keeping fish would be adhering to the spirit of this law regardless of whether or not they were being forced to. After all, if a person doesn't want to care for an animal, then they have the choice not to keep that animal.> and finally- Is it best to start with a new tank for a brackish setup or can a tank that currently houses FW fish be converted? <It can be converted just fine. Go slowly so the filter adjusts. The minimum specific gravity for your fish is likely SG 1.005, or about 9 grammes of salt per litre of water. The optimum is about SG 1.010, about 15.5 grammes of salt per litre. Do a series of water changes over the next few weeks, adding slightly more salty water each time. Don't take the SG up by more than "two points" on the SG scale, i.e., no more than SG 1.000 to SG 1.002, or SG 1.002 to SG 1.004. Don't make bigger jumps than that because you could stress the filter bacteria. Some plants don't like salt. But that said, Scats eat all plants anyway so that's probably a moot point. Otherwise things like gravel, filters, heaters etc all work fine in brackish water even if bought for a freshwater tank.> It was bought used so I do not know what types of meds and chemicals the previous owners used. <Shouldn't make a difference. The only possible problem would be if the tank was really old and had a cast iron or steel frame. Metal corrodes in salty water. But I haven't seen a metal-framed tank for ages.> Thanks again for taking the time, My scitty-Scats and myself greatly appreciate it! Regards, ET <Scats are great fish, and Silver Scats among the greatest. Truly beautiful animals, with colours as lovely as any coral reef fish. Do enjoy them, and enjoy "slightly salty" fishkeeping. Good luck, Neale>

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.>

Help with Identification - 10/09/07 Hello Crew, First I would like to thank you guys for providing us novices with a great deal of help and advice. I'm learning all the time. <Hello, and thanks for the nice words.> I recently moved into a house in Thailand and inherited a reef tank which was left by the previous occupant (who left in a rush to Germany apparently). The landlord informed me that the tank had been left untouched for a couple of weeks and has given it to me. When I turned the power on I was shocked to see that all of the occupants were still alive (skinny but alive) including a few nice corals (red leather finger, daisy polyps and star polyps). After spending most of the past couple weeks on your site and goggle images I have managed to identify most of the live critters I have to 3" tang, royal Gramma, 2 2" false percula clown fish, 4" lawnmower blenny, 2" yellow watchman goby, 1 coral brand shrimp, 1 skunk shrimp, 6 blue leg hermit and 3 turbo snails. I would be very great full if you could help identify the attached fish. I have two in the tank, I have searched but have been unable to find anything close. They're small, copper with black spots and very very quick swimmers. <Picture too small, but they look like Scatophagus species of some sort. The body shape and the distribution of the fins looks about right. Scatophagus are euryhaline marine fish that swim in and out of freshwater rivers throughout their life. They are extremely hardy. Basically omnivorous. Not sure they're typically classed as "reef safe" fishes, since they'll eat anything they can cram into their mouths, but they won't harm sessile invertebrates or armoured things like snails and shrimps.> Since I made a water change, something as appeared on the glass in 2 places. It looks like they could be eggs of some kind?? (see attached photo) There are small rows of white dots, similar in shape to a finger print. Could you possibly identify these?? good or bad?? <Too small for me to identify. Need a bigger picture. Aim for a photo around 600 pixels across.> The tank is 75 gallons, wet/dry filter, 4 pumps, protein skimmer (unknown, no brand or labels), lots of live rock, 1.5" crushed coral substrate, Salinity is 1.05, ph is 8.4, temp 79-81 degrees, nitrate >10, NHO3 =0, 150 watt metal halide lighting with 20,000k light. <SG is 1.05? That can't be right. Do you mean SG 1.025?> Sorry for the length of this email, I hope I've not bored you to sleep! <Nope. Thanks for writing.> Any advice is greatly appreciated Thanks Tony

Re: Help with Identification - 10/09/07 Thank you for the quick response, I've attached another photo, the round white dots are very small and its difficult to pick up on the photo. If you can't identify it would it be better to just remove them? Better safe than sorry?? Just one more question, with a 75 gallon tank how much daily water evaporation would you expect, it seems I have to top up around half a liter a day is this normal? Thanks again P.S. Yes the salt is 1.025 !! <Hmm... very interesting. The pattern is odd, and reminds me more of fish eggs than, say, snail eggs. Snails tend to deposit their eggs in masses well after each partner has fertilised the other (snails being, largely, hermaphrodites); but fish lay them in rows, because they glide along the flat surface, the male following the female fertilising them. So I'd be tempted to leave them in place and see what happens. You could try and roll them off the glass into a floating breeding trap or something, if you were really worried. That works with some fish eggs quite well. If they are fish eggs, they should obviously have a developing embryo inside them. I may be barking completely up the wrong tree here of course, in which someone else at WWM will see the photos and tell us what they might be. There's no "normal" rate of evaporation: it depends on air movement, air temperature, air pressure, ambient humidity, movement of the water, and all sorts of other factors. In other words, "it is what it is" and all you can do is top up the water loss each day (or however often you do it). Were the two little fish Scats? Cheers, Neale> 

Re: Help with Identification - 10/09/07 Thank you again Neale, The two fish were indeed scats, of the spotted variety.... was just reading up on them it seems they're a much more popular fresh water fish than marine fish which I guess is why I couldn't find any info on them as I was looking in the wrong place! <They are really only temporary residents in freshwater, and ironically do much better in marine tanks than freshwater ones, despite being sold as freshwater fish. Enjoy they; they're lovely fish, and so long as they get lots of bulky plant foods, they'll be happy. Basically treat like a tang.> As for the maybe fish eggs, being a bit of a pessimist I was a little worried that they may be parasites of some kind as I could find nothing similar on the web. <Unlikely to be parasites. Parasites don't leave their eggs in the open (you've been watching too much 'Alien'!). Parasites tend to put their eggs inside something a host will eat, such as a smaller prey animal. So you can basically write off the idea these are parasites.> I will keep a look out on your site to see if anybody can identify them. I will leave them where they are for now and see what happens. <Indeed.> Thanks for your time, let me know if you ever come to Bangkok and I will buy you a beer :) <Hah!>
Kind regards
<Cheers, Neale>


Green scats not Down Under   10/2/06 G'day there, <And to you>                               In regards to the green scat (Scatophagus argus). I work with one of the largest tropical fish importers in the southern hemisphere and everyone I ask about the green scat nobody has heard of them. <Is the same species (currently): See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm  and fishbase.org... different distribution... more or less a geographical "race"> I have done a lot of research on this fine specimen and nobody can tell me anything. I am from Australia and the red scat or ruby scat are very common same as the silver scat, I have over half a dozen of the red scats in a 200 gallon or 700 litre tank along with the same amount of mono argents. A lot of websites I have been on, tell me the green scat is exactly the same as the red or ruby just a different morph. If this is so I am curious why they are not sold in Australia? <Mmm, my guess is that it's just more money, paperwork to import...> Is this because they are illegal, rare or any other reason am not sure of? I have been after these for quite some time. As far as I know they are not illegal, but would like to know as much about them as I can. Some people also call them spotted scats. Thank you        kind regards         Jared. <Could check with "the boss" there at the store, who orders livestock. Bob Fenner> Re: green scats not down under   10/4/06 I spoke to the big guns of quarantine, and it took them a little while to get back to me with no different info than I already knew. That the green or red scats (Scatophagus argus) are the same species, <Yep> and they find it weird that they have never been on our market. <Mmm, have seen very nice reddish ones in Australia... and collected Green ones in/near sewage outfalls in parts of S.E. Asia... (keep your snorkel in your mouth!)... but do think the physical separation, cost might be about it> Considering they are a native fish, and are guessing there not illegal here. I will continue to find out more about them, but want to thank you for getting back to me. Yours sincerely     Jared Ridley <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

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!

FW Compatibility Dilemma... Scats    4/4/06 Hi.  I have looked all over your site, Google, etc, and haven't found the answer to my questions, so hopefully they won't be too redundant.  I have a 30 gallon Freshwater tank with 10 Corydoras catfish (5 Trilineatus, 2 Paleatus, & 3 Bronze Aeneas) and 3 Dwarf Gourami (Colisa Lalia - 1 standard, 1 blue, and 1 sunset).  In addition I have 4 other tanks.  One is a 5 gallon with a spoiled rotten Betta (Splendens). <Heee!> A 20 gallon long sectioned into 7 spaces, containing 4 Male Bettas, 1 female Betta (also all Splendens), 1 Dwarf Gourami (Colisa Lalia neon blue), and 1 Honey Dwarf Gourami (Colisa chuna).  A 10 gallon sectioned into 3 spaces with, you guessed it, 3 male Bettas.  Finally, a 5 gallon corner tank with 4-6 Guppies in it.  Two of the Guppies are in sick tanks right now, so 4 is definite.  The other two, if they recover, will go back in as well.  They were in the 30 gallon, but the Dwarf Gouramis kept taking chunks off of their fins.  They also seem to really need the aquarium salt, which my Corys don't do well with. <Agreed to all> I had been using 1 teaspoon/5 gallons, but it wasn't enough for the Guppies.  The Corys were okay with it, but I wasn't willing to risk them on a higher dose. <You are wise here> The 30 is now salt-free, as are all the others, except the Guppy tank.  I consider the 5 gallon tanks full (stocking capacity).  I think 6 Guppies are max for the capacity of the BioWheel in the corner 5. <Agreed> The Betta in the other 5 gallon will not take any tankmates.  The last time I tried, he sulked himself into a lovely case of Velvet.  Long story short, he lives alone now.  The 20 long is full as well.  By water surface to air ratio I have space left, as well as by the inch/gallon rule.  However, with the extra filtration and dividers taking up space, I'm not comfortable with adding more fish into it.  The 10 is also considered full by both stocking ratios.  All the tanks are cycled.  I maintain the Bettas only tanks at 76/77 degrees.  The 20L and 30 are kept at 77/78 degrees.  My numbers are Nitrites 0ppm and Nitrates 0ppm (except the 5 gallon with the single Betta, which is 0 - 5ppm).  All the tanks are at 8.0 for Ph (stable), GH is 3 max, and KH is 9-11.  Ammonia is 0 in all but the 10 and 30 gallon tanks.  The 10 and 30 sometimes get a .25ppm reading, usually coinciding with my over feeding the little beggars (I'm working on that). <Ah yes> Water changes are 25 percent weekly in all but the 5 gallon tanks.  The 5 gallons get 50 percent changes weekly.  If I get an ammonia reading, I do an extra change and clean up the extra food.  Okay, by now I'm sure that you're wondering where-in lies the questions.  So here goes.....I wanted to get a couple fish to replace the Guppies in the 30 gallon, so I now have 2 Scat in quarantine. <Mmm, no... too aggressive, gets too large... needs brackish to full marine conditions> I made the HUGE mistake of not researching prior to buying, followed by the 'fish guy answered all the trick questions, so lets trust him' MAJOR screw-up.  Since bringing the Scat home, I have discovered that they are brackish fish, and I have no idea where to put them! <Another tank... or... back to the shop?> I think they are Scatophagus Multifasciatus.  They are silver with black vertical strips that run into/become spots on their sides.  They also have a bit of tannish color on the sides of their heads above and around the gills.  Their dorsal fins are similar to the Dwarf Gouramis, in that they (the fins) lay down and stand up depending on the situation.  Their dorsal fins are also black trimmed and pointed.   There were no Latin names on the tank they came from, just "Scat".  I'm praying I have the 5 inch fish and not the 15-18 inch fish.  Is there any way to tell for sure what they are?   <Mmm, are easily discerned... see WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm or fishbase.org> Is it true that they have venomous dorsal fins? <Yes> If so, is it enough to kill a Guppy, etc? <Mmm, yes>   My husband wants me to put them with the Guppies (...already a brackish tank, problem solved.....).  Can I do that?   <No... too different temperaments> They're less than 2 inches right now.  They're smaller than my littlest C. Lalia, but bigger than the C. Chuna.  How fast do they grow? <Slow if not fed well...> We're talking about setting up a 55 gallon tank, but not for at least a year.  Can they be kept in a smaller tank that long? <No... will suffer, likely die from renal problems...> Are they even safe to have with our other fish? <See WWM re... yes, with other brackish to marine animals of similar temperament...> My quarantine/sick tanks are only 2 to 2.25 gallons each, so I need to figure out what to do with them when their 2 weeks are up.  Returning them is not a possibility.  They were purchased out of town (mistake #3).  I like them and would like to keep them.  They are quite personable already, and it doesn't take me long to get attached.  Any thoughts, words of wisdom, suggestions, or ideas would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you, in advance, for any help you can send my way! <Great family of fishes... good with Monos, Datnoides, brackish to marine puffers, much more... all covered on... WWM. Bob Fenner>

Aggressive scat problem  3/7/06 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I bought one  green scat and put it in my aquarium and he hung out at the top looking lonely (30 gallon, hexagonal display tank).  So I bought him a brother to keep him company, a red scat 2X his size.  He happily beat the living daylights out of brother red.  So I did some research and found they are schooling fish and that what my scat did often happens in groups of two.  So I bought a third (smaller) green scat.   Now he mainly beats up on the big red scat, but when the red one hides in the newly decorated garden of algae, he beats up on the small one.  Any ideas what to do?  I've been feeding him krill (supposedly the act of tearing it apart will give him an outlet for his aggression) but still no luck.  I'm out of options. <As far as I know, scats are not schooling fish, <<Mmm, are in the wild. RMF>> they do not get lonely.  Since an adult scat gets as large as a dinner plate, I suggest a much larger tank.  There is no room for territories in your tank.  They require at least 50g each & marine conditions as adults.  ~PP> Thanks, Judy 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)>

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.

Petting Scats, Unusual??? I'm not sure if you respond, but as I was cleaning  my tank I noticed that my silver scats were swimming near my hand. Sometimes  brushing up against me softly, while the other fish stayed at the other  side of the tank afraid. Then slowly a scat swam between my hand and the  glass of the tank, then settled in my palm.  I was quite shocked at  the affection they were showing so I pet one with my finger. As I pet it, it  folded is top fins back, breathed slower, and relaxed in my  hand.  I thought it was just a coincident but as I  cleaned. I chanced fate, and attempted to pet the other scat, and the same thing  happened. I've been stung by an other aggressive scat before  and soon gave it away. So I'm quite careful around them when I clean. But  I've never heard of a small tank fish getting chummy with me.  Weird  huh??? Have you heard of this behavior before with  scats??? >> A lot of larger fish will loose their fear of the keeper, and will approach the hand that feeds them, I would not be surprised if your scats do this. But please be very careful, getting stung by larger scats can be very painful. You may be able to start hand feeding your scats if they are that friendly. But Be Careful, Oliver

Scatophagus in reef tank? Hello- <Hi Jane> I am wondering if a scat would do OK in a large reef tank. Would they eat all of my macroalgae or just nibble like a tang would? <Maybe... but likely not all of it. Should make a very interesting addition> I have been looking for an unusual big addition to my tank that eats a little algae but would leave corals and clams alone. I already have a Mono Sebae so I thought a weird brackish fish would be appropriate. Thanks very much. Your website is always a big help. I work in a fish store and recommend it all the time. -Lisa <Ahh, good to offer our help. Bob Fenner> <Marina's note: Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific has/had a beautiful collection of these fish in a "lagoonal" display - have never seen them look so good!>

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>

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

Scatophagus species Hi, I caught a school of scats in a mouth of a freshwater stream in Bintan Island, Indonesia. They have an orange base and broad black stripes. They change colour constantly, so that they sometimes become totally black except for the orange at the top. What specie of scat do you figure this to be. /JJ <I'll be... have never seen the species but it does sound like Scatophagus tetracanthus. Please see the description here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm or plug the name into your search engines or fishbase.org. Bob Fenner>

Re: Scatophagus species Dear Bob, Thanks. I found a picture of the tetracanthus at http://www.ohiexchange.com/armke/images/scatophagus_tetracanthus.jpg <Ah yes> I think I may have juveniles (1 inch) of this specie. There is a hint of the orange at the dorsal edge  of the scats in the picture. Perhaps the orange disappears as the scat mature. <Yes, unfortunately> Indeed when I made a closer examination of what I have, I notice that interspersing the vertical band is not quite orange but yellow-tint silver. Maybe I'll send a picture when I can borrow w a digital camera. /JJ <Very good. Will post. Bob Fenner>

Re: Scatophagus species Dear Bob, As promise I am attaching a photo... <Very nice> This is not a very good photo as the camera ran out of battery before we could get a good shot. Nevertheless you can get an idea from it. I had wanted to get a picture of the scats when they turn completely black except for the orange on the dorsal edge, but that will have to wait. <Have seen this... esp. on S. argus (here), when "bummed"... due to water quality, nutrition, social issues> Also, now that the scats have grown a little larger, I am also beginning to doubt of they are tetracanthus! The stripes are not as broad, and in fact the older ones are beginning to have spots appearing (though I know they are not argus because I caught juvenile arguses before). <This is assuredly argus> Would be glad for identification. /JJ
<Bob Fenner, just back from Hawai'i>

Re: Scatophagus species Hmm... I found a photo in LiveAquaria.com which has Ruby Scats as Scatophagus Argus, the picture of the scat does resemble what I have. But I once caught green spotted scats which I assumed to be the Argus. Do Argus juveniles have different appearances? I'm a little confused. <Mmm, please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm These are the same species. Bob Fenner> /JJ

Skittish scats Hi guys. <and gals...Ananda here today...> I have a couple of silver scats in a tank with 2 green Chromides a couple of bumblebee gobies and a small spotted puffer.   <I hope you have a big tank...both the scats and the Chromides get fairly large.> The scats are much bigger than anything else in the tank.  The problem :  the scats are extremely skittish.  When I go to feed them (twice/day) they go ballistic and bounce off of everything in the tank.   The other fish don't behave this way.  They will nip at my fingers if I put them in the water - in fact, up until about two weeks ago the scats did the same thing.  pH is about 8, temp about 78, ammonia is essentially 0 ppm.  I'm concerned that they will injure themselves.  They seem to be very robust and in very good health.  Also, I went back to the LFS where I purchased them and the ones remaining are plenty calm enough. <Several possibilities here. Your scats may be feeling cramped in the tank. Or your specific gravity may not be what they would prefer. Or they could be nervous about getting their fins nipped by the puffer. Also check your nitrates.> Any tips? <Yep. Start reading the brackish FAQs here! :-) http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/BrackishSubWebIndex.htm> Thanks Andreas <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Scats Hello, Could you tell me the best place to order green scats? Thank you very much. Jonathan <Actually, I would buy them from a local dealer who got them in for you, held them for about a week... to assure their health. Bob Fenner> Jonathan 

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