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FAQs on Colisa lalia, C. chuna... "Dwarf" Gouramis of Many Names, Honey, Flames, Neon Blue, Sunset, Fire... Disease/Health: Environmental   

FAQs on Dwarf Gourami Disease: Dwarf Gourami Disease 1, Dwarf Gourami Disease 2, Dwarf Gourami Disease 3, Dwarf Gourami Disease 4,
FAQs on Dwarf Gourami Disease by Category:
Diagnosis, Nutritional, Genetic, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic, Social, Treatments,   

Related Articles: Anabantoids/Gouramis & Relatives, Genera Ctenopoma & Microctenopoma, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish

Related FAQs:  Dwarf Gouramis, Dwarf Gourami Identification, Dwarf Gourami Behavior, Dwarf Gourami Compatibility, Dwarf Gourami Selection, Dwarf Gourami Systems, Dwarf Gourami Feeding, Dwarf Gourami Reproduction, & FAQs on: Gouramis 1, Gouramis 2, Gourami Identification, Gourami Behavior, Gourami Compatibility, Gourami Selection, Gourami Systems, Gourami Feeding, Gourami Disease, Gourami Reproduction, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish


Gourami with Dark Spots and Trouble Swimming      5/28/13
Hi, I have a male Dwarf Gourami who has lately been staying at the bottom of the tank and has some odd discoloring.  His normal coloring is a pale blue almost the color of the sky but now he has some spots that are odd.
One is on his tail and is nearly the color of a purple bruise fading out to yellow near the edges.  On the  spots on the top of his head they have a lighter muddy brown color. The same patches appear throughout his body but are far more common on his front halve than back. his front halve has become a white or quite pale blue where the spots are not whereas on the back side he has normal coloring where the spots are not he is standing nearly straight up and at a slight angle on the bottom of the tank and only moves when frightened or by the prospect of food. he is eating his fish flakes normally and his fins are normally moving even though he is not swimming but his breathing seems to be that he is taking more and more labored or larger breaths. About a month ago we were having problems with nitrite but we have gotten that under control. the test results from about 1 week ago are.
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate 0-20
ph 7.2
alkalinity 180
hardness 300
chlorine and chloramine 0.
Our tank has been set up since Christmas and have had trouble with ick, swim bladder disorder, aggression, and mouth fungus on one fish.  We have 1 Dwarf Gourami, 1 Bumblebee Platy, 1 Adult Balloon Molly, 1 baby Balloon Molly (parents died from overaggressive fish we took back to the store), 1 baby Guppy (was mistakenly given to us by PetSmart and is in a baby net)1 Lyre-tail Guppy, 1Yellow Guppy, and 2 Mystery Snails who recently  died. We hope not to lose another fish so please help. Thank You, Mary
Note: I had frightened him while taking the photo.
<Hello Mary, do read here:
The modern farmed Dwarf Gouramis are a sickly species to begin with, and if you keep them in "liquid rock" hard water like yours, even the ones that aren't sick at the time of purchase often fail to stay in good condition for long. As a good rule of thumb, if your water is good for livebearers, it's probably bad for Dwarf Gouramis as they need opposite things. There's a limited amount you can do for an ailing Dwarf Gourami, as the article will tell you. Possibly a course of antibiotics such as Maracyn, but don't get your hopes up, especially if water chemistry is wrong to begin with.

Sick Gourami, Colisa lalia, no rdg.     3/6/12
I am inquiring as we have a sick little blue dwarf gourami and I think our sunset platy isn't feeling well either.
<... have you read before writing us?>
We are very new at having fish (yes, I thought some water and a couple of fish would be a nice easy pet for my kids who are allergic to fur...)
<Here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/AnabantoidPIX/dwfgdis4.htm
and the linked files above>
At any rate, we started with a 2-gallon Glo Fish
<Death trap>

tank at Christmas which quickly turned into a disaster.  After several trips back to my local PetSmart they told us we had too small of a tank. (Wish they would have told me that when they sold it to me!) So, they suggested upgrading to a 5 gallon tank.  That just seemed silly, so I got a 10-gallon (had I done my own research, I would have gone for a  20-gallon, but too late!).  We just started the tank about 6 days ago, and put fish in on Day 2 (what is says on the instructions).  We moved our poor little gourami from the poisonous Glofish tank (the girl at the store told me it was the WORST water she'd ever tested).  Along with him (or maybe her) we added a Sunburst Platy (female) to cycle it.  Our new 10-gallon tank has lots of plastic plants, a few real plants, a filter, air bubbles, and a cave - plenty of cover.  The heater has been pretty consistent at 79 degrees. The two fish took a couple of days to get used to each other but have seemed to get along well the last couple of days.  We have had the two fish in the tank for a total of 5 days right now.
Last night, the Gourami was hovering near the heater/top corner/mouth at the surface.  He seemed to not be using one of his fins much (clamped fin?), and wouldn't eat anything.  I changed a couple of gallons of water (using aquarium salt and water conditioner in our hard AZ water).  NOTE: I used RO water in our last tank and it was super-acidic, so the pet store told me to use hard water from outside + conditioner. 
This morning both fish were hovering near the heater together (not quite huddled up, but definitely within an inch of each other). The platy swims around a bit, then comes back to the corner, but the gourami has stayed there all day. This fish is named "Hunger" because he eats all the time, but wouldn't even swim to snack on bloodworms today, poor little guy. 
Today, he has long strings hanging from him - does that mean parasites? 
Poop didn't look like this before. He also looks a little darker in color. 
I don't see anything that looks like Ich.
I had PetSmart test the water this morning and they said it was perfect (it's hard/alkaline but they said these fish like it that way instead of acidic/soft. Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites all in perfect range.) So, what can I do to get these little guys better? My kids are going to be heartbroken if we loose more fish (we lost a few in the 2-gallon "Glofish" tank) - What bad marketing to call that thing a starter Glofish tank! But I digress.
Back to the new 10-gallon tank:  I plan to continue to change a bit of water daily while they are sick (using syphon), keep up the aquarium salt (1 tbls per 5 gallons, just adding a proportionately to new water, not to existing), I upped the temp just a bit to 80, and got him some bloodworms to entice him to eat, as well as a home water test kit (although that isn't the problem this time).  Is it parasites? Something else? Should we get him medicine?
Help! I'm trying but this is so frustrating to keep losing fish. Sorry, that's so much info.  Hope it makes sense and you can help us.
Symptoms of the Blue Dwarf Gourami (from failed old tank since January, but in this tank for 5 days - seemed fine and happy until last night):
Breathing at surface
Not eating
Not moving around much (using only one fin at a time)
Darker in color
Long strings of feces
10 gallon Tank (6 days old):
Good water readings (Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates in good range, according to pet store)
Lots of plastic plants & cover (just a few real plants)
Bubbles, heater at about 80, filter
Other fish is a Platy, seems a little sick too.
Using hard water + conditioner & salt
Usually feed them fish flakes, and just introduced blood worms today.
<Unfortunately, you've chosen one of the most dismal species sold for aquarium use. I'd re-try w/ more hardy stock. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/stkgSmFWSysF.htm
Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Gourami    3/7/12

Thank you so much for your quick reply. Your links are most helpful.
<Sorry to be the bearer of such ill news>
 I had read around the site quite a bit before e-mailing, but didn't quite know what I was looking for (I still have so much to learn!).  I have spent some time reading more today, and, as I'm not quite ready to give up on this little guy, wondered if he's having a hard time because we switched from the soft RO acidic water that the pet store told me was toxic to him, to the outside hard water that is nice and alkaline.
<Actually; unless the "outside" water is extremely alkaline, hard, this is a move in the "right direction"... What is the measured water quality?>
 We are using a dechlorinator/conditioner  (Tetra or Top Fin) and aquarium salt (I thought the aquarium salt would soften it a bit since salt is what is used in our "people" water softener.)
<Mmm, much to state here... the extra sodium is usually not a big deal for potable purposes... but... I'd be reading re, considering using just RO...>
I tested the water again today (test strips) and had Nitrates in the "safe" zone (20 ppm),
<... this is the most I'd allow>
 Nitrite in between the Safe (0) and Caution (.5)

 zone, Total Hardness was very hard (300),
<Ours is higher...>
Chlorine (0), Alkalinity was ideal (between 120-180), PH was about 7.8, and Ammonia was ideal (0).  After the test, I changed out 2 gallons (20% of the 10 gallon tank) and replaced with our outside hard water + conditioner + salt, then treated the tank with the Jungle Lifeguard All In One treatment
<Mmmm, mostly salt>

(the only thing I could find that said it was for "fin clamp" - this is day one of a 5-day course of the "full spectrum non-antibiotic agent"). Both fish seemed sick and we don't have a hospital tank set up yet, so I figured it would be best to treat the whole tank.  If they live, then great, and if not, then the future inhabitants won't get sick - right? (We can discuss that further if they don't make it.)
<... iridoviruses are pretty species specific, if this is what the "cause" is here. Otherwise, Protozoans do have longish lay-overs at times>
The Platy can't decide whether she's sick or not (rests on the bottom, hovers on the top, hides, then swims around just fine and still eating - might be preggers), and the Dwarf Gourami is definitely still sick, but he came out and swam around and ate dinner tonight, so he's certainly perkier.
 I know this medication is not supposed to be for use in a new tank, but I'm ignoring those directions. I have pulled out the carbon filter (but the filter thing is still running) and air stone and heater are of course still going. I saw some info that said to leave the carbon filter in, and some that said to take it out so I went with "take it out".  According to the directions, I'm supposed to put the carbon filter back in on day 6 and at that point do a 25% water change  (or a new filter?, but mine is only 7 days old).
<The carbon alone>
 I assume since I have a new tank and the bio filter is not fully established
<... also deadly toxic>
(I mean the tank is not cycled yet, we have only a "carbon" filter), that my best bet will be to still check/change the water daily while treating the tank?  I presume that I am "decycling" the tank with the meds while trying to cycle the tank, so I just have to be extra vigilant with the water.  I realize that I have the wrong fish all together, but he's still alive and we like him.  Other than our fish selection (too late for that!), am I doing anything terribly wrong with the above steps?
<... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwcyctrbfix.htm
  It may be to no avail, but at least the kids will know that we tried.
<Better to inform oneself than experiment...>
Thanks again for all your insights!
<Keep reading. BobF>
Re: Sick Gourami
– 3/7/12
Thanks again. Once I realized I didn't know as much as I thought (I read the tank directions very carefully:-) I have been reading as much as possible, but also have sick kids and general crazy life at the same time as my sick fishies, so I appreciate your quickly pointing us in the right direction.  I based my "experiment" on reading as much as I could find.
<I see>
Actually our little guy is doing great this morning. (And the Platy, too.) 
They're both swimming around, eating and using both fins... I wasn't sure from your answer below if I should keep using the hard water, but I think that's what you said.
  So, I'm going to keep changing that water every day, and keep doing the treatment (salt or whatever it is) for the rest of the 5 days, and just try to keep it non-toxic while cycling.  I assume that it's better to cycle him in the 10 gallon tank than to have tried to keep him cycling the 2-gallon "death trap" - yes that's a good name for it! 
I also told the kids no more fishies until the tank is all settled/cycled. 
After reading the tank directions, the kids were all set for several more fish this week (week 2) - ha ha! Who writes those directions for brand new tank owners!  This is what I get for asking the "knowledgeable" staff at PetSmart.  I asked a lot of questions before I ever bought fish, thinking I had done all my research, but apparently just asked the wrong people and got the wrong answers!
Thanks again.  I will continue to educate myself on our new pets and check in with you again if you don't mind before adding any more friends to our tank - AFTER it cycles all the way, right?
  I am so thankful I found your site and truly appreciate your personal assistance.
<Welcome. B>

Re: Sick Gourami - Salt Question
– 3/7/12
Ok, I think I have this temporarily under control and understand how to proceed. Just one more quick question on salt.
My understanding is that in our tropical tank we should be adding aquarium salt with every water change (1 rounded tablespoon for 5 gallons, so adding about 1.5 flat tsp per 2-gallon water change to keep the fishies happy).
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm
and the linked files above>
 And as per the directions, I'm always to add salt, not just when they are sick. I'm only adding new salt to the tank with water changes. However, since I'm also doing the 5-day jungle all-in-one treatment (which you said was mostly salt), should I continue to add the aquarium salt with the water changes, or is that going to be too salty?
<Likely fine>
  (Assuming I'm going to be changing 20% of water daily for the next week or so, or longer until we cycle, based on current conditions.)  Both the Dwarf Gourami and the Sunburst Tetra are still swimming around (with all fins!) and happy this afternoon, and I'd like to keep it that way.
<As many welcomes. B>

Likely sick Gourami and question about tankmates... mis-mix env.     1/4/12
Hello there. I'm new to your site (just discovered it about half an hour ago, in fact..), and found it through some searching on Google. I have two questions, one about my Gourami (you can ignore this one if you want, I've decided on it already, but extra assurance would be nice), and another about potential tankmates.
I have a 10 gallon tank with 2 Silver Lyretail Mollies (both are happy as could be, they're a pair),
<Mollies doesn't "pair" so this happiness could well be short-lived. Male Mollies simply mate with any female they can catch up with, and they will attempt to mate over and over again, whether she's receptive or not. As the females become bigger and slower through pregnancy, this unwanted attention becomes increasingly stressful and can cause harm to the female as well as miscarriages. Mollies should be kept in groups of at least two females per male so the male cannot harass just one female all the time, and in any event, 10 gallons isn't enough space for a species that will become 8-10 cm/3-4 inches in length when fully grown.>
a Red Swordtail (male),
<An aggressive, fast-moving species adapted to cool, fast-flowing streams. Not suitable for this aquarium.>
and a Powder Blue Gourami.
<Colisa lalia
, a species that needs softer water than either Mollies or Swordtails, and furthermore, intolerant of brackish water (so not a good choice for use with Mollies) and needs warmer water than Swordtails.>
I have a heater (and a thermometer) that keeps it at the correct 70-something degrees,
<Meaning what? Swordtails come from cool streams and need to be kept between 22-24 C/72-75 F. Farmed fancy Mollies do better in warmer water, around 25 C/77 F, and Gouramis need hothouse conditions because they inhabit swamps and ponds with no water current, so 25-28 C/77-82 F is required for them. Can you see the pattern here? At least one of your fish species will be unhappy (and therefore stressed, more disease-prone, and probably shorter-lived) at the conditions needed by the others.>
and an over-the-tank filter.
<Do bear in mind Mollies and especially Swordtails are "jumpers" that will escape from any openings around the side of the tank.>
This is a relatively new set up, and so it is sparsely decorated (a skull decoration for them to hide in and two fake plants), but I'm working on filling it up with more plants via live growing bulbs that are beginning to sprout. By the way, yes, the water is brackish, just as these species prefer, if I've read correctly.
<You haven't. Mollies do indeed do best in slightly brackish water. It isn't 100% essential, but 50% of the time it makes them easier to keep. But Swordtails do not want or like brackish water, and Gouramis will be harmed by it. Again, a mismatch of aquarium fish species.>
First question;
From my understanding, this variety of Gourami is part of the Dwarf Gourami family, which is prone to DGD. From everything I've read on your site, it would appear mine has come down with it.
Symptoms are as follows:
Slight lack of interest in eating.(TetraMin flakes for tropical fish) Seems to be skinny; bulges on both sides and near its tail fin. Lethargic, sits in the top left corner of the tank and doesn't move. Sometimes turns on his side and swims in a totally incorrect manner, or only favors one fin for part of the day. Seems to have lost some of his color, less vibrant than before.
<Could be the Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus, but could just as easily be poor environmental conditions. Your tank doesn't sound right for this species. It's a swamp-dwelling species that needs soft, slightly acidic water conditions and little/no water current. Such conditions would pretty much kill Mollies and Swordtails stone-dead, so I'm assuming you aren't providing them. My gut feeling here is that poor care, rather than the virus, is the problem here. Do also understand that many Dwarf Gouramis die from opportunistic Mycobacteria infections (what aquarists, inaccurately, called "Fish TB") and these infections are mostly triggered by environmental stress rather than bad luck, though inbreeding may play a part too.>
Also, I've observed my Swordtail picking on him,
<See above. This is an aggressive species that needs a tank at least 90 cm/3 ft long to give it space to race about in. Look at its long, streamlined shape. This is a fish designed for swimming! It doesn't want to be cooped up in a 10 gallon aquarium.>
and earlier today noticed that his(or her) bottom fin and tailfin seem to be picked on, and are a dull red color. His fins seem to be smaller as well, and show the same signs of being picked at, but they're still the same color. Could this disease(if he in fact has it, but he shows all classic signs) have been triggered by stress? I only got him about...maybe two weeks ago along with the others. At first the Swordtail ignored him but he's been pestering him for a few days now.
Originally the mollies were the bullies to him, but they seemed to stop (even though they look tempted to every so often.) Now, the Gourami's tankmates at the pet store all looked happy and healthy, but I will admit this specific one seemed a bit more dull and timid, the employee didn't really let us choose which one we wanted so we got stuck with this guy.
<As I've written many, MANY times on this web site and in fish magazines, Colisa lalia is a species best avoided.>
So, is this truly DGD, and if it is, what can I do in terms of painlessly killing him? That doesn't cost, obviously. I'm just a kid.
<Unfortunately, being 8 years old or whatever doesn't really let you off the hook when it comes to treating animals humanely. So while the Clove Oil method is cheap, it isn't free. Here in England a bottle of Clove Oil costs £4-5, and it can be bought at drugstores and health food shops. It's sometimes called Eugenol and is sold as a treatment for toothache. The method is described here, about halfway down:
None of the "free" methods is humane, and aren't recommended by me or by vets.>
And, of course, if he doesn't die before you respond... It's been about five days now.
<Actually, your problem is most likely the tank, not the fish. Move him to his own soft water aquarium and he'll probably be okay.>
I wish I had known about how they were farmed and the fact they had such a common disease, or I would have never bought one, especially not for the five dollars I paid.
<You're learning the hard way. Stores will take advantage of ignorance, and if you think they go easy on kids, you're in for a disappointment. Spend the five dollars on an aquarium book, read it, and then go shopping. You life will be a lot better!>
Secondly, when/if he dies, do you have any suggestions for tropical tankmates for my remaining three fish?
<The fish you have don't belong.>
I don't want to overstock the tank but I think just the three fish will be a bit empty, especially considering the Mollies stick together nearly constantly, making it seem even more empty than it is.
<Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm
I don't want more of the same fish, unless the Swordtail would be happiest with a second. I've seen varied opinions on how happy Swordtails are alone... Would tetras of some sort(obviously in schools) be okay with the brackish, tropical water, and go well with my obviously mean Swordtail? I was considering those already. As a note, the Swordtail doesn't pick on the Mollies but loves to bug the Gourami. What kind of fish will do with these? How many more small fish (about the same size as a Molly, I mean) could fit until the tank is 'overstocked'?
<Your tank is already badly stocked. Time to figure out what to do with the ones you have, then restock with sensible choices as per your water chemistry (is it hard or soft) and the temperature.>
As a side note, are Swordtails meant to be jumpy?
<Yes, especially in small tanks.>
Mine constantly spooks at the slightest sudden movement, and jumps when the tank light goes out, but the other fish don't.
<He doesn't belong in a 10 gallon aquarium. In fact beginners shouldn't buy 10 gallon aquaria!>
Thanks for your time,
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Dwarf Gourami -- 09/09/10
Thank you for your help! I have a 10 gal freshwater tank with an AquaTech filter.
<Too small for Dwarf Gouramis, to be honest. Yes, they'll fit, but they're so sensitive and so disease-ridden, you really want "excellent" not "tolerable" conditions.>
It is the one that also has the Bio pad. Not a fancy set up...
NO2 is <.03
<Needs to be zero. No ifs, no buts. This species is so difficult to keep anything less than perfect water quality is asking for trouble.>
PH is 8
GH is 5
KH is 3
My tap water is hard @ 9 so the past 3 water changes have been with distilled water which has reduced it to 8.
<A 50/50 mix of tap water and RO water should create good conditions for Dwarf Gouramis. I would not otherwise mess around with pH or hardness unless you're a real fishkeeping expert -- and fishkeeping experts don't keep Dwarf Gouramis!>
I do a 20% water change weekly but did miss one weeks change due to illness.
<Not the end of the world.>
The last change was on 9/3. I wash out the filters monthly but have not done much gravel vacuuming because of the Kuhli loach. Also, I have run out of regent to test for ammonia. Am I safe in thinking that as long as NO2 is in line the ammonia is also?
<Both need to be zero. A nitrite test kit is all you need, and yes, once nitrite is zero, you can be fairly sure ammonia is zero too.>
I have 3 sunset platys, 2 double bar platys, 5 small neon tetras, 1 small Kuhli loach, and 1 powder blue Gourami. I am writing about the Gourami.
<Far, FAR too many fish for 10 gallons. This aquarium would be about right for, say, 8 Neon tetras and 3-4 Kuhli loaches. But that's it.>
He has not been eating well for over a month now. He has only eaten maybe 3 times in the last 3 weeks but until 3 or 4 days ago no other changes. He is now hiding excessively, will not come out, does not swim to tank front or swim at all really... When I first got him he was very social and friendly. Anytime I was close to the tank he would swim and wiggle just like the others but now seems scared of everything. I have never seen any of the other fish nip or bother him. His sides are looking sunken and I believe he is starving himself to death. I have 2 different flake food, dried blood worms and also feed green peas weekly. I can not see any type of parasite, no sores or lesions of any kind, his gills look OK. I just don't see what could wrong with him. I am not seeing any clear or stringy feces... He has never been aggressive and would often hang back at feeding time so I would make sure he did get food by feeding him at the opposite end of the tank from the others.
<Overall environmental stress would be my guess. Plus, this species is prone to both Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus (DGIV) and various Mycobacteria and Nocardia infections.>
I have seen him brush a plant briefly twice but don't know if he is "scratching"? I have also seen him sort of flinch (for lack of a better word), like a quick jerk really, but not shimmy... and only one time. I am really at a loss'¦
<Doesn't sound like Whitespot/Ick to me.>
He is my favorite and I hate to see him die or have to put him down but don't know what may be wrong with him. I hate to just start dumping meds in unless I know specifically what may be wrong with him. Also so many meds are not safe with the loach. I do have a 5 gal set up as well that I could move the loach to but don't want to spread anything that might be contagious. All the other fish seem happy, healthy, active, and have voracious appetites! Typical fish I guess!
I have just found out about this bacterial infection affecting so many gouramis. I didn't know about it until I had purchased 3 already. The first one in the 10 gal tank died within a week of bringing him home. It was one of the sunset gouramis. He was bought at Petco and they put him in a bag with 2 yellow mollies that almost pecked him to death before I could get him home. Seemed he just never recovered. Now I wonder if he may have had some disease that the blue one has gotten from the tank?
<DGIV is highly contagious, and if one fish in the shop has it, they likely all do. As for Mycobacteria, this disease may be quite common, but it's environmental issues that trigger it from a latent into its deadly phase. Neither are curable. Do read WWM re these diseases and euthanasia.>
I would be grateful for any help you can offer. I am a real softie and can't stand anything to suffer... even the little fish. I will be happy to answer any questions. I may be overlooking something that would help you with a determination. Again, thank you!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale>
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami   9/10/10

Thanks for the much needed advice! I can do another water change and also I have a c-100 Zeolite pillow I can put in the filter if need be. I have read mixed reviews there. Some like them and some say will absorb all ammonia and the beneficial bacteria will die off because they starve. That would get the ammonia and nitrate/nitrate to 0. Wont do anything until I hear your recommendations.
<Jan, Zeolite is for very specific situations. It's needed ONLY where biological filtration can't happen. For example, hospital tanks where antibiotics are used that kill filter bacteria (not all antibiotics have that effect, but some do). Another example is very low pH systems, because below pH 6 biological filtration doesn't happen. If biological filtration is going on, you DO NOT need Zeolite. Frankly, 99% of the people who buy Zeolite haven't the foggiest idea what it's for or how to use it. Retailers will happily sell you the stuff of course. After a couple of weeks the Zeolite will be saturated with ammonia and/or covered in organic slime, so will be useless anyway. In short, pointless. If you have non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels, your issue is with overfeeding, overstocking, and/or poor quality biological filtration. Look to those issues and fix them.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Gourami Eye Problem  11/26/10

My gourami is still not well, so can I use sodium chloride (common salt) in place of magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt)
<Salt won't make any difference. As stated before, your problems are entirely made by YOU, because you are keeping TOO MANY fish in TOO SMALL an aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>

Gourami... 10 gal. hex... dis... inherent, other errors, no reading    4/17/10
I am a new aquarist with multiple problems. I have a 10-gal hex,
<Have to tell you up front these are a total waste of money. In terms of stocking, because they are tall and narrow, with a poor surface area to volume ratio, they hold about as many fish as an 8 gallon tank. Basically this tank is viable for a Betta, a few Cherry shrimps, and maybe a couple of Dwarf African Frogs. That's it.>
with a blue dwarf Gourami and golden Chinese algae eater.
<Dwarf Gouramis are notoriously delicate and plagued with viral infections, so a poor choice for a tank like this, and certainly need 15+ gallons anyway. As for the Chinese Algae Eater, a fish neither from China nor good at eating algae, you need to return this, NOW. Properly called Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, it's a nearly useless fish, very big and very aggressive. Maximum length is 35 cm/14 inches, and it'll get that size within a year or so. Above 10 cm/4 inches it is psychotically aggressive, especially in small tanks. Who recommended this species to you? Either you read nothing at all before shopping, or relied on a very untrustworthy retailer who took advantage of your ignorance.>
I have live vegetation. (moss ball, and some other standard pet store plant.) First, my tank is very hard to keep balanced, Ph wise. ( I had a rock that caused massive imbalance.)
<Because it's uselessly small. If you have soft water to begin with, the fact it's overstocked means pH will drop dramatically between water changes.>
Secondly, I was having trouble with one of my fish, but could not resolve the problem before going on a vacation. Caliente ( the red one) was acting violently toward Frio (blue) before vacation; hiding, and swimming erratically. I put in a vacation feeder, but I suspect it didn't work.
<Probably worked fine, but overfed the tank. As we've stated repeatedly, leave fish hungry when away. Much less harm.>
When I came back one of my fish (flame dwarf Gourami) was missing and my other fish (blue) looked as if it had scars on it. I found its chunk of flesh, bones, and brain case at the bottom of the tank. I think he was eaten.
<Likely died, or at least became moribund, and the Gyrinocheilus acted precisely as you'd expect, becoming a scavenger.>
Now, Frio has a spot near its head that looks as if it's deteriorating away. I've been told it's a flesh eating bacteria , but it might be Furunculosis.
<Nope, almost certainly standard issue Finrot caused by very poor water quality.>
What do I do?????!?!!?!?!?!!!!!
<Read. Buy a bigger tank. Cycle without fish. After 3-4 weeks of cycling, choose species appropriate to that size aquarium.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this system is doomed. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Gourami   4/17/10
Thank you, I will more thoroughly research which fish are appropriate for which tank, their susceptibility to diseases, and so on. (Remember I'm a * new* aquarist)
<Lots of stuff here for beginners. Plus books galore. Do look here for some of our favourites:
Many available online via Amazon for pennies if purchased used.>
I'll let my current fish run their course then get a larger tank and try again, but how do I treat for fin rot?
<Commercial Finrot remedy should work well, though remember to use carbon; avoid salt and tea-tree oil "remedies" as these tend to be unreliable. Fish won't get better if water quality and chemistry are poor.>
By the way my tank is more base than acidic. If I get a 20 gal, what are some good starter fish?
<Do read:
In soft water aquaria, most tropical fish are happy with the exception of livebearers, some Rainbowfish and some cichlids. But soft water tanks are prone to pH changes, so don't overstock. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Gourami   4/17/10
Ok, are you sure it's fin rot? (Pictures attached)
<Not sure from these blurry photos. Looks a bit like a Mycobacterium or even viral infection (e.g., Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus). Neither are curable, and DGIV is also high contagious. Mycobacterium infections are contagious
too, but tend to occur where chronically poor water conditions exist, such that the fish's immune system can't protect the fish naturally. Both these diseases are discussed in depth elsewhere on WWM. I've also written many
times here at WWM how I wouldn't even think about recommending or buying Colisa lalia, the species you have here. Among other reasons, the quality of commercial stock is so dire, and so inbred, that Mycobacterium
infections are much more common that they should be. This has been discussed for at least 20 years -- I've got a old copy of Baensch's Aquarium Atlas that mentions the problem. So once again we come back to the issue of reading about the needs of fish before buying them. Online sources vary wildly in quality, whereas books tend to be written by genuine experts and edited professionally. So if you're a beginner, you really can't afford NOT to buy a decent book. Colisa fasciata and Colisa labiosa are infinitely better choices for beginners. One last thing, we do specifically ask for photos to be no larger than about 500 KB in size; yours were 3-4 MB each!
That clogs up our space available for other people's messages. So please, if you send more photos, do reduce them in size before sending them along. We offer just about the best fishkeeping help you're going to get anywhere without paying for it, but we do ask that our few basic rules are met; not because we're jerks, but because those rules exist to make life easier for everyone who visits WWM. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Dwarf Gourami... is it 4/1 already?   3/26/10
I`ve got a Dwarf Gourami named Snookeroo. I bought him in October 2009 around Halloween, a few days after the Breeder`s Cup races (if you watch horse racing that`d help...lol I don`t keep track of days well.). I keep him alone in a large (1 3/4 gallons, I was told it was OK),
<Is definitely NOT okay. Is this an early April Fool's joke? Or a typo? I hope so. But if you really are keeping this fish in a 1.75 gallon tank, then frankly, that's why he's dying. 1.75 gallons isn't an aquarium, let alone a "large" one; it's a bucket. You CANNOT keep this fish, or indeed any tropical fish, in 1.75 gallons. Stick some cut flowers in it instead. They're already dead, so there's no harm to be done.>
with a fake plant and a small toy polar bear. I couldn`t afford floating plants really, so I put in a floating toy fish (I know I should probably get a floating plant, but he likes the fish, lol).
<Look, I don't want to be mean, but saying "laugh out loud" doesn't diminish the fact you're being cruel to this animal, and what's worse, you seem to know that. You have some vague sense of what this fish needs, but instead you choose not to offer those things. It's hard for me as someone who likes animals to be polite in situations like this, so please forgive me my bluntness.>
He`s got gravel at the bottom of course, so the habitat should be right.
<It's not.>
Everywhere I`ve read they said no bubbles were necessary (part of the reason I chose Dwarf Gourami), so he has no bubbles.
<Bubbles? Do you mean filtration or aeration? Gouramis absolutely do need filtration. In short, they need at least a 15 gallon aquarium with a heater and a filter. Water temperature should be not less than 28 C/82 F given that this species comes from hot, humid ponds. Water quality must be excellent as this species is rather delicate; we're talking 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. 25% water changes per week will be important. A hood is required to trap a layer of warm, humid air on top of the tank. Without this, they are easily "chilled" because they are air-breathers.>
I`ve put a paper towel (with air holes between the bowl and the paper towel) over the tank to keep him from jumping (I had an incident with a Betta, and wanted to discourage any jumping) and to help increase humidity.
<A paper towel won't increase humidity; it is porous and wicks away moisture. It's a towel! That's what towels do! I mean honestly, what are you thinking? Tiny tanks, seemingly no filtration, paper towels for hoods...? Did you read ANY aquarium books before you spent your money?>
He seemed fine and happy, but was uninterested in food on and off and had kind of labored breathing, he seemed well otherwise.
<You are killing him.>
I got busy though, and didn`t clean his bowl like I should`ve (though he still seemed OK) so I cleaned it and now here I am.
<With a dying fish. And me, my teeth are grinding just reading this.>
His color dulled almost immediately and the scales around his gills became scruffy (over a few days).
<You are killing him.>
I gave a small dose of Melafix to see what that did, and he seemed to like it, but the next day when I went to give him a second dose, he freaked and started darting around the bowl.
<You are killing him.>
I did an immediate water change and discontinued the treatments. I came home today, and he was almost sideways floating at the top gasping for air and his water smelled peppery (it didn`t smell weird yesterday, that I know of).
<You are killing him.>
I removed the paper towel to allow for more oxygen and that helped, he now right side up. I did a water change as well (not much of one, maybe 10-20%). Oh yeah, his poop`s been stringy and white and red (normal colored) striped.
<You are killing him.>
I believe he`s dying as I`m typing.
<Thank all the gods! She finally understands! Yes, you are killing him.>
I haven`t tested the pH, I didn`t even know that test kits existed until recently (never needed them, my only other fish are 6 Bettas and 2 guppies with no problems except one Betta gets fin rot real easy (inborn problem I think) if moved to a new location.
<I don't even want to think about this...>
But the water is room temperature (my room stays about 70-75 degrees F).
<Too cold. You know when you went to the pet shop and it had a big sign that said "tropical fish"? Well, the word "tropical" means "from the tropics" not "from places about as warm as your house". It's actually quite simple. Keeping tropical fish? Don't live in Southeast Asia? Buy a heater.
If you don't want to buy a heater, then don't buy tropical fish. What you're doing is animal cruelty. You can dress up the tank with plastic toys and give the fish a cute name, but you're still abusing that animal.
Sticking it in a food blender would at least be a quick death. What you're doing is slowly killing it.>
So now, his symptoms are labored breathing, unbalanced, dulled color, white and normal colored poop, roughed up scales on the gills, and almost complete loss of appetite.
<You are killing him.>
It`s been around 5 months since I got him. I`m just hoping its not Dwarf Gourami Disease (I knew about it before I bought him, but got him anyway despite the risk, I tend to gamble on things a lot).
<Not Dwarf Gourami Disease. It's actually something else called "Pet owner who seemingly doesn't give a damn disease". Note the use of the word "seemingly" there. I really, really am a nice guy, but since we'll never meet you'll probably never know that. So I have to take what you've written on face value. You may be someone who is really nice to animals, but from your e-mail, I can't see that at all. And I'm here spending 20 minutes of my life writing back to you because I REALLY DO CARE. But honestly, you're doing everything wrong here. I can't make up my mind whether this is a joke or you really are treating this poor fish this way. If it is a joke, then ha ha, you got a rise out of Neale. But if this is for real, then good heavens you have a lot of work to do! Do start by reading here:
Please help.
<Short of buying a proper aquarium with a heater and a filter and a hood, this fish WILL die. And you will have killed it. So before you write back telling me what an awful person I am for being so rude when you came here for help, think about that. You are more than welcome to write back and yell at me. I don't mind in the least. But I'd also like you to write back telling me what you propose to do to turn things around. Can I help? Yes.
Can this fish be saved without spending some money on a proper environment?
No. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami... Not a prank   3/26/10
I`m not gonna yell at you, its not your fault. I checked several websites and they all said the same thing and I never found anything about tank size.
<Oh, I see. Well, you've discovered Wet Web Media so that shouldn't be a problem any longer.>
Can't afford books and the library doesn`t have any good fish keeping books,
<Can you get an interlibrary loan? Here in England at least, even if you have a tiny local library, for 50 whole pence about 80 cents) they'll get in any book you want that's owned by the county library system.>
its all fishing guides and a book on what kind of fish are available to fish keepers, and that only gave a brief about the fish. That`s the book that led me to want a Dwarf Gourami.
The PetSmart guy said they needed about everything a Betta does (that`s what I`m used to keeping, and successfully. My first Betta is about 3 years old), except different food.
<No, unfortunately while Bettas can survive in jars of water (hardly optimal, but it *can* work sometimes) Gouramis most certainly cannot be kept this way. Let me put it another way, if you can afford the three dollars or whatever for a Dwarf Gourami, you would be very wise to spend those three dollars on a used aquarium book. Over on our section of books for beginners, we have a listing of some books you can buy this way from Amazon.
I just looked and the "A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium" is selling, used, for one whole cent. Sure, delivery will be a couple bucks on top of that, but really, it's a steal.>
The paper towel was temporary until my parents could get me the pet store. I thought bubbles were just for putting oxygen in the water...
<Not really, no. What air bubbles do is move the water about. The bubbles pull water from the bottom to the top, and the circulation improves the rate at which oxygen gets into the bottom layer of water. It also helps even out the water temperature. But by themselves bubbles are trivially important, and most aquarists don't need to add bubbles to their tanks.
Heaters and filters are much more important.>
I keep my Bettas in tanks without bubbles or filter (I clean and do water changes instead).
<Just about acceptable for Bettas, but to be reliably, you need the Betta jars to be kept in a heated fish room and the water changes need to be daily. Most folks who keep their Bettas in unheated jars end up with a dead Betta.>
Everything I was told was wrong, everyone I talked to said I was doing it right, and now I`m paying for it.
Gah, screw ups seem to be centered on me now. I`ve been screwing up a lot lately (on other things, not my fish except Snookeroo), now I just want someone to cuss me out and punch me in the face or just flat out beat me up.
<I'm sorry to be that one. But honestly, I really do care about you and your fish. That's why I spend so much time here at WWM.>
I deserve it.
<I guess.>
Thank you though, every forum I`ve tried never said anything, You`re the only one who`s given me the answer. He died an hour after I wrote this, at least he`s not being tortured anymore. If I`d have found ya`ll even a day sooner, I could`ve gotten a 15 gallon and possibly saved him.
<May well be. Do read around though. We have some ideas on good species for small tanks and for beginners. Start here:
If you don't want to add a heater, there are plenty of coldwater fish that can do well in a filtered 15-gallon tank. North Americans are particularly well served in this regard, with some lovely (and lively!) small livebearers and killifish they can even collect themselves.>
That`s my luck though, always too late. I do care, otherwise I wouldn`t have wrote. Thank god I`m better with mammals.
<In fairness to fish, they're actually longer-lived and generally healthier than most mammal pets, and much easier to keep than reptile pets. But they do need a couple of non-negotiable things like clean water and the right temperature. Get those right, and choose the correct fishes for your aquarium size and skill level, and they're actually very easy to keep!
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami   3/26/10
My Bettas are doing well, my 3 year old is still in good condition, as well as the others, I don`t think the lack of a heater is affecting them much.
<It's a gamble. Bettas are probably annual fish in the wild, or close to it anyway. In captivity keeping them a little cooler than their preferred 28 C/82 F will extend their lifespan, but the risk is that the colder a fish is kept below its optimal temperature, the more likely it is to get sick.
On the other hand, if a fish is cooler rather than warmer, its metabolism is slower, so it's producing less ammonia, so poisons will accumulate in the water more slowly. But then again, below its optimal temperature a fish can't digest its food properly. For most fish, the perfect temperature is what they'd experience in the wild, and for Bettas, that's warmer rather than colder. Visiting Fishbase is a great way to check the conditions a fish is known to tolerate in the wild or under lab conditions.
See here for Betta splendens: http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Speciessummary.php?id=4768
I meant physically, I wish someone would punch me.
<I don't do that... sorry.>
Ya, fish are very long lived. They can get into their 40s and 50s some of them. I don`t have PayPal or any kind of card so internet buying is kind of out. I can get books from other libraries for free, but you have to know the title of the book and I didn`t know of any.
<Hence that web page of books all of us at WWM recommend. To be fair, we also *write* books, so you can trust us! There's lots of information on the Internet of course, but it isn't edited and you can't always tell who knows what they're talking about and who doesn't.>
I`ll look for the set up book though. Thanks, I`m going to read the page you sent. What`s the worst thing a guppy could pass to another guppy besides Ich?
<Not much really. Crossbred ("feeder") Guppies are pretty hardy right out of the box. Fancy Guppies, not so much.
I want to move mine to a 15 gallon and get 2 more, but I don`t want to risk disease. If they`re at high risk I`ll get an extra pump and use their old tank for quarantine. This is the last time I listen to a pet store worker.
<Hmm... well, while some pet store people are skilled hobbyists well worth talking to, others are less valuable in this regard. Basically treat them how you'd treat someone selling a car or showing your around a new home -- listen politely, but verify everything they say yourself.>
What about blind cave fish, would they be OK to keep without a heater?
<Depends. This species comes from Mexico, so we're talking fairly warm water. To be fair, the caves are cooler than above ground, but going below 18 C/64 F won't be good for them. Best kept around 22-24 C/72-75 F. They also need somewhat hard, neutral to basic water to do well.>
Would they live OK in a 15 gallon with guppies?
<No, Blind Cave Tetras are very nippy. They're also hyperactive, and a 15 gallon tank is a bit small for a fish that gets to a good 8 cm/3 inches long. You need a school of them, too. Wild fish feed of bat droppings, but in captivity they're very hardy and easy to keep, and in the right aquarium, fascinating pets. They look lovely in a tank with a dim red light, black sand, and lots of rocks -- like a cave!>
Thanks for the help.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami   3/26/10
Ok, thanks!
<You're welcome.>
Heaters are kind of expensive and I don`t have the money to buy 6 of them right now, especially since the water isn`t too cold.
<"Too cold" is a subjective term. What's warm to you may be too cold to a tropical fish...>
I should be set now. I`m going to move them to a 15 gallon with a heater and ad 2 more. I`ve got 2 Fancy guppies.
Ya, there`s a lady at PetSmart who`s a fish keeper, I listen to her and I`ve got a friend who works there too, and I listen to her. They`re the only 2 that I pay much mind to.
I`ll start reading more fish books, knock down 2 sticks with one whack. I needed something to read, I finished my list of books. I`ll get Blind Cave Tetras sometime, but I don`t have any room for anything bigger than a 15 gallon anymore (I have a lot of interests, to say the least). I`ll probably get one of those huge aquariums, the kind used for
reefs, and deck it out cave style, maybe buy a fake skull of some sort. I found out we still have a 15 gallon, actually 2, but one was previously used for a lizard/lizards and one for a king scorpion. Would that affect the Fancy Guppies even after cleaning with just water, or should I use something to help decontaminate?
<Simply cleaning with warm water should be fine. No detergent.>
The rocks I have are cycled, so would the tank still need cycling?
<Yes. Rocks don't carry many bacteria. If they did, why do you think we'd bother with filter? The bacteria need to be in a porous place with a constant flow of oxygen-rich water. Sponges, ceramic noodles, etc.
Undergravel filters are good, but just a bed of gravel won't work.>
Sorry if I`m taking up a lot of time, I just want to make sure I get everything right this time.
<Plenty to read here. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami
Thanks for your help. Its good to know that someone`s there to help.
Keep up the good work.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami  4/11/10

Ok, I got a filter, could I cycle with just a filter?
<You cycle aquaria only when there's a source of ammonia. Daily pinches of flake similar to what you'd use to feed your fish would do the trick. Test for nitrite until it rises and then drops to zero. Should take at least 3 weeks, potentially up to 6.>
It`ll take a while to get the heater and I`d like to get the tank cycled as soon as I can. I`ll probably need to increase the temperature slowly to 70 degrees when I put`m in so I don`t stress them anyway, right?
<Stress who? The existing fish? Keeping tropical fish at room temperature will be stressing them already. The quicker you install a heater, the better. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami
That`s why I was asking, cause the sooner its cycled, the sooner I can get them in the 10 gallon, and the heater should be installed around that time.
<Indeed. Well I guess my work here is done. Good luck, Neale.>

Yet Another Question about a (Potentially) Sick Dwarf Gourami 5/30/2009
Dear WWM Crew,
I'm sure you get sick of the seemingly never-ending string of questions about Dwarf Gourami problems.
<Yes, I do. If I could, I'd ban these fish from the hobby. The farmed stock is simply diabolical in terms of quality, and retailers sell them far too frequently to inexperienced aquarists. By all means keep locally bred fish, but farmed Colisa lalia make about as useful pets as rabid dogs.>
Nevertheless, I have a concern that I cannot find a solid answer for anywhere on the web. The only abnormality I see in the fish is that his eyes seem quite sunken into his head. Otherwise, he behaves healthily: he is active and he eats eagerly.
<Seemingly a secondary bacterial infection, likely some type of Mycobacteria, but possibly something easier to treat.>
He is in a tank I set up about a month and a half to two months ago. I bought him recently--within the last week. I realize now I should have held him in a quarantined tank prior to introducing him into the main tank.
Here's what I have:
A 10 gallon tank with a Marineland Bio-Wheel Power Filter 100
<Too small for this species; 15-20 gallons, minimum.
Sure, it's a small fish, but it's also a feeble one, and the more space, the less water quality becomes an issue. Do understand that water quality isn't all about what ammonia and nitrite is at the instant you measure it, but also how diluted the ammonia and nitrite are during those periods when levels rise, e.g., after feeding.>
Red Sea's Plant Success Flora Base as the substrate 4 Cherry Barbs - 2 males, 2 females A few snails The Dwarf Gourami - Male. I do 20% changes each week with water run through Aquarium Pharmaceutical's Tap Water Purifier. When I returned another Dwarf Gourami that I was suspicious about (head holes), the Petco people that tested my water told me that the sample's quality was excellent. Ammonia was at 0.
This was about a week and a half ago.
Any ideas about the odd eyes? I don't know if it is just an quirky characteristic, or is indicative of something worse. The latter wouldn't surprise me, given what I've read about Colisa lalia.
<Would treat with an antibiotic like Maracyn, while optimizing water conditions (pH 6.5-7, 5-10 degrees dH, around 26-28 degrees C) and offering as varied a diet as possible. If there's any sign of swelling, dosing with Epsom salt at 1-3 teaspoons per gallon is also helpful, but there's no need for this if there isn't any swelling. If one antibiotic doesn't work, try another: each uses different antibiotics (Erythromycin, Minocycline, etc) and each of these work best on particular types of bacteria. Do read this excellent review, taking note of Table 1 when shopping:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/mycobactera.htm >
By the way, the pictures shown make the visible socket area surrounding the eye look very dark or black. In actuality, it is more of a fleshy color.
<I see.>
Thanks for your help,
Joey E.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Yet Another Question about a (Potentially) Sick Dwarf Gourami 5/30/2009
Thanks for the help.
<Happy to help.>
One more question then: do you have other suitable suggestions for fish that can be adequately kept in 10 gallon tanks?
<Seek and ye will find:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm >
Joey E.
<Cheers, Neale.>

New Gourami 05/23/09
New Gourami Adjusting To New Tank
Hi! I have read through your FAQ page and Google, and cant find the exact answer I'm looking for. Basically I just bought a new blue dwarf Gourami, and I have never had one before. I have brought the pH of tank down to 6.5 and it is set to 26 degrees Celsius. There is no nitrate, nitrite or ammonia in the tank. Basically the fish is swimming fine half the time, but then will stop and float randomly. or tilt to the side. is this normal behaviour? To me it looks strange/odd for a fish to do this if it is well...
Other fish in the tank:
2 platies, 2 guppies (its pretty quiet at the moment!)
I would really appreciate a reply, I love the look of these fish but I have only ever had livebearers and catfish previously!
Kind regards, Georgina
<The fish store probably had hard alkaline water. You Gourami probably is having some difficultly adjusting to the lowered pH. Much of the country has hard alkaline water. When you add new fish that are not adjusted to the new water then there may be problems. Try to keep the water consistent at the present levels for awhile and see if his behaviour improves.-Chuck>
Re: new Gourami -New Gourami Adjusting. pH Question 05/23/09

Thanks so much for the fast reply Chuck, The Gourami is doing better!! no more floating anyway! I just have one more quick question - when I tried to lower the pH of the tank - it was jumping around too much for it to be healthy.... how would you suggest lowering the tank to 6.5 safely (it is currently at 7)? I have bought pH down, and also a container of proper pH 6.5. My tap water is around 7.5 so I cant really just keep it at that.
Kind regards, Georgina
< Adjusting the pH can be a very dangerous game to play. Your tap water is 7.5 and probably the tap water at the local fish store is probably 7.5 too. If you change the pH of your aquarium then all the new fish may have
problems adjusting like your Gourami. Most fish will do OK at a pH of 7.5 once they are use to it but the soft water varieties probably won't breed. Wild South American fish seem to have the most problems like cardinal tetras. If you do want to lower the pH there is an OK way and a very good way. The OK way is to take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with your tap water. Add the pH down as per the directions on the package. Check it after 24 hours. Add more pH down if needed. Check every day until the pH you want is stable for 24 hours. Then use this water for water changes changing no more than 10% of the water at a time. Slowly over a few weeks the acidified water will be at the pH you desired. The best way is to take R/O water and add a buffer to set the pH where you want it. Follow the same procedure in a 5 gallon bucket. I would not recommend messing with the pH for the fish species you currently have.-Chuck>

I have a sick red flame Gourami. As usual, no reading... and am worried re losing NealeM. 04/23/09
<Colisa lalia... a very inbred, badly reared species. Not worth keeping.
Plagued with bacterial and viral diseases. For any degree of success you need to start with a healthy specimen and then provide it with very good conditions; specifically, soft, acidic water, warmth, and good water quality.>
Not exactly sure if it's a male or female. Would guess it is male. I noticed that it started sitting in the top corner of our 30 gallon fish tank. The tank includes 1platy, 1 gold Gourami, 1 red flame Gourami, 1 knife fish, 2 algae fish.
<What's an "Algae Fish"? Do be aware that Pterygoplichthys and Gyrinocheilus spp. are all huge fish, and the latter genus is incredibly mean, both towards its own kind and anything else the aquarist has been
silly enough to keep with them. Gold Gouramis (Trichogaster trichopterus) is another doubtful choice; males are very aggressive.>
The tank maintains a temp. between 74-76 degrees.
<Perfect temperature for Platies, but a little cool for Gouramis, which would like things a degree or two warmer. Do research the needs of your fish *before* purchase. If you keep fish together that have different requirements, then at least some of them will get sick.>
There are live plants planted within the tank. There are two carbon filters.
<What? What's a "carbon filter"? Do understand carbon is largely useless, and all it does is remove dissolved organic acids and the like. Provided you're doing 25% water changes every week, it's redundant. You need biological media and some mechanical media.>
Water changes are 50-75% every three months.
<Insane. Honestly. Who suggested this? Please read a book!>
The rocks are changed every few weeks for enrichment.
<For what...? Fish don't need "enrichment" as such, though I understand you've perhaps come across this idea from TV shows about zoos and whatnot.
Fish need a healthy, stable environment. If you have more than one specimen and/or multiple species in the tank, then there's plenty of stimuli in the tank already. Moving the rocks about will merely annoy those fish that hold territories, potentially leading to new struggles as fish fight over territories and hierarchies.>
I feed them tropical fish food twice a day and blood worms and brine shrimp for treats.
As I continued to watch I noticed that he was slightly bloated. It is just his abdomen that is swollen. When I look at him from the top he looks sort of pineconed but not as bad as the pics I have seen on dropsy. I QT him in a one gallon tank and immediately started Googling for answers.
<A one gallon tank is a pickle jar. It's not a quarantine tank. No fish transferred to such a ridiculously small container will get better. Please, stop and think about what you're doing! How could you possibly provide good water quality, temperature stability in such a small container?>
The QT tank is at 76 degrees. I am in the process of trying to get the water temp higher, but do not know how successful I will be at that, bc the heater is not reaching a higher temp than 76.
<If it can't make the tank any warmer than this, is obviously too small. That's a bad thing: a heater that "struggles" and has to stay on for extended periods is more likely to fail.>
I came to the conclusion that he had dropsy.
<Dropsy is a symptom, not a disease; it merely means abdominal bloating.>
So I treated the QT tank with Epsom salt treatment.
<You'll notice we talk about using medication alongside Epsom salt; by itself, why would Epsom salt help with a systematic bacterial infection?
Always think about what you're doing!>
Soon after being QT he started obtaining a fungus like spot. I assume it is fungus bc it is fuzzy and white.
<Oh dear...>
So I treated him with fungus clear. A day later I noticed a white substance stringing out of his anus.
The things I read about internal parasites says look for red spikes sticking out of anus. Could not see any. He is moving about more than what he was. Has no appetite. I am stuck on a diagnosis. I am considering egg bound in case he is a she, dropsy, or internal parasites.
<Not egg bound.>
I have treated him for all, but he is not getting better or worse.
<You've actually treating him for nothing relevant.>
His abdomen has not gotten much bigger.
<Dropsy is usually fatal with fish this small simply because it's a sign of systemic infection and organ failure. Dropsy is "cured" by preventing it. My feeling here is that your tank is badly managed, and anything half-way delicate simply won't survive the way you keep fish. Sorry to be harsh, but at least I'm honest.>
What do I do?
<Do read here for basics of care:
Then look up some ideas about suitable fish for different skill levels, water chemistry, and aquarium sizes:
I am trying to keep the water clean. I am adding a drop of Quik cure daily.
I think I am going to try and fast him for a couple of days.
<And that would help how...>
It isn't like he is eating much anyways. I did add 1/8 tsp of Epsom salt to the tank one day ago.
<Read about Euthanasia; this fish is doomed:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: sick red flame Gourami -- 4/30/09

To whom it may concern,
<That would be me, Neale Monks, BSc, PhD and general all-around fish expert by appointment to the sensible and open-minded.>
I did not ask you how to care for a community tank. I strictly asked for advice about my Gourami.
<These two things are related, and you can't separate them. To give an analogy, it's like trying to deal with drug crime strictly through law enforcement without also considering issues such as addiction treatment and
urban development. There's an interconnection between things, and those of us who know something about the subject try to explain that to those who don't. Once you understand the situation, you'll be in a better position to make sensible decisions, solve existing problems and prevent new problems.>
Obviously you have no customer service skills, because the way this was handled was very unprofessional and uncalled for.
<I'm sorry you see things that way. But remember, you're not a customer.
I'm not paid anything. You're a person who's making mistakes, and I'm an expert who, because I care about animals, is willing to spend time helping you. If you don't want the right advice and intelligent exposition, then feel free to do whatever else you want. It's a shame for your fish, but I'll sleep well knowing I tried my best to help you and help your animals.>
I realize that I did not fully supply you with the correct information concerning my tank. The tank is my husbands thing and he has been working out of town for the past few months so I have been maintaining it for him.
I know just enough to keep it maintained. So, as a concerned person for my fish, I turned to you and you harshly put me down.
<I don't see my response as harsh at all. I think you're mistaking honesty and reality for harshness. Just because I didn't tell you what you wanted to hear, then you're seeing that as criticism. It's really not. Your
aquarium has a series of fundamental problems, all potentially interconnected and without me standing next to the tank and looking at it, I have to assume that at least some of them are related to your immediate
All I wanted was advice on how to hopefully cure my fish and that I did not get.
<You said you'd read our article on Dropsy, but then only mentioned Epsom salt. I reminded you that you MUST use an antibiotic alongside the Epsom salt, and also that unless you fix the environmental issues that caused the Dropsy, treatment is pointless. So if you read my message, you'll see I gave you precisely the three things needed to cure Dropsy (if it's going to be cured) -- medication, Epsom salt, environmental improvement.>
We have had this tank and most of the same fish for almost two years and have never had any severe problems until now.
<Big deal. Two years. Your Dwarf Gourami is likely going to be dead in a few days, when it should have a lifespan on 5 years. More importantly, as fish get bigger (and your algae eaters will do, if they're the species I mentioned) they produce more waste. So as time passes, the aquarium steadily becomes more and more heavily stocked, and a crisis point can be reached if your aquarium and filter aren't of adequate size. None of this is personal bias. It's out there in any aquarium book.>
So obviously we do know how to maintain an aquarium.
<I didn't say that; I said you'd made some questionable choices, and if my suspicions are correct about the algae eaters, some very serious problems are waiting around the corner.>
Some of the irrelevant information you supplied me with is false.
<Which bits. Show me. I write for most of the English language aquarium magazines, lots of websites, I've written the first brackish water fish encyclopaedia, I have a BSc and a PhD, I worked at the Natural History
Museum in London and as a marine biologist in Scotland, and I've been keeping freshwater, brackish water and marine fish for 25 years. I'm hands-down the most expert fishkeeper you're ever going to talk to. I gave
you the best possible advice I could given the information I was working with. If you feel short changed, remember: you paid nothing, I promised nothing. I gave you 20 minutes of my time, time I'll never get back. If you want to pay for a vet, then go ahead. Otherwise, you're not going to get better advice anywhere, and certainly not for free.>
Next time someone comes to you for advice, think twice on how you answer.
<I think not. I'll carry on being honest. I don't really feel the need to candy-coat stuff just because some people don't want to hear that they've made mistakes. If you wanted someone to lie to you, to sugar coat their lack of understanding, or just generally advise out of ignorance, then please, feel free to go elsewhere.>
Eventually you will receive a bad rep if this type of customer service continues.
<Quite the reverse in fact. We have an enviable reputation and plenty of site visitors. Most people "get" what we're offering. We're not selling anything; we're sharing hard-earned experience with aquarists all around the world. We get plenty of thank-you notes. "Customer service" doesn't really come into the equation; I dare say the guy at your local big-box pet store will offer plenty of customer service because he's making a sale -- but he'll also be offering dubious advice and will happily sell you fish you can't keep and equipment you don't need. Over here, we trade in honesty and reality. I'm sorry that neither of these appealed to you. Cheers, Neale.> <<Well done Neale! RMF>>

Sick Flame Dwarf Gourami  2/28/08 Hey guys, I found your site when I was researching how to care for my two new green spotted puffers, but I've found your help so invaluable with them that I was hoping you'd be able to help me with one of my other tanks. I have a 20 gallon freshwater tank, and in it live 3 dwarf Gouramis (the normal, red with blue striped variety -- all male), 3 dwarf flame Gouramis (also all male), 3 balloon body mollies, and 3 Danios (2 leopard, 1 zebra). I've had this tank for probably about two months, and it's completely cycled, but I'm going through a bit of an ammonia spike right now -- <?> exact numbers to follow below. The Gouramis were the last fish I added, and they've been in there for several weeks now. Recently (within the last 2 days) I've noticed that one of my dwarf flame Gouramis looks rather ill. He's laying on the bottom of the tank, gulping air. He's more or less propped himself up against the side of the tank. He's not interested in food, though he is still responsive to stimuli (including the other fish coming over and checking him out. I've had no aggression problems at all, and my tank is filled with lots of plants (floating and rooted) in addition to various other forms of cover. Something isn't right with him, but I don't know what. Water temperature is 78.2 degrees. There's a bit of salt in the water for the mollies (following the recommendations on the API Aquarium Salt box), though I wouldn't call it salty enough to be brackish...just enough salt to keep the mollies happy (which they certainly seem to be... piggy little buggers). Readings are as follows: 0 ppm Nitrites. 20 ppm Nitrates (holy crap...I just did a 20% water change yesterday...how did that happen?) <Accumulates easily...) The ammonia levels are reading somewhere between 0 and .25 ppm, but it looks much closer to 0 (sorry, my ability to distinguish colors is just not what I wish it was...) <Mine neither...> pH is around 7.6 (it's usually between 7.6 and 7.8). What's going on with my tank??? <Something perhaps amiss with the test kit...> No one else in there seems to be having problems, though with nitrate levels like that I fear they soon will be. What do I do? Thanks for any help! Micah <Add some biological filtration (an "auxiliary" filter...)... For the Colisa Gouramis... they're notorious for being imported with persistent Hexamita/Octomita et al. protozoan infestations... and a particularly nasty virus... Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dwfgdis.htm Bob Fenner>

Gourami/tank troubles 07/23/07
I have been reading your site to try to find out what to do for my tank, but I think that I have several problems going on, and I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to start dumping things in to fix everything, especially when I'm new at this.
1st problem. Overall alkalinity is high. I assume it is because of our extremely hard water. the pet store said that theirs is always high too.
<Almost never a problem. Freshwater fish are very adaptable. Provided you do water changes around 50% per week to keep the water chemistry stable, and use adequate filtration to keep the water quality high, the fish don't usually care. It's a mistake to get hung up on water chemistry unless you're keeping fishes that need specific environments, like Lake Malawi cichlids or blackwater Rasboras. Most of the common stuff, barbs, gouramis, angelfish, etc., are very adaptable. Better still, choose species that *like* your water chemistry, so the "problem" becomes a virtue, and you have healthier fish that are easier to breed.>
2nd: pH tends to be high, always registers blue on my test kit (7.6, but it could be higher, as that is the highest this test registers). I'm not sure how to get it down. I've been doing regular changes (20%) at least weekly, but sometimes more often than that so that my fish will be okay with the high pH levels. I've also tried Proper pH 7.0, but it hasn't brought it to the correct level. Do I keep adding it until it is to 7.0 or 7.2 somewhere sufficient, or will that disrupt the nitrogen cycle I'm trying to establish?
<Again, don't bother. If you don't understand water chemistry, and you're finding it a struggle to master, don't try and change it. A pH of 7.6 is fine for most standard community tropicals. Far better you do big water changes each week to keep things stead (i.e., by diluting nitrate accumulation and the background acidification in aquaria that happens anyway) than you add potions that you don't understand. Once you're up to speed on the hobby, it's fun to set up another tank to experiment with. Get some Apistogramma dwarf cichlids or something and then play with water softeners and pH adjusters to get the chemistry those fish want and then watch them breed. For now, forget about it. You're more likely to stress the fish by bouncing the water chemistry about. Above all else, remember pH is only an indicator, and fish don't feel it. If the pH goes down to 7, but the total dissolved solids (the minerals in the water) stay high, you've achieved nothing at all. Invariably, fish want either acid + soft water, or alkaline + hard water. These things come in pairs. You can't focus on the easy one, pH, and ignore the difficult one, hardness.>
With our new tank, I'm trying to get the nitrogen cycle established, so I think that I need some alkalinity so it can be converted to nitrites to nitrates, but I don't want to damage my fish.
<No no no. Alkalinity is derived from hardness minerals, nitrates from ammonia produced by decay and metabolism. The two things are unrelated, except to say this: in very soft, acid water, biological filtration doesn't happen. But that's to do with the tolerances of the bacteria involved. For your purposes, there's no connection. Mature the aquarium using the method you prefer. Some folks like fishless cycling, others a few hardy fish like danios. Either way, proceed with care, and monitor ammonia and nitrites regularly until everything has settled down.>
It has been over a month now--should the nitrogen cycle be established by now? I haven't had any prob.s with high nitrites or nitrates.
<The ammonia to nitrite part of the cycle is usually done within a month of setting up, and the nitrite to nitrate part within 6 weeks of setting up, but that's if you're using a "with fish" cycling method. Things are different if you're adding bacteria cultures straight to the tank (e.g. Bio Spira or some filter media from another aquarium). But ultimately this is all theory: all that matters is the results from your ammonia and nitrite test kits.>
I have a ten gallon tank with 2 gouramis (one bright orange and one lighter orange--male and female of same species) and 1 cardinal tetra. Before the gouramis, I had seven cardinals, but they all died except one. (probably high pH?) The one left seems to be well adjusted and doing great.
<The cardinals will die off very quickly in immature aquaria. Water chemistry is largely irrelevant. I've kept them in "liquid rock" where the pH was around 8.0. But they are delicate fish in new tanks, and they are also sometimes sensitive to Neon Tetra Disease. The dwarf gouramis are nice fish but famous for being stricken by a viral and/or bacteria set of diseases called Dwarf Gourami Disease, so watch them carefully.>
Prob #3: Whitish cottony growth all over the tank--esp. on the artificial plants. Some on the glass. We had the problem before, and couldn't get rid of it, so we started over--disinfected the tank and everything in it, and started with new water (thus the nitrogen cycle issues) Is this a normal fungus? Should I try to get rid of it? How? With our old tank, my husband tried some things like Jungle Fungus Clear, but it didn't fix the problem.
<Not fungus, since fungus usually grows only on organic materials that are decaying, like dead fish or wood. This is likely bacteria, a sign of poor water quality and a lack of cleanliness. Check water quality values (nitrite and nitrate especially) and act accordingly. Siphon out any leftover food in the tank. Clean dirty objects like rocks and plastic plants under the hot tap, but avoid using soap, try to just scrub them clean. Do 50% water changes per week. Make sure you have adequate filtration: the filter should provide not less than 4x the volume of the tank in turnover per hour (you will see a litres- or gallons- per hour quote on the filter).>
I noticed just a little of it on one of our gouramis (orange one with deep orange fins) now.
<That's fungus or Finrot. Treat immediately. There are commercial preparations that deal with both, and that's perhaps best here.>
Every time I do a water change, I let the new water sit with Water conditioner in it before adding it to the tank. I was adding Top fin Bacteria supplement, but don't always add it with water changes now, since I am assuming that the tank already has bacteria introduced into it. should I be adding a little of it with each water change?
<No. Once the tank is cycled, the bacteria look after themselves. Adding "top up" doses of bacteria is a waste of time, and indeed many of these bacteria supplements seem to have to practical value at all anyway.>
Has it caused the cottony fungus?
Should I add aquarium salt?
My guess is that the Top Fin water conditioner already is replenishing electrolytes--does aquarium salt add other things?
Would my water become too salty?
We have a water softener in our house because of our hard water--does that have an effect on the fish?
<Arghhh!!!! No, don't use softened water from a domestic water softener. Use the drinking water tap, i.e., the unsoftened water. Domestic water softeners -- despite their name -- don't soften water. What they do is replace "temporary" hardness (carbonates for example) with "permanent" hardness (such as chlorides). The goal here is to switch the kind of hardness that furs up pipes and appliances with the kind of hardness that doesn't. While that's fine for washing and plumbing, it's terrible for the fishes because they get stuck with this bizarre and very unnatural set of water chemistry values. Have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm >
Problem 4: Our gouramis were eating fine when we first purchased them, but now the bright orange one stays down in the back corner, and isn't eating. (The other is more active and eats fine.) It seems to have a long bulge near it's back fin. It also has had whitish stringy feces from the beginning, when we first got it. (I've read several people on your site mention that as a symptom) Does it have a bacterial infection? or a Parasite? Has the fungus affected it?
<Ah, this Dwarf Gourami Disease. This fish will die. And so will the other one. As I seem to write once a week, and as is pointed out in virtually every fishkeeping magazine on a regular basis, Dwarf Gouramis produced in Southeast Asia especially are exposed to a bacterial and/or viral set of diseases that cause the same symptoms: loss of colour, loss of appetite, lethargy, open sores, death. There's no treatment. It appears to be 100% contagious in small tanks. Remove the sick fish to another aquarium and try to provide optimal conditions if you want, but frankly you may as well destroy it painlessly now and hope the other fish isn't infected. Buying Dwarf Gouramis is a TOTAL WASTE OF MONEY in my opinion and the only reason the fish farmers get away with producing these sickly fish is that inexperienced aquarists (unfortunately) keep buying them. Until that stops, those farmers won't change their ways.>
Is it the pH level that is affecting it? it didn't seem to be affected by it before).
I have been feeding them color-enhancing flake food, once or twice a day, and I try to not feed them more than they will eat in about 5 min.s.
<No, loss of appetite is a normal symptom. Nothing you can do.>
Thanks for your time in helping with our tank issues-- Angela
<Since you are almost certainly going to lose both gouramis, can I make a suggestion for the future? Since you have hard, alkaline water, why not choose fishes that prefer such conditions. Livebearers, gobies, glassfish, rainbowfish among others fit into this bracket. Have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhardness.htm  . Hope this helps, Neale>

Damaged dwarf Gourami   1/24/07
I recently purchased a male dwarf Gourami and since he has been in my quarantine tank has done nothing but swim up and down one of the back corners.
<Likely reacting to its reflection...>
He is eating good
but his mouth near his nostril looks like he has rubbed it until it made a sore.
<Common injury... likely occurred during shipping from the Far East...>
There also appears to be a couple of loose scales on the other side of his face near the edge of his mouth. It is reddish and a bit swollen.
The pH is slightly over 7.0 and the tank was filled with purified water when it was started.
<Mmm, do need some mineral content... I'd blend in a little tap...>
Does this sound like he has just injured himself or should I be leaning toward getting some antibiotic or anti fungal medicine?
<Furan compound likely here... Look on WWM re Nitrofuranace use in FW>
I only have one quarantine tank and I am getting new fish soon and have no place to put them till this little guy gets better. Please help. PS I rescued him from a college dorm room where a girl had him in a bowl with no filter or air.   Stacey
<I do wish you and your Gourami health, long lives. Bob Fenner>

A Sick Red Gourami
Bob - hope you can provide some insight. I'll make this short. Two days ago, my Red Gourami came out from behind of his hiding plant (which was unusual.) In looking closely at him, I noticed a dark gray area behind each gill. This, obviously, was not normal and I had no idea what it was. The only thing I put in the tank (10 gal.) to assist him was a recommended dose of "Melafix" that I purchased at the pet store. The only other foreign matter I had put in the tank was about a week ago when I added some Epsom Salts to a small breeding tank that had a constipated Guppy in it. (The Guppy didn't make it.)  Unfortunately, neither did my Gouramis. I had intended to totally change the water this morning, but when I arose, the Gourami had died. I'm just trying to figure out what possibly the gray areas could have been and what I should have done. I'd had the Gourami for about 6 months and he'd been very healthy.  Between the time I noticed the gray around the gills and it's dying was very quick. - 2 days. Appreciate any insight. Riley 
<Likely the damage about the gills was environmental in origin... perhaps the treatments you added had something to do with this... maybe not... Many imported Gouramis (and livebearers for that matter) from the Far East suffer such mortalities... mysteriously. The best one can do is to keep systems optimized, stable and offer good foods. Bob Fenner>

Fate of Gouramis hang in the balance
Hey,  I have read through most of the postings and found some very useful information on what I thought was wrong with my fish. About three weeks ago one of my dwarf gourami's began laying around in the tank on its side, and then about a week later another one became twisted up, almost in the shape of a question mark and spends all of his time face down in the gravel. I double-checked all of the water requirements as you have suggested and everything is fine. I have a 20 gallon high, the ph is 6.8, the temperature is 82F, and there are no traces of ammonia or nitrates/nitrites. Is there anything I can do to help my fish? 
< The fact that one fish had a problem and then a second has come down with something too makes me think that there may not be an environmental problem here but a pathological one. Dwarf gouramis as well as others seem to be prone to attacks by weird pathogens that come in with them from the fish farms in the orient. I would isolate that gouramis into a five gallon tank and treat them with a Nitrofurazone type drug as per the package directions. If the problem is internal then there is not to much that can be done for them.>  It has been several weeks and every aquarium store I go to just tells me to flush them. 
< The medications will probably cost more than the fish. if the drugs don't work then you will be out both the price of the fish as well as the cost of the drug.-Chuck>  I just don't have the heart to do it, and since they still seem to get food they could probably live on in this sorry state for a very long time. HELP!!! Your site is a great resource and I appreciate the assistance. Thank you.  Mario.

Dwarf Gourami
Hi, My girlfriend has a pair of Dwarf Gouramis. She is concerned that one may be ill. They symptoms include a darkening of the color to a darker shade of turquoise as well as much lower activity and labored breathing. The fish lies on its side on the bottom a lot and the movement of the gills is faster and deeper. There does not appear to be any fungus or worms or slime or anything like that on the fish. She did not mention weight loss or eating habits (I have not yet observed the fish). Any insight that you may be able to provide would be much appreciated. IT sounds odd to me that the color would deepen. Usually I would expect a sick fish to lose color. Maybe it is pregnant and about to release a bunch of eggs or something :) She has not had the fish long, maybe 6 months, but who knows how long the store had it. It was full grown when purchased.  Thanks again, Josh Moninger
<Hi Josh, if there are no other outward signs of disease I would start by looking at the water quality. Pick up some test kits (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, ph, etc) or have your LFS test the water for you.  Also, what size tank are we dealing with, what type of filtration, and who are the other tank mates.  Check out the link below for info on freshwater disease ID http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm  Best of luck, Gage>

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