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FAQs on Colisa lalia, C. chuna... "Dwarf" Gouramis of Many Names, Honey, Flames, Neon Blue, Sunset Fire... Disease/Health 3

FAQs on Dwarf Gourami Disease: Dwarf Gourami Disease 1, Dwarf Gourami Disease 2, Dwarf Gourami Disease 4,

FAQs on Dwarf Gourami Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, 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,

URGENT: Dying Gourami? 1/29/10
So one of my dwarf flame gouramis has been hiding alot
<When did this become a single word? We seem to see it a lot around here!>
<<RMF would bet "dollars to donuts" that this word will become part of American English in short order... plan to see it in proscriptive lexicons w/in a decade>>
lately, and when I got home from work today, he was still hiding in plants.
I tried to flush him out, and he barely moved. Got out the net and pulled him out the plants, he floats upright and makes no attempt to move. The fish is still breathing, but I think its on its last legs. Should I just take him out and flush him?
Picture is attached.
<Indeed. Well, do start reading here:
The thing with Colisa lalia is that it is a difficult fish to keep at the best of times, and relatively prone to both Mycobacteria and Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus. Now, Colisa lalia was, maybe 50 years ago, quite a hardy fish.
But at some point inbreeding and overuse of antibiotics on fish farms meant that the fish sent to shops had less and less innate resistance to disease.
Shoppers aren't as discerning as they could be, and look for things like new colour varieties (including Flame Gouramis) rather than hardiness, and worst of all, instead of ignoring tanks with one or two sick fish, they simply pick out the best-looking one and hope for the best. Writers since at least the 1980s have been warning aquarists to be careful when buying this species, and also have stressed their need for precise water conditions: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, a pH between 6 and 7, and low hardness, under 10 degrees dH. Water temperature must be quite high, around 28-30 C, 82-86 F, which is well above the tolerances of things like Danios, Neons, Platies and Corydoras, so these aren't community fish by any standards. In short, your fish is dying and probably does need to be euthanised.
"Flushing" as you so delicately put it isn't an option. I hope you're just pulling my leg! Use a humane method of destruction, as outlined here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
Cheers, Neale.>

re: URGENT: Dying Gourami? 1/29/10
Thanks Neale, yes, "flush" was just an easier way to type euthanasia(sp?).
<Fair enough.>
The fish past away on his own, and I figured that the fish was dying of DGD.
<Or Mycobacteria. It's really difficult to tell the two apart since the symptoms are similar.>
I assume it just a matter of time before the other dwarf Gourami I have dies?
<Mycobacteria infections occur primarily when a fish is exposed to poor conditions or otherwise stressed. A healthy Dwarf Gourami given the conditions I outlined earlier should be fairly resistant. But yes, Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus is highly contagious, and I would never buy a Dwarf Gourami from a tank of specimens containing some I suspect had DGIV.>
It is just a normal morph, and is quite the healthy fish, constantly swimming around and looking for food.
<You may be just fine. Keep an eye on it, and in future, I would recommend Colisa fasciata or Colisa labiosa as two similar, but much hardier, fish.>
Thanks again,
<Good luck, Neale.>

Not A Question, Just A Pat On The Back For All The Crew 1/21/10
Good Afternoon (well, it's the afternoon for me at the moment, so "Good Whatever-it-is-wherever-you-are"!) all.
<It's about 8:30am Katherine, and I'm on my second cup of java, still developing into a human looking form.>
Panic not, I haven't got a question that you're probably sick to the back teeth of answering.
<Nah, is what we enjoy doing, benefiting others from our experience/mistakes.>
I just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you for having such an informative, reliable and literally life-saving website.
<Why thank you, and it is much appreciated.>
I took the first tentative steps to becoming a proud fish parent (!) in October last year, when I invested in a 10g tropical tank setup. I didn't want to be one of those naive folks (I'd use a more derogatory term, as IMHO there's no excuse for ignorance where life is involved...sorry, will climb out of the pulpit now!) who, in their impatience, overstocked their brand new uncycled tank and then suddenly wondered why their fish all keeled over on them. So I did my research. A lot of it. To the point my friends and family were wondering whether I'd ever actually put any fish in my still-cycling tank. But I just thought I'd let you know that my bible throughout that first month (and, let's face it, probably for the next few years as my hobby evolves) was your website. From considering the quandary of fishless versus fishful (?!) cycling, right down to choosing my community, you guys had it covered. And I'm delighted to say in the three months that I've had the tank, not one fish has died on me. In case you're interested, I have 9 little Neons, a neon blue dwarf Gourami, and three guppies. One had a little hiccup, but having taken the approach recommended by Bob on one of the FAQ pages, he pulled through. Yet another testimony to my faith in your site over other advice pages! Other friends of mine have not been so fortunate (they're my friends, so I reserve judgment on their aquatic and/or piscine husbandry) and in a desperate attempt to prevent more unnecessary suffering I've sat them down and made them look at your website. Time will tell, but at least I feel I've given them the tools they need to make a decent attempt this time around. So once again, my fishy friends, and my friends' future (hopefully happy and healthy) fishy friends both salute and thank you! Please keep doing what you're doing :)
<Again, a heartfelt thank you and I'm sure Bob has no future plans to shut down this site, enjoy. James (Salty Dog)>
Kind regards,
Oooh - I tell a lie, I do have one question that I can't seem to find an answer to yet. Could you please tell me how long it takes for a Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami to develop his mature colours? He's definitely male, and they "told" me he was a neon blue. He's currently a pale iridescent orange with faint blue stripes, but no one at the LFS could tell me how long before he'd start to look like an adult....
<It's been a while since I've been into freshwater and I took this query based on the subject line, but I will do my best to answer this for you. The Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami, also called the Rainbow Dwarf Gourami is a color morph of the Dwarf Gourami. This color variety may be referred to as the Rainbow Gourami when the blue coloring has a shiny metallic cast to it. Other than the more intense blue coloration, the Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami or the Rainbow Gourami are the same as the Dwarf Gourami. Not only are they hardy but they stay fairly small, rarely exceeding two inches in length. There is no guarantee just how much color your specimen is going to have since it is a morph and the coloration can/may vary. But at the adult stage (2" in length), the fish should have it's full coloration. Bob may also input here and I will leave this query in my inbox should Neale (one of our resident freshwater gurus) want to respond to you. >
Thanks :)
<You're very welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Colisa lalia, colouration; Was: Not a question, just a pat on the back for all the crew. -- 1/21/10
Oooh - I tell a lie, I do have one question that I can't seem to find an answer to yet. Could you please tell me how long it takes for a Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami to develop his mature colours? He's definitely male, and they "told" me he was a neon blue. He's currently a pale iridescent orange with faint blue stripes, but no one at the LFS could tell me how long before he'd start to look like an adult....
<It's been a while since I've been into freshwater and I took this query based on the subject line, but I will do my best to answer this for you. The Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami, also called the Rainbow Dwarf Gourami is a color morph of the Dwarf Gourami. This color variety may be referred to as the Rainbow Gourami when the blue coloring has a shiny metallic cast to it.
Other than the more intense blue coloration, the Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami or the Rainbow Gourami are the same as the Dwarf Gourami. Not only are they hardy but they stay fairly small, rarely exceeding two inches in length.
There is no guarantee just how much color your specimen is going to have since it is a morph and the coloration can/may vary. But at the adult stage (2" in length), the fish should have it's full coloration. Bob may also input here and I will leave this query in my inbox should Neale (one of our resident freshwater gurus) want to respond to you. >
Thanks :)
<You're very welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
<<Hello Kat and James. I'm going to disagree with James on the nature of Neon Blue Dwarf Gouramis. They are absolutely NOT hardy, and haven't been for many years. They are very prone to Mycobacteria infections when kept under less than ideal conditions, and a new threat has been something called Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus. This virus causes a sort of wasting disease, and according to one study by Australian vets (if I recall correctly) some 22% of the Dwarf Gouramis exported from Singapore carried the virus. Furthermore, DGIV is highly contagious and invariably fatal. There's limited evidence about whether it affects other species, but at least one native Australian fish can catch the disease, which is why the vets were so worried. Anyway, the symptoms are similar to Mycobacteria infections: lethargy, loss of colour, wasting, ulcers on the body, and eventually death. I strongly -- and I mean STRONGLY -- recommend people don't touch any form of Colisa lalia with a bargepole. These include not just the standard Dwarf Gourami, but also artificial forms such as Neon Gouramis, Red Robin Gouramis, Sunset Gouramis, Cobalt Gouramis, among others. Even if your Dwarf Gourami doesn't have DGIV, Mycobacteria infections remain a real threat. Unlike, say, Blue Gouramis, these Dwarf Gouramis are quite picky about water conditions. You need soft to moderately hard, slightly acidic to neutral water; aim for pH 6.5-7, 5-10
degrees dH. Don't bother keeping them if you have hard, basic water. The odds aren't in your favour. They also need to be very warm, 28-30 C, 82-86 F. That's MUCH hotter than Neons, Danios, Corydoras, Platies and many other community fish will enjoy. Essentially, keep them in their own system rather than a community tank. Obviously zero ammonia and zero nitrite are a must. There are much better Gouramis out there for community tanks; I recommend both Colisa fasciata and Colisa labiosa as being similar in size and colour, but orders of magnitude hardier and easy to keep. As for colours, the artificial forms should have their right colours when on sale, though females are less coloured (usually silvery) than the males. Under suboptimal conditions they may lose their best colours, but these fish have limited abilities to dim their colours when stressed, so they aren't like cichlids. Signs of stress tend to be behavioural: hiding away, loss of appetite, clamped fins. Cheers, Neale.>>
RE: Colisa lalia, colouration; Was: Not a question, just a pat on
the back for all the crew.
Re: Colisa lalia, colouration; Was: Not a question, just a pat on the back for all the crew.
Disturbing stuff. I don't have another tank to keep him in the conditions he's best suited for (I keep temperature at constant 25 degrees, Ph neutral, ammonia and nitrite zero when tested last week). In the circumstances, it's probably kindest to take him back to the LFS. I wondered whether you'd mind if I printed your comments to forward to the General Manager there? I certainly wouldn't have bought him knowing what I know now, and I don't think they should be stocking them to sell to others either. I can't guarantee they'd be prepared to do anything about it, but short of setting up camp and picketing the front doors, I'd have done my best...
<By all means pass my message onto the manager of the pet store. But he/she probably already knows about how crummy Dwarf Gouramis are. Had many conversations about this species with pet store managers. So why do they
bother trading them? Because they sell. A goodly portion of their customers will happily replace a fish that dies after a few months. Indeed, some view a dead fish as a good thing because it's an opportunity to buy new stuff!
Since a Dwarf Gourami costs about the same as a pint of beer, who cares if it's dead within three months? So, for the pet shop, all that matters is that they sell enough of them quickly enough that they don't die in the store's display tanks. As for what to do with your specimen, feel free to keep him. There's little evidence Dwarf Gouramis infect other ornamental fish, and certainly most other Gouramis seem immune to the virus. Lots of people have managed to keep their specimens happy, so you might be fine. My advice isn't to suggest you take him back, but rather not to buy Colisa lalia in the first place, and if you do, to be alert to the shortcomings of the species and what it needs to remain healthy. Fifty years ago it was actually considered quite a tough little fish! Just goes to show what inbreeding and overuse of antibiotics can do to even the best of evolution's handiwork. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Colisa lalia, colouration; Was: Not a question, just a pat on the back for all the crew.
Thank you Neale, and is why I opened this up for your comments. As I mentioned in the query, I answered based on the subject line and should have returned this to the inbox/freshwater queries.
Goes to show you I certainly wouldn't be too much help to you in the freshwater department. My experience in freshwater goes back to a time when their were no morphs and dwarf Gouramis were relatively
hardy. At one time (30 years ago) I raised angelfish, Tiger Barbs, kribensis, and White Cloud Mountain Minnows to supplement funds for my marine aquarium. Once I got hooked on saltwater, my interest in freshwater was soon departed.
<Hi James. Not a problem. Indeed, I just mentioned in another reply back to the querier that these were once quite hardy fish. Saltwater never really hooked me, I'm afraid. I've set up reef tanks for others, and kept coldwater marine tanks at university, but the ability to observer social behaviour and breeding keeps me coming back to freshwater stuff. That, and the insane amount of money and time you need to keep marines properly! I do think there's a difference between the North American hobby and the European hobby too. When I lived in the US, and when I go back on trips, I'm never impressed with the selection of freshwater stock. Getting good quality, wild-caught cichlids is more difficult, and the range of oddball fish is miniscule. The whole Amano planted tank thing is changing the US market somewhat, but it seems to me that before that there wasn't much "advanced" freshwater fishkeeping at all: first you kept community fish, then you kept African cichlids, and then you kept marines!
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Colisa lalia, colouration; Was: Not a question, just a pat on the back for all the crew. -- 1/21/10
I certainly agree with you on the cost of keeping marines/reef tanks. I'm now on a fixed income and time will soon tell me whether I'll stay with that or go back to freshwater. My freshwater dream tank would be a nicely planted tank with assorted tetras and a few catfish for cleanup.
<Yes; this Amano type thing, or at least a Dutch type aquarium, does seem to appeal very strongly to marine fishkeepers. Perhaps it's 3-dimensional structure of the decoration, or the combination of plants and animals instead of corals and animals. Definitely ex-marine fishkeepers are better at keeping big tanks with just a few fish, rather than cramming "one of everything" into a glass box, like many freshwater fishkeepers seem wont to do!>
My tank size of 60"x18"x18" would provide a nice display. You certainly can buy quite a few tetras for the cost of one average priced marine fish.
<Depends on the tetra! There are some barbs, like Red Torpedo Barbs, that sell for more than the average Clownfish. Once you start keeping the hardcore stuff like some of the recently described dwarf snakeheads, you're spending $100 a fish, or more!>
With my metal halide system I feel a healthy planted freshwater tank would be feasible.
<Easily. Plants are very good at adapting to ex-marine lighting systems.>
I've seen systems such as I've described and they are truly beautiful with driftwood and all.
<Yes, but very labour intensive. If you think keeping Green Star Polyps in check is hard work, wait until you meet Hygrophila!>
Should that day come, I will be one of the queriors of freshwater planted tanks.
<Can't wait! And who knows, maybe I'll ask you about deep sand beds and phosphate removal, just for the sheer fun of it!>
<Good chatting to you. Seems our paths don't cross all that often, but it's always fun to read your stuff in the Daily FAQs. Cheers, Neale.>


My dwarf Gourami has a very big stomach 1/12/10
Dear Crew,
My dwarf Gourami has a very big stomach, though he barely eats, nipping at the food and then a fish eats the whole flake.
<The question here is whether the fish is fat but otherwise healthy, or is he fat and lethargic? If he's swimming about normally and shows his proper colours and liveliness, then constipation may be the issue. Treat as per Goldfish, skipping dried foods entirely, and offering just cooked peas and live (or wet-frozen) brine shrimp and daphnia. Adding Epsom salt to the water can help speed up the cure.
But if the fish is swollen and not behaving or looking as it should, then an infection of some sort is probable. Abdominal worms such as Camallanus are a possibility, and these can cause fish to swell up. Treat using an
anti-helminth medication such as Praziquantel.
Abdominal swelling can also go along with systemic bacterial infections, the symptom aquarists often called Dropsy. In this case, the scales typically become erect, so that viewed from above the fish has a pine-cone appearance. There's no real cure because the damage is too far gone by the time this happens, so euthanasia is the only practical approach.
Is this overeating or a bacterial infection if so how do I treat it if I can? For more help this is a new fish, only had it about two weeks.
<The modern farmed Colisa lalia is a feeble species, and extremely prone to disease. These include Mycobacteria infections and a viral disease known as Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus. In either case the fish becomes lethargic, loses
its colour, exhibits odd sores or patches of dead skin, and eventually dies. Abdominal swelling can certainly be among the symptoms of either disease. While not all sick Colisa lalia have either a Mycobacteria or DGIV infections, many do, so it's well to be aware of these two diseases.
Neither is curable, and both are highly contagious. Affected fish should be removed and euthanised.
Personally, I don't recommend Colisa lalia, and don't know many expert aquarists who rate them at all highly. For casual aquarists, Colisa labiosa and Colisa fasciata are infinitely better choices, and well worth keeping.
If you must keep Colisa lalia, then try to acquire locally bred, rather than farmed, specimens, perhaps through your local fish club. Quarantine all new specimens for at least 6 weeks. Because it is such a feeble fish, make sure Colisa lalia is exposed only to optimal conditions: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, pH 6.5-7.5, low hardness (5-10 degrees dH), and relatively warm water, 28-30 degrees C. Feed a balanced, vitamin-rich diet. Cheers, Neale.>
Re Colisa lalias -- 01/12/2010

Thank you very much Neale, I figured he had an infection. Sadly, he died sometime today and I found him dead after I came home.
<Sorry to hear this. Of course, now you know better, and you'll be able to make more informed choices when shopping. Avoid Colisa lalia in all its forms (Flame Gouramis, Neon Gouramis, etc.). Cheers, Neale.>
Red Dwarf Gourami illness? 12/31/09

Hello WWM,
Today both my Red Dwarf Gouramis dropped to the bottom on my tanks and are just lying there on their sides. Every now and again they will rise up and swim around for a while before dropping again.
<Colisa lalia are an extremely poor investment for most community tanks because they are so disease prone. Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus and Mycobacteria infections are both common. Without stringent quarantining first, and then very careful control of their environment, they often die from these two diseases. One study by vets found 22% of the Dwarf Gouramis exported from Singapore carrying DGIV, and since this is highly contagious as well as invariably fatal, it doesn't take much for a whole batch of fish to end up sick or dead.
I have noticed over the last week up to today that they were swimming strangely i.e. pointing mouth upwards and kind of bobbing along the tank rather than swimming like a fish usually does.
<More likely the orientation is simply a reflection of reduced swimming ability than anything else.>
I notice a slight darkening of the skin tone around the head (bright red when purchased 4 weeks ago).
<By definition, artificial forms of Colisa lalia are *even* more disease prone than the natural type, simply because of the inbreeding required to produce them. It's always better to choose wild-type colours over artificial colours.>
PH, Nitrite and Nitrate look fine.
<Do check water quality, temperature and water chemistry. Colisa lalia needs soft, slightly acidic to neutral water (pH 6.5-7.0, less than 10 degrees hardness dH). Temperature should be towards the high end, 28-30 C (82-86 F) but note that this is MUCH too warm for most community fish, which is why they do badly in community tanks (i.e., if your Gouramis are happy, your Corydoras and Neons are suffering heatstroke!).>
Any ideas?
<For now, observation. But if there's no sign of improvement, humane destruction.
It doesn't look good at the moment.
<Unless you're prepared to buy locally bred specimens, or else quarantine new Colisa lalia for 6+ weeks, stick with Colisa fasciata and Colisa labiosa.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
RE: Red Dwarf Gourami illness?

Thanks very much for the reply.
I'll see what happens in the next day or two.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>


Pet store -- dwarf gouramis dying, Dwarf Gouramis Disease (Comments Neale and Bob?) 12/29/09
I work in the fish department of a large chain pet store. When I first started there a few months ago, the fish system was in pretty sad shape -- the UV sterilizer bulbs hadn't been replaced for god only knows how long, and other basic maintenance had not been kept up (changing out carbon, cleaning valves and flow meters, etc.). They had recently hired a new manager for that department, and since then we have dramatically improved the system's performance by replacing UV sterilizer bulbs, cleaning valves/pumps/meters/etc, and doing lots and lots of water changes and gravel vacuuming. Disease has been dramatically reduced, with only occasional instances of ich and bacterial infections, usually in the most crowded tanks.
<Good to hear that you are taking the right steps here, good for business to I bet, successful customers are more likely to return.>
The one thing that has really confounded me, however, is our problem with dwarf gouramis, Colisa lalia. We carry the three common varieties, the "regular" striped kind, the "red flame," and the "powder blue." The latter two are kept in the same tank, usually with some small 1-2" common Plecostomus. The tank itself is around 20 gallons, though it's connected to the approximately 1700 gallon system. The regular variety is kept in a different tank along with zebra Danios, black skirt tetras, and guppies -- that tank is around 30-40 gallons (I haven't taken precise dimensions).
Water chemistry is very consistent and is generally as follows: Nitrate - 20 ppm; nitrite and ammonia - 0; general hardness - 150 ppm; carbonate hardness - 80 ppm; pH - 7.2; temperature - 76 degrees F.
The problem is that we have an extremely high loss of all varieties of dwarf gouramis. The only symptoms I've noticed until recently are slightly discolored, grayish patches on some of them before they die. The other day,
however, I noticed what appears to be bacterial infections on several -- the patches look as if someone took coarse sand paper to the fish. The skin/scales are eroded, with the top layer looking yellowish/whitish, and red inflammation underneath. The odd thing is that none of the other kinds of fish are having any problems quite like this, even the ones that are in the same tanks as the gouramis. We only have a 29 gallon quarantine tank,
and right now it has about 10 small goldfish in it, and since they're nearing the end of their treatment period, I really don't want to put any other fish in there at the moment, especially when I don't know what the gouramis have.
Generally when we have severe bacterial infections that are not brought on by wounds, stress, or otherwise poor environmental conditions, it affects more than one type of fish. In fact, the first ones to start showing problems with bacterial infections are usually the livebearers, and ours have been doing quite well. Could this be the infamous Dwarf Gourami Disease? I've worked at other commercial pet stores and have not experienced a problem on this scale before. Because we're a chain, we have zero control over what fish corporate sends to us (for instance, we carry Pacu and iridescent sharks... but that's a whole other rant in itself), so we can't stop them from coming in. My manager is very good about working to find solutions, and I might be able to arrange to have any incoming shipments of dwarf gouramis quarantined in the 29 gallon, after the goldfish are removed of course, but this keeps us from being able to use that tank to isolate any sick fish, and we simply do not have the space for another quarantine tank.
Any ideas? Other stores in the same chain in our region do not seem to be having the same problem, so I'm inclined to believe that there is something going on in our system, though I can't figure out what it is. Any help would be appreciated.
<Sounds like Dwarf Gourami Disease to me, caused by the dwarf Gourami Iridovirus, which virtually all commercially available dwarf gouramis (Colisa lalia specifically) are exposed to. Not much can be done to treat
this disease, which is most often fatal. Best bet is to just not carry them at all, even though they are a high demand fish. Perhaps offering Colisa labiosus and Colisa fasciata in place of the Colisa lalia is economically viable as these fish are similar but not susceptible to the dwarf Gourami Iridovirus. I'll copy Neale and Bob on here to see if they
have anything to add. See here
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dwfgdis.htm  for more. >
Pet store -- dwarf gouramis dying 12/29/09
<<As Chris said, this is most likely, though not certainly, Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus (DGIV). The reason why you can't be 100% certain is that Mycobacteria infections can be extremely similar. Mycobacteria infections include those called "Fish TB" and like and like DGIV are essentially incurable.
So in either case, we're talking about avoiding the problem rather than curing it. DGIV has been demonstrated to be present in 22% of the Colisa lalia exported from Singapore. Whether similar infection rates exist in stocks from other exporters I cannot say, but because the DGIV virus is extremely contagious, even one or two infected Colisa lalia can subsequently infect other, healthy, fish in the same batch or the same aquarium. There is therefore a very good case of quarantining all Colisa lalia in their own tank for an extended period, and taking great care not to cross infect other tanks by using separate nets, buckets, etc. UV sterilisers have zero impact on viruses, so even if UV is used, there's nothing to stop the virus moving from one tank to another via water circulation. If you must stock Colisa lalia, then try to find a local breeder. But I agree with Chris that both Colisa labiosa and Colisa fasciata make dramatically better investments. They are slightly larger and a shade more boisterous, but are still excellent community fish, and certainly less aggressive than, for example, Three Spot "Blue" and "Golden" Gouramis (Trichogaster trichopterus). If you need to offer artificial forms, both come in albino and all-red "Sunset" forms. Even if exposed to DGIV they do not seem to suffer any symptoms (though whether they can carry the virus and so infect Colisa lalia is a good point for discussion and perhaps action). They are extremely hardy, and provided not exposed to seriously bad water conditions, shouldn't come down with bacterial infections. In this regard they are infinitely better than Honey Gouramis (Colisa chuna), a species that doesn't suffer from DGIV so far as I know, but is so delicate that unless kept in soft, acidic water with zero ammonia and nitrite tends to be short lived. When all is said and done, my impression from talking with British retailers is that Colisa lalia are simply worthless fish in terms of longevity, though most suppliers keep them in because they sell quickly. So even though half the batch may die, and those sold on may only last a few months, retailers still find them profitable. This makes them a quandary for responsible retailers wanting to sell good quality fish that can do well in most community tanks. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: Pet store -- dwarf gouramis dying, Dwarf Gouramis Disease 12/29/09

Thank you, that's what I was worried about. Like I said, we have no control over what fish we get in -- every week our inventory of fish is automatically sent out to the vendor, and they restock whatever we're low on, regardless of why we're low on those fish.
<Unfortunate that they don't give you guys more input on what your individual store carries, but is the normal way for big box stores to manage inventories, supply chain.>
I did talk to my manager about performing an "experiment" to possibly rule out the disease. I was thinking that we would divide our next shipment of dwarf gouramis in half, and put one half in quarantine, making sure the water quality is excellent and the tank is cycled, and put the other half in the main system as usual. We would observe them for no less than one week (the average amount of time it takes a shipment to completely die off), providing the best possible care to the quarantined fish. If the quarantined fish are thriving and showing no signs of disease, and the ones in the main system are dying like usual, I think it would be safe to assume that it is most likely not Dwarf Gourami Disease. I understand there is still the possibility that the improved living conditions could cause the virus to lie dormant, allowing the gouramis to be asymptomatic carriers, so my other question is this: Is there any data on how quickly the virus normally kills, or how long the fish can be asymptomatic carriers? I'm aware that this experiment isn't exactly based on sound scientific methods, and the results I get from it would not be conclusive, but I figure it's a starting point... any thoughts or suggestions?
<Generally in good conditions it may take a few months to present itself, depending on previous conditions, viral load, and many other factors, so I'm not sure if this experiment will help much, but may be interesting just to see what happens. All in all unfortunately dwarf gouramis just generally are not healthy fish.>
I also have a few questions that don't really have any effect on the store's problem, but I just want to satisfy my own curiosity. I've been reading more of the FAQs on DGD, and it's constantly being mentioned that dwarf gouramis commercially bred in Asia are almost guaranteed to carry the disease, and that if you really want dwarf gouramis you should buy from a local breeder. My question is this: would locally-bred gouramis be resistant to the disease, thus allowing you to put one in a tank that previously housed a diseased gourami? Or are they a better choice simply because they aren't exposed to the virus and aren't likely to carry it?
<The latter, just a matter of exposure, not of resistance. The problem is that wholesaler and to a lesser extent local fish store's systems are generally infected, so even fish that are not exposed before shipping from the breeders are infected along the supply chain. In a way similar to the way ich is so often present in the supply chain, small volumes of water, large quantities of fish, and only take 1 infected fish to contaminate the whole lot of them.>
If it's a matter of resistance, is it some sort of genetic resistance? Or just better immune systems due to better overall husbandry?
<As above, just a matter of exposure.>
I'm also curious about how all this applies to wild Colisa lalia.
<Is present in wild populations obviously, but due to large water quantities, separated populations, and the fact that any prey animal even slightly sick tends to become someone's dinner rather quickly keeps this disease in check.>
Thanks for your time, this website is a fantastic resource!


75 gallon community; all sorts of selection and compatibility "issues" - 11/07/09
Dear WWM,
<Hello John,>
I currently have a 75 gallon FW aquarium with a canister filter, heater, and bubbler running for the past month. This tank is a direct upgrade from a 30 gallon tank I had been running and only has 2 additions in the past month. The tank currently is stocked with a
1 Tinfoil barb
<Schooling fish, will get very big eventually.>
1 Plecostomus
<Gets big, very quickly, and is incredibly messy; usually recommend Ancistrus (Bristlenose cats) instead.>
1 Dalmatian Molly
<Does best in brackish water; tend to be delicate in freshwater.>
1 Kissing Gourami
1 Red Tailed Shark
<Aggressive, but this tank should be adequate to avoid serious problems.>
1 Albino Rainbow Shark
<Ditto; in fact, be surprised if these two Shark-Minnows don't spend all the time chasing each other.>
1 Eclipse Catfish
<Also known as the Sun Catfish, Horabagrus brachysoma; gets very big (45 cm!) and is a schooling, non-territorial predator; will eat many of these fishes.>
1 Pictus Catfish
<Also a schooling predator.>
1 Albino Cory Catfish
<A schooling fish; likely terrified kept on its own.>
1 Snail
1 Dragon Goby
<Gobioides sp., I take it? Definitely a brackish water fish, and will not live long in freshwater.>
and had had 1 Powder Blue dwarf Gourami.

<Dead, I take it; no surprise, these are garbage fish in my opinion. Avoid.>
Now that you know about me let me tell you my problem. Attached is a picture of my Dwarf Gourami, note the perforations in his tail and odd spots on his side.
<Could be bite marks, to be honest. In a tank with these animals, a Dwarf Gourami is at best a sitting target for aggression, and at worst, live food.>
I believe this to be Dwarf Gourami Disease or perhaps a bacterial infection like fin rot but I do not know.
<Could be either.>
The problem is that I had a fire red Dwarf Gourami about 2.5 months back that came down with a very similar disease, that fish died. I am wondering if all my other fish are at risk or if this is simply a manifestation of DGD and I should not worry for the rest of my aquarium?
<I'd write of Colisa lalia and be done with them. So, do you have problems with the aquarium? Yes indeed! The mix of fish is, let us say, adventurous, and the Dragon Goby at the very least has a limited lifespan without being moved to a brackish water aquarium.
There are schooling fish in there that need to be kept in groups, and some of the fish get extremely large and/or are predatory. Time to pick up a book about aquarium fish, read up on what they need, and concentrate on keeping fish that you are prepared to provide for properly. Keeping single specimens of schooling fish isn't fair, and keeping brackish water fish in a freshwater aquarium is doomed.>
Thank you for your time
<Always happy to help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>



Dwarf Gourami Question, hlth. 9/17/09
Hi Gang!
First off, thanks for the informative website and straight to the point answers.
<Thank you.>
Tank info: 29g Established for 6 months. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10 nitrates, pH 7.6 I recently lost a DG to what I believe was DG Disease. As much as I didn't want to believe he had it and searched exhaustedly for any other answer, he had all the classic symptoms as described on your site.
<Do bear in mind Mycobacterium infections can look very similar, and unless you're a microbiologist, telling them apart is, ultimately, impossible.>
I finally put him down in a peaceful manner. I only had him a few months, but I loved the little guy.
<They are nice fish, but with infection rates as high as 22% (from Singapore) I simply don't recommend people keep them *unless* you can source a locally bred supply of them.>
I also lost a cardinal and a guppy around the same time. They didn't show any outward signs of illness. I can't help think they were related.
<Deeply unlikely. DGIV only effects gouramis, and primarily Colisa lalia.
While it might affect the odd Gourami from other species now and again, the chances of its killing Guppies and Tetras is exceedingly low. On the other hand, conditions that lower the immune response of Dwarf Gouramis and thereby allow them to die from Mycobacterium infections can also allow similar problems with other species. A good general rule is this: if three specimens of the same species die from something mysterious, it may well be something viral particular to that kind of fish; if three completely different species die, then the problem is almost certainly environmental.>
What are the chances of 3 fish dying and it not being related?
<If the aquarium has a problem, the chances are very high indeed.>
Anyway on to my question. I stupidly went out and bought a Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami. Thinking I asked the store the smartest question, Are they tank bred? When he said yes, I was pretty excited that this would decrease the chances he had been exposed to DGD.
<Eh? It's the tank-bred, i.e., farmed, specimens that have DGIV.
Wild-caught specimens -- which are virtually absent from the trade and very expensive when they do appear -- should be DGIV-free.>
On the drive home two light bulbs went off in my head. The first being Tank Bred could mean he was still imported. Duh!
I should have asked if he was locally bred. (smacking myself) The other light bulb moment is that I read (can't remember where) that this virus can be transferred through the water.
<Yes. I'd allow a tank to be 6 months Gourami-free before risking it. That said, I don't think that's the issue here. I'd suspect Mycobacterium or even a simple case of opportunistic bacterial infection (Aeromonas,
Pseudomonas, etc.).>
I thoroughly sanitized the quarantine tank (20g) and anything that came in contact with it and my new DG is in there now. My concern is after quarantine time, can he go into the 29g tank that the original DG was
living in when he got sick?
<If the tank with the dead Dwarf Gourami has been Gourami-free for six months, then you should be fine. If not, then yes, there's a risk of contamination.>
There are tetras, cories and a snail in there and I don't see a way to thoroughly sanitize it without cross contamination through nets, water on the fish etc. Is this tank destined never to see a DG again?
<Would be my recommendation, insofar as Colisa lalia is largely worthless as an aquarium fish anymore. But as I said earlier, I don't suspect DGIV is the issue here, and would strongly recommend you keep an open mind here, and review other potential sources of trouble.>
Oh, and will I received an e-mailed answer?
Your website is so huge, I don't know If I'll ever find your answer, should you choose to answer. :)
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Alice
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Dwarf Gourami Question 9/17/09

Thank you for your quick response, it's much appreciated.
<My pleasure.>
I called the store I purchased the DG from, he was bred in Florida, not imported, if that means anything.
<Not much. To be fair, we don't know how the farms in Florida compare to those in Singapore in terms of DGIV prevalence, since the scientific study was specifically on Singapore. Colisa lalia from Florida might be fine for all I know.>
At any rate the DG that I lost was from a chain store, they have no idea where they get their fish.
I have another established 20g tank my new DG can live in.
No other fish in the 29g appear to be ill. I don't want to treat healthy fish but your mentioning other bacterial infections are concerning. Would you recommended treating the tank with a gram pos/gram neg anti-bacterial medication or wait it out?
<Wait. Don't treat the fish unless there's sign of disease. Instead, watch the fish, optimise water chemistry and temperature for the species being kept, ensure good water quality, and provide a balanced diet. All the usual stuff, really.>
Thanks again. :)
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Dwarf Gourami Question

Will do, thanks again for your help and such a great website :)
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>


Question for the crew/ dwarf powder blue Gourami hlth. 8/26/2009
I am new to the world of keeping aquariums, and I have spent many hours reading through your website and have learned a great deal about providing the best care for our fish.
<Very good.>
I am writing for guidance about a dwarf powder blue Gourami I recently (9-10 days ago) purchased from a LFS. Unfortunately it was after this purchase that I read all of the warnings about avoiding this particular fish because of the susceptibility to diseases. Nonetheless, here I am with a problem.
<Indeed, not a fish recommended for beginners. While once a good, reliable fish, this is certainly not the case any more.>
The tank: The fish is in a quarantine tank that was our original aquarium before upsizing (he was placed in there for planned period of quarantine after we purchased him, prior to introducing him to our main tank). It is an Eclipse 6 with a thin layer of rocks, a few artificial plants, and an air stone.
<This tank is only 6 gallons in size, and even as a quarantine tank, of marginal value.>

It was well cycled prior to introducing the fish, using substrate from our main tank and a filter I kept in the main tank. There are no other inhabitants of the tank currently, since I removed 2 female platies the other day to put in the main tank and to isolate the Gourami. I check the chemical parameters almost daily since putting him in quarantine, with the following results: ammonia 0 ppm, nitrite 0 ppm, pH 7.0. The nitrate did increase up to 20ppm but is now about 5-10 after a 25% water changes (which I am doing every 4 days or so), vacuuming the gravel, and removal of the BioWheel (I read somewhere that BioWheels may contribute to high nitrate levels). For the record, there was little in the way of uneaten food when I vacuumed, though I will admit I am probably guilty of overfeeding my fish. Tap water for water changes is prepped with Tetra AquaSafe and Proper pH 7.0. He is fed TetraColor flakes and occasionally freeze-dried blood worms or peas.
<All sounds fine.>
The problem: We first noticed a couple of wart-looking growths on his left side just below the dorsal fin line. Initially they appeared more rust-like in color, sort of like his stripes and other markings. They are unchanged in size but now more tan in color with nothing protruding and nothing looking like ulcers.
<If the "warts" are off-white to cafe-au-lait in colour, there's a good chance you're dealing with Lymphocystis. While related to environmental problems, and so a sign to review tank conditions carefully, it is not normally fatal. It isn't treatable as such, but given good water and a varied diet, most fish recover in time, typically several months.>
Over the past several days, we have noticed increasing number of "holes" in his fins - first his anal fin, then his caudal fin and now his dorsal fin.
The "holes" have increased in number over the past 4-5 days since I first noticed them. The edges of the fins appear normal and not frayed or torn.
<Ah, now, this is more serious. When holes appear, there is usually one of three things going on. Firstly, there's physical damage, e.g., when a Betta gets sucked by a strong filter and only gets away after losing a bit of fin material. Secondly, there's biting, e.g., when fish are nipped by tiger barbs. Finally, there's bacterial infection, though this is usually associated with obvious signs of death and decay, typically things like
spots of bloody inflammation on the fin membrane. So, review these possibilities and act accordingly.>
The Gourami is feeding vigorously and is not appearing to be gasping or in respiratory distress (at least as far as I can tell and I am a pulmonologist!).
<Heavy breathing can be a sign of a variety of problems, but the converse, regular and steady breathing, does not necessarily imply good health.>
He is swimming in a normal fashion in all areas of the tank - not erratic, tilted, darting or rocking. He is not bloated and he does not appear to have dropsy. He has no white spots or red streaks. His eyes appear normal and not bulging or discolored. His stools look normal in color, and are not pale.
I have not started any medication, though I have Maracyn and Maracyn 2, which I could use for fin rot.
<Does not seem warranted yet; would observe, consider the options first. Over-medicating fish can cause problems.>
I was not thinking this was fin rot initially since the edges of the fins are not frayed or torn, and I had not seen any photos that looked similar to what we have seen. I was also hoping frequent water changes and ensuring good quality water would help clear things up, especially since he does not appear ill in any other way. However, the number of holes appears to be increasing more quickly over the past day or two.
I appreciate any guidance.
Regards, Laura
<It sounds vaguely as if this fish is being physically damaged somehow, perhaps by another fish, or over-strong filtration, or rough handling, or something abrasive in the tank. A mild antiseptic like tea-tree oil
("Melafix") might be appropriate to avoid secondary infections. Hope this helps, Neale.>


Sick Gourami 7/15/2009
Hi there, i have come across your site as really concerned about our dwarf Gourami!
<Oh dear. As I write repeatedly on these pages, Colisa lalia is a very weak, inbred, badly farmed species highly prone to viral infections that are incurable as well as various bacterial infections. Unless you can source locally bred specimens, avoid them, and instead choose Colisa fasciata or Colisa labiosus; not quite as small or pretty perhaps, but ten times easier to keep alive.>
The tank has been setup for 5 mths and the water is spot on verified by 3 sources.
<You'll forgive me for being skeptical. The thing is that pet shops will often call 0.5 mg/l nitrite "acceptable" whereas I will not; so I want numbers, not interpretations! To remind you, these delicate gouramis need 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, a pH between 6 and 7.5, and 5-15 degrees dH hardness.
No salt! The tank should be fairly warm, around 28 C, which will severely stress some community fish, notably Neons and Corydoras, so choose tankmates accordingly.>
2 days ago one of our 2 gouramis started bloating and having clear stringy faeces.
<Can be caused by a variety of things, but if the faeces are unusually long and pale, that means there's a lot of mucous being produced by the gut.
That it turn implies some sort of irritation or infection, possibly bacterial, but often protozoal (the classic example being Hexamita).>
He is unable to stay stable and is floating on his side at the o of the tank. not interested in food but doesn't seem to be breathing heavily.
After reading your site think it may be a parasite (scales not looking like pine cone so hope it isn't dropsy).
<"Parasite" covers a lot of ground, and for the average aquarist is barely more helpful than a shrug of the shoulders! In this case, Hexamita may well be the causative agent, in which case Metronidazole (Flagyl) is the only cure, coupled with optimal environmental conditions and a healthy, varied diet. Otherwise, euthanise the fish to prevent further suffering; it won't get better by itself if this really is Hexamita. Do also be aware of the symptoms of Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus and Mycobacterial infections and act accordingly when shopping.
within the 78 litre tank we also have one other dwarf Gourami, 6 leopard Danios, 1 leopard Pleco and one red tail shark.
<Far too small for all these fish; a Red-tail Shark will dominant a 250-litre tank once mature, and a Leopard Plec (Glyptopterichthys gibbiceps) will require even more space once it's mature, given its adult size of some
50 cm within 2-3 years.>
Can you please shed some light on possible cause, if you think it may be a parasite can i treat the whole tank?
<Unless you have a hospital tank 45 litres in size or larger, you'll have to treat the whole tank. Metronidazole is available from pet shops in the US, or from vets in most other parts of the world.>
we do not have a hospital tank so if not what can i do?
Any advise would be hugely appreciated.
<Do read; your choices of fish are pretty bad so far!>
Many Thanks
<Cheers, 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.>

Sick Gourami 05/27/09
I did read through all of your articles and the disease chart, but nothing fit perfectly...
<And yet somehow I have a feeling it's going to be the usual Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus problem. When will people stop buying these fish?>
I just started up my tank about a week ago. I used the tetra cycle stuff to get the nitrate cycle going. I'm thinking I may have overstocked my tank for just starting one up. I have 2 molly's, 2 small gold gouramis, and 2 dwarf gouramis in a 20 gallon tank.
<Mollies do need different water chemistry to Gouramis, so you shouldn't keep them together.
If your water is hard and alkaline, you might be okay, but it's always best to keep Mollies with fish that tolerate small amounts of salt: other livebearers, rainbowfish, halfbeaks, glassfish, etc.>
They all seem to be doing fine except the one dwarf Gourami. Now, I got the two dwarf Gouramis from a friend, who I don't think had had the fish for long. I'm aware that a lot of the problem is probably due to stress from moving these poor fish twice in a short period of time. She did not notice any symptoms prior to giving them to me. The Gouramis symptoms include a reddish wound/bump on its lip, and a group of light pinkish bumps by its one gill. Also, he swims to the surface to get air, then releases air bubbles, then swims to the bottom and hides. He then repeats this over and over about every minute or two. He is swimming okay; slowly, but normally.
<Might be an opportunistic bacterial infection, in which case antibiotics can help. But Dwarf Gouramis are peculiarly prone to Mycobacteria-type infections (often called, inaccurately, Fish TB) when stressed, and a good proportion of them also carry the Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus. Neither of these diseases is curable, so euthanasia is the only option; see here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm >
He hasn't been eating much mostly because he's so slow and not able to compete with the other fish to get any I think. One of my mollies has
really started beating up on him too... Is this because he is sick?
I treated my tank just once today with Melafix (before reading your website haha).
<Indeed, "ha ha"; doesn't cure much of anything.>
I don't really have any other tank for isolation, would any sort of container do for a temporary fix?
Thank you very much. I hope you have some ideas :(
<Do review the needs/hardiness of fish prior to purchase.
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 Dwarf Gourami 3/23/09
I have spent the last couple days reading everything I could find on the web about Gourami diseases, but cannot find anything that addresses the issue my Gourami seems to be having.
I have sent a couple pics (not great, still learning to take pics of fish) to hopefully help in diagnosis.
It started as a small red spot/area in his anus fin, it turned white and seemed to be "healing" or going away. Over the last month or so I lost two other dwarf gouramis to what appeared to be dropsy. I medicated my entire tank with Maracyn-two, losing the first fish.
Shortly after (maybe two weeks) the second Gourami had dropsy. I medicated again with Maracyn-Two, losing the second fish only a couple days into the medication. During this second medication the red sore on the third Gourami came back and started eating away his fin and now it is eating into his body. He is eating, his poop looks normal. It looks much worse than fin rot, it doesn't appear to be Hexamita.
Is it just a bacterial infection?
<Does appear as such>
Should I try medicating with Maracyn?
<Mmm, no... I'd try a Furan compound here... will "dirty" your water...>
I have been medicating the whole tank because I figured I need to in order to stop the other fish from getting sick as well, but not sure how all this medication is affecting all the other fish.
Don't have a quarantine tank, but can get one if needed.
<I would move this fish to such a treatment tank for sure... ten gallons would be fine>
Some info on my tank:
55 gallon
80 degrees
7.0 ph (has recently been up to 7.5, got it down to 7.0 with this last water change)
<Not a worry>
Ammonia 0
nitrites 0
nitrates 0
20% water change monthly
<I'd change more frequently>
5 dwarf gouramis (4 male, 1 female)
2 gold gouramis (male)
6 glass catfish
1 Indian glass fish
1 Pleco
I would appreciate any help you can give me!
<Unfortunately, Colisa lalia are very prone to disease issues... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dwfgdis.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwantibiofaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>

Mmm, RMF is unable to copy, move from root web... try on ret.
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami 3/23/09
"Should I try medicating with Maracyn?
<Mmm, no... I'd try a Furan compound here... will "dirty" your water...>"
I've not heard of Furan before, is it sold under that name?
<Yes they are. Please read where you were referred to Re. B>

Sick Gourami 3/18/09
I have 2 male gouramis in my tank along with a few male guppies, some sucker fish & tetras. The smaller of the 2 males seemed to always get picked on by the bigger one. Just this morning I noticed that the smaller one is now lying on his side on the bottom of the tank & his eyes look kinda weird. He's still breathing although whenever other fish go near him does not move. Is he sick?
<Hello. What kind of Gouramis are these? Dwarf Gouramis (Colisa lalia) are particularly prone to bacterial infections as well as a viral infection called Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus. Do review here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdistrbshtart.htm It's also worth mentioning that male Gouramis are territorial, and unless the tank is fairly big, they will not coexist. Dwarf Gourami males will need at least 90 litres (20 gallons) each, while bigger species such as Three-spot Gouramis will need at least 50% more space than that.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Gourami 3/18/09

He's a Dwarf Gourami, the tank is about 120cm X 60cm X 50cm roughly. Now that I've taken him outta the tank & had a good look at him I think you may be right about having a virus; he tried to swim out of the net when I was having a look so at least I know he still has a bit of kick in him. Can you tell me what I can do for him please?
<Certainly is a Dwarf Gourami. By the looks of him, he seems to have sustained eye damage. While seriously damaged eyes don't grow back (obviously) they tend to heal over pretty well and the loss of one eye doesn't cause the fish any problems. If the only problem is damage to the outer surface of the eye, and the eye itself is okay, you may be lucky and it'll clear up completely, and his eye will recover. Either way, damage to the eyes is a very common sign of fighting: fish deliberately peck at each other's faces when fighting, and sometimes the eyes do get damaged. So rather than a virus, I think this is simply a beat-up fish that needs rehoming. The viral infection causes very specific things: loss of colour, weight loss, and most distinctively of all, the appearance of bloody sores on the body. I don't see any of that going on here. Apart from the damage to the eye, this fish actually looks in pretty good condition, and has lovely colours. If possible, rehome him in another tank, otherwise confine the more aggressive specimen to a large breeding net (not the smaller plastic breeding traps) for a few weeks while this fish recovers. Your existing tank should be big enough for two males, but perhaps not in this case. Adding more rocks and especially plants to break up the territories could help. Oddly enough, adding 2-3 more males might also work, by making
it impossible for any one fish to either claim a territory or bully all the other fish at the same time. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Gourami 3/18/09
Wow thanks heaps for that =D I have a smaller tank with an adult female guppy & her 6 daughters that's about 40cm X 30cm X 30cm with 5 plants & a bell shaped hidey-hole. Is this tank too small to put him in?
<It's on the small side, yes. As a hospital tank though while he gets better, you should be fine though. Just keep up with water changes! Once he's healthier, he'll probably need a new home though.>
If so Ill put more plants in the bigger tank.
<Good idea. Plastic plants are just as good as real plants, so feel free to get creative with anything weird and wonderful that takes your fancy. Fish couldn't care less what we decorate our aquaria with: plastic plants, ceramic skulls, rocks, caves, whatever. So long as there are hiding places and shade, your fish will stake their territories. A bit of trial and error may be required though to find locations for hiding places that keep each fish out of the other's way.>
Thanks again, Merissa
<Cheers, Neale.>


Re: Sick Gourami 4/1/2009
He doesn't seem to be getting better any time in the near future; is there anything I can do for him aside from water changes?
<Have you treated with an antibacterial or antibiotic? In the US, I'd recommend Maracyn, in the UK, eSHa 2000. In other countries, look for something that treats Finrot and Fungus. The main thing is to get the lost
eye to heal over. It will heal, and fish function fine with one eye; I think because in the wild many live in murky water where eyesight doesn't matter much anyway. So they use their "radar" system (lateral line)
He doesn't seem to be eating as much either - Im not sure if that's because of loss of appetite or not but i drop food near his good eye, sometimes he'll go for it & sometimes he doesn't. =(
<Exactly; if he can't see the food, he won't eat. I have a halfbeak that lost an eye in a fight, and I use forceps (tweezers) to feed him a few bloodworms by hand every few days. I also make a point of dropping the
dried foods he eat by his good eye. His eye healed over quickly, and he's basically fine now. Good luck, Neale.>


Poorly Gourami (Red Robins; taxonomy, health) 2/11/09 Hello Crew! I've had a look all over the internet and at your recently answered question but haven't found anything that really applies to the problem my Gourami has, so i hope you don't mind me emailing! He's is a 'red robin' honey Gourami who i have had for about 6 months and always been well. Yesterday i came home to find him sitting at the bottom of the tank with a slightly rounded underside - just around where i assume his swim bladder is, at the base of his feelers. He was moved about a week ago from my previous 30 litre tank to a new 120 litre. I have given the tank a water change and the water results are still within the normal parameters (I'm going to test again this evening). I've also put some peeled peas into the tank but he doesn't seem to be interested in them. He is currently sitting at the bottom of the tank and taking the occasional trip to the surface for a quick gulp of air, then sinking slowly back to the bottom. Also, when he's swimming he seems to be finding it difficult and his lips look a bit greyer than usual. The only other thing apart from the new tank, that has changed, is that i bought 3 small Corys at the weekend, one of which died within 48 hours after barely moving. My second honey Gourami is still behaving absolutely normal and the 2 remaining Corys are perfectly fine. Can you give me any advice? Should i quarantine him? I've also been reading about some antibiotics that aren't compatible with gouramis and others that shouldn't be used when Corys are in the tank! Any info you could send would be great - i can't get to my local fish shop until tomorrow evening. Many thanks for your time Jess <Hello Jess. Red Robin Gouramis are curious fish because nobody really knows what they are! Several different fish are sold under the name, most commonly a hybrid between Trichogaster chuna and Colisa lalia, often, though not always, fed with colour-enhancing foods to make their colours brighter than they actually are. Quality is extremely variable, and like a lot of fish mass produced in Southeast Asia, bacterial infections can be a real problem because of the widespread use of antibiotics on the fish farms. Whilst they don't seem to get the dreaded Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus (DGIV) they aren't the hardiest of fish and lifespan is often rather short. Sometimes Red Robins are merely red-coloured Colisa lalia, in which case DGIV is a risk, as well as all the usual bacterial problems Dwarf Gouramis are prone to. Inbreeding is an issue here, and indeed with almost any fish that doesn't have its wild-type colouration. That's a point worth reiterating: when you shop for tropical fish and you decide to get a "fancy" form, you're doing a trade-off between genetics and physical appearance. Finally, some Red Robins are fancy Honey Gouramis. Again, inbreeding is an issue, but on top of that you have the problem that Trichogaster chuna is simply not a fish that does well in hard water, so unless you have soft, slightly acidic water conditions, it's a species to avoid. Having laid out the problems identifying the fish, treatment is somewhat difficult to suggest. DGIV is impossible to cure, so if that's the case, there's nothing much to do beyond painless destruction of the fish. Internal bacterial infections are extremely common among these fish, and only reliably treated with antibiotics. In the UK, these have to be obtained from a vet, and the so-called "anti-internal bacteria" treatments sold in fish shops in the UK are, frankly, useless. Never once heard of a fish cured of anything by using them. Antibiotics used properly (i.e., as per your vet's instructions) will be perfectly safe with your Gourami. Internal bacterial infections often caused abdominal swelling followed by distinctive raising of the scales along the flank, so that viewed from above the fish looks like a pine cone. At that stage a cure is unlikely and again, painless destruction is the only humane option. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm Constipation is a problem with Gouramis since most are partially herbivorous in the wild, and careless aquarists often forget this essential fact. If squashed tinned (or cooked) peas aren't accepted, then Daphnia may be, and these are almost as good. Obviously Gouramis are slow feeders, and if there are tetras or barbs in there, the Daphnia will be eaten long before the Gourami gets a therapeutic "dose", so you'll have to work around that using a hospital tank of some sort. If the Gourami is healthy-looking apart from the swollen abdomen, then constipation may be the issue. Adding Epsom salt at 1 to 3 teaspoons per 5 gallons can help with constipation alongside the high-fibre foods, but remember to stop adding Epsom salt once the fish is better. Hope this helps, Neale.>


Dwarf Gourami sickness, and FW stkg. 01/23/09 At Christmas we got a 10 gallon tank with a dwarf Gourami, a silver dollar (who is the size of a 50 cent piece now but I understand will need a much larger tank). These two are buddies and have followed each other around since arriving the same day. I also have six Rummynose tetras, a bamboo shrimp and a vampire shrimp. <The tank is seriously over-stocked.> The tank has cycled (with the fish in it since we didn't know the right way to do it) and all these fish survived! I got a Eco Bio-Rock awhile ago because I heard it was good and it seems to have finished off the remaining nitrate in the tank. It has a few real plants in it, and one fake one. Everyone seemed happy until yesterday when the Gourami started getting glassy eyed and sitting in the water barely moving, his head seems to have darkened, his belly swollen. With a heavy heart I read about Iridovirus in gouramis and I remember when I bought him at Petco, a week later I returned and half the gouramis in the tank looked just like he did now. I think he has this virus. I am sad because he was a lovely curious fish with a good personality and a hearty eater. I am also sad my silver dollar will lose his buddy - and am worried this virus will spread to the other fish or invertebrates. What can I do to stop this from happening? I will not buy anymore dwarf gouramis :( <If it is a virus, there's likely nothing you can do except try to build the natural immune/defense systems of these fish by caring for them as well as possible. For one thing, the silver dollar fish needs a bigger tank and is a schooling fish that does best in groups. Clean the tank well... feed them high quality food and do everything you can to keep the water quality as high as possible, etc.> Melissa <Best, Sara M.>
Re: Dwarf Gourami sickness 01/23/09
Hello Sara, You know, we are new fish owners and trusted the people at Petco to advise us on appropriate fish and tank size. Initially, they told us a Bala shark and pictus cat were good "community fish" for our 10 gallon tank and told us nothing about cycling the tank. Of course we returned these two fish the second day, realizing they were not compatible. <Ah, first rule of fish-keeping... don't assume the people selling the fish know anything about keeping them.> After this disaster, I bought several books on the subject including this one: http://en.microcosmaquariumexplorer.com/wiki/101_Best_Tropical_Fishes  by someone who seemed to be a good resource. I chose our remaining tankmates based on this book's advice for a 10 gallon "model tank". One of the recommendations was: 3 Hatchetfish, 12 Neon Tetras and 3 Panda Corys for a 10 gallon tank - but even *I* felt that was too many. <Um, yeah... that is a bit much, geez.> All the people at Petco told us was "one inch of fish per gallon". Here I thought we were being relatively restrained. <I understand the confusion. The "problem" is that the fish you have aren't going to stay the size they are. For example, silver dollar fish get to be at least the size of your palm.> I just really just wanted to know if this virus will spread to other fish outside the Betta and Gourami species, but I can't find any more info about it on the web, read through all your questions but couldn't get a definitive answer. <That's because it's a virus. Like human viruses, they're very difficult to battle. There's a reason there's still no cure for the "common cold"-- it's a virus.> Yes, I know I haven't done everything perfectly with our new fish, but we are trying and I do care about them a lot and worry about them. Yes, I will get a bigger tank and research more before any more purchases. <I'm sorry the people at Petco didn't advise you well... and especially sorry the book you bought didn't help much more. Sometimes it's a struggle to find good information.> Thanks anyway for responding, Melissa <Cheers, Sara M.> Btw, I'm sorry if I failed to mention that if the Gourami really did have Iridovirus (which I can't say for sure), it's not likely the other fish will get it. It tends to be highly contagious only among other Gouramis. Sara


Sick dwarf Gourami 11/28/08 Hi My Blue dwarf Gourami got sick. He has some pimple like bumps on him. I sent you a picture. We have a 70 gallon planted tank. I have a lot of young guppies , red and blue dwarf gouramis and a pearl Gourami. None of my other fish has those bumps and the Blue Gourami is acting normal , he is eating and swimming normally. The bumps only appeared today. Thank you! Julia <I can't tell from your photo much about the Gourami in question. Too blurry. But do run through the options listed in this article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdistrbshtart.htm  In particular, be aware Colisa lalia (your Gourami species) is very prone to a viral infection that is incurable. It is extremely common among Colisa lalia exported from Southeast Asia. Not all sick Colisa lalia have this disease though! So do consider other things that can cause "white pimples" -- Ick/Whitespot, Finrot, Fungus, Velvet, Lymphocystis, to name just a few. Cheers, Neale.>
 Man! That's blurry! RMF.
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