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  1. Effective Quarantining: Reducing The Risk of Disease To 'quarantine? simply means to temporarily house a new fish in a separate tank before introducing it to the main tank. This helps prevent potentially lethal diseases being transmitted to established fish collections and consequently most professional fishkeepers regard it as essential. However, the success of quarantining varies widely depending on the approach of the fishkeeper. This article suggests some ways in which to get the most benefit out of quarantine. It is 100% certain that every new fish is carrying at least one ?bug?, even if it looks perfectly healthy. Diseases are especially widespread at pet stores due to the tanks being linked on the same water system; pathogens can move round easily and attack already stressed fish. The five most common problems affecting new fish are: 1. Ich 2. Flukes 3. Ammonia burns, either fresh or healing 4. Physical injuries such as scale loss caused by rough handling or overcrowding 5. Severe stress from transportation, overcrowding and poor water quality. The length of quarantine depends on the individual fish and its circumstances but should not last less than three weeks. A fish which does not display any signs of disease and is eating and swimming well could be moved once treatment sets One and Two (see below) are completed, which takes about 3 weeks. Incidentally, one reason for maintaining a high temperature in a quarantine tank (see below) is to ?bring out? many temperature-responsive diseases such as ich, consequently speeding up quarantine time. Below 65F some diseases can take several weeks to emerge, so if a heater is not used then quarantine must be kept up for longer. The following equipment is recommended for a quarantine set-up (this also works for a hospital tank): ? Tank which allows at least 10 gallons per goldfish (less for other fish) ? Quiet location, where the fish will not get disturbed much ? Pre-cycled filter (use media from an established filter for ?instant cycling?) ? Heater set to 78F / 26C (heater guard optional) ? Thermometer ? Additional aeration if the filter does not move the surface much. ? Light layer of substrate (this gives goldfish something to keep them occupied) ? Few plants / ornaments to provide hiding places and make the fish feel safe (no live plants except Java Fern however, which is salt-resistant) ? Small mirror taped to one side of the glass (if a quarantined fish is alone) ? Separate set of tank maintenance equipment e.g. bucket and gravel-siphon, OR a bleach solution with which to sterilize equipment between tanks. A quarantine tank should be maintained more intensively than a main tank. Daily small water changes (up to 30%) with gravel cleans are recommended even though the tank is cycled. This is because very clean water greatly reduces stress, boosts the fish?s immune system and naturally suppresses some diseases such as Trichodina and Epistylis. It is best to test the water of a quarantine tank daily, as poor water quality in quarantine is likely to affect new fish very badly. It is also important to observe the fish closely during quarantine ? including appetite and activity levels - as the whole idea is to check for any developing diseases and problems. As for feeding, when Treatment Set One is not being applied, a varied and highly nutritious diet (krill is especially good) is recommended to boost the fish and give it a good start. Fish often do not get fed for several days after they leave the breeder and can arrive very hungry. Feed as much as the fish will accept twice a day for up to three minutes at a time. The lighting should be kept fairly subdued (actually I prefer to keep the quarantine tank just in natural light) to reduce stress. The fish should also be given at least 8 hours darkness each night as this significantly helps reduce stress and disease and allows the fish plenty of rest and recuperation. Turning to disease-control, unfortunately fish can frequently carry a disease without ever showing a single sign of it. Even if plastered head to tail in bugs, they can build up a natural immunity and remain undisturbed. As such, even four weeks of quarantine can be completely useless if the fish itself never shows a sign of the disease and then introduces it to the fish in the main tank, which of course are susceptible to it, having not built up immunity. There is nothing more frustrating than the whole collection breaking out in ich two days after introducing a lengthily quarantined and healthy-looking fish! Therefore it is better to actively treat the fish during quarantine time and pre-empt any lurking diseases, rather than to simply wait and see if it develops anything nasty. In other words, you actively quarantine rather than passively quarantine. What follows below are recommended treatment ?sets? to apply during quarantine which systematically eliminate as many potential ailments as possible before the fish goes into the main tank. Each set tackles a specific collection of diseases using a particular treatment method and takes a given number of days to complete, although of course treatment times may vary if the fish actually develops a disease. However, the key word here is ?actively? treat, not ?aggressively? treat. The idea is only to gently banish potential problems, not to subject the new fish to a barrage of stressful chemicals and procedures. The treatment sets therefore reflect this philosophy of gentleness: salt is perfectly safe for fish and the bio-cycle (Set One), as are praziquantel (Set Two) and lufenuron (Set Three). Medicated foods such as Medigold or Romet B (Set One) are not only gentle on the fish but are also generally tasty and highly nutritious. Please note that the sets do not deal with every single fish disease; Oodinium (Velvet), for example, is not covered. I have deliberately left some out, either because the disease is relatively rare and therefore there is little point in taking additional specific precautions against it, or because the treatment for it is so harsh ? such as copper or formalin - that the fish has to actually have the disease first to justify using it, at which point the quarantine tank becomes a hospital tank and therefore has no place in this article. The order in which to apply the sets depends on the individual fish and the conditions it came from. For example, if the dealer?s tanks were rife with ich, then use Set One - which treats ich - first. However, if a new fish shows signs of a lice infestation then use Set Three first and then go to Sets One and Two later on. It does not overly matter what order they are used in, providing the sets are all worked through at some point. However, if the fish shows no sign at all of disease when you purchase it (which is to be hoped for!) I would recommend using the treatment sets in the order they are listed. This is because Set One tackles the widest range of possible ailments ? containing four of the five most common problems found in new fish - and therefore you stand a good chance of zapping plenty of things before they get going. While Set Two is absolutely essential ? because One will not treat flukes and flukes are among the most common and deadly parasites - it treats a much narrower range of problems and therefore is less immediately beneficial (unless of course you think your fish is suffering significantly from flukes, in which case use Two first). Also, you can of course stop one set and start another if the fish develops a disease which the current set will not treat. For example, if you are in the middle of One and the fish breaks out in anchor worms, clear the salt from the tank with two or three large water changes and switch to Three, or to a different treatment type altogether if required. The usual precautions when medicating apply: do not mix any medications and always clear one lot by water changes or using activated carbon in the filter before using another (and don?t forget to remove the carbon before adding a new medication). Aerate the tank well throughout the process and maintain water quality. Please note that the below treatments all pre-suppose a tank which is consistently maintained at perfect water quality, with all water changes being carefully temperature and pH-matched each time. It also pre-supposes correct acclimation of the fish to the quarantine tank (see the Tip of the Month forum for advice on how to properly acclimate a fish). Treatment Set One (bacteria and ciliated protozoan parasites) Requirements for fourteen days: ? Tank salted to 0.3% ? Consistent temperature of 78F ? Medicated food such as Medigold or Romet B, if available* Eradicates: ? Chilodonella ? Costia ? Columnaris (body fungus, cottonmouth) ? Epistylis ? Ich (whitespot) ? Finrot ? Underlying or broken ulcers (body sores) ? Saprolegnia (fungus)* ? Internal and external pathogenic bacteria ? Carp Pox ? Trichodina* Also helps to treat: ? Physical injuries inc. scale loss, abrasions, white-eye caused by corneal damage, torn fins/tail and osmoregulation problems caused by injuries ? Stress following transportation / handling ? Previous ammonia burns or nitrite poisoning Salt the tank to 0.3% following the usual method (for instructions on salting see the Disease Treatment forum) and feed medicated food as directed on the container. Keep this routine up for 14 days, remembering to replace the salt whenever you do water changes. *There are some strains of Trichodina which are resistant to salt at 0.3%, but will respond to 0.6%. If you suspect the fish has Trich, and if it is not weak or very tiny, gradually increase the tank salinity to 0.6% using the same method as before and hold it there for 5 days. If you cannot increase the salinity, use another treatment such as potassium permanganate or Interpet Anti Parasite Remedy. *True fungus does not respond very well to this treatment, though mild cases can be cured or prevented with salt. If a fungus infection worsens use a proprietary fungus remedy. *Medicated food is not available in the UK. If you suspect the fish has a bacterial infection, remove the salt and use a water-based treatment such as Interpet Anti Internal Bacteria or Interpet Anti Fungus and Finrot or Waterlife Myxazin (or if the infection is severe consult a vet). If you do not think is has a bacterial problem however, skip this stage as salt is a natural antibacterial agent and will have knocked off most bacterial pathogens already. Feed nutritious food during this set instead. Treatment Set Two (flukes and internal worms) Requirements over seven days: ? Tank dosed with praziquantel (Prazi-Pro, Fluke Tabs or Droncit*) ? Consistent temperature of 78F ? Varied nutritious diet Eradicates: ? Flukes ? Intestinal worms such as tapeworms and red worms *Note: None of these are available in the UK except from a vet, or use Waterlife Sterazin or TetraMedica Contraspot. Apply the praziquantel to the tank and leave for three days. Do a large water change and re-apply for another three days. Then do water changes to get rid of the praziquantel (which is deactivated after three days anyway). If you think the fish is badly infected with flukes this treatment can be repeated again. Alternatively use the Sterazin or Contraspot as directed on the packet. Use activated carbon to clear the last traces before starting set Three. Treatment Set Three (crustacean parasites) Requirements over 5 days ? Dimilin, Program or Larvadex (lufenuron)* ? Consistent temperature of at least 70F ? Varied nutritious diet Eradicates: ? Argulus (Fish lice) ? Lernea Elegans (Anchor Worms) ? Ergasilus (Gill Maggots) Crush the Dimilin or Program tablet, mix the powder well with old tank water (shaking it up in a jar is best) and apply to the tank. Leave for five days and do a water change. Use activated carbon to remove last traces. If needed, this treatment can be repeated. The dosage for Dimilin is 1 gram per 1,000 gallons (it is completely non-toxic to fish or bacteria so an overdose of any size does not matter). The dosage for Program or Larvadex is one quarter tablet for a 20 gallon tank (again an overdose, but it does not matter). Alternatively, dose the tank with Interpet Anti-Crustacean Parasite as directed on the instructions. *None of these are available in the UK, except from a vet. Instead, use Interpet Anti Crustacean Parasite. However, this is med is very aggressive and destroys the filter bacteria, so skip this step unless the fish actually has a crustacean infection, in which case it is justified. I would keep the fish in quarantine (re-salt the tank to 0.3%) for a further week after this treatment to be sure no further outbreaks occur and to give it a chance to recuperate. Finally, once quarantine is over adjust the tank temperature to match that in the main tank and move the fish over. When you move it, acclimate the fish to the main tank just as carefully as you did in the quarantine tank. It will be used to cleaner water than you probably have in the main tank (less nitrates for example, because of the daily small changes), and could get shocked by an abrupt change in water chemistry. Observe it carefully for the next few days to ensure it has settled in properly. Acknowledgements: Dr Erik L. Johnson and Richard E. Hess, Fancy Goldfish: A Complete Guide To Care and Collecting, reprinted 2004, Weatherhill, New York. David E. Boruchovitz, The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums, 2001, T.F.H. Publications Inc., New Jersey. Dr Chris Andrews, Adrian Excell and Dr Neville Carrington, The Interpet Manual of Fish Health, 2002, Interpet Ltd., Dorking, United Kingdom. Dieter Untergasser, Handbook of Fish Diseases, 1989, T.F.H. Publications Inc., New Jersey. Dr Johnson, Articles Section, www.KoiVet.com.
  2. Setting Up Your Aquarium By GoldfishGoddess 1. Put your aquarium in the place you want it to be. The location of your fish tank should be on a piece of furniture that can support its weight once filled with water (1 gallon of water = around 10 pounds). You should choose a place that is near an electrical outlet (for the filter, light, etc.) and receives some natural light (but not direct sunlight because it is too hot and bright and might create problems). It should be a place which ensures that you have easy access of viewing and cleaning, out of the way of heavy foot traffic, out of reach of small children, and away from other household pets that might harm your fish. 2. Then fill a bucket (one that has never been used with soaps or detergents, a new bucket is best I think) with water. Pour it in your aquarium. Watch to see if any water comes out of the sides or bottom of the tank. You do this to make sure there are no leaks. If there are leaks, this can be fixed by getting some aquarium sealent which can be found in most pet-stores and using this to repair the seals. If there are no leaks then take a paper towel that will not degrade in water, and rub it along the aquarium walls and corners again and again. Now remove the water by using a gravel siphon to suck it out. To start your siphon, pump it up and down quickly in the tank with the other end in a bucket. 3. Now you want to be near a sink or tub to wash your gravel. You want to have a bucket, your gravel, and a strainer at hand. Put some gravel into the strainer and place over the bucket in the sink. Run the water over the gravel, moving the gravel with your hands. Look at the bucket beneath the strainer - it should be dirty, empty it out. Repeat this with the same gravel until the water in the bucket comes out clear. Then do it again with some more gravel. If you are planning to use a under gravel filter this is the time to put it in. Put your gravel in your aquarium gently so as not to break the bottom. If you place your gravel at an angle, sloping downwards towards the front, some of the debris will float down and it will accumulate there and make your job of maintenance easier. 4. Fill a bucket with water, it doesn't matter if it is cold. Pour it into the tank until it is about 3/4 full. If you don't want to disturb the gravel then you can put a clean plate or bowl in there and direct the water at that. See Picture 1 (below). 5. Clean your plants (if they are plastic or silk) and decorations by rubbing them with your hands all over under warm water. To sterilize them you can soak them in hot water and salt (6 tablespoons per gallon of water - it should be UN-iodised salt/sea salt : iodine can kill your fish). Then rinse them thoroughly and place them in the tank. (For live plants, you just have to rinse them gently. If they come in a pot then take them out, take off the 'rock-wool' the roots are are wrapped in, dig a hole in your gravel, place them in and cover them with gravel). Place your plants and ornaments in the tank. 6. Fill your aquarium up the rest of the way. 7. Rinse your filter media before placing it in your filter. Set up your heater if you're using one (goldfish don't usually need heaters as they thrive best at 65-75F but if the environment is very cold it can be useful to warm the water a little), and set up your filter. Place your light cover on and start up your filter and set the heater to the right temperature. Place your thermometer, if you have one, inside the tank. Check all the equipment is functioning properly. See Picture 2 (below) 8. You have to wait at least 24 hours for your aquarium to settle down, ideally a few days, before you bring home your fish. Be sure to keep the filter (and heater if using one) running during this time. Your aquarium water should have equalized by now to room temperature and should be clear, not cloudy. 9. Now you can go buy your fish. Find a pet store that is well kept - the fish tanks should not look dirty and there should be no sick or dead fish. Do not buy a fish: - that has just arrived in the shop, let it adjust to their surroundings first. - that looks sick or injured Do buy a fish that: - has clear eyes (not cloudy) - has no cuts, no tears or damaged fins - has no scales sticking outward with red blotchy parts on the body - is active, swimming normally and lively - has no white cottony growths on the fins or body - show no sign of disease - has gills that are moving and red inside - is feeding actively - and before you buy your fish find out what size it is going to reach when it grows up, and what water conditions it requires. 10. Some people quarantine their fish before putting them in the main tank. This is generally done if they already have fish in their tank and want to put more in, as it avoids introducing diseases into the main tank. If you are going to quarantine your fish, have an appropriate-size tank all ready before you return home with your fish. Follow the steps below to transport your fish to the quarantine tank. After two to four weeks time, you may net your fish (if there is no sign of sickness) and move it to the main aquarium. 11. If you are placing a fish into a brand new tank however, there is no need to quarantine. When you get home, turn the tank lights off and place the bag into the tank. Wait 20 minutes then open the bag and let a little of the aquarium water inside; after 10 minutes do this again, and after 10 minutes repeat once more. This acclimatises the fish to your tank water and avoids stressing it. Then net the fish from the bag and put it in your aquarium. Do not pour any of the bag water in though - this is often full of diseases. 12. For the first day, keep the tank lights off and do not feed the fish. Let it gradually get used to its new home. On the second day you can turn the lights on and give it a small feed. 13. The final step is to cycle the tank. For details on cycling, check this page: LINK See Picture 3 (below) PIC 1: FILLING THE TANK
  3. The Comet ? USA?s Claim to Goldfish Fame By BubblesOwner Out of all the different types of goldfish, the Comet is assumed to be the only breed originating in the United States. They first appeared in the ponds of the Fish Commission in Washington in the early 1880s. The first to place them on the market in quantity was one Mr. Hugo Mullertt. In the Far East, Comets have taken a fancier name; Swallowtails. The scientific name of the Comet is Carassius auratus. Fine-quality Comets seemed to have disappeared from the show circuit lately. Their popularity has dwindled in the past ten to twenty years. What separates the Comet from the Common is its? unusually long tail. According to the Bristol Aquarists Society, the tail, or caudal fin, is described as a single fin deeply forked and well spread whose dorsal lobe length is greater than three quarters of its body length. This is part of their Comet Standard profile. It also details that the depth of the body is to be between three sevenths and tree eights of body length, the pectoral and pelvic fins to be paired, and the dorsal and anal fins to be single. The tips of the fins should be visibly pointed. Comets come in reds, oranges, yellows, white, bronze, red and white. Blue based calicos are called Shubunkins. True Shubunkins should show black, red, blue and orange mottling over that blue base. Sarasa Comets display red and white coloration. These fish, along with Commons, are often found in pet stores labeled as ?feeder goldfish?. They are unfortunately kept in poor conditions and sold extremely cheap. They can also occasionally be found at carnivals as prizes to a variety of games of ?skill?, such as tossing a ping pong ball into tiny goldfish bowls. People often mistreat goldfish of all varieties because they think that the goldfish can live in any condition. While they can survive in tanks, they will be more likely to flourish in a pond. If you do decide to keep them in tanks, ample space will ensure larger, healthier and happier fish. Comets can grow to be twelve inches long. Bowls are NOT an option for Comets. Their growth will become stunted and this is not healthy for them. They, along with Shubunkins, are said to be the heartiest varieties of goldfish. When the average, uneducated person thinks of a goldfish, the first thing that usually comes to mind is either the Common or the Comet. I have created a Comet Anatomy interactive flash page here: http://www.tiensivu.com/goldfish/anatomy.html Here is a photograph of my Comet, Bubbles: http://www.tiensivu.com/goldfish/comet_example.jpg
  4. The Egg-fish: Father of our Fancy Golds Written by Bubblesowner. The ?Egg-fish? or "dan yu", goes back about 800 years in the history of goldfish breeding in China. It is believed to be the ancestral link of today?s Celestials, Ranchus and Lionheads. The earliest documented sighting of an Egg-fish was recorded in 1726 by Jiang Ting Xi in the book ?The chapter of Fowls and Insects, Collection and contemporary books with illustrations?. An illustration of a goldfish without dorsal fins can be found within. The Egg-fish has no dorsal fin. I have read conflicting reports of them also lacking anal fins. Their bodies are short and egg-shaped, and all of their fins with the exception of the caudal fin are small. There are two classifications the Egg-fish fall under due to the varying lengths of their tails; the short-tail (?egged?) and long-tail (?phoenix?). High quality Egg-fish will display a smooth arch-shaped back, the highest point of which should be at the center of the backbone. An aquarium called the ?Goldfish Pagonda? in Hong Kong has dedicated itself to the breeding and showing of Chinese goldfish. They search for good specimens of rare breeds in attempts to help the population of that particular breed grow. One of the first fish they decided to work with was the most rare variety within the Egg-fish family: the Blue Egg Phoenix. This particular strain is most likely a more recent addition to the Egg-fish family line. The Egg-fish is not a very well known fish. Breeders have had a hard time maintaining an adequate blood line, and with the ever-changing tastes of goldfish fanciers, they have become extremely rare in China. In 1996 a trade was arranged. The Goldfish Pagonda sent eighteen Blue Egg Phoenixes to the Goldfish Society of America. The Goldfish Society of America, in turn, sent around the same amount of Blue Veiltails back to them. The Blue Egg Phoenixes ended up finding homes with senior members of the Goldfish Society of America. They are slow spawners, but a good breeding base has begun. According to the Goldfish Society of America, the US now has numerous active breeders working with the Blue Egg Phoenix. Perhaps we?ll see them available for purchase within the next few years! You can find other varieties of Egg-fish for sale now, such as the red and white celestial-eyed Egg-fish with ?pompons? or ?narial bouquets? found at Sanyou Goldfish, of sanyou-goldfish. Photographic Reference links: Blue Egg Phoenix with ?pompons? or ?narial bouquets? Purple Egg Phoenix with ?pompons? or ?narial bouquets?
  5. Name of disease: Swim Bladder Disorder Other names: SBD, Floating Disorder Type of disease: Physical Deformity / Bacterial / Feeding Problems Occurrence: Common, especially in fancy goldfish, but can affect all freshwater fish. Symptoms include: Fish cannot keep a normal upright position in water; it may list to one side, float upside down, swim pointing head-downwards or upwards, be unable to rise from bottom, be unable to swim down to bottom. Fish may become listless and stop eating, but many carry on eating as usual. Caused by: The swim bladder is an air-filled organ which the fish uses to balance itself and swim up and down by regulating the pressure inside. If the airbladder becomes compressed, deformed or diseased the fish cannot regulate it and therefore 'loses its balance'. Fancy goldfish frequently suffer with SB problems due to their compressed body shapes; the cause may therefore be internal physical deformity. Other causes are constipation - which compresses the SB - gulping air whilst feeding at the surface or eating food with too much air inside, such as dry floating foods, Fatty Liver Disease or kidney cysts. Bacterial or internal parasitcial infections can also be involved, and egg impaction in female fish is an occasional cause. *See EDIT below. Treatment: Initially, fast the fish for 2 - 3 days and then feed peas, lightly boiled/steamed, de-skinned and mushed (this is a cure for constipation). If this is not effective, increase the tank temperature to approx. 78-80F and add Epsom Salts - an eighth of a teaspoon per 5 gallons. If this is not effective, treat with a medicated food or a broad-spectrum antibiotic (suggestions are Medigold or MetroMed or Maracyn 1 and 2 in US, Myxazin in UK). If this is not effective, treat with an internal parasiticidal medication. If this is not effective, ask a vet to X-ray the fish to check if the swim bladder or surrounding organs are physically deformed or if the swim bladder is over-inflated; sometimes this can be surgically corrected. For fish which are sitting on the bottom, it helps to reduce the water level in the tank to about half to lessen the water pressure on the fish. For fish floating at the surface, reduce the filter current if the fish is being swept around helplessly and put in plants which reach to the surface to provide the fish with some areas of gentle support. If the fish's tummy or back is constantly sticking out of the surface and is exposed to the air, coat the area with a light layer of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to avoid it drying out and becoming sore. Please note that sometimes it is not possible to cure chronic SBD. If the fish is obviously distressed and is completely unable or unwilling to eat then painless euthanasia might be the kindest thing for it. Most fish will deal quite well with mild SBD for long periods of time however; even completely upside-down fish usually cope for a while. Precautions: Salt and medications affect the cycle so monitoring water quality during treatment is essential, especially if the tank volume has been reduced to half. Hand-feeding may be necessary as SBD-afflicted fish often cannot feed for themselves. Tank-mates may harrass a sick fish; if so then remove it to a hospital tank. Even after a fish has been cured of a bout of SBD, the disorder can return at any time so always pre-soak dry foods, use sinking rather than floating foods and keep the tank temp in the high 70's. Note: if tank temp is above 76F, ensure plenty of oxygenation is supplied. *EDIT: Recent research has closely linked high nitrate levels with SBD; in many cases, 'floaty' fish were restored to normality fairly quickly when placed in nitrate-free water. It is therefore recommended to check the nitrate levels in tanks with fish suffering from SBD, and try to keep the nitrate level below 20ppm, max., at all times.
  6. Name of disease: Hole-In-The-Head Disease Other names: Hexamita Type of disease: Currently unclear. May be parastical, bacterial, nutritional or environmental. Occurrence: Not common, but affects all types of freshwater fish. Symptoms include: Small holes appear in the fish's body, usually in the head region. These may gradually develop into tubular eruptions with cream-colored or yellow strings of mucus trailing from them. Fish are lethargic, stop eating and may develop a hollow-bellied appearance. Faeces may become pale and stringy. Lesions may also develop at base of fins and along lateral line, and fins and skin may also erode, body may become milky in appearance and slime coat begins to come off in strands. Caused by: Unclear. At one time the parasite Hexamita was thought always to be responsible, but in later years nutritional deficiencies, poor lighting, poor water quality and profound stress (e.g. due to overcrowding or lack of oxygen) are thought to be more common causes. Bacterial infection can also be involved. Treatment: Remove affected fish to hospital tank and keep water quality perfect. Treat with a medicated food such as Medigold (if fish is still eating) or if not with another medication containing Metronidazole (if in UK, obtain Metronidazole from vet, as ordinary anti-bacterial medications will not work on this disease). Salt at a .3% solution may help and will also aid in preventing secondary infections. Feed various highly nutritious foods, such as krill, bloodworms, brine shrimp, Pro-Gold pellets (US) or Hikari pellets (UK). Precautions: Salt and medications may affect the cycle so monitoring water quality during treatment is essential. Lesions may attract secondary infections such as fungus (continue treatment for Hole-In-The-Head however, rather than stopping and attempting to treat secondary problems). It is also important to find the cause of the problem: check water quality, tank conditions, nutrition (e.g. stale food), lighting, other infected fish.
  7. emmahj


    Name of disease: Dropsy Other names: None Type of disease: Bacterial or viral Occurrence: Fairly common, affects all types of freshwater fish. Symptoms include: Markedly swollen body, scales sticking up (giving a 'pine-cone' appearance), reddening at the vent or base of gills, ulcers on body, long pale faeces, fish stops eating, paler gills, markedly protruding eyes. Caused by: 1. Fish being stressed or in poor condition for some reason, e.g. rough handling, fighting, overcrowding, poor water quality, incorrect water quality, fluctuating temperatures. 2. Fish in a healthy environment may occasionally be affected due to unknown source of bacterial / viral infection. Treatment: Remove affected fish to hospital tank and maintain perfect water quality. Use a broad-spectrum antibiotic medication (e.g. Maracyn 2 or Medigold in US, Myxazin in UK). A low level (.1 - .3%) salt solution may help (Epsom Salts can also be used). Keep temperature of the tank consistently at 78 -80F. Feed highly nutritious and good quality food, such as krill. Also Medicated foods such as Metro-Med and Medi-Gold are need to help the fish killing it from the inside. Precautions: Antibiotic medications affect the cycle so monitoring water quality during treatment is essential. Dropsy is notoriously hard to treat; the mortality rate for fish with dropsy is high. If fish recover, maintain their tank temperature in the high 70's consistently afterwards as dropping temperatures may trigger dropsy again. Updated 2012
  8. emmahj


    Name of disease: Finrot Other names: Tailrot Type of disease: Bacterial Occurrence: Very common, affects all types of freshwater fish Symptoms include: Split and/or ragged fins, often with a white edge to them, red streaks in fins. If left untreated, fins gradually deteriorate until they are completely gone and disease then infects fish's body. Caused by: 1. Fish being stressed or in poor condition for some reason, e.g. rough handling, fighting, overcrowding, poor water quality, incorrect water quality, very low temperatures (below 50F). 2. Secondary infection following physical injury such as nipping by other fish or wounds from tank decor, or following a parasitical infection. Treatment: Remove affected fish to hospital tank if possible. Use a broad-spectrum antibiotic or antibacterial medication (e.g. Maracyn and Maracyn 2 or Kanacyn in US, Myxazin in UK). A .3% salt solution may cure mild cases. Perfect water quality is essential for fish to recover. Healing fin tissue can be aided by using Melafix. Precautions: Finrot can usually be prevented by correct care of fish, e.g. maintaining good water quality and correct stocking levels, not keeping 'nippy' fish with goldfish. Antibiotic medications affect the cycle so monitoring water quality during treatment is essential.
  9. Name of disease: Ich Other names: White Spot Type of disease: Parasite Occurrence: Very common, affects all types of freshwater fish Symptoms include: White spots like grains of salt on the fish's fins and body, thickened slime coat, clamped fins, fish flicks/rubs itself against objects in the tank, faster gill movements, fish stops eating. Can be distinguished from Velvet Disease by the larger, more rounded and whiter spots. Caused by: 1. Ich organisms are introduced into the tank via new fish / plants / ornaments and infect other inhabitants. (This can be prevented by quarantining new arrivals and disinfecting plants etc. with a potassium permanganate solution). 2. Ich organisms are already present at a low level (causing no problems to the fish), but a sudden cause of stress such as poor water quality lowers the fish's immune resistance and causes infection. Treatment: Ich has a free-swimming stage in its life-cycle so the whole tank must be treated, not just the affected fish. Do not use a hospital tank for this reason. EITHER treat with salt at a .3% solution OR with medications containing Malachite Green, Formalin or Copper (examples: Rid-Ich (US), Protozin (UK)). Increase tank temperature to high 70's and if using a Malachite Green medication keep tank completely dark and covered over. Continue treatment until fish have been completely ich-free for at least 3 days, ideally 6 days. Vacuum the substrate thoroughly after treatment has finished to remove any remaining parasites in tank. Precautions: Check water quality regularly during treatment as both salt and meds can affect the cycle. Due to its life-cycle, ich can re-occur after treatment has finished; if this happens re-start treatment and do not stop until fish have been ich free for at least 6 days. The photo below shows a Common Goldfish with Ich. View attachment: Ich_photo.jpg
  10. Triggering spawning and raising good quality fry Prepare the fish to breed by feeding them lots of high protein foods such as tubifex worm cubes or live food. This will make the females very large with eggs and fat. This will help the quality of the fry you are about to raise. If you just want to breed them, the above part is not necessary. If your tank has a heater, turn it down to about 70? for a period of a few days and then daily increase the temperature by a couple of degrees until it reaches about 75-78?. If you do not have a heater, do a relatively large water change (about 40%) with colder water. Make sure your tank has some nice soft, bushy plants (preferably live) for the eggs to be laid in. Spawning usually happens in the early hours of the morning. When the fish look like they have finished, take the plant out and put it in a separate tank. Ideally once the eggs have been laid, grab hold of the male and female that were spawning in the tank with the plant in and gently squeeze along their belly to their anus. You should be able to see eggs and milt being squirted out. Please, please, please do not try this if you are unsure. Squeezing an ?unripe? fish could kill it! Now you have your eggs. Keep the tank in a warm room. Temperatures of about 76? are ideal and will make the fry grow quicker but it is not essential. The fry should hatch in about 5-7 days. Wait to feed them for a few days yet as they are still absorbing their egg sacks. Feed them crushed flakes and pellets as well as liquid food if you can find it for the first week. If you can, hatch out some brine shrimp and feed them to your fry. You can buy these kits from your LFS. They should have 3-4 feedings per day but be sure to get rid of any food left over from the last feed or it will dirty the water. Start making small water changes after a couple of weeks. If you are feeding crushed pellets and flakes, try putting it through a sieve or tea strainer to make sure that the particles are small enough. After the first week, try feeding them some freeze dried tubifex crushed up. Also put this through a sieve. This is the time for the first culls. If you see any obviously deformed fry, then it?s a cull. From now on, only cull when necessary. If the fry have a varied diet and plenty of room then they should reach 2 inches in 4 months.
  11. The problem with trying to perform a profound water conditions change - such as reducing / increasing the pH or temperature hugely in response to a sudden crisis - is that a sudden big change shocks the fish very badly and either kills them outright or leaves them much more prone to diseases afterwards due to stress. The key therefore is to do it veeeerrry sloooooowwwly, so they can adjust gradually to the new chemistry. But sometimes it simply isn't possible to pour new water in slowly enough to achieve this safe adjustment, especially in a very small tank which doesn't really have any dilution capability. And also your arms soon start to ache from holding the bucket! So... air line tubing siphon! Place a bucket of the new water next to the tank and use air line tubing as a siphon to run the new adjusted water into the tank. The air line tubing has such a tiny diameter that it only trickles water in a minute little dribble. (about 10 mins to replace 1 gallon). This is such a slow change that the fish aren't stressed at all, and you can just leave the siphon to do its job while you go and do something else. You do need to weight the airline down in the bucket though as it is so light it floats and the siphon action is lost (I used a glass paperweight for this ). Also, clip the end in the tank to the side using a veggie clip or similar to make sure it doesn't slip out of the tank and start trickling water over the carpet when you aren't looking! This 'steady trickle' method also works very well for acclimatising new fish to your water conditions without having to pour hideous disease-ridden pet store water into your tank. (Simply run the process in reverse, i.e. air line-siphon water from your tank into a separate container holding the new fish. After 15-20 mins they will be fully acclimated to the new water conditions. Then simply net them out and place in the tank, throwing away the water they came in). In case you're wondering, I have used this method myself to alter pH from a sudden and phenomenally dangerous 8.8 down to 6.8 in a 5 gallon tank with a betta and neons in it. The fish showed no signs of distress or discomfort whatsoever.
  12. emmahj


    Very simple test - put a few drops of ordinary vinegar on each. If the vinegar fizzes or bubbles on any of them, don't use those. Those are the ones that will change your pH. The other rule of thumb is the darker the rock is, the safer it is.
  13. Ich: Prevention and Cure What is ich? "Ich", or "White Spot Disease", is one of the commonest fish diseases and is caused by the cilliated protozoal parasite, Ichthyophthirius Multifilis. The parasites burrow into the fish’s skin to feed on its tissue and body fluids. Death is eventually caused by physical trauma, loss of fluid resulting in osmoregulatory imbalance, impaired breathing due to heavy infestation of the gills, or by secondary infections of bacteria or fungus entering through the skin lesions. The visible symptoms of ich include:  tiny white spots scattered over the fish like grains of salt  slimy skin due to heavy mucus layer  frequent rubbing or flicking against the substrate or ornaments  abnormal swimming behaviour  breathing difficulties  lethargy and loss of appetite  fraying fins and/or cloudy eyes The goldfish in the photograph at the bottom of this page displays classic symptoms of a heavy ich infestation. Under the microscope, the parasite looks spherical or pear shaped. Its whole body is covered in fine hairs (cilia) which provide a continuous rotating movement, enabling it to move around. Its macronucleus is horse-shoe shaped and the micronucleus is spherical. Ich has a distinct three stage lifecycle: 1. The mature parasites (trophozoites) dig themselves into the fish’s skin, forming visible white pustules, and begin feeding on the tissue and fluids. 2. Each trophont matures, breaks out of its pustule and settles at the bottom of the tank as a cyst coated in protective gelatin. 3. Inside the cyst the trophont performs a rapid series of cell divisions, generating as many as 300 new cells (tomites). These tomites are released and swim freely for up to 70 hours (3 days) seeking other hosts to parasiticise. Only about 15% actually succeed but this is enough to increase the infestation rapidly if left untreated. The life cycle is temperature-dependent, however. It can occur in three to four days at 70 degrees F and up to five weeks at 50 degrees F. At lower temps, the parasite will remain dormant. Its optimum working temperature is 86 degrees F. What causes ich and how can it be prevented? Firstly, ich parasites actually have to be present in the aquarium or pond to cause an infestation. Some aquarists claim temperature fluctuations cause ich, but this is not so unless the organism is already there to begin with. (What actually happens is the fish get stressed by temperature swings thus decreasing the efficiency of their immune systems and allowing ich parasites to gain access). Ich can be introduced into the aquarium via infected water, plants, substrates or fish. Some fish can in fact carry the parasite without actually ever being diseased themselves. These carriers shed the parasite into a new aquarium and expose other fish to it who may not have a natural immunity and thus become infected. Therefore, there are some very simple precautions which can prevent ich being introduced:  Don’t buy any fish from a tank in which ich (or any other disease for that matter!) is obviously present.  Quarantine all new fish for at least a month before introducing them to the main tank or pond;  Don’t add any pet store water to your tank or pond: do the usual temperature and water chemistry adjustments for new fish in a separate bucket and then net the fish out to put it in the tank/pond, leaving the pet store water to be thrown away.  Disinfect any new plants, ornaments and substrates with a bleach or potassium permanganate solution before placing them in the tank. The ich parasite can lie dormant for long periods in established ponds and aquariums or exist at a very low level of activity. Like most animals, healthy fish have a well-developed immune system so they are not unduly bothered by the odd lurking ich parasite or other disease. If they become stressed however then their immune system is compromised and ich may gain a foothold. The best way to prevent this type of infection, therefore, is to ensure the fish is not exposed to stress; high ammonia, nitrites or nitrates, fluctuating pH or temperature, low dissolved oxygen content, cramped space or unsuitable companions will all stress the fish and may lead to an outbreak of ich which could have been avoided by good maintenance. Some aquarists also recommend keeping tanks salted at a .1% level continuously to prevent ich. However, although ich parasites are indeed inhibited by salt, the slight potential benefit of this is, in my opinion, far outweighed by the risk of increased osmotic stress on the fish and the extra work that maintaining a salt level creates for you. A clean, well-run aquarium should not need constant salt. How to treat ich: If ich breaks out it is necessary to treat the main tank or the whole pond, rather than removing the afflicted fish to a quarantine tank for treatment. This is due to the ich’s lifecycle and limited vulnerability to medications; the ich will be present in all three of its stages by the time you notice any symptoms and so it will keep re-occurring at the source of infection if left untreated. There are three main treatment options for ich:  An ultraviolet steriliser  Store-bought medications  Heat, salt and darkness I will deal with each of these in turn. Ultraviolet Steriliser: This is not an effective treatment, although some aquarists swear by it. The idea is that the steriliser kills the free-swimming tomites as they pass through it. It does indeed kill them, but unfortunately tomites can attach themselves to new hosts very quickly, and therefore do not all pass through the steriliser. It is therefore very difficult to completely eradicate ich by this method alone, although it is useful as an aid to slow down infestation. Store Medications: Generally considered very effective against ich, although it is advisable to repeat the treatments several times to ensure all the parasites are eliminated (regardless of the ‘instant cure’ claims made by the manufacturers!). Common chemicals used in these preparations are Malachite Green, Formalin, Quinine (hydrochloride or sulphate) or Copper. These medications should be handled very carefully, especially Malachite Green and Formalin which are highly toxic to humans. Wear gloves, don’t breathe in the fumes, don’t get any into your eyes or on your skin. They can affect the tank’s cycle so it is wise to test the water parameters regularly during treatment. They are also not good for plants and invertebrates (e.g. snails) so remove these from the tank before treatment. Malachite Green can also stain the interior of the tank, especially the silicone sealant. How do these medications work? They interfere with the internal workings of the parasite cells; Malachite Green inhibits cell respiration, for example, thus preventing the cell from achieving essential metabolic functions. Heat, salt and darkness: This is surely one of the most hotly debated topics in fishkeeping! The suggested treatment procedure is as follows:  gradually increase the tank’s temperature to 80 degrees F.  add salt to a solution of 3 teaspoons per gallon (in increments of 1 tsp per gallon every 12 hours).  keep the tank in darkness by switching the light off and covering it with cloth or paper. The theory behind how this treatment works is this:  Increasing the temperature to 80 degrees F speeds up the ich lifecycle to a few days and therefore speeds up the rate at which the tomites are killed off by the salt. It also boosts the fish’s immune system, helping it to fight off the disease.  The salt raises the salinity of the water to a level beyond the the tomites’ osmoregulatory tolerance, causing them to burst. Also, the increased salinity stimulates the fish to produce a slightly thicker slime coat, helping to prevent re-infection and secondary infections.  Ciliated protozoans cannot find new hosts easily in darkness and therefore more of the tomites die before they can latch on to the fish. There seems to be good evidence, judging by the many stories related by people who have tried it, that this method does successfully cure ich. However, many aquarists argue that it is an unsuitable, even dangerous, treatment because:  Raising the temperature to 80F reduces the oxygen level in the water which can make it more difficult for the fish to breathe.  Higher temperatures encourage the rapid growth of bacteria and fungus, putting the fish at increased risk of secondary infections.  Higher temperatures speed up the rate at which the ich reproduces and therefore places more stress on an already vulnerable fish population.  Coldwater fish such as goldfish will be put under more stress by a tropical-level temperature.  Such a high level of salt places osmotic stress on the fish as well as the ich tomites, so if the fish is badly infested – and therefore already struggling to control its osmoregulation - then this might be enough to kill it.  There is no real evidence that darkness inhibits cilliated protozoans. Having read around extensively, I believe these arguments are not without some justification. Higher temperatures DO decrease oxygen levels; salt DOES place osmotic stress on fish, for example. However, as with any treatment, the fish’s primary needs must be weighed-up: is the treatment going to harm the fish more or less than the disease? Will it harm the fish more or less than using store medications? Is there anything that can be done to ameliorate the risks of a chosen treatment? Given how serious ich can become, and given how aggressive some medications such as formalin and copper can be in the tank, then I would not say that the heat and salt treatment is a poor option in comparison. Plus, there are things the fishkeeper can do to minimise some of the drawbacks: decreased oxygen levels can be resolved by increasing aeration in the tank, for example, and the temperature and salt can be increased gradually so avoid stressing the fish. And darkness certainly isn’t harmful! And, of course, some of the risk factors are counter-balanced naturally by the fish itself: yes, a higher temperatures increases bacterial activity, but it also sends the fish’s immune system into top gear, thus giving it extra protection against the bacteria. In conclusion, I would say that store-bought medications carry equal benefits and risks in treatment of ich; it is up to each individual fishkeeper to decide which is the best option for their fish, because only they know their particular dispositions. Some goldfish seem very uncomfortable with an increased salt level while others are fine with it for example. However, to use the old cliché: prevention is the best cure of all! Post edited to include the photograph of a common goldfish with ich. The photo is reproduced with the kind permission of Muffysgurl.
  14. Koko, I was wondering what gave you the idea to start this site up? And what it was like in the really early days - did you have many posters to begin with or did you have to answer most of the posts yourself?! Which posters were around when it first started? And which forums did you initially have? I'm just so curious.
  15. I'm having trouble with very high nitrites in one of my tanks (separate post about that on the Tanks board!) and as I've read many times on here that adding a 0.1% salt solution will help reduce the effects of high nitrites on fish, this is what I've done tonight. But why does it? What is it about salt that affects the nitrites and their toxicity? Very curious to know.
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