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Fish Diseases — The Signs of Stress and/or Disease

  • Everyone deals with sickness in their aquarium at one time or another.
  • This list may be extensive...but here is some information that may be of some help for you.
  • Be sure and see RECOMMENDED TREATMENT following list of diseases.

* Before you do anything...Check your water parameters!

Is there high ammonia? Nitrates? Nitrites?

If you find any of these readings to be high, an immediate 25% water change should be made. Has the temperature been constant or does it fluctuate even a few degrees from day to day? If it fluctuates, you may have a faulty heater, and it should be replaced. Varying temps can cause stress in fish.

Are you changing enough water? Many times water changes are all that you needed to help fish get back to health. Adding salts and heat can do wonders. You may not have to use any medications at all.
Learn to recognize these signs of stress and/or disease:

1. Clamped Fins
The fish clamps its fins close against the its body. Experienced aquarists use this to quickly spot problems with their fish.
If you see that some of your fish have clamped fins and treat your fish immediately, you can usually cure them and avoid more serious stress and disease.

See Recommended Treatment ~below.

2. Shimmy
Looks like the fish is swimming fast but staying in the same place. Shimmy is easy to spot, and if the fish is treated immediately, you can usually cure it and avoid more serious stress and disease.

See a Recommended Treatment~below.

3. Ich Spots
Ich looks like tiny white spots on the body and fins of the fish. This is a common disease of fish, and if the fish are treated immediately, you can usually cure ich and avoid more serious stress and disease.

See Recommended Treatment~below.

4. Red or White Sores
Many things can cause sores on fish such as fights with other fish, scraping on sharp rocks, and small wounds that get infected and grow bigger. A new small sore can usually be cured. Older or larger sores are more difficult to treat, but sometimes you can succeed, and treating your fish will make it less likely that other fish will be infected by the fish with the sore. Quite often these sores are flat or cause a depression in the surface of the fish. Less often a sore may be a bump that is raised above the surface of the fish.
In all cases the Recommended Treatment is the same.

5. Gasping at the Surface
A fish that is gasping at the surface of the water is usually suffering from a lack of oxygen, that could be due to a lack of oxygen in the water or the fish’s inability to absorb the oxygen from the water. If there is just one or only a few fish gasping at the surface, but the other fish are normal, then the water probably has plenty of oxygen and you should immediately treat the gasping fish.

See Recommended Treatment.

On the other hand, if almost all the fish are gasping, then there is probably a lack of oxygen in the water, and you should immediately do all of the following:

  • Check the Filter to be sure it’s working properly. If it’s not working properly, immediately fix it.
  • Check the Temperature of the water on the thermometer. Angelfish do best in 78-82 degree water.
  • Add Aquarium Salt until the water has a total of 1 Tablespoon of aquarium salt for each 5 gallons of water. An air stone is helpful for added oxygen.

6. Crashed on the Bottom
When fish crash on the bottom and do not swim, it is usually a sign that they are exhausted. There are many reasons a fish can become exhausted, but quite often they have been sick, and probably showed symptoms such as gasping, shimmy, or clamped fins, before they became tired and crashed on the bottom. So the Recommended Treatment was not started promptly, and chances of curing a fish that is crashed on the bottom are less, but the Recommended Treatment may work and will probably protect the other fish that came in contact with the crashed fish.

See Recommended Treatment.

7. Glancing or Flashing
is a fish behavior where a fish rubs itself on the bottom of the aquarium, or on the gravel, or on a rock or ornament. The fish rubs or glances because it is itchy. An itchy fish often develops more serious Signs of Stress and Disease. If you see your fish glancing, you should immediately treat your aquarium.

8. Loss of Appetite
If your fish is not eating or takes food in its mouth and then immediately spits it out, your fish is showing one of the Signs of Stress and Disease. You should be sure other fish are not making this fish miserable. Give fish that are not eating the Recommended Treatment.

9. White, stringy feces
Always keep an eye on the type of poop your fish put out. It should be a reddish brown, similar to the color of the food you are feeding them. If it is white and stringy, it is time to evaluate your fish’s behavior to determine if it is sick.

10. Other Signs of Stress
There are many other Signs of Stress and Disease in fish. For example, there is so-called “fin rot” where the edges of the fish’s fins disintegrate, or “pop eye” where the fish’s eye bulges out, or “cotton mouth” where the fish has patches that look like cotton around it’s mouth, but most of these more pronounced Signs of Stress and Disease occur after the more subtle Signs of Stress and Disease that are listed above.

Severe fin rot by vikas

“Fin rot”, “pop eye”, “dropsy”, and “cotton mouth” are difficult to cure. But before they occur, the fish often show milder Signs of Stress and Disease like clamped fins. If you treat a fish at the first Sign of Stress and Disease, you’ll have a much better chance of curing it.

If you see any of the symptoms listed above or if several fish have recently died in your aquarium,

Take Immediate Action!

Siphon with bulb by Shocker

Recommended Treatment

1. Clean Your Tank.
The first step is to clean your tank. Don’t overreact and completely tear it apart and scrub everything. Just scrub the sides and bottom, and do a 25-50% water change. Be sure to add conditioner. ( AmQuel +plus, Prime, Stress Coat are good products)

Repeat water changes every day until the fish are no longer showing Sign of Stress or Disease. Don’t change more than 25% of the water in one day.

2. Clean the Gravel.
Tanks that have gravel should have a layer about 1/4 inch thick. Vacuum the gravel. Do not vigorously clean as to remove all beneficial bacteria.

Usually 1/2 the tank at one cleaning is sufficient.
You can avoid many problems with your fish’s health by not having any gravel in your aquarium (bare-bottom) or by keeping a very thin layer of gravel.

3. Add Aquarium Salt.
The dose recommended on the package label is one Tablespoon of Aquarium Salt per five gallons of aquarium water. So, for example, a 10-gallon aquarium gets 2 Tablespoons of Aquarium Salt. Do not repeat the salt and do not use iodized table salt. Aquarium Salt is available in many stores that sell pet fish. It can also be purchased in a grocery store–normal table salt, but DO NOT use IODIZED.

4. Increase the Water Temperature.
Gradually increase the temperature of the water to a maximum of 88 degrees F. Water should never be lower than 78 degrees for angels. Most all cichlids do best in warmer temps. of 78-82 degrees.

What Not To Do

DO NOT add any other fish until all signs/symptoms of disease are gone.
These are general guidelines. Some fish hobbyists may have differing opinions on water temps, cleaning tanks, treatments, etc. But these can be helpful to a newbie who needs information FAST.

BEFORE ANY MEDS ARE ADDED TO YOUR TANK, BE SURE TO REMOVE YOUR CARBON FILTER. REPLACE IT ONLY WHEN THE MEDS APPLICATION IS DONE. Follow directions & treat for full duration even if fish appear to be improving.

Maracyn 2 by johanna13

* Fish medication List*
Please note: this is not an “all inclusive” list.

Regarding medicating fish: It is always best to treat any fish in a bare bottom tank when medications are being used. IF you can not do this make sure you don’t have any excess of organics built up inside your filters or gravel. A good cleaning of the tank (before medicating) will always help any meds work better instead of having to cut through all the organic loads. To ease up any ammonia building up and there will be some, feed lightly. Water changes will greatly help in reducing bacteria and parasites depending on what you’re dealing with. This will also require you to use more meds as a daily dose.

Metronidazole Treatment:
Effective treatment for Internal Flagellates or hexamita. Common symptoms: spitting out food, white stringy feces, fish acting nervous & facing towards back of the tank & hiding. Not eating a very common sign of flaggy. Treatment: 300 Mgs per 10 gallons of water. Heat up to 88 degrees. You may add Epsom salts 1 teaspoon per 20 gallons with addition of 25 to 50% water changes before each dose. This dose may be repeated 2x daily morning and night. Metronidazole will lose its effectiveness within 8 hours. For a stubborn case use 500 mgs per 10 gal 2x daily. These treatments should continue for 5 days. In food, if your fish are still eating you may dose 100 mgs per 1 oz of food. Mix in well. Allow 10 minutes to soak up. Feed twice daily for 5 days. Any un-used foods should be stored in the freezer not the fridge as the medication will lose its effectiveness.

This dewormer will require 4 feedings. Grind up into a fine powder and mix 1/8 teaspoon per 3 ounces of food. Mix together medicine and food. Allow to soak in food for 1 hr. Place in Fridge while soaking. Feed once on days 1 and day 2. Begin 3rd and 4th feedings on days 7 and 8. Panacur does not go into water. (Only food) Do not feed other meals during the days of dewormings.

Most commonly used for gill flukes and internal worms. 14 days for gill flukes & eggs. 18 days for Capillaria to adults & eggs. 1/4 teaspoon per 25 gallons along with daily water changes at 25%. Redose after water change to the percentage you relieve from the tank. Water changes are necessary to avoid bacterial problems. Aeration is important during this treatment as oxygen will deplete. Caution: There have been reports of fish head-standing & tail standing when using this medication. Praziquantel can be used as an alternative for flukes. Do not exceed temperatures of 84.

Formaldehyde 37%:
This is used as a treatment to control external parasite infections of fish. It is effective against most protozoans, Also some of the parasites known as trematodes. Formalin kills parasites on gills, skin, and fin. Make sure water is clean before beginning this treatment. Then dose 2 drops per gallon. With a 50% water changes in 8- Hours or 4 to 6 drops per gallon, 50% to water change in 4 hours. Must check fish throughout the course of this treatment for any stress. Formalin can also be used to control fungus on eggs 1 -2 drops per gallon. Formalin is not effective against internal infections. 3 treatments of every other day will be needed for flukes to get under control. The temperatures should not exceed 82 degrees. Formalin removes oxygen. Be sure to add some extra form of Oxygen.

Jungle Parasite Clear or Prazi-Pro:
These are meds that are used for parasites. Parasite Clear is a combination of Praziquantel and other meds, so it is harsher on fish than Prazi-Pro. PC can be dosed 3 times during a 48 hour period.

For flukes and tapeworms, 100 mgs per 10 gallons, premixing in a cup using R.O. water before adding to tank. Continue with normal water changes if needed to maintain proper tank balance, cleaning up foods & feces. Reapply the meds only to what you take out after every water change. This treatment should go to a full 21 days to hit hard on gill flukes. To target tapeworms, mix in food 1/2 Teaspoon meds to 1/4 lb of food or 500 Grams of food to 400-mgs of prazi med. Feed every second day for 1 week. No other foods should be fed on the days of Anti-worm feedings

Jungle Fungus Eliminator:
For fungus cottony wool like appearances, grey skin, red sores, Columnaris, fin rot, raised white lumps. 1 Teaspoon per 5 gallons, heat to 84 degrees along with daily water changes and dose again. This will help control external bacteria or fungus. 5 to 10 day treatment. Great for newly shipped fish.

Furan 2:
For gram-positive & negative bacterial diseases, milk like coating on the fish, redness in gills, fungus-deteriorating split fins. 1 - 2 capsules per 10 gallons. 25 to 50% daily water changes and dose again. Salt maybe be added to give it more effectiveness 2- tablespoons per 10 gals.

For body-slime & mouth fungus, eye-cloudyness, popped eyes, fin rot, open sores, bacteria inside gills and bloat. This medication can be used at 200 mgs per 10 gallons. If your fish are showing sores or bloat you may need to double dose to 400 mgs per 10 gals. The addition of salts would be helpful. Water changes at 25 - 50%. Dose again and salt daily for 5 to 7 days.

(Mainly used for) Internal bacteria infections, abdominal bloating, red streaks, fin rot, redness in nostril area. Each pill contains 150 mgs. Double dose for internal bacteria for 3 daily treatments. Then a normal 150 mgs every second day for 7 to 10 day period. Maintain water changes though out this treatment at minimal 25% daily.

Dropsy, lifted or protruding scales, gill infection, cloudy eyes, clamped fins, red streaks & bloating. Days 1 & 2 use 20 mgs per 10 gallons. Days 3 to 5 normal dose 10 mgs per 10 gallons.

Oxytetracycline Hydrochloride:
For Gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, ulcer disease, bacterial hemmorragic Septicemia. (Red streaks on fins & body) DOSAGE: 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gallons every 24 hours with a 50% water change before each treatment. Treat for 10 days. This can also be mixed inside foods. 2 teaspoons per pound. Feed this medication for 14 - 21 days. Cover up tank and keep lights off.

Rock salts - sea salts:
A first aid treatment with large daily water changes. Great for stress & fighting off external fungus & bacterial problems. Use 2 tablespoons to start, working your way up to 4 tablespoons per 10 gals. Maintain salts for up to 10 days.

Epsom salts:
A laxative for bloating, fish who have overeaten. Great to have in first aid kit. Dose 1 to 2 teaspoons per 10 gallons. Fish should have some relief within 6 to 10 hrs. If you see no results you may the double dose.

Euthanasia: 1Ml of clove oil & 1 tablespoon of vodka - rum. Mix this together in 1 gallon container. Place fish inside. The fish will go off without any fight or suffering.

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment or give me a


  • Michelle: Wow!
    You have certainly gathered a lot of knowledge on the treating sick fish.
    this is an amazing article.
  • Soteria22: So I just got my fish last week, before I put him in his new home, he ate, and when I first put him in his new home he ate too, but now he’s not eating. So I heard that that is normal for fish that are in a new home because of the stress from a change of surroundings, but he actually seems to like his new home, he’s swimming around and hiding in his plants, but not eating. Should i just wait it out or what?
  • Megham: Fantastic! This is a great article. I will probably be referring to it occasionally.
  • Chris: Hi
    I keep Discus but found my prize fish 6ins floating on surface ..I saw it last night pointed downwards rocking left to right using it’s pectoral fins. I found that it had a huge bloating in it’s stomach area. When I dissected it the bloating was a huge cavity of air where the vital organs are.
    Can anyone help with this please. By the way the fish was still coloured and in top external condition.
  • mimireco: Great information.
  • mimireco: I read were you mentioned a fish eating and spitting out. I have a very tiny baby calico telescope I got from Walmart. He seemed sickly and I noticed he was being bullied by a large black moore. So I took him home. He wasn’t swimming or eating at the bottom. I have him in a large glass mixing bowl with a bubbler because I have no where else to put him. Water is from cycled tank, readings are perfect. I noticed through a magnify glass he had ick and scales looked a bit wierd also. I treated him 2 days ago with Maracyn 2 and today he is swimming and trying to eat but he spites everything out. I gave hime, peas (he did keep some down) flakes, pebbles, carrots, and all he spits out. Otherwise he looks like he is getting well. I looked again through magnify glass and did not see the white spots. However, he still looks a bit raggidy all over. He is so small I’m trying to set up a 10 gallon to house him when he is well. The fish is this long ————- including his fan tail. What can you tell me about why he is spitting out food. He should not be stressed. He has been in a quiet and sleeping peacefully for two days. Water is fine. I suck out any poop I see, but he has not poop much. He’s not skinney, just small. I want to save him.
  • superbsite: Thanks for the big list Johnarthur
    Any idea how to treat fish in Planted Aquariums ?
  • johnarthur: To avoid misrepresentation, I should point out that I did not write this blog but do think it has some useful information. My name probably appears as the author because I used this blog as a link in another blog.
  • Muhammad Imran: I have discus fish and lost 3 in the past 2 wks. The ones that are the oldest have been able to survive. However one amongst the oldest and one that I added later two died. Now presently there’s one large discus fish using only one pectoral fin to swim and I’ve noticed it stayin at the bottom for quite some time now. It seems healthy, without any sores or finrots ets, but I’m still worried. I’ve been adding a medicine M9 velevex to the aquarium. Please advice. Thanks
  • mimireco: Just to let you all know the tiny baby fish I was treating with Maracyn 2 is bigger now and quite healthy. One morning I woke up and found him swimming happily. I kept him in the tank alone for a few days and then put him in my 20 gallon tank with other small Telescope fish and he is healthy and happy and getting bigger.
  • chandan dey: Wow!
    It’s really helpful.
  • Godleedude: Hello everyone,
    First time posting here. I am looking for help with my Koran Angel.
    I have had my tank established for over 4 months. I check my levels every other day, 25% water change and filter change weekly. Levels are: PH 8.2 to 8.4,Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, Phosphate 0.03.
    90 gal reef tank with protein skimmer, UV sterilizer, chiller and wet dry sump. Chiller is set at 80 degrees and heater set at 78.
    Woke up this morning and my Koran was laying at the bottom of the tank?
    My fish are like my children. If they are acting funny I get worried!
    It is breathing fine,swims around fine but color looks blotchy not as bright at it was when I got it. All the rest of my fish,banded shrimp purple tipped anemone and a green carpet anemone are doing great.
    Can some one help?????
    God Bless You
  • gverde: Great info. Very informative and accurate. Good job.
  • Diana: My fish are done in the morning but at nighttime they all lay at the bottom and are discolored. Even the neon tetras become dull, separate from the school, and hide. All the fish lay at the bottom, sometimes with fins clamped, but not always. I wonder if they are tired from swimming all day, but I am not sure. They lose their color and don’t move much. Same goes on with my fry. Please email me at <email> for a solution! I would really like to know!
  • Diana: Woops, autocorrect messed around with my comment. Is this better?:
    My fish are fine in the morning, but at nighttime they all lay at the bottom and are discolored. Even the neon tetras become dull, separate from the school, and hide. All the fish lay at the bottom, sometimes with fins clamped, but not always. I wonder if they are tired from swimming all day, but I am not sure. They lose their color and don’t move much. Same goes on with my fry. Please email me at <email> for a solution! I would really like to know!
  • mimireco: Sounds like water problem to me. Fish do change color when water is not good. I rescue dull colored fish from walmart, and the minute I put them in a tank with clean spring bottled water in my tanks they gain their color within a day or so.
  • Diana:

    That’s what I thought, but water changes don’t help much. I think they are resting, as it only happens when it is dark, and once I turn on the light of the tank, it seems to get better. I also have a few more questions here: I also got a male swordtail recently who likes to nip at my two male dward gouramis. I was wondering how to prevent this? I spooked him away with my finger and he doesn’t seem to be nipping as much. How would I know what water conditions are bad and how would I deal with them? (Ex. Nitrates and ammonia are low, or high—what to do?) If anyone could answer these questions that would be great. Thank you! You can also email me at <email>

  • Diana: Water changes don’t seem to resolve the issue. I think they were just resting, because it only occurs when the lights are off. Once I turn on the tank lights, they adjust. (99.9% of the time) Aside from this though, I bought a male swordtail, who keeps nipping at my two male dwarf gouramis.
    I found that this behavior is normal for swordtails, because the gouramis are big targets that don’t swim as fast as the swordtails can. I was wondering how I can stop this though, because I also found that this can lead to death or missing fins/tails. I spooked the swordtail away with my finger, and he hasn’t bothered the gouramis, from what I have seen. Any suggestions? You can email me at <email> or visit my youtube channel Dianathegamemaster.
    Thanks again!
  • CherryCakes: This is a great article. I appear to have a very sick fish indeed. Last week I noticed he had some cotton wool type fungus around him, no previous symptoms of being ill. I got some API fungal cure, followed instructions, and he seemed to be responding well. Have carried out a water change, replaced carbon in filter and the fungus on the fish came back. Have repeated the procedure but the fish is almost constantly on it’s side at the bottom of the tank and his tail has started to rot. Have tried using salt in a separate as instructed by pet store, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Is this anything else I can try? Thank you for any advice.
  • johnarthur: An uncomfortable, sad aspect of aquarium keeping is that sick fish often have no symptoms until a malady is well established and beyond effective treatment.
  • Farz: Very Nice Info
  • Diana: On my other comment I made, I’ve concluded that they were just resting. All 12 of my fry died but one though, which I think is because I missed a water change :(
    But my platy gave birth to 26 fry 6 days ago, 25 survived. So it’s all good :)
    Oh, CherryCakes, my fish had the SAME kind of fungus on it. It kept growing and growing, and wouldn’t go away, I used fungal removal and everything. It eventually began spreading to other fish so I brought her back to the fishstore. I’m not sure what happened to her; I’m guessing they pulled the plug. :(
  • mario: very good info.after reading the info i now think my fish might have ich spots but im not can i know for sure thank you.
  • Sharon: I had a goldfish who was so sick with drosy and I took it out of
    The water for a few minutes put it back in the water and within
    A week it was almost symptom free, I could not believe it and
    Thought it was some kind of fluke but a few months later a
    Different fish started to show clear symptoms of dropsy so
    I once again took it out of the water, waited a few minutes
    Which does seem forever.. And once again my fish was
    Symptom free this time within a few days since it was just
    Getting symptoms... Please at least try this!!!
    Sharon in appleton
  • Discus Diva: Great Info!! Brilliant for people new to the world of aquariums :)
  • nicky: Will the bloat treatment kill my shrimp?
  • Help me please: Thanks johnArthur this is a great help since I’ve just been keeping fish 6 mos. I added 3 fry’s to my tank they died couldn’t find but one,removed 1/2 of the water yesterday only found one fry could add bk only 1/4 water yesterday due to my son was pring it to me tonight notice my 3month guppy was dead,took everything out clean entire top of tank&small amt under gravel.examine anarcharis,2plants,hiding glass couldn’t lacate fish.
    I have a green cory catfish never added more than 1/4 teasp.for added.added 3/4 water with tesp.salt&Prime.temps at 80 degree’s been hard to get down to 78 should I turn the heater on try get it 88 this is the long one the water level has to be very high,should I turn heater on it’s off.will 1/4 water change per day be okay. reading before changing water tonight PH ,25ppm,ammonia 0.25ppm,nitrite 0ppm,nitrate 0ppm.
    Sorry but felt you needed all the inf.I’m concerned about the cory.Also got a new food Tropical Fish flake no articial color all white their poop is white,some have different colors since I had them,feeding peas for a meal has helped my platy was long&thick much better now.
    Very,Very helpful I’m writing 2 topics down where I can always locate or better makes some notes.
  • Peaches Tsocheff: I have been treating my goldfish for dropsy for like 2months using marcyen two but he’s still swollen he wants to hide and goes back and fourth in pond. y isn’t he getting better is it hopless
  • yvonne: Can the ick come out of the fish tank ? Can it spread and stay on people
  • kimmi g: thanjs so much for sharing this comprehensive and helpful information!!
  • Sinto001: Fish floating on top and breathing the surface...???
  • leebird122:
  • cat1986: thx sir but i can not understand is this med,s genrec name or a brand name
  • lea: I love this - primary (preventative)medicine at its finest :) thank you for this
  • Lhondlenk: Your post is all inclusive and succinct . Very much appreciated and thumbs up. I don’t do Facebook but I sure do appreciate being able to learn from your experience. Everything I always wanted to know about caring for sick fish. Thx.
  • blackmoor193: Great blog! I currently treating my betta for white spot up to now he is dng fine.hope he recovers fast.
  • Adham: i have 3 platy fish they are all gasping for oxygen
    they are freshwater fish so can i add salts
    my tank is a small plastic tank
    and i dont have a filter what should i do plz respond
  • briantheref7: Get a filter, do not put any aquarium salts in the water unless you know that they are diseased, and get an airstone and airpump.
  • Rebecca: Hello,
    I have a 45 gallon tank that has been going for a couple of years. I have had some serious problems in the past getting my fish from a local store. A year ago, I actually won the battle with calanus worms which my lfs said was unbeatable. Getting the right medication worked. The tank has been healthy since then. I added a couple of new fish about 3 months after the worms because I had lost several in the battle. All has been going well, until recently. I started noticing that most of my fish were hanging out at the top of the water. I did a water change, a thorough vacuum and added an air stone. This worked for some of the fish, but a couple of days later, most they were back up at the top. So I gave a few away in case it was an overcrowding issue. Then came the clamped fin and dropsy, as well as wasting disease. I’ve lost 6 fish in about 2 weeks. Water testing shows fantastic water quality, no nitrates, no nitrites, no amonia, ideal ph. I’m at a loss as to what to even treat them with since the symptoms are so varied, and I haven’t introduced any new fish in at least 6 months. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
  • mimireco: I don’t know if this will help but I want to put in my two cents. I have several tanks with Fan tail gold fish and Black moors. All my fish are very healthy. Their coloring has became magnificent. Black moors that were once all black have become colorful with black and orange. Everyone comments how I keep my fish so healthy and the tanks so clean. No algae on rocks etc. I have very little algae. After much trial and error I have discovered the filtration is most important. Aside from routine water changes and peas once a week, I have three filters in each tank of different sizes. 30 gal, 40, gal, 45 gal, 55 gal and so on. I keep a filter at each end of the tank and one in the middle. By doing this When vacuuming and checking filters, I realized the filters at each area were sucking up most of the waste and uneaten food. The filter also provides oxygen. In addition, I have surround bubble wall the fish love to swim through. The water movement provides the oxygen they need. Filters and water changes are so important to keeping healthy fish. Also, here in TX the PH balance in Tap water is way too high. So I use only Spring bottle water. Check the PH in your tap water is this is what you use. Apparently I am doing something right, because my fish are thriving and happy fish. I am trying to find where to post a pic of at least one of my tanks but don’t see where to do so
  • johnarthur: Prevention is always more effective than the cure. In a well managed aquarium like yours, fish seldom if ever get sick.
  • Neilsen: Hi, can I use any of this this treatment for a reef tank?.
    What about epsom salt?
    Thanks a lot.
  • mimireco: Personally, I never ever use salt in any of my tanks. I have recued several sickly fish from Walmart and find that a clean cycled fresh water attended too tank brings them back to health. Never have a sick fish anymore. The only sick ones were when I brought them from Walmart. Rescued about 15 Fantail gold fish, black moors and celest. Only lost two or 3 that were too far gone when I got them. Others are thriving. Some people say salt helps heal, but it depends on the fish. Some can not tolerate salt. I have never had to use it and don’t think it is extremely good for fresh water fish. Just my opinion through trial and error.
  • Kristin: Excellent information. Thank you. I just can’t seem to help my fish, not matter what, and she is suffering. Thank you for telling me how to humanely put her down. I’m not there, yet, but it’s good to know that I have an option if this goes on too much longer.
    Again, Thanks!
  • Joni: Kristen, Have you asked any questions on our open forum? Provide details on your tank, occupants, the fish and symptoms. What you have done to this point. We can brain storm with you. Support you. Joni
  • Kristin: Hi Joni,
    I’ll head over to the forum. I’ve just been researching online for several days now. Basically, I have a platy, around a year old. For about 5 days now, she’s been sick: bobbing to the surface and gasping for air. None of my other fish were doing this. 2 days ago, she began sitting on a house under my breeding net and tonight (after tank maintenance) she is hiding, fins clamped, laying on the bottom of the tank, breathing hard.
    I have a 5 gallon tank. There are 2 small catfish, 2 platys, and 1 guppy. About a month ago, my guppy gave birth to 7 babies. I put them in a breeder’s net. Unfortunately, the guppy also had 6 more the previous month. I was trying to get the little ones big enough to bring to Petco. Bottom line, I had 18 fish (5, less than 1 inch in size and all the babies) in the same tank - I know, I know. I was careful to check the chemical levels but the ammonia climbed to 0.25 and the nitrates blew up to around 60 or 80. I did a 50% water change 3 days ago. Today, I found a home for 5 of the babies. I changed the rock, scrubbed the tank, replaced all my tank decorations, and did a good vaccuuming. I did another 50% change, added 1 tbsp of salt, and added an algae killer since my algae had been increasing due to leaving the light on for the babies (around 8 hours a day). This is where I sit.
    Help? Is she a goner?
    Thanks so much.
    (cross posting on forum, too)
  • nazira03: Hi Kristin, do you mind if I come in and help? :)
    A 5 gallon tank is small and can’t hold all those fish. I recommend getting a 20 gallon if you want to keep all those fish, a 5 gallon can only house a betta, or snails and shrimp. Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? And you said that your ammonia got high? That is probably because your tank is overstocked and all the fish are making too much ammonia. This is what you should do: Daily partial water changes, and you should also test the water, if the ammonia or nitrite or nitrate are high, do a partial water change to lower them. And your going to need to either rehome the fish (Yes, all of them.) Or get a bigger tank like a 20 gallon to house them. As for the sick platy, do the water changes and water testing and she should be fine. And why did you remove the tank decorations, scrub the tank, etc? You shouldn’t clean the tank that much, the decorations, tank walls, substrate, and filter media all have good bacteria witch is very important to the tank.
    Hope this helped!
  • Kristin: Hi Nazira,
    Thanks very much for the help! Here’s a little update to the situation. Originally, I had my 2 platys, 2 small corys, and 1 guppy in my 5 gallon. They remained really happy and healthy for a long time (yep, tank cycles and good to go). Unfortunately, last summer when I got the guppy and didn’t know how to sex fish, yet, I was told it was a male. Well, I figured out really soon that it wasn’t. Anyway, the 5 fish did good in the tank until I had a back to back explosion of babies. I was trying to get them big enough to rehome and that’s when the amm spiked...I just didn’t catch it in time. After three days, it set in to my weakest fish, the platy, and that was it. All said, the biggest problem is that I use Reverse Osmosis water due to high Ph, but with a bit of help from others, I learned that my Ph wasn’t too high and I’m’ now transitioning back to transitioned tap. The lack of minerals in the RO was what started the downfall of my platy and the small spike in amm finished her off.
    As far as my decorations, I had a severe prob with algae (perhaps brown, at that; extremely atypical in appearance and color) contracted from a RO supplier in my area. I now believe their tanks were/are contaminated. That’s another story, but regardless, since my platy was sick, I changed it out. I left the substrate and filter alone so my bio filter remained safe.
    I lost my platy 2 nights ago. She was extremely sick and suffering terribly. Nothing I could do for her anymore so I sadly clove oil’d her. Hated to do it, but she was not going to recover and was getting worse. It was awful to watch her gasp and gasp.
    Thank you for your help! I love MAC for all the wonderful people and help!
    Take care,
  • Mari: My 10 year old goldfish, Wiggles, has a drooping tail end. As a result he cannot lift himself to top feed. He also has pop eye and I don’t think he can see well. He has always been a very strong little guy with a great will to live. I have been adding some new water(about 25%) almost every day while taking some water out. I am now treating with tetromycin, which I started two days ago. I feel so bad for him. Am I doing the right thing? Is there any chance for recovery with such a drooped tail end? Plase help!! Thanks.
  • mimireco: I have a popeyed fish whose eyes got really huge and I know he is blind. He was doing the same thing.. tail down, hiding, and acting sickly. I fist handfed him peas, use only spring bottle water in the 40 gal tank, and I began hand feeding him daily. His eyes are too big for his mouth to reach the food without injuring his eyes. Now he depends on me daily sucking food off my finger. I surmised he was weak from not enough food. At any rate, now he is swimming like a healthy fish with his gold partner. The gold fantail leads him around. When popeyed is not well, I know it because Goldie keeps at his side like he is trying to encourage him to move. Have you hand fed the poor guy? Perhaps he is too weak to swim from not enough food???? Just letting you know what I did for my big eyed blind guy.
  • patrick0509: wow it seems like you really like to right blogs most of the top blogs are written by you.
    Any way very informative blog to me long to read but i finished,i just published a blog 4 hours ago.(and i thought a wrote allot)
  • johnarthur: I have written quite a few blogs for MAC, but this particular one was mistakenly attributed to me. It’s sort of a long story from several years ago. The eighth comment says the same thing. I should also point out Vale has done some very helpful editing and layout work on the blog.
  • Olivia:

    Thank you so much for all your advice!:)

  • mari saga: How much is one MI of clove? Is this metric measurement?
  • Jendee: To euthanize, do you do either vodka or rum or both?
  • johnarthur: Put the fish in a small container, and add a few drops of clove oil. It is an anesthetic and may finish the job. To make sure after the fish loses consciousness, add a shot of vodka. It’s the alcohol that provides the toxin, so any spirituous drink of 80 proof or more will do.
  • Tracy Walcott: Yes very helpful, wish I would of found it sooner before she got sick my bottom feeder was sick so they recomened living plants he died then she got sick now he’s sick I also have mystery snail and ten Fry’s
  • squishy: Several of my fish have occasionally rubbed themselves on the bottom of the tan, however as they are all active and their fins are all straight up/fanned out I never actually attributed this behaviour to illness.
    Why do fish become itchy, and what can i do to help them?
    they only show this symptom every now or then (often months apart) and i never miss my weekly waterchange (50%, in case of extreme grime sometimes more) & cleaning routine... so what could be causing it?
    thank you for this very helpful site!
  • johnarthur: It could be an external parasite or even a small injury. However, since you have done a good job of maintaining water quality, the fish should be in robust health and thus able to fight off most common diseases and parasites. You may want to check closely for indications of an injury and/or the presence of parasites. The most common aquarium parasite is ich, and it looks like grains of table salt on the fish’s body.
  • Jendee: Good luck to everyone with fish. All of my platys died of Velvet in 6 months, and I’m too heartbroken to even think of starting over. I guess fish keeping is not for me.
  • johnarthur: Fish keeping is easier and more successful if you start with good water quality, a hearty species and a large enough aquarium.
  • Joni: Jendee do not give up! We at MAC will help you step by step. We would love to help you just because we love this hobby. As johnarthur stated above... those are the basics and we can help from there and there are soooooo many of us! Please, I or many of us would be happy to help. Joni
  • Jendee: Thank you Joni and John, but it has been 3 months since I lost my last Platy (I had 4), and she was my favorite MM Platy. These were my first pets after 9 years of not having any. I did everything I could to save them, to no avail. Now I don’t trust LFS to sell me sick fish again, and I really can’t go through this pain again. But I’m glad to know that I have your support if and when I do this again. Thank you so much!
  • Joni: You just look us up! ;)
  • Elicia: I have read up on euthanasia and humane ways and have seen the Clove oil; I’m wondering what the vodka does?

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