Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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princepapa 08-15-2009 09:56 PM

Silver-tipped Shark sick? Acting strange
Hey everyone. I'm new here, and somewhat new to keeping fish. I'll tell you what I have first.
45gal freshwater, wet/dry filter. It's been set up for about 10 months.
No live plants, just gravel and fake coral.
The tank runs at 78 degrees. It gets no direct sun-light, but the hood light is on for about two hours a day.
I try to do a 20% water change every week, but it usually stretches into every other week.
My PH is always perfect at 7.0, my nitrates are always very low, and my nitrates hover at around 20, though I haven't checked this week, I did a very good cleaning, and it's probably a bit lower.
In the tank I have:
(1) 3in Silver-tipped shark
(3) 1.5in rainbow plecos (I can't find anything under that name on the internet, so I am probably remembering the name wrong. Very pretty under white light, blue body with red fins)
(2) 1in Ram Cichlids
(1) 3in Angel
(1) 2.5in Green Severum

I feed them tropical fish flakes, and on occasion, frozen blood worms.

Now, first off, I know that some of these get quite big and I will need a bigger tank if I'm going to keep them to their full size. I don't plan to keep them that long. When they get too big, I trade them out and get smaller ones. I also know that it's a very odd mix of fish. I watch them very carefully to make sure they get along, and I've never had any problems with aggression.
I also know that the silver-tipped shark will need a brackish-water tank as it gets older. Right now he's quite young.

So, here's the problem. Lately I've noticed the shark has been hanging around much closer to my angel and severum. Usually he ignores them completely and swims along the bottom. Now I will find him swimming right next to them, often so close that he is actually touching them and freaking them out. He isn't attacking them though.
I've also noticed that he will be swimming normally and them suddenly start thrashing around for a second and then go back to swimming normally.
Sometimes he will also lay on the bottom motionless.
Finally, I noticed tonight, white spots on his head, small, about the size of a grain of sand.

I checked all the other fish, and they are free from white dots and are all acting normally. It seems pretty clear that something is wrong with the shark though. Does anyone have any idea what it could be?
I would appreciate any help you can give me.

Twistersmom 08-15-2009 10:22 PM

The white spots, sounds like it could be ick. Ick can also cause then to go into that thrashing mode.

Also, you say nitrates are are always very low, did you mean nitrites? What is your nitrite reading?

If you could post some pictures, some one may be able to identify your plecos.

Hello & welcome to the fish forum!

princepapa 08-15-2009 10:53 PM

Oh sorry, Nitrites are always low, .3
Nitrates are around 20. Using a liquid test kit.
I will have to take some pictures of them, haven't yet. When I do I'll take some of the shark as well. Thanks for your response.

jeaninel 08-16-2009 12:12 AM

I wonder why you have a nitrite reading? .3 is not low. A tank 10 months old should be fully cycled and have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites. How do you maintain the filter?

princepapa 08-16-2009 10:14 AM

It's a wet/dry filter, so there isn't much to maintain (I didn't think). If I notice stuff floating around in the bottom where the pump goes I'll disconnect it and rinse that area out, but other than that I just let it do it's thing. Is there more to it than that?
The chart for the nitrite test kit I have has light yellow as the top color, with a value of 0.3mg/l, which is the lowest on the chart. When I test the water, the nitrite vial is always light yellow. Is it supposed to be clear? The paper work for the test says that it should be kept below 0.8. The tests are the Tetra test brand.
I can't find my cord to connect my camera to my computer, so later today I'll take a video and post it on youtube and give a link here.
Again, thanks for the reply.

princepapa 08-16-2009 06:05 PM

I double checked, and concerning the nitrites: I missed the "<" sign. So the level is less than .3mg/l. The chart doesn't get more specific than that.
Also, I posted a video on youtube of my tank.
YouTube - 45gal Freshwater tank. Close up look at the fish, including a sick Silver-tipped shark

There is a close up look at the plecos I can't identify, as well as my shark. Plus a general perusal of the tank.

Twistersmom 08-16-2009 08:09 PM

Hello again!
I am afraid I am not going to be of much help.

I use an API liquid nitrite test kit, it gives reading in parts per million, I am not sure how to convert mg to ppm.
In a cycled tank, nitrites should always be zero, it appears that your test kit is unable to give a zero reading?

I am not familiar with wet/dry filters. Maybe someone more knowledgeable will come along. I would think in the wet section there should be some type of media for "good" bacteria to grow on. Do you use any type of media in the filter?

I did not see any plecos in the video, but you do have some type of rainbow fish. There are a few types of rainbows that have the same type body shape, but different colors. On the video, I could not tell what color they are, or perhaps they are still young and do not have their full color yet. Here is a website that list the different types of rainbow fish. Rainbow Fish

As for the shark, my computer screen is not the greatest, so I could not see the ick. At one time it looked as though he was scratching himself on some decor and that is a sign of ick. I would google pictures of ick and see if you think that is the problem. He is probably close to the age that brackish water is going to be needed. If there are any nitrites in the tank, the stress from the nitrites and not being in brackish, can result in ick.

Your tank looks very nice!

If you find that it is ick and need any advice on treatment, just ask.

princepapa 08-17-2009 07:09 AM

There are bacteria balls (that's what I call them anyway) in the media section that hold the "good" bacteria. There's just no up-keep for it.
Thanks for the list of rainbows, I'll take a look through that today at work (if my boss is reading this, I'll look through it at home).
ppm and mg/l are roughly equivilant, given pure water and standard pressure. I would imagine this would be close enough. Is there anyone around who uses Tetra water test kits and knows what color I'm looking for when I test for nitrites?
Thanks for the advice on the shark. Guess I have to decide what to do with him. If he's sick I can't trade him in anywhere, so I guess I'll google ick and see what I can some up with. If it is ick, what should I do?

Twistersmom 08-17-2009 10:19 AM

For ick, if you go with medication, you will need one that says it is ok to use on scaleless and sensitive fish.

I use the heat/salt treatment.
You will take the temperature all the way up to 86 deg. Raise the temp slowly, no more than 1 deg a day, a 1/2 deg bump every 12 hrs would be best.
Use 1 tablespoon salt per 5 gal. This can also be added over a few days, to help give the fish a chance to adapt. Also, table salt if fine to use. Just dissolve in water before adding to tank.
At 82 deg, the water is to warm for the ick to remain on the fish, so you should see the ick start to fall off.
At 86 deg, this will kill the free swimming ick. You want to leave the tank at 86 deg for one week after all visual signs of the ick are removed.
Higher heat depreciates oxygen levels, so add lots of extra air.
Water changes are fine during the heat treatment and will even help remove some of the ick. Just remember to replace the salt that was removed during the water change.

jeaninel 08-17-2009 04:20 PM

If your shark looks like he's sprinkled with sugar or salt it most likely is ick. It does look like he was "flashing" on the rocks which means there's some kind of irritant on his skin which could be ick. Twistermom gave you some good info on treatment.

Your rainbows are Dwarf Neon rainbows (Melanotaenia Praecox). Nice fish. I had some awhile ago but my severum ate some of them. Your severum looks pretty young though and your rainbows are more mature then mine were. Mine were juvies and my severum was about 6" at the time.

Nice tank and video by the way. Just a suggestion, you might want to add a few tall plants towards the back of the tank, either live or fake. The angel and rainbows would really appreciate them. The sev may gnaw on live plants though.

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