Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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gypsyrose 08-24-2009 11:55 AM

My boyfriend has in his preschool room: 5 gallon tan kwith two guppies, a small cory catfish, a snail, and some other fish - rasboro something. Oh and a danio. He was laid off work for a couple weeks and was unable to clean the tank, so it got overgrown with algae. Now he thinks the catfish has fungus in his gills. As far as cleaning the tank and treating the fungus, is there a certain order he should go in? Should the catfish be isolated for treatment or should he treat the whole tank?

Byron 08-24-2009 02:51 PM

Not good adding medication to a tank unless you know exactly what the problem is. Corys are sensitive to any chemicals and medication, and could be worse. One thing is fairly certain to me, whatever it is was probably the result of not maintaining the tank. Corys especially are sensitive to water quality and parameters. Neglecting weekly partial water changes allows nitrates to build up (and several corydoras experts have commented that nitrates appear to affect corys) and that is food for the algae as you've seen. Not to mention that the fish are swimming around in their own waste (urine and solid broken down). The first order of business is to rectify the water quality.

However, some caution is needed or this too can turn out even worse. What is the pH of your (his) tap water, and what is the pH of the tank water now? The latter has probably lowered. If it is below 7.0 it is acidic, which is not bad in itself but it means that the ammonia in the tank is actually ammonium. Ammonium is basically non-toxic to fish (unlike ammonia). If the tap water pH is above 7.0 (basic, or alkaline), adding new tap water during a partial water change will cause the pH in the tank to rise and if it rises above 7.0 the ammonium immediately converts back into ammonia. This can result in dead fish either because the shock is too great or the ammonia is too much, depending.

If the pH of the tank water is reasonably close to the tap water, and both are either above or below neutral (7.0) a partial water change of 50% of the tank will do no harm; use a good water conditioner. Scrape the algae off the glass before syphoning out the existing water, and vacuum the substrate at the same time. In the event the pH is far apart and crosses the neutral line, do very small partial water changes over time, and use a water conditioner that detoxifies ammonia (Prime does, there are a couple of others, some do not). Ammonia is very toxic, it burns the fish gills. Which sort of brings us back to the cory, this could be its problem, or any number of other things, but the first thing is to rectify the tank's messed-up biology.

gypsyrose 08-25-2009 04:07 PM

*sigh* I didn't read this and by the time I had he changed all the water and thoroughly scrubbed the tank. Now the poor thing is floating on his side. Is there any hope?

Byron 08-25-2009 04:25 PM


Originally Posted by gypsyrose (Post 233308)
*sigh* I didn't read this and by the time I had he changed all the water and thoroughly scrubbed the tank. Now the poor thing is floating on his side. Is there any hope?

We don't have the pH numbers, so it's hard to say, but assuming I was on the right track, I would dose the tank with Seachem's "Stability" immediately. It is a biological supplement of live bacteria, and the small bottle will do, you only need a capful for 10 gallons although I would put 2 or 3 in, it cannot be overdosed as it is just bacteria. "Cycle' also works if the store doesn't have Stability. And API make one called "Stress Zyme" that is similar.

I will hope he used a good water conditioner; if not, the trouble is more likely chlorine or chloramine poisoning.

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