* * * * *
* * * * *

* * * * *

Here are our considered answers to your problem enquiries.

We hope that you will find them of value but we can't guarantee success - there are just too many variables in fishkeeping (especially if there's a vital fact you omitted to tell us in the first place!)

If you disagree with our suggestions, or know of a better remedy, we offer you space on these pages for your point of view too.

Click HERE to send your views - help save fish in distress TODAY!


I do hope you can help. I have a Juwel 450 (100 Gal) tank with the following water parameters:

pH 7.6 (7.6 mains)
KH 15
GH 8
Amonnia zero
Nitrite zero
Nitrate zero
Phosphate is high but I'm working on that !

What would be the best smallish (less than 3" community fish to keep ? We keep loosing Guppies/Platies/Mollies but can keep Corydoras ! Any advise would be greatly appreiciated. Thanks, Malc H

You can just imagine our other readers of these pages leaping forward with suggestions at the chance to fill this wonderful aquarium. It's simply crying out for shoals of fish!

Most 'decorative' Tetras, small Barbs, Rasboras and Danios would look great.
If there was some large pieces of bogwood in the tank too, then once planted out there would be no getting aaway from the front glass.

You can still have your Corydoras catfish to bring life to the lower levels of the tank but it's a bit puzzling why you should have bad luck with your livebearers

As your water is a bit on the hard side, you could also think about Rainbowfish as these fish are quite happy with this type of water.

Should you prefer not to have plants, yet another alternative might be to turn the tank into a rocky block of flats in which quite a large number of brightly-coloured African Rift Valley Cichlids would feel equally at home.

Take your time to come to a decision - consult a latest book or two - you have a great choice to choose from.


Could you advise us please as to how, and if, we can treat our Guppy.

We think she's pregnant but noticed that she had taken to lying fairly still at the top of the tank so moved here carefully into a cage within the tank away from the other fish in case she was ready to give birth.

She's still moving very little and doesn't appear to be feeding. Today, a long (5 cm) string of see through matter is trailing from her. Is this a worm and can we treat her or is it too late? Chris Forster-Brown

From your description, it sounds as though your Guppy has contracted an intestinal worm rather than just passing a long string of faecal material. The problem with any internal illness is that, only too often, by the time the external symptoms present themselves affecting a remedy may be too late.

Looking at 'The Manual of Fish Health' (Interpet Publishing, pages 172-177), the cause seems to be Camallanus a roundworm, often brought in via live foods. One possible treatment is to use Piperazine citrate mixed in with flake food. This preparation is best obtained through the vet.

One the other hand, the fish may simply be suffering as a result of her condition.
Isolating her is a good policy although doing so in a breeding trap or small cage may be causing extra stress; using a small separate tank with plenty of plants to offer shelter (for any resultant fry) would be a better idea.


Last year, I bought a new plant for my pond - a spiky bouquet best describes it.
Late autumn it disappeared! Where did it go to, and will it come back?
I'm sure the fish wouldn't have eaten it but then I thought it might not be frost-hardy.

I hope I won't have to buy a new one each year. Thanks, Simon

Panic not, Simon. With the onset of warmer weather, you spiky friend will reappear from the depths of your pond.

The Water Soldier, Stratiotes aloides, has this seasonal habit of rising and falling in the water; it spends the winter months on the bottom of the pond.

It is a tricky plant to handle physically, there are very sharp spines on the edges of the leaves, and it is also very brittle which makes separating young plants from the adult equally difficult.
Each adult plant makes several young plants from itself each season and, in some cases, will produce white flowers.


I have a Fancy Goldfish, about 2in in size, with a small piece of gravel caught in his throat.It's been caught for about 3 hours now. How do I get it out?
Thank you, Chris

Thanks for the email. Your 'problem' is certainly a different one to the usual queries we get!

Obviously, you could try using a fisherman's disgorger tool (or a pair of long-nosed pliers) always assuming that you can hold the fish in a convenient position for long enough. Alternatively - and this is a long shot - you could hold the fish under water and move it backwards and forwards so that water is forced backwards and forwards through its gills and hopefully wash out the grain of gravel. Shaking the fish in a head-down position might help but maybe desperate measures might be called for!

Otherwise, you may have to be patient (and optimistic) and hope that the fish can dislodge the gravel by itself, or that it might pass right through.

HAPPY ENDING: Thank you for your reply on my goldfish with the gravel caught in his throat. Luckily he survived the night, and also managed to get the gravel out. He may have swallowed it, but I guess I'll have to wait and see. He seems to be doing just fine.
If it's any help to anyone, I did talk to a well trusted guy at my pet store, and he said that if you have a fish that likes to suck on the gravel, it helps to buy larger pebbles for substrate.
I got some yesterday, and he can no longer even fit them in his mouth. Thanks again, Chris



My pond was attacked by a Heron the other day and the fish have stopped coming out from under cover. How do I encourage them out or should I leave them to recover?
How long will they take to recover? Thanks for reading this. Andy

Usually, pond fish can take two or three weeks to regain their confidence after an attack but there's no need to worry as the pond is probably gradually filling up with plenty of waterborne food for the fish at this time too.

You could feed with some fast-sinking granule type food, rather than floating flakes or 'sticks' if you want to ensure that your fish get enough food - but don't overdo it. As the food sinks quickly you mght not be able to gauge accurately whether the fish are eating it all completely, so it's best to use this type of food sparingly.

Some pondkeepers lay a few short lengths of wide-bore plastic pipes on the bottom of the pond for the fish to hide in away from predators.

Small mesh plastic netting as found at garden centres is quite a good screen and the black colour is hardly noticeable.



I have a problem with a marine tank which we are new to.
We have only 2 Clownfish in at the moment but have added a couple of soft corals i.e.
Star Polyps and Mushroom Coral these are not doing so well, the light is fairly low.

I have been monitoring the nitrate levels which are always around the 12mg even after I have done repeated water changes. Can the substrate have anything to do with this?

Before you consider changing the substrate, the first thing you should do is test the nitrate level in the water you use with your salt mix. Domestic water supplies have nitrate levels similar to the figure you quoted at least.

If you use Reverse Osmosis (RO) water then you would have to suspect another reason for high nitrates, although the 12mg figure is not necessarily very bad for fish.
If your tank is really new, then perhaps a longer time needs to elapse before things settle down a bit further.

It could be that your substrate (or rockwork) is responsible; tufa rock is not a particularly good choice for instance.
You should make sure your protein skimmer is operating correctly, producing 'dry' foam rather than a lot of 'wet' foam.
Living rock will also help to keep nitrates down as the bacteria within its porous structure will complete the nitrogen cycle process rather than stop halfway at the nitrate stage.

Your Mushroom corals should be fine under low lighting; they may take a little time to adjust to your lighting levels after those in the aquatic dealer's tank.

Try moving them higher up in the water (nearer the light) if they continue to seem lacklustre.


Hi there,

I hope you can help...
Recently we took on a poorly looking Oranda from our local Aquatic shop, he'd been in there for about 3 months and his condition appeared to be deteriorating. We took him so as he could get closer attention and care.

A bit about the fish: he's a Black Oranda, with a very well developed wen, it could be considered as over-developed as it half covers his eyes (it looks like a huge afro!), his (lower front) fins appear quite long as well but his body is quite small. His appetite is good.
He's in a large tank on his own with no furnishing. The water pH, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate are all fine. I have added a conservative amount of salt. He will sit in my hand and rest completely although his eyes appear alert.

The not so good stuff: he seems to have a white fungus(???) trailing from his fins I'm concerned he may have an internal parasite (?)
He's prone to random bouts of manic swimming (to me it appears distressed, could he be in pain?)
He tends to "bury" himself into the corner of the tank and sit listlessly on the bottom.

A bit about other stuff: We've been keeping fish for about a year and currently have a five foot tank with 1 Calico Oranda, 1 Chinese Oranda, One Veiltail and two Moors, they are some of the best fish I've ever seen, very friendly and with far too much personality!!
This little one is in a 2 ft tank of his own, I really hope we can help him as he's got the makings of a beautiful specimen! Your suggestions are appreciated, Alex

Thanks for all the information. Good or bad, the more information we get the better we can try to answer your questions.

If the fungus is trailing from the fins rather than from the vent, then it is unlikely to be an internal parasite. The fact that you have taken the therapeutic step of putting salt in the water is good thinking although it may be this that is causing him to slough off more mucus than normal. It might be the amount of salt you put in is causing him to dash about (usual dose is a tablespoonful per gallon, and you should use rock salt or cooking salt, not table salt which has additives that could upset the water parameters).

The sitting on the bottom bit may be due to some internal swim-bladder problem which can be quite usual in these egg-shaped bodied fish where the internal organs are being squeezed into a smaller space due to us wanting our fish to conform to a non-natural shape!

It might help him to feel a bit more secure if you put some 'refuge' type decoration in his otherwise bare tank. This doesn't have to be anything elaborate a bunch of oxygenating plants weighted down so it stays in one place would do, as would a piece of bogwood or a couple of rocks.
These things help to give a fish a sense of orientating itself a difficult process where the corners and boundaries of an all-glass tank might be invisible to it. Putting a narrow band of black tape up the outside of each corner of the tank would help in this respect too.


My water in my Goldfish tank keeps turning pink. I have a 24" by 12" tank and have two Orandas, one of which is about 2 years old and the other is about 9 years old.

I have a Fluval filter and plastic plants in the tank - no live plants. I cleaned the tank about a week ago and already the water is pink tinged. Is it because I am overfeeding the fish?

I have been part changing the water around every 1 1/2 weeks, adding a filter aid every week and I've been thoroughly cleaning the tank monthly but to no avail!

I have looked in books and on the internet for similar occurances but have had no luck, please help! Thanx, Sarah.

The one sure thing in fishkeeping is that anything (and everything!) you put in the tank will have some effect one way or another.

Let's stick our necks out here and ask a rather obvious question - what colour gravel are you using? It is possible that colour can be leaching out from 'pretty coloured' gravel that is available and which many people find attractive. Are any of your plastic plants red-coloured?

Moving on, the ingredients in the food might be the cause but in general, modern quality foods will not do this as their manufacturers do years of research into adverse effects such as water decolouration. However, if you tend to overfeed this might be a contributing factor and the moral here is obvious - don't do it!
Only feed as much food as the fish will clear up in a few minutes.

Your tank management sounds fine but completely cleaning the tank each month is not only unnecessary but will be setting your filter back each time, and may be stressing the fish unnecessarily too. With your regular partial water changes and partial cleaning of the filter medium (using aquarium water, not tap water) you should not need to overhaul the tank at all, and neither should you need to add a filter aid so often.

For a trial period, cut down on the feeding (if you feel guilty!), even try a different brand of food (avoid colour enhancing foods during this period): try feeding floating 'sticks' so that you can see just how much (or how little) the fish are actually eating and just how much ends up uneaten.

Stick too simple routine maintenance and you'll eventually eliminate the cause.
Observe your fish too - if they're fine then you've got the worries, not them - but let's get rid of this pink water.


Last updated April 22nd, 2005