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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.

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I would dearly love to keep some Rams but I live in a very hard water area.
Is there any way I can acclimatise these beautiful Dwarf Cichlids to my water conditions or will I have to invest in special water-softening equipment?
Yours, hopefully, Dave.

Sometimes, fish from soft waters need to be 'changed over' to harder water for convenience of keeping. This can achieved quite naturally with little stress to the fish.

Simply set up an aquarium with ordinary gravel substrate and fill with soft water, as required by the fish.

Over the next few weeks, the water in the tank will gradually harden due to the effect of the (probably) calcareous substrate. In the meantime, make sure that partial water changes are made using the hard  water to which you wish to acclimatise the fish.
Eventually, the fish will find themselves living quite happily in much harder water as will any offspring from spawnings who will be used to hard water immediately - without any re-acclimatisation being necessary.

Go get those Rams!



I have three Black Widow Tetras that I was just able to cure of ICK...I am a new fish owner and unfortunately lost one in the process. I have learned a lot through this ICK problem. Now I am just ready to put my tank back together.

I have been watching my fish VERY close and noticed a day ago one tiny raised bump on a gill. It is on the cheek area not the gill opening and it has a small black dot in the middle. Today I noticed the exact same bump on the other cheek. It looks sort of like a person with a black head pimple "sorry" and you can't see it unless the fish is staring directly at you.
Do you have any thoughts on what this might be?

I would hate to put my tank back together "they are in a hospital tank now" and then have a problem surface again. Any thoughts would be GREATLY appreciated. Jody

As you have happily found, White Spot or 'Ich' is both easy to diagnose and to treat successfully so you should not have any worries on that front. There is 'Black Spot' disease which may be what your fish are showing but it is doubtful, as this disease (found more often in marine fishes) has a rather peculiar life pattern in freshwater; its development involves birds, ponds and snails to which, of course, your fishes would not have been exposed.

The literature appears to regard Black Spot as not too life-threatening anyway which is a relief especially as treatment is not always effective. Remedies containing metriphonate are usually advised.

We suggest you continue to observe your fish - an easy thing to do if they are still in an isolation tank. Give them a week or so to see if any further symptoms manifest themselves. If the fish seem to be eating and swimming normally (not scratching themselves against rocks or plants), then you should be reasobaly safe in returning them to your main aquarium.


I have two ponds in my garden and each has leeches in them. Sometime these leeches attach themselves to the fish and almost suck the life out of them.
Is there anything I can put in the water to kill these leeches off without harming the fish?

One pond is 3ft x 7ft x 1.5ft and has 11 baby fish from last year's stock approx size 2inches; the other pond is 9ft x 6ft and 2.5ft deep and has 11 adult fish 5 of which about 6 inches long and the other 6 much smaller.
Both ponds have waterfalls to oxygenate the water, so where am I going wrong?
I also had two pregnant adult fish a Goldfish and Shubunkin.
Please help me, otherwise the fish are happy, Julia

You're not doing anything wrong by all accounts if your fish are happy.
The leeches can be introduced to the pond by any aquatic animal or bird that visits so don't go blaming yourself necessarily. Leech eggs can be unknowingly introduced when adding new pond plants so always check underneath leaves of new plants for any unwanted stowaways and remove.

The best way to keep leeches under control is by trapping them. Place a piece of raw meat in a narrow neck bottle (milk bottle, wine bottle etc) and lay in the pond overnight.
In the morning, it should have attracted a number of leeches into it and these are easily disposed of. You may have to repeat this treatment a few times but it will decrease the leeches eventually.

If you find a fish with leeches attached, try placing the fish in a salt bath for 15 minutes or so. Make up a large bowl of water or other suitable container and fill with water to which cooking salt (not table salt) has been added in the amount of 6 level tablespoonfuls per gallon of water. This should dislodge any leeches.


I recently purchased a Siamese fighter and was astonished when they said that I could keep it in my fish bowl. So I took it home. But, it's been two days, and he's not eating his food.

Should I buy baby fish to feed him? Or can he survive with flakes? Please help. Can you recommend any fish food, or do they only eat other fish? Priya

The reason that a Siamese Fighter can be kept in a 'goldfish bowl' (although it's not recommended) is based on the fact that the fish can breathe atmospheric air from the water surface, so does not have to rely completely on the dissolved oxygen in the water to live.
It's hoped that your advisers meant this and not that the Fighter could share a bowl with Goldfish!

Also, the Fighter being a warm water fish will need a thermostatically controlled heating system in the tank - something a little difficult to hide in a bowl. A regular fish tank about 18” x 10” x 10” would do fine. It should be furnished with aquatic plants as usual.

Despite its name, the Fighter does not eat other fishes. It gets its reputation from its habit of wanting to fight any other male Fighter in the neighbourhood, which is why only one male Fighter per tank is the usual rule.

Feeding should not be a problem as it will eat any of the regular, commercially-available aquarium foods, including flake foods. Give it a varied diet (change the brand name now and again) including any live food Water Fleas (Daphnia) etc  together with frozen or freeze-dried fish foods from your dealer. Be careful not to overfeed, especially if you continue to keep the fish in a bowl as any uneaten food will quickly pollute the water even though your Fighter might be able to survive in such conditions.


Last updated July 5, 2005