Select Aquatics of Erie, CO

        FIXIT: Basic Troubleshooting With Select Aquatics Fish 


     * Introduction

      Page 1 - The tank, Water quality, Equipment

     Page 2 - The Fish

     Page 3 - Diseases 

          A common problem,
            The Cloudy Tank

     The goals for any fish tank are simple:
     Healthy fish that are happy, unstressed,
     at best color, growing their fastest rate
     and breeding when conditions are right.
     That can only happens when you set up 
     the tank and care for it thinking of the 
     fish first- your desires come only after 
     their needs are met!



        It is rare to keep your tanks in such consistent condition that you never run into problems with the overall health of your fish.
       Equipment malfunctions, even normal growth can eventually lead to water quality adjustments and opportunities for disease to  
       develop. At the fishroom here, much time is spent maintaining tanks to avoid invitations to disease and deteriorating conditions,  
       but problems will still occur, and when that happens, being prepared and knowing what to do are improtant. .

       These next three sections were put together in response to email conversations with customers that obtained fish, and the
       issues are arranged as you might encounter them, but possibly not in a way a book may address them. For example, you may
       find a recommendation in a text for treating "cloudy water", but dealing with water that is yellow or brown may signal certain things
       going on in your aquarium that a fish book may not address. As well, answers to basic questions never never seem to be answered,
       such as "How long does a fish live?", "How long, really, can a fish go without food" or without filtration or aeration in case the power
       goes out - These are some of the questions covered in these next sections.


     The Xiphophorus helleri, Rio Otapa swordtail is possibly
     the prettiest wild swordtail, while also being one of the
     largest, where occasional males will surpass 6 inches.
     Males can show a variety of appearances, some
     will have black spotting, but all have the fiery red
     dorsal. It is also a very hardy fish that is easy to
     maintain, and prolific with few demands beyond
     consistent water quality, aeration and quality food.


        Disease preventatives are available and can be used, but fish here are raised so they will do best after arriving in customers' tanks.
       Most people do not use those types of products, so safeguards such as the use of salt are used only when necessary. Diseases
       are rare with consistent, appropriate maintenance, and are quickly dealt with here in an established manner. I will share that routine
       with you so that when the rare sign of disease presents itself, you can approach the problem deliberately and with some confidence.

      Treating unexpected incidents is as much an art as a science, and the next 3 sections "The Fish", "The Tank", and "Diseases" are 
      a best effort attempt to share the actions and treatments followed here when something occurs, but every home aquarium setup is
      slightly different.  Ideally, these next pages will help to develop a mindset that leads to a comfortable understanding of your tank,
      why problems may occur, and how your fish will likely respond to various treatments.

      These next sections are not a large collection of medications, dosages, and actions that must be done in each specific
      circumstance, as many books on disease can be. The reality is that the majority of incidents fall into 4 or 5 disease types that are
      most common in our home  aquariums. Knowing how to address them solves the problem when it appears, and also provides
      insight to dealing with rarer problems when they come your way. Of course, simple prevention through routine, effective maintenance
      is the best safeguard against disease. But when something does occur, learn from it, and use the experience to attempt to prevent
      it from happening again.



     These Xenotoca eiseni, San Marcos, are one of the hardiest goodeids
     that can be kept, and certainly the prettiest. They can tolerate into the
     high 70s, will thrive in the high 60s, most comfortable at 72-75 degrees.
     They are also prolific and the young are easy to  raise, but they tend to 
     do best when kept in a tank by themselves.


        When keeping uncrowded tanks with consistent care and temperature, regular water changes, minimal or relatively clean substrate,
       aeration, adequate filtration and quality food, you should experience long periods without incidents of disease.

       Each day here, before any work starts, a walkthrough is done to briefly observe each tank and get a handle on the current 
       condition of the room. A friend who has owned a fish store for many years has said he can stand in the doorway of his shop   
       overlooking his tanks, and with just a brief glance can sense immediately which tanks are having issues.

       I will try to address each circumstance you might see on a similar walkthrough of your fishroom, what to look for, and when
       something is seen, what is done here to best address it. This information refers to fresh water only. Though I have been  a
       devoted hobbyist for many years, I am not a vet, and will not give advice on issues I have not dealt with personally.

       This information is not meant to be the last word on anything - I am simply sharing our experience. Having a good book nearby
       on diseases is essential, as there are many things that can occur in an aquarium, some you may experience that we do not  
       as a result of different water qualities, or climate and critters in your area.

     When looking for a filter for your aquarium you have many choices based on
     the time you have to do maintenance, and how much money you want to spend.
     Most filters recommended for the size tank you have will do fine, as long as they
     are a filter that actively removes the organic waste and debris that will collect in
     the aquarium. Using sponge based filters as the sole source of filtration will work,
     but there is much more work required on your part to keep both the tank bottom 
     and sponge clean enough so the fish will do well. Some species will appear to do
     well when the fitration is inadequate, but size, color and breeding may not be what
     they should, as well as inviting episodes of disease.

     Here, we go with simple, effective and inexpensive. Durable box filters with no moving
     parts or airstones that have been the standard for specialty breeders since the 1960s.
     They are filled with polyester floss found at any hobby store, changed monthly, with
     marbles to weigh them down. In combination with a relatively clean tank and
     consistent, routine water changes, diseases are rare.

       Many disease or water maintenance problems can be first addressed with an immediate 40-50% water  change, cleaning
       the filter medium, and thoroughly siphon cleaning any substrate. Then, if it appears to be a minor disease issue, you may
       choose to add a medicinal dose of salt to the aquarium (1 tablespoon per every 5 gallons of  water), which for many
       things will stop the infection and give you time to determine whether further medication is necessary. I will deal with each
       issue in the upcoming sections. You would then gradually remove the salt through weekly water changes. All treatments
       come with consequences, and salt will negatively affect many types of plants.

       Most issues, either directly or indirectly, can be traced to water quality, As soon as you notice a problem, you will want
       to best determine what you think is going on, then whether a medication will be necessary. Then perform the tank "reboot",
       (doing what was mentioned above), followed by the appropriate medication, if necessary, following the manufacturer's
       Some feel that scaleless fishes do not respond as well to the use of salt, and I cannot speak to that. However, there has never 
       been a problem using salt with the Livebearers, Cichlids or the Pleco Catfish bred and raised here. Using salt, however, like 
       any medication, has side effects, so avoiding disease in the first place through appropriate husbandry is always the best route.

       When a specific fish is experiencing an issue, and it is not contagious, you should isolate it from the population, providing
       individual care and medication when necessary. When dealing with a diseased tank, use only nets and equipment that have
       been dedicated to that tank. This  includes washing your hands between tanks when dealing with a disease, or it could be
       spread throughout your room!

       These next sections are simply an effort to share the problems and solutions shared by customers, as well as my own effort to
       list issues and actions that are taken here. If you have any comments, or would like to see something included that has not
       been addressed, please email me at,  and I look forward to hearing from you - Thank you!

       Greg Sage



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