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Medical Info - Fresh updates as of December 26, 2006.


It isn't an up-to-date Murphy, but it is a start.
The medicines on the medicine page are intended for aquarium use only. Keep out of reach of children. Caution: Not for human consumption. For aquarium/ornamental fish only. Not for fish used for human consumption.

Murphy's re-write may happen before the last of the online inventory sells - a lot of the meds referenced on this page no longer work against the diseases they were formerly effective against, but a bit of history is not a bad thing. The death pattern on gill flukes hasn't changed. But now there is a new intestinal parasite that takes 4 to 5 months to kill a fish. Anyway, read, for what it's worth. There is a date on this page for a reason. Most of the meds we used to carry I don't even bother to order anymore. They don't work, why should I stock them. Hopefully will get some writing done this summer. 7/11/2012.

Information on diseases and treatments.

Grey or White and fuzzy or slimy

Fungus, true or bacterial, pop eye, mouth fungus.
Invisible Killers:

Hexamita, septicemia, dropsy, gill flukes, enteric septicemia

External Parasites: Ich, Velvet, Flukes, treatments.

Enteric Septicemia: the mystery disease description

Hospital / Quarantine Tank Supply List

Fish Anatomy by Mardel. * Environmental Factors Checklist

Links to other products

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Fungus, Anti-fungal and Antibiotic treatments

Because parasite 'bites' can get infected, fungal infections can add to a bacterial infection, and you have to treat both components, I have lumped true fungus and bacterial fungus together. One product may not treat all the fishes' problems, but all of the Mardel products (Maroxy and Maracyn, Coppersafe) can be used together without negative drug interactions. Using more than one antibiotic or anti-fungal product in the same tank at the same time, or as a followup, may damage your tank's biological filter. If you must combine products, FritzZyme 7 is a wise investment. If you're not sure, read both descriptions before choosing a product.

A simple saltwater dip will often clear up minor fungal infections. See Saltwater dip on the FishNote page. Good water quality and temperature appropriate to the species also help. See the checklist for water quality and temp guidelines.

True fungus prefers cool temperatures, acidic conditions and the company of rotting driftwood. Long streamers of gray floating around in the tank often come off a rotting limewood air stone. If the tank temp has been 65 and anything looks gray and mossy, it's probably true fungus. The following category information comes from Mardel's package insert/product guide:
True Fungus:
Whitish tufts of cotton-like material on the fin, tail, and body at sites of injury. Diagnosis: The fish has true body, mouth and eye fungus, a fungus infection -- treat with MarOxy. Use Maracyn-Two or Maracyn or Tetracycline or TriSulfa to prevent secondary infections.

We sell these products for the treatment of true fungus. We also recommend removing the driftwood or rotten air stone, and improving tank conditions. All of these products are good.
Click product name for more info.
* Maroxy
* Methylene Blue - if you can find any. Right now we have none by any mfgr, ditto for our vendors.
* Pimafix
The following category information comes from Mardel's package insert/product guide:
Bacterial Fungus: These are usually gram-positive infections. Visible infection of wounds, fin rot, external bacterial infections. Body Fungus: Greyish-white stringy material covering much of the body; white or grey patches. (Not furry.) This not a true fungus but a bacterial infection known as Columnaris or Body Fungus. Eye fungus or popeye are usually bacterial. Treat with Maracyn.
We sell these products for the treatment of bacterial fungus. Melafix and Maracyn are EF tested:
Click number to go to an order-capable page. Click product name for more info.
454 * MelaFix
* NeoPlexTM
43 * Maracyn
* Gel-Tek Penicillin Gel

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Invisible Infections: Hexamita, Dropsy, Septicemia, Enteric Septicemia,Gill flukes.

I try to use the right product to treat invisible diseases that cause death. These can be very hard to diagnose. The obvious difference between gill flukes and enteric septicemia is only obvious on 3 species of fish. Ditto on hexamita. Knowing your species, and what species is prone to what disease, takes time, and I still make mistakes once in awhile. Email if you aren't sure which product is better. Include fish species in tank (all of them), tank size, water change frequency, when you last bought new fish or who got sick first, temperature, pH, ammonia and nitrite test results, and any chemicals or medicines you may have added. (salt is a chemical.) I'll do my best to help you choose the best care for your fish.

Cichlid Disease, Hexamita Affects cichlids from all over the world. Popular cichlid species include Angel Fish, Oscars, Jack Dempseys. There are African, South American and Asian Cichlids of all types, shapes and sizes. All are fairly aggressive fish, but it's a shame to watch them die.

Symptoms include thinness, skull too large for body, followed by loss of appetite, loss of navigational ability and death. Once hexamita starts to multiply in a young fish, death can occur within 24 to 48 hours. Older fish may develop intestinal blockages, an inability to stay upright due to gas pockets in the intestines, and spend a month or more in the process of dying. The damage done from prolonged illness is often not reversible. Hole-in-the-Head disease may be caused by hexamita, or by a vitamin deficiency depending on whose official opinion you choose. Both can be dealt with best before major problems start.

Hexamita can be carried by a fish for a long time without any sign of visible illness. A new tank, a new tankmate, a disruption in water quality, or a case of ich may suddenly leave the fish vulnerable and the hexamita begins to multiply. Hexamita is an internal parasite, and can only be solidly identified by dissecting the fish and viewing under a microscope. Once it starts multiplying, it generally kills within 3 days. Fish begin to look thin, stop eating and exhibit balance problems. Then they die. Hexamita generally affects cichlids. I have put sick angels in with live-bearers and none of the live-bearers ever exhibited symptoms. I treat all my newly purchased cichlids now. I lost over half of my first angelfish, and 2/3 of my first africans (while listening to kind helpful fishkeepers in a chat room that suggested I not treat with medicine) to hexamita. Once I treated them, I stopped losing fish. I also dropped out of the chat room.
Always test your tank for nitrites before adding cichlids of any variety. They have a zero tolerance for even minute levels of nitrite. I prefer a mature biological filter to any nitrite cure. But if it's too late, the cichlids are in the tank, and there is even a trace of nitrite, use a full dose of Fritz-Zyme 7 now, and another one in a week. It works and provides better long-term results than any product I've used.

Click number to go to an order-capable page. Click product name for more info.

Treatment for Cichlid Disease, Hexamita, internal parasites: 1319 * Metronidazole

Mimic Disease: Gill flukes. Gill flukes can cause the thinness of hexamita, and reddish gills. However, the fish eat, as much as you'll feed them and beg for more. Gill flukes do not respond to metronizadole or minocycline. (Mardel has M-2 labelled for gill disease.) Gill flukes start slowly, with a death a month on introduction into the tank, and the death count goes up gradually over several months until it's 2 or 3 fish a week. You can try M-2 on gill disease, but a saltwater dip and an ich treatment such as coppersafe are often better treatments, since flukes are usually involved.. A 3% saltwater dip is a good idea when the gills are irritated and the fish is getting thin since these symptoms can indicate gill flukes. Not all fish can tolerate the 3% dip. Most can handle Formalin. I do not know whether CopperSafe would be effective against flukes attached to the fish, probably not. Formalin works in a single dose, but dosing with lab formaldehyde aqueous solution always produces a frenzied search for my notes on dosage. A formalin product intended for fish is a better choice.

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Ordinary Septicemia, Dropsy, internal infections

Internal infections, septicemia and dropsy are considered 'gram-negative' infections. These have few external symptoms, red streaks or swollen body being the main ones., but can be contagious and fatal.

Bruising, the appearance of blood under the skin, most often starting near the edge of the body at fin "joints", is a good sign to quarantine the fish and start treatment with an antibiotic. If more than one fish is ill, consult the ES symptom list. At this time I do not advocate minocycline because ES is very common, and there is the remote possibility that treating with minocycline might contribute to bacterial resistance to tetracycline. Before ES entered my tropical fish population in about 1998 more medicines worked. Since I am rather intolerant of deaths in customer tanks or my own, I recommend double checking all fish in the tank before choosing any medicine. If in doubt I'd adjust the temperature whichever way the fish will tolerate, (down to 71 or up to 83) and do 7 days with the whole tank on tetracycline.

On Dropsy: if the scales are all standing on end, I generally put the fish out of its misery. A curled spine, causing the fish to appear ( shaped when viewed from above, is also caused by dropsy, and may not respond to treatment. Quarantine and treat, or put the fish under. Humane execution: Sharp knife, chop the head off being sure to sever the spinal cord quickly.

Click number to go to an order-capable page. Click product name for more info.

Treatments for Dropsy, Red Streaks / Septicemia:
* Gel-Tek Tetracycline
* Aquatrol Tetracycline 250 mg/10 ct
Treating a tank with non-edible dissolved tetracycline will give the aquarium water a brown bubbly appearance during treatment, however, it will save your fish, and the water discoloration can be removed with carbon after treatment is completed.
2012 update - tetracycline alone no longer treats enteric septicemia, but it will crash your biological filter. See FritzZyme.. I combined it with Romet with some success on my last run. 1320 * 12/20/06 KanaPlex was used per label directions, and the heaters were adjusted into normal range where ES can multiply if it is still present. All of the fish died with enteric septicemia symptoms, of tetracycline resistant ES. So this is not a treatment for ES, although it may work on other diseases. It is in stock.
A second test group was held at temperatures over 84 degrees through all of 2006. When we lower the temp, we will see if the TC resistant disease behaved as the original strain we observed, and died of 'old age'. Fingers crossed. It's hard watching the fish die.
2012 update. Not having found anything Kanaplex actually works on, we no longer carry it.

Enteric Septicemia

Enteric Septicemia is normally found in food-grade pond bred catfish, which I have ceased to eat after 7 years of watching what it does to fish. It came to my attention in fall 1998, on 4 fish that came from P*tsmart. They wiped out 1/3 of my stock after they died. It has since become very widespread in tropicals, less common in goldfish or cichlids. The disease is dormant and does not multiply or cause the fish to exhibit symptoms below 71 degrees or above 83 degrees. If temperatures are outside the breeding range, the bacteria can still live in the brain, kidneys and liver of exposed fish for 200 days. I feed medicated food to all fish that were in the tank with an infected fish. Bottom feeders may ingest waste from an infected fish and seem most prone to infection. Fish that consume part of a dead fish infected with ES develop symptoms fastest of all, regardless of species. Successful treatment for the last 8 years has been feeding medicated food. Tetra Anti-Bacterial was perfect, but was discontinued by the mfgr. A gel form of tetracycline that can be mixed with food shows great promise, since nothing but tetracycline seems to work, and it is in stock now. Feed all fish exposed to the disease at least once a day for 7 to 10 days. Feed no pellets, lettuce, treats, brine shrimp, etc. until the tetracycline treatment is over. (I tried 5 days in an elementary school tank, and it almost stopped the deaths. 4 bottom feeders died afterward.)

Only a handful of fish develop solidly identifiable symptoms, but if half of the fish in the tank are sick and symptoms vary, it might be ES. The disease seems to be very prevalent in the DFW area of North Texas, especially on newly purchased fish. Treating with the wrong medicine wastes your money while the fish continue to die. Quarantine new purchases - always. Control temp on quarantine tanks and feed or dose with tetracycline for 7 to 10 days. Too short a treatment with the right drug results in a very dangerous fish, one carrying an antibiotic-resistant form of ES, and it is still highly contagious to any new tankmates, so allow a generous quarantine period of 7 to 10 days. Owing to the availability of sick fish around here, we continue to experiment with medicines and post results as time permits. Enteric Septicemia symptom list by type of fish, until I finally got my tanks cleared up.
Change temperature, up or down at the first sign. (see checklist at bottom for species temps) Any fish exhibiting severe symptoms (not eating, mouth erosion) should be removed from the community aquarium and put down humanely. Put the body in the trash, not a sewer system that feeds a stream or lake. Feed the community tank tetracycline saturated food, and any fish in isolation the medicated feed as well. Quarantine period on fish that had symptoms: at least 3 weeks after apparent return to health. Fish that are not eating will not respond to treatment but would probably infect the rest of the tank. Humanely putting them to death might be a good choice. All of my cichlids received medicated food at the same time as the community tanks. None had exhibited symptoms, but algae eaters make good carriers.

  • If the fish were small, such as neons, cardinals, rasboras, red eye tetras, or dwarf rainbowfish, they would first exhibit darting and erratic swimming, followed by death, with the body appearing to have had the head bitten off.
  • Dojos stop eating and appear to have 'sore mouths' before they die.
  • Cory catfish stop eating, fins erode similar to fin rot, eyes may darken, and move around very little for the 2 weeks or so prior to death. A day or 2 before death, red marks or sores may appear on albino catfish, or be visible on the bellies of other cories. I could find no other markings on the dark catfish I have lost.
  • Mollies that seem to die for no reason, very soon after purchase, are often carrying it. And new news to me: so are their offspring. I didn't bother to dose the babies, moved them from a tank at 83 to a community tank, and infected the community tank. Mollies hang out at the bottom, then die. Usually no visible symptoms.
  • Fancy guppies exhibit dropsy symptoms, but other than poor apetite and bloating, no symptoms.
  • Plecos don't seem to have visible symptoms, but if it is in the tank they usually carry it invisibly for some time before they die. They eat the bodies of the dead fish, so are nearly always infected, but maybe because of their size, they don't die as quickly, so there is more time for treatment. Assuming an exposed pleco to be healthy can be a mess. Mine hid in the cave and I didn't know he was gone til he fell apart.
  • Medium sized fish such as barbs or red tail sharks often exhibit flashing or darting behavior in the hours just before they die, but have no visible symptoms. Darting: swimming rapidly from end to end in the tank, even running into the end, etc.
  • On a clown loach, no visible signs. No discoloration, no erosion around the mouth, not even a red gill. Lack of desire to eat, great desire to hide from light, inability to control swimming pattern so it tucks itself under a rock. Death.
  • Large fish such as bala sharks (4 to 6 inch size) may exhibit red streaks on the body and gills, but in a more all-over pattern than with septicemia resulting from an injury, for instance, all fins, and the belly marked with red lines.
  • Very large fish (7 inch gouramis) may exhibit dropsy for a period of a month or 2, be contagious during most of that time and continue to eat. The dropsy will not respond to conventional treatments such as Maracyn-Two. Dropsy symptoms on gouramis including hanging in the water, or resting on the tank bottom, head up, tail down, and severe bloating. If the fish is still eating, isolate in a quarantine tank and feed medicated feed. It might respond. (I put mine down days before finding a treatment for ES.)


Click for order page Tetracycline

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Ich, Velvet, Flukes, treatments.

The following is excerpted from Mardel's package insert for Coppersafe.
Fish appears flashing, darting, rapid swimming, spots on body, white stringy material on fish; Yellowish-white spots, loss of color; rubbing or scratching against bottom; Fish has Velvet or other related protozoan disease.
White spots which may cover entire body; rubbing, scratching against bottom. Fish has Ick (Ichthyophthirius), a most serious parasitic disease. Almost all fish are susceptible. Note: Some fish do not develop spots on the skin. Heavy infections may be on the gills and show no evidence of disease on other parts of the body. Worms, gill flukes, leeches, gyrodactylus, trichodina, multicellular external parasites or white spots on the body of the fish.
For ich, velvet, flukes, leeches, etc.: Treat with Maracide or CopperSafe, Use Maracyn-Two, Maracyn, Tetracycline or TriSulfa to prevent secondary infections from bacteria. End quote from Mardel.

Tetras often develop clear bubbles around ich, so the fish appears to be covered with bubbles. It's still ich. The most effective product may not be the safest. See individual item info on what fish it isn't safe for. I use a saltwater dip followed by a parasitic treatment that is safe for that species of fish. I have dipped Clown loaches in a 2% saltwater dip, but the length of time they tolerated it may not have done the ich much damage. It didn't do the loaches much good. My newest compromise: bring the ich-ey fish in their bags up to 83 by floating them in the tank they will be joining. Mix 2% saltwater at that temp. Dip for about 30 seconds, (drop fish in net fish out almost, to weaken the ich, and put the fish in its new tank. Treat with a light dose of an ich product and keep the temp up. Treat loaches and sensitive fish with Clear Ich if possible.

Parasite Product Info. - and this is VERY out of date. We don't carry these meds anymore because they no longer work.

Coppersafe 4 oz, Ich, velvet treatment. Prevents reinfestation by parasites for 1 month. Safe for scaleless fish. Will kill round shelled snails, shell-less invertebrates. (Will not kill sharply pointed turban snails, I've tried.)
Clear Ich Antiprotozoan Agent, Freshwater, Safe for scaleless fish. (Powder, mix with water, yields 4 oz. Use for 3 days with tank light off.)
Super Ich Plus by Aquatronics. Highly effective antiprotozoan, do not use with catfish, plecos or scaleless fish in tank. Do not return them to the tank until several water changes have gone by.

Reduce dose by 50% if tetras are present. (It kills tetras at full strength)

Do not use with loaches, catfish, silver dollars and other scaleless fish, some snails at any strength, but may be the most effective treatment for many parasites on scaled fish. 1 oz. treats 1200 gals.

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Hospital Tank Supplies

Hospital Tank Recommended Supply List

  1. Small tank or container of known volume. Recommend 5.5 gal or 10 gal tank for easy dosing.
  2. Sponge filter with air pump, Aquaclear Mini, or corner filter with air pump. Media must not include new carbon if tank will be medicated. Media must not include ammo-chips if tank will have salt in it.
  3. FritzZyme 7 to start the biological filter.
  4. Heater: (50 watt for 10, 25 watt for 5.5, lamp or light for smaller tank.)

Fritz-Zyme #7
Copper, anti-fungal, antibiotic, and anti-parasitic treatments all cause at least some harm to your biological filter. A single product in an established tank does less harm, than using multiple products at one time, or using medicines in a new tank. I've tested Fritz-Zyme during multiple antibiotic treatments: Erthromycin + Minocycline + Copper will cause some filter damage on about day 3 of treatment. A single dose (4 oz.)Fritz-Zyme corrected the situation and relieved the fish's stress while I continued medicating their illness. No additional doses of Fritz Zyme were required once the medicine run was complete. The tank's filter was held in a healthy condition, not replaced by chemicals and enzymes.

Freshwater 8 oz, treats 20 gals. Bacteria in a bottle. This study and my research agree. Fritz-Zyme naturally processes ammonia and nitrites with real nitrosomonas and nitrobacter bacteria that multiply in your tank. Other products recommend that you add them once a week, so the enzymes that DON'T multiply can process the ammonia and nitrites, and starve your bio-filter. Use on new tanks, cycling tanks, and when medication damages your biological filter. 6 month maximum shelf life. Large sizes, saltwater, available.
Compare to $9.00 for 16 oz of products containing enzymes and millions of heterotrophic bacteria, that do not form a healthy biological filter. There is NO comparable product. (and major university studies agree.)


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Environmental Factors Checklist

Temperature. For tropical egg-layers, between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tropical live-bearers, between 70 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fish being quaranted for Enteric Septicemia:
* Platies and rainbowfish: 70-71 deg Fahrenheit for at least 7 days while on tetracycline. Adding an air stone can help lower temp.
* Egg-layers and mollies: 83 deg Fahrenheit for at least 7 days while on tetracycline.
Tropical fish being treated for ich, velvet or flukes: 83 degrees for 5 days.
Comet goldfish, Koi, between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, unless they are dormant.
Always adjust temperature slowly.
Aeration. Check airlines for flow, pump for efficiency. (Remove hose from pump & blow through it. if no (or very few) visible bubbles come out, check for pinched line or change your air stone.) Air pumps can require valve replacement after a couple of years. Internal valves in your air pump can be less expensive than a new pump, and aren't difficult to replace. We will carry them once we have things a little more organized.
Filtration. Test for ammonia and nitrites. Check water flow on external filters, powerheads, water pumps. (Occasionally a power head requires a slight 'thunk' against the side of the tank to restart it. It seems to apply to all brands of power head or water pump. I don't know why.) A powerhead or external filter may need its impeller cleaned (this involves rinsing under a faucet), if waterflow is diminished. External filters and canisters seem to require more frequent impeller replacements, (about every 2 years), than powerheads. (I've never changed one on a powerhead.)
If ammonia or nitrites were elevated, see the free item in general cures. If your stock is very delicate, correct filtration problems first, then add FritzZyme 7 to reinforce or re-start your biological filter.
Water clarity and cleanliness. If your water appears cloudy, without a reason, such as the tank is cycling or medication, look for dead fish. Lift rocks, castles, and check under air stones. Remove any you find. Be sure you are not over-feeding the tank. Green cloudiness blooms in the presence of excess fish food and inadequate filtration. Do not change your cartridge, rinse in cool, dechlorinated water and put it back in the pump. These products clear up green cloudiness very effectively and very safely. White cloudiness from particulate can be treated by adding an extra layer of floss to your external filter, and discarding it regularly. White cloudiness from bacterial multiplication should NOT be treated. See info on Murphy page. Cloudiness due to medication will generally clear itself when medication period is over.
pH. Two small letters that can cause big problems. Test it. Normal is between 6.5 and 8.3 for most fish. Egg-layers generally like pH around 7.0, but can tolerate anything from 6.5 to 8.0, as long as they are used to it. Live-bearers generally like pH around 7.5, but can tolerate from 7.0 to 8.3, as long as they are used to it. African cichlids like their pH from 7.6 to 8.5, but can tolerate anything about 7.0, and incredible hardness. The main thing with pH, even if it is at 5.0 and your fish are still alive, is to change it very slowly. pH shock kills fish. See the notes above in the general section. More information can be found on theKeeping Murphy Out Of Your Aquarium preview page.
Chlorine, Chloramines. Anyone on city water in the U.S. probably needs a dechlorinator that also breaks chloramine lock. Allowing water to sit out overnight will allow chlorine to dissipate, but your fish may still be poisoned by chloramine. A chlorine test will be added to the Test page as soon as I have time get all existing items up. I only test for chlorine if I suspect a problem, probably twice in 15 years. If you are not skimping on dechlorinator, and the bottle says it breaks chloramine lock, your dechlorinated water should be OK unless your city has greatly increased the amount of chlorine in your water supply. My favorite dechlorinator is Fritz Chlorine / Chloramine Remover. It is one of the few I presently carry, because I KNOW it is reliable.

Monthly maintenance on your freshwater tank, or bi-weekly maintenance on your marine tank, will help to keep it, and your fish, healthy and attractive. We accept special orders for special supplies and equipment. If they pass our testing standards, we will stock them on a regular basis.

Original information is © Copyright 2000 - 2012 by Alice Burkhart, All Rights Reserved.