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Freshwater Aquarium/PLEASE HELP! Trouble in both my tanks!


My angelfish tank
My angelfish tank  
Bruise under coy angel eye
Bruise under coy angel  
QUESTION: I've tried to research on my own and am just stuck. Please help with my tanks. Here are my issues:
20 gallon tank. 3 baby angelfish. Lots of fake plants, etc. marineland day/night with a penguin biowheel 150 filter. Also have a bubble curtain for aeration. 82 degrees. I am upgrading to a 39 gallon and splitting up the angels when they become aggressive. I HAD 4 angels until yesterday. I got this tank a month ago. Cycled it with stability and prime. Reads 0 ammonia and nitrites. 5 nitrates. My fav little marble angel started having tears in his tail a week ago. I thought he was being nipped. 2 days ago, he stopped swimming, and kind of floated around the tank. I put him in hospital tank with maracyn 2. He died yesterday. I now see his side fins were missing spots. Possible fin/tail rot. Other 3 angels have no problems until yesterday. My coy marble angel started staying at the top of the tank. He eats, but only goes down to swim with the others for a few min. He's the biggest one, and NOT being bullied. He shakes (not aggression, but like he's cold). He swims sideways a lot (but not just on one side, so I don't think it's swim bladder). He swims jerkily, like forward slightly, then back. I know a lot of this is just angelfish behavior, but he wasn't this way last week. The only change in the tank since I got it was last week, I went to feed the fish, and the water was hot enough for a human to bathe in. Evidently, the heater switch was knocked to hot on accident when my bf fed them. I removed the lid, turned off the heater, and cried. The fish never did anything. The temp lowered back to 82, and nothing out of the ordinary occurred. I wanted to mention that just in case, but I really believe they either have internal parasites, or something bacterial. These fish look perfect. It's not something on their outside. I added parasite guard to the tank yesterday. The coy angel seems to swim straighter, but now they're all doing the shaking thing (whole body, not just fins or head). And the coy has a "bruise" on one gill. Finally to my question:
WAS PARASITE GUARD THE RIGHT CHOICE AND NOW THEY'RE JUST ACTING WEIRD BECAUSE THE PARASITES ARE COMING OUT? Or did I mess them up more with the meds? SHOULD I PUT SOMETHING IN THE TANK FOR BACTERIA? Or is mixing meds bad? WHAT DO I DO TO SAVE MY ANGELS? An angelfish tank has always been my dream, and I'm devastated they're not thriving. They were fine during the cycling with prime and stability. Now that the water is good, and I change it regularly, they're dying. Please help!
10 gallon tank. 2 gourami, 2 black skirt tetra. Marineland day/night with penguin biowheel 100 filter and bubble wall. 79 degrees. I got the great idea to let my twin daughters get fish, and I ended up in love with the hobby. Unfortunately, I had never heard of the nitrogen cycle, so I have to fish-in cycle. I've had the tank 2 months (no fatalities). I am using water changes and prime to cycle this tank. I got through the ammonia phase, but I'm stuck on nitrites. I had an ich problem, and had to remove carbon to treat, which stalled the cycle. That was a month ago. Now, every day I test my water and get 0 ammonia, 2NITRITES (danger), and under 5 nitrates (same as tap water). Every day I do a 50% water change with prime. I test a few hours later, and the nitrites are down to 1. Next day....back up to 2. What can I do????
Sorry for the lengthy question. I wanted you to have all the info, so you could truly help me!
Thanks so much for the help. I love my fish.

ANSWER: Hello,

I don't believe that the heater issue could have caused any major problems besides possibly stressing out the fish, so try not to worry about that. Trying to treat them was the right thing to do. Mixing medications is not advisable unless mixing those medicines is specifically recommended, which means that you need to either treat for parasites OR bacteria, but it would be ill-advised to add in a medicine for both.

Is the odd swimming behavioral, or is he acting like he is trying to scratch himself on something? If it is scratching, it is likely due to the parasites or bacteria that are bothering your fish. If it is a sudden behavioral issue, then it is stress, probably caused by the temperature fluctuations and the medicine.

What do you mean by the parasites are coming out? Could you get a picture of this or describe it in more detail?

If you want to treat this assuming the problem is indeed parasites, I have several things to advise. Make sure that you have the carbon taken out of the filter, and continue the treatment as directed. Keep a close eye out for external bacterial issues, because bacteria still has not been ruled out as one of the possible causes. I recommend inspecting fish with a flashlight, because that helps to reveal subtle discolorations and issues on fish. You could also try adding some aquarium salt to the tank, as it helps with stress and healing. You can get it at most stores.


Regarding the second tank, it sounds to me as if you are stuck on the second phase. Ammonia is turned into nitrites, and nitrites are then turned into nitrates. There are a couple of things that you can do to try to speed up the cycle.

1. Increase the temperature to 82 degrees.

2. Use existing bacteria from another source. You could try buying bottled aquarium bacteria at the store, or transfer some of the beneficial bacteria from an established tank. That would be a bit of a problem with your current tank because of the issues you are facing, but if you could transfer some from a healthy aquarium, that would be great. The best way to transfer that way is by using a used filter from the established tank in yours.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any more questions. I am here to help and will do whatever I can for you and your fish!

Best regards,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your prompt response. Okay, a few more questions:
I'm told the "shivering" in my angels is shimmying, and a sign that something is indeed wrong. I tested a betta bowl to make sure my testing kit (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, ph) is working, and it is. The ph is 8-8.2. I read that's bad for angels, but that messing with the ph is worse. I'm asking if the ph could cause this much trouble, and if I should continue with the parasite med? If the ph can affect things this drastically, is there any way to lower it without creating huge fluctuations? I tried to find driftwood or Indian almond leaves, but no store in my town has them. I already mix purified RO water with the tap and conditioner, so I'm not sure what else to do. What I meant by "parasites coming out" is that my angel that is stressed has a "bruise" under his gill. I was hoping that was maybe something coming off of him or something. I don't know. I just want my poor babies well.
These are YouTube videos. The second one, named sparkle is 3 days ago, before I added the parasite med. the first one , named "what's wrong with my angels?" Is yesterday. He seems a bit better, but now they all rub on the glass (not rocks or plants). Do you have any idea if this could be internal parasites, bacteria  or just too high ph?
On the 10 gallon, I have stability and start Zyme. I will start adding it.
Thanks again. I really appreciate your help figuring this out.

Angels can be very particular about needing the right water parameters. Try not to take your loss of the little marble angel too harshly. They are very difficult fish to care for.

Using some chemicals to lower the pH can be dangerous because of the fluctuations you mentioned, so driftwood is really the best way. I would definitely try to order some driftwood online if at all possible or ask one of the pet stores if they will order some for you. A lot of stores will order things for their next shipment if you specifically request it. Personally, I like to order from Drs. Foster & Smith ( Driftwood and aquarium salt would help your angels greatly, I believe. If it is impossible for you to get driftwood, I have heard good things about Seachem products that adjust the pH.

It is difficult to tell if their issues are being caused by parasites or stress. If you believe that the medicine is indeed helping them, keep them on it as the directions on your packaging suggest. However, keeping them on it too long if they don't really have a problem could do more damage. I would not be concerned about them swimming against the glass (it could be as simple as them seeing their reflection), but if they start rubbing on decorations or rocks, then there is a serious problem.

If you think that they do indeed have a parasite or bacteria problem, I recommend treating for both. Parasites can often open fish up to bacterial problems. It is possible you could cure the parasites, but there still be a bacterial infection. I am currently researching a safe way to treat your fish for both in case that needs to be done, and I will get back to you as soon as I find the answer.

Revision: Tetra Lifeguard has been recommended to me as a good all-in-one treatment.

Good luck with your angels and your other tank as well!

Best regards,

Freshwater Aquarium

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Elizabeth Turbyfill


I am available to answer any questions regarding Betta fish and goldfish. I will be able to answer questions ranging from basic husbandry to health issues and more. I have a fair amount of knowledge regarding keeping freshwater fish in general as well, excluding cichlids. If you have any questions about species compatibility, maintenance, health issues, et cetera I can help. If there is a question that I do not know the answer to, I will look to reliable resources to find the answer.


I have kept numerous Betta fish and freshwater aquariums for several years, and have spent countless time researching them.

I am a member of a fish forum named Tropical Fish Keeping that I highly recommend to people who keep aquariums or just have complex questions that cannot be answered here.

I am currently attending East Tennessee State University for a bachelor's degree in Computer and Information Science.

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