Aquarium problem solver by pengtt



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If you follow the advice                     Water clarity 4-7
given by your aquatics                       Algae         8-9
outlet, and in our information               Sick fish   10-13
brochures, it is unlikely that you will
                                             Sick plants 14-15
have any difficulty with your aquarium.
However, in case you need additional
help, this brochure tells you how to solve
some common problems.

    Water clarity
    Problems with water clarity are usually simple to resolve, and
    normally fall under one of the following:

     Cloudy / milky water              2 Bacterial bloom
    This has two possible              In new aquariums, it is not
    causes:                            uncommon to experience a
    1 Failure to clean new             temporary cloudiness of the
    substrate                          water caused by bacteria.
                                       Because new aquariums
    Gravel, sand, and other            do not have an established
    aquarium substrates contain        population of micro-
    a lot of dust, which should        organisms in the gravel
    be cleaned off before use.         and filter, dissolved organic
    If the water goes cloudy as        material accumulates in
    soon as it’s filled, this is the   the water and promotes the
    most likely cause. The colour      rapid growth of bacteria.
    of the water can be anything
    from a slight cloudiness to        As the aquarium matures,
    a dirty brown, depending on        this should settle down
    the type of substrate used.        and clear. It is not directly
                                       harmful to fish, however
    Although your filter should        it could indicate that too
    clear the water over time,         many fish have been added
    it is preferable to remove         at once. It is therefore
    the substrate and clean            important to test the water
    it properly, to avoid re-          for ammonia and nitrite, to
    occurrence of the problem.         make sure it is healthy.
    The only types of substrates
    that do not need cleaning
    are specialist planting
    ones, such as TetraPlant

If the cloudiness is very        the substrate. An excessive
bad, the bacteria can be         amount in the substrate
thinned out by performing a      can be re-suspended by
partial water change, using      the activity of the fish, and
tap water conditioned with       blocked filters will not trap
Tetra AquaSafe. Adding Tetra     particles as effectively.
SafeStart to new aquariums       Therefore, to resolve brown
will help establish the filter   water, you need to clean the
more rapidly.                    substrate with a TetraTec GC
                                 gravel cleaner, and ensure
 Dirty / brown water             the filter is free from debris
Unless this is caused by         (by washing it according to
unwashed substrate (see          the instructions).
above), brown water is
                                 If you find that the gravel or
normally caused by solid
                                 filter is becoming clogged
waste becoming suspended
                                 rapidly, leading to problems
in the water.
                                 with dirty water, you should
Solid waste is normally          check the following:
trapped in the filter or in
    1   Are you using a good           Yellow water
        quality food, according       Over time, organic waste
        to the instructions?          breaks down releasing
        Over-feeding, especially      substances into the water
        with a poor quality food,     that can cause it to go
        will put excessive solid      yellow. Such water is still
        waste into the aquarium.      transparent, but has a
        Offer a good quality food,    definite yellow / brown taint
        such as TetraMin or           to it. Aquariums containing
        TetraFin, 2-3 times a day,    bogwood can be particularly
        only as much as the fish      prone to this.If this happens
        can consume within a          often, make sure there is not
        couple of minutes.            an excess of debris in the
    2   Is your aquarium over-        substrate. Good aquarium
        stocked? Recommended          husbandry, including keeping
        stocking levels are
        1cm of fish per litre for
        tropical fish, and 0.5 –
        1cm per litre for goldfish.
        If your aquarium does
        have too many fish, you
        may need to upgrade to
        a larger one.
    3   Is your filter big enough
        for the aquarium? Check
        the instructions to
        ensure it is large enough
        to cope with the volume
        of water. If not, consider
        upgrading it.

the substrate clean with
a TetraTec GC gravel
cleaner, can reduce
the rate at which
these substances
For complete
prevention of yellow
water, use activated
carbon in the filter.
This removes the
substances that
cause the colouration,
helping to keep water
crystal clear. All
Tetra filters contain
activated carbon,
or have the option
of including it.
Alternatively, you can
add TetraTec Carbon
media to an existing
external filter.

 Green Water
Green water is caused by
suspended algae, and should
be dealt with accordingly.
See the section on Algae in
this brochure.

    Algae are simple plants that occur naturally in aquariums.
    If they grow to excess, they can spoil its appearance by
    covering the glass, plants, and ornaments, and in some cases
    causing the water to turn green.

    Algae come in various           • Remove organic matter
    shapes and colours, the type      from the substrate.
    depending on the chemical         Allowing the substrate
    and physical properties of        to get very dirty will
    the aquarium. Generally they      cause nutrient levels
    are green or brown, and may       to rise, fuelling algae
    form smooth sheets or stringy     growth. You should keep
    growths. You cannot prevent       the substrate reasonably
    algae entering the aquarium,      clean by using a
    but you can manage its            TetraTec GC gravel
    growth and prevent it             cleaner, and clean the
    becoming a problem.               filter as necessary.

    Tips for controlling algae      • Use a good quality
                                      food. Foods that are
    • Control the amount
                                      efficiently utilised, such
      of light within the
                                      as TetraMin and TetraFin,
      aquarium. This means
                                      result in less nutrient
      keeping it out of natural
                                      build-up. This helps to
      sunlight, and leaving
                                      control algae growth.
      the light on for no more
      than 10-12 hours a day.       • Add live plants to the
      You should also replace         aquarium as a natural
      light bulbs according to        algae control. Fast-growing
      the instructions, as old        species are best, and their
      tubes emit the wrong            growth can be encouraged
      quality of light and can        with TetraPlant PlantaMin.
      encourage brown algae
      to grow.
  You can get an indication
  of nutrient levels by
  testing the water for
  nitrate with a TetraTest
  Nitrate kit, or TetraTest 5
  in 1 test strips.

• Use Tetra EasyBalance.        suitable.
  This actively reduces         Bristlenose
  two important algae           catfish may eat the
  nutrients – phosphate         plants as well, so seek
  and nitrate, thereby          advice before deciding
  helping to control            on which fish to use.
  its growth. Tetra             A mixture is often best,
  NitrateMinus can also         as some fish only eat
  be used specifically for      certain types of algae.
  nitrate control.
• Keep a selection of
  algae-eating fish. In
  tropical aquariums it
  is possible to control
  algae using certain
  fish. Bristlenose
  catfish (Ancistrus),
  Otocinclus catfish,
  and Siamese algae
  eaters (Crossocheilus
  siamensis) are all

     Sick fish
     Fish kept in a healthy environment rarely get ill, and if they
     do it’s important to identify any underlying causes. If the
     environment is not right they will be stressed, causing their
     immune system to weaken, leaving them open to infection.

     Signs of illness                  The following table offers
     A change in the behaviour         a guide to some typical
     of the fish, such as loss of      symptoms and diseases they
     appetite or sluggishness,         are likely to be associated
     is often the first sign that      with. Use this to try to
     something is wrong. In some       identify the problem and the
     cases, specific symptoms          correct treatment. Where a
     may develop that can help         specific disease cannot be
     identify the disease, but         identified, use of a general
     this is not always the case.      remedy such as TetraMedica
     Just like humans and other        General Tonic (tropical fish)
     animals, infections may be        or TetraMedica GoldMed
     caused by a range of fungi,       (goldfish) is recommended.
     parasites, bacteria, and          For more detailed advice,
     viruses. The more common          consult your aquatics outlet.
     ones can usually be treated       Curing sick fish
     with off-the-shelf remedies,
     provided any problems             To begin with, try to identify
     with the environment are          any underlying environmental
     corrected.                        problems:
                                       • Test the water to ensure
                                         it is healthy. You can
                                         do this with TetraTest
                                         kits, and your aquatics
                                         outlet may be able to
                                         test a water sample
                                         for you. At a minimum,
                                         you should check for
Symptoms                    Likely cause               Treatment
Small white spots           White spot                 Tetra ContraSpot
covering skin and fins

Peppering of yellow         Velvet disease             Tetra ContraSpot
– gold "dust"

Fish gasping at the         Water quality,             Check water quality,
surface                     Gill disease               Tetra General Tonic
                                                       or Tetra ContraSpot

Thickened mucus,            Water quality,             Check water, Tetra
"milky" or slightly grey    Skin slime disease         ContraSpot
appearance to skin

Mucus trailing from gills   Water quality,             Check water quality,
                            Gill disease               Tetra General Tonic or
                                                       Tetra ContraSpot

Fishes are "flicking"       Skin parasites, water      Tetra ContraSpot,
against things              quality                    check water

Cloudy eyes                 Water quality,             Check water, Tetra
                            physical damage,           General Tonic
                            bacterial infection

Red streaks in fins and     Bacteria, water quality    Check water, Tetra
on body                                                General Tonic

Ulcers                      Bacteria                   Check water, Tetra
                                                       General Tonic

Cotton wool like            Fungus                     Check water, Tetra
growths on body                                        FungiStop

Darkening in colour/        Water quality, bacteria,   Check water quality,
lethargy                    possible parasites         Tetra General Tonic or
                                                       Tetra ContraSpot

Rapid gill movements        Water quality, Gill        Check water, Tetra
                            disease                    ContraSpot or Tetra
                                                       General Tonic

Swollen body and/or         Bacteria (Dropsy)          Tetra General Tonic
raised scales

Protruding eyes             Physical damage,           Tetra General Tonic

Eroded mouth and head       Cotton wool disease        Check water, Tetra
with cotton wool like       (bacteria)                 General Tonic
                     ammonia, nitrite, and          • Ensure you are feeding a
                     pH. If no problems are           good quality food, as this
                     identified, you should           will provide everything
                     also check levels of             needed for a healthy
                     nitrate, oxygen, GH, and         immune system.
                     KH. Any problems need
                                                    • Ensure the aquarium has
                     to be resolved before
                                                      plenty of hiding places.
                     treatment is likely to
                                                      If they can’t hide away,
                     work. More information
                                                      many fish will become
                     on water quality can be
                                                      stressed and sick.
                     found in our 'Caring for
                     your Tropical Aquarium'        Treating the water
                                                    Once you have identified
                   • Check the temperature,         any possible environmental
                     as water that is too           problems, and taken steps to
                     hot or cold can trigger        resolve them, you can then
                     disease. This is especially    treat the aquarium. Use the
                     important for tropical fish.   disease identification table
                                                    to find the most appropriate
                   • Clean the substrate &          remedy, and ask your
                     equipment,                     aquatics outlet for further
                     as accumulated organic         help if required.
                     matter can harbour
                     disease-causing micro-         Treatment tips:
                     organisms.                     • Before adding the
All Tetra foods
contain patented                                      treatment, perform a 25%
                   • Check the fish are
ActiveFormula,                                        water change using tap
                     compatible, as aggression
which helps                                           water conditioned with
                     can weaken fish leading
fish maintain a                                       Tetra AquaSafe, and clean
                     to disease. In addition,
healthy immune                                        the substrate.
                     shoaling fish must be kept
system               in sufficient numbers to       • Perform a further 25% water
                     prevent stress.                  change each time you
                                                      re-dose the aquarium.
• Ensure there is plenty of
  aeration during treatment
  – if the fish seem to gasp at
  the surface, increase oxygen
  levels with a TetraTec APS
• Read the instructions            Three very common causes of
  carefully, and only add          health problems are washing
  the correct amount of            the filter media in tap water,
  treatment to the aquarium.       adding too many fish to the
  TetraMedica medicines are        aquarium at once, and failing
  safe for all fish, but some      to properly condition tap water.
  other brands may carry           All can cause water quality
  special warnings for certain     problems or directly harm fish,
  species.                         leading to disease:
• Remove activated carbon,         • Unless the instructions say
  ion-exchange resins, and           otherwise, only clean filter
  other chemical filtration          media in aquarium water.
  media during treatment.          • When adding new fish,
  These make the treatment           follow the advice of your
  less effective.                    aquatics outlet, and use Tetra
• Add Tetra AquaSafe to the          SafeStart to prevent water
  water during treatment, to         quality problems.
  support the fishes’ protective   • When adding tap water to
  mucus layer.                       the aquarium, always use
• Watch the fish carefully, and      Tetra AquaSafe or
  seek help if they appear to        AquaSafe for Goldfish.
  react badly to treatment. A
  partial water change can
  always be used to dilute
  out the active ingredients if
  necessary.                                                          13
     Sick plants
     Just like fish, if plants aren’t given an appropriate environment
     they will not remain healthy for long. Plants not given the right
     conditions may show signs of poor growth, yellowing leaves,
     or simply die off. Common causes of poor health include:

     • Nutrient deficiency.               TetraPlant Crypto tablets
       Usually caused by low              and CompleteSubstrate
       levels of carbon dioxide           are ideal for these plants.
       or trace elements. This
                                       • Poor lighting. Plants
       can be remedied by using
                                         require the correct quality
       plant fertilisers such as
                                         and quantity of light for
       TetraPlant PlantaMin,
                                         health and growth, and
       and carbon dioxide units
                                         some species are more
       such as the TetraPlant CO2
                                         demanding than others.
                                         Make sure the light tube in
     • Wrong type of fertiliser.         your aquarium is designed
       Some plants are not               for plants, and that you
       good at absorbing trace           replace it once a year. Old
       elements from the water.          tubes emit less light, even
       These species, which              though they appear to be
       include Amazon Swords             working.
       and Cryptocorynes,
                                       • Unsuitable species. Some
       require fertilisation
                                         plants may have particular
            around their roots.
                                         water chemistry or light
                                         requirements, which
                                         cannot be met in your
                                         aquarium. Avoid these, and
                                         seek advice as to those
                                         that are most suitable.

  Some may also not be true
  aquatic species, and these
  usually only last for a few
  months at most. Again,
  avoid these if you want
  long-term success.
• Plant-eating fish. Some fish
  will eat plants, and these
  must either be avoided, or
  you must choose hardier
  species of plants. Your
  aquatics outlet can advise
  you further.
• Algae. If the conditions
  are right, fast-growing
  algae can smother plants,
  especially those that grow
  more slowly. See the
  section on Algae in this
  brochure for more advice.
For more information on the
correct care of aquarium
plants, see our 'Planting your
Aquarium' brochure.

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Tetra (UK) Limited, PO Box 271, Southampton SO18 3ZX Email:   APS1

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