View Full Version : Use of a hospital tank

09-13-2011, 11:16 AM
Hello, over the last month or so I have had a sick platy in my tank. Signs of illness are flashing, loss of appetite (except bloodworm) resulting in her becoming very skinny, clamped fins. She spends most of the day floating at the top of the tank not moving and more recently lying on the tank floor at night. I asked for help at the pet shop and have since been doing 2 x 20% water changes a week and have bought a water testing kit. My water is currently pH 7, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0.1, Nitrate 5. I am considering moving her to a hospital tank and to treat with aquarium salt to see if this helps, as no one can tell me exactly what's wrong. I don't have a tank set up and would appreciate any info on setting up a tank and the best way to treat these symptoms. Thanks.
Also, all my other fish are fine except a Pearl Danio who has been flashing over the same period but otherwise shows no sign of illness.

09-13-2011, 12:57 PM
Is this a relatively new tank? Nitrite should be 0 ppm on an established tank. Keep doing water changes and use something that binds up ammonia, it should also help with nitrite. A double dose of the dechlorinator Prime, will do this, but there are specific products such as AmQuel that also perform this function.

I'm not sure how well the "Zyme" works, but I recently got a double pack (trial sized portion) of Stress Coat and Stress Zyme at Petsmart for very cheaply. You might want to give them a try. The salt is also for encouraging slime coat, just like Stress Coat is. You could try some (1 tablespoon per 5 gallons, max) dissolved in warm water first. It probably won't do much but it won't hurt anything at that concentration.

Since the symptoms are vague with no apparent external manifestations (flashing would suggest ich, but ich is obvious) if you are going to set up a hospital tank, treat with Quick Cure per the recommended dosage instructions for sensitive fish. This is a very potent medication that will eradicate almost anything, and a half dose (which they recommend for tetras and catfish) is sufficient. It only takes a few drops and it's readily available, even Walmart sells it. Do 30% daily water changes on the hospital tank - I believe that's what the instructions call for, if I remember correctly.

If you do not notice improvement, I would suspect intestinal parasites. Watch the anal area closely for the appearance of red worms. Livebearers like platies are prone to Camallanus worms and this will cause the fish to get sick and weak in a short time. The cure is to treat with an anti-parasite food that contains Fenbendazole, or treat the water with Levamisole (it can also be laced onto food). Unfortunately these meds are not readily available and will probably have to be purchased online. Angels Plus (online) sells a medicated flake that works very well.

Try the Quick Cure first and see what happens. Make sure you have an adequate size for your hospital tank, a 10 gallon is ideal- and with Petco's $1 per gallon sale, is only $10 at the moment! Treating in a small tank (like 2-5 gallons) could make the fish feel worse.

What size are your tanks? Hospital and display tank?

09-13-2011, 03:27 PM
I haven't yet bought a hospital tank but I was thinking of buying a standard 27l tank with glass sides and bottom and a plastic lid as I've read to use a weak filter and no lights in a hospital tank. Is this correct?

My current tank is 105l and currently has 1 pearl Danio and 1 leopard Danio, three variatus platy, two Chinese algae eaters (one golden) and one ghost shrimp. There are also two goldfish who are going to a new home in a large pond at the weekend (I believe it was you who advised me to do so). Do you think the ammonia from the goldfish could contribute to the nitrite reading? The tank is now 8-9 months old.

Thanks again,

09-13-2011, 07:49 PM
Oh, I'm sorry - I forgot about you and your goldfish! If I had remembered that, I wouldn't have suspected a new tank at all.

It is definitely the goldfish putting out the ammonia (which transforms into nitrite). They have a differently designed stomach than most other fish and excrete ammonia at far higher levels than other fish their size. With two very big goldfish in a tank less than 30 gallons, I would suspect you have constant background levels of ammonia and nitrite, which probably spike at feeding time.

Before you treat for anything or do anything else, I recommend you wait until the goldfish are gone if they are being moved shortly. The flashing and off behavior is probably just due to poor water quality, due to the overstocked tank...and I suspect overwhelmed filter, unless you have a tidal wave of water movement in there!

I have a feeling all the fish will feel much better once the goldfish are gone. Perhaps then you could stock the tank more suitably, get some more of each kind of danio (since these are two different kinds which won't school together, and as schooling fish they are best in numbers of 6+ each). Those algae eaters certainly aren't doing your tank any favors - they may be cute and little now, grazing on nuisance algae, but wait until they get large, further straining the biological filter, become increasingly carnivorous, not to mention get mean. They have a bad reputation for bullying, rasping on other fish...it's a good thing your fast moving common goldfish aren't slow fancy goldfish, otherwise they would likely have welts on their sides. Browse some here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/ChineseAlgEatrF.htm

Lights are not necessary in a hospital tank, and any filtration will do but air filtration is particularly effective. A sponge filter or corner/box filter full of floss would be perfect.

09-16-2011, 03:14 PM
Once the goldfish go their new homes, my tank will look slighty on the empty side. I'm going to leave it as it is until the health of the platy and the water quality improves, but do you have any advice for stocking the tank? I want to find a home for the pearl danio to get a school of leopard danio since they wont school as a mixed group. The tank is subtropical and I'm going to set my heater at 20oC which seems to be around the mid range for most temperate fish. The fish I'm considering are rosy barbs and white cloud mountain minnow. But I know they are all supposed to be kept in groups and so I'm not sure of the best mix because I know I don't have space for three groups. I also considered a male platy to go with the three females but not sure how uncontrollabley they will breed. Thanks for all of your help so far :)

09-17-2011, 04:24 PM
Neale Monks from Wet Web Media wrote a great article on subtropical setups, I'm sure it will give you some ideas :)