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Joan, Vet Technician
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 17304
Experience:  Vet Tech for 35+yrs. Small Animals and Fish
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I have a brackish puffer that unfortunately has been enduring

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I have a brackish puffer that unfortunately has been enduring a cycle. He had trouble at the ammonia spike and was okay for a few days and now we are going through a nitrite spike. Yesterday I noticed one of his gills was swollen and that pectoral fin was lame. I woke up this morning and the entire outside of his gill was completely swollen (white/light pink) around the outside. It was not like that 3 hours before according to someone else in the house. I am hoping there is a fish expert online right now, my LFS is closed for the next 3 hours. I can post a picture if that helps.

I apologize that no one has responded to your question sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just came online and saw your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a biologist with many years of fish keeping experience. I know you've worked with Joan before, but she isn't yet online. If this is not too late to help you, some additional information will be useful, then either Joan or I will help.

What numbers are you now getting for both ammonia and nitrites?

How have you been dealing with the spikes - water changes, ammonia-reducing chemicals, waiting them out, etc.?

Do post the picture. You can upload a photo by clicking on REPLY, then at the top of the area where you would type is a tool bar with icons. Click on the little paper clip icon (it's right next to the YouTube icon). Instructions will pop up. On some browsers, this doesn't work. if that happens, you can put your photo on one of the free photo sharing websites, such as Then come back here and paste the link to your picture in a REPLY.


Hi Katie,

I am sorry to hear about Moe. Anna and I work together. Is the problem an Ammonia spike, Nitrite Spike or both? In any case we will need to get the water parameters back to normal. We will need to do a 30% water change. In the water we will need to use AmQuel, either Bio Spira or Fritzyme #7 for reducing nitrites in a brackish tank. Make sure to add the aquarium salt to the water for the change and try a little Stress Coat to help. Looks like we will have to stay on top of this tank during this cycling period. It may be wise to add a black molly. They are usually used to help to cycle the tank and may help. I will be on and off and be happy to continue with you. I will check in later with you. Joan

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello to both of you. My LFS actually had me put some goldfish in the other day and my nitrites had spiked yesterday. I went to my LFS as soon as they opened and the owner had me set up a hospital tank. It is heated/filtered with airstones. He gave me FURAN-2 to use in the tank. Unfortunately I had to get to a class I couldn't miss so I rushed in setting up the tank. The filter ran for almost an hour before he was acclimated into the new water. I just got home and his salt is high for what he came from (it must rise as time goes on?) so I diluted it a little bit. The temperature was at 82! I normally keep him in 78. My PH is a little higher than 7.6 and for some reason the ammonia is .25 and the nitrites are .5 to 1! How is this possible?? Will the medication give a false reading? Also... in the ammonia test tube the water looks almost chunky? The filter I am using was used in a tank before and I must not have washed it out really well because when I turned it on it expelled an almost sludge. I just set it up 4 hours ago. Before I said he is still with us I wanted to check to make sure he was... he will stop breathing for a while.. I think he is dead and then he will come back to life ? Is that typical before they go? I'm pretty sure he is gone now but I would still like your opinion/s. Thanks And... Does fish keeping get better than this? Because this really sucks :-(



The white you are seeing looks like an ammonia burn. I would have not used the gold fish to cycle the tank. Black mollies are often used in Salt water tanks. When you set up the hospital tank and add the medication is caused the spike in ammonia and nitries because the hospital tank is not cycled. I would cycle the hospital tank and keep it running as well get a couple of black mollies and get rid of the gold fish. Use the black mollies in both tanks to help cycle them. The goldfish are very oily and can cause issues. They too can cause a spike in the water parameters. We can try to fix the hospital tank by using the Bio spira and ge a piece of rock from the store that has been in an extablished tank and has algae on it. That will help. Do a 30% water change in the hospital tank and do not clean the filter, since much of the bacteria that is in the filter material will help with the cycling. I know this is frustrating, but once you get through the cycling process, it does get better and easier. Puffers are tough when the tank is not cycled. The mollies would work and once the tank is cycled, you can then add the desired fish one at a time to make sure all goes well. Themedication and temps also added to the change in the water parmeters. If moe is still with us, do the water change, add the Bio Spira, AmQuel and stress coat and see if he starts doing better. I hope we can pull him through. I would return the gold fish and ask for a couple of black mollies for the big tank to finish the cycleing. Joan

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Joan,


I just buried him in the back yard. I have learned SO MUCH since I started all of this. It's amazing how much I didn't know getting into it all and regardless of how much losing the ones I was really attached to sucked I am glad I started. Hopefully I can just get through the cycle in the big tank without any more major casualties and maybe I can relax and enjoy them for once.


I am so sorry for the loss of Moe. They should have known better then to give you gold fish to cycle a tank. I always recommend black mollies, they are hardy, tolerate salt water and do well for the cycling process. I would get the hospital tank cycled too so should you need it you can use in the future. Once cycled, then at that point add only one fish at a time to be sure that all is well. As I said to help cycle I would but a piece of rock with algae on it and add to the tank. it can help with the cycling process. I know you will succeed it will just take a little longer than planed.

You know I am here if you need me. Joan
Joan, Vet Technician
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 17304
Experience: Vet Tech for 35+yrs. Small Animals and Fish
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