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Old 03-07-2022, 11:27 AM   #1
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HELP: Black Ghost Knife Fish - clearly SICK - I'm new and not sure how to treat

I am very new to this. We bought a fish tank for my 8 yo daughter in early January. 10 Gal and has 4 Tetra Glowfish and this one 3-4" BGK fish.

Everything was going great. We started with two Tetras, and then on 1/13 added another Tetra and the BGK, and another Tetra since then.

48 hours ago, I noticed that the BGK was not acting like himself. He was basically lying on the bottom of the tank, and not moving. Initially thought he was dead, but he moved away when I put a little net next to him, or tapped the glass. He has been acting this same way for two days. However, in the last 12-24 hrs I've noticed that he has either gotten thinner, or he kind of has vertical lines going up/down his body (not from head to fin, but perpendicular to that), almost looks like he's thinning to a point where you can see his "skeleton"; he definitely looks worse today than yesterday (apologies, I am a total noob to this, and all my terminology is surely completely wrong).

Tested the water with water strips and everything seemed within norm.
Per my test strips:
GH 180
KH 120
PH 7.5
NO2 0
NO3 20-40
Took a water sample to Petco and they said the water was all ok, but also done with a strip test.
Water temp is in the 76-80ish range.

We were feeding the fish the Tropical Flakes.
Yesterday, at the Petco they recommended this "Treat Tablet" food for them. (see pic of both). I put one tablet in yesterday, and he kind of ate it, but it wasn't like he was starving that he went to crazy eating it.

In the less than 2 months that we had the tank, I was basically doing water changes by way of evaporation. A gal or two would evaporate and I would refill them with new water. I believe a few weeks ago I did a 2-3gal change. And yesterday I got a suction cleaner, and took out two gal of water from the tank while suctioning the bottom and refilled.

Not sure what else to do. PLEASE provide any advice or recommendations you can think of. THANK YOU.

Some pics if they would help.

PS: I also see him (since this started) constantly in this "bent at the neck" position, almost as if he broke his neck or if as if his head is too tired. (Again I completely realize that all my terminology is wrong and inapplicable to fish, but just trying to explain as best as I can).
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Old 03-07-2022, 01:50 PM   #2
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Hard to say really, Black ghost knife fish can reach 18-20" size so that's a juvenile still, and they need room to grow and food to eat or will slowly get cramped up or "eating starve". where they eat, but not nearly enough so they can grow and have energy. Some times they can be hungry but too low energy to be enthusiastic about eating.

In the wild they are almost strictly carnivores. Eating smaller fish, worms, bugs, shrimps, if they are on flake, it's going to be deficient. even with the Onips, it's not a proper diet for it unless the fish is a pig and pooping a lot the plant matter in the flake or pellet food is just going to waste and the fish can only eat so much.

You can try freeze dried blood worm, black worm, freshwater shrimp, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, more close to live foods or fresh frozen, they need the proteins to boost it's growth and energy. and it will boost it's growth, one day he's going to eat the other fish in the tank if he gets strong and grows.

I am sorry for the bad news, it's a bad choice for the tank you have, they are fairly docile, but it gets quite large compared to the tankmates, at full size he will be as long as the tank from left to right, and they will eat flake or pellet if they are hungry enough, but most of that isn't nutritious for it and not part of it's normal diet they will fill up on it but no energy and it will hurt their normal development. I feel at this point it might be beyond the point of no return, been 2 months of a deficient diet. worth a shot, with some high quality meat foods, but you might lose that fish.

The Knife fish is nocturnal and shy, they will be most comfortable in the dark or at night, also why it's a bad choice to be with glo-fish, which pretty much require a light on all the time to make the colors "pop". a longer section of decent diameter of PVC Pipe bigger than the fish, might give it a safe space, to sleep with the light on, but it needs it's time with the light off when it will be the most active. if it's out with the light and trying to eat, for sure it's starving.

I really wish they didn't sell you that fish, it doesn't go with what you are doing with the glo-fish, and it's not a beginner fish to take care of. given optimal conditions it can live for 15+ years and near 2 ft long.
It's not your fault, the store should have told you what you were getting into instead of just trying to make a sale.
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Old 03-07-2022, 02:03 PM   #3
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Thank you for the response. It serves us right for going to PetCo in the first place.
Like I said, we walked in one of the times, and my daughter liked the beautiful fish, and we were told that they're docile, and get along with other fish, and that there's no reason they all can't get along.

I have since learned that they get to be quite big, that they also get aggressive towards smaller fish as they get older, that they are 100% not the right fish for the tank that we have, for the other fish that we have in the tank, etc. I've also learned that they are very difficult to keep, need an all but an ideal environment to survive, etc.

What I've done over the last few hours, and it kills me that it took me two days to think of this, is google and call a local store that is a real fish store, again, not PetCo. One minute into the conversation with the person on the other end, he told me, he was shocked the BGK survived this long, and that it was most likely starving to death. He said, I know you don't want to hear this, but my best recommendation is to donate it to a real fish store where someone can hopefully get it healthy again. I said that without even thinking, I'd rather do that than watch this poor thing die in front of my eyes. I raced over to that store with the fish, and they are now carrying for it. Lesson learned, just happy I was able to get this poor thing some help before it was too late, I hope!

I got some other good advice from the real fish store on how to care for the other fish that we have. I forgot to ask what other fish they recommend as good mates for the type of tank and the four Tetra blowfish we already have. If anyone has any input, I would appreciate it. Typical situation, my wife and daughter decide that they want to get a fish tank, but guess who ends up with all the responsibility and work related to maintaining the fish/tank and keeping everyone alive and healthy; literally spent the weekend running around trying to figure out how to make this poor fish feel better...smh
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Old 03-07-2022, 03:40 PM   #4
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they make Danio glo-fish and Barb glowfish, I've even seen a glo-fish rainbow shark in a pink color.

If I had glo-fish, I'd stick to glo-fish and just add different colors. If you have the lights and set up for it, no reason to not just stick with the product in my opinion. Outside of glo-fish maybe a corydora catfish, or dwarf corydora to get the uneaten food off the bottom, it might help you some on cleanings.

and yeah, I clean tanks twice a week, not because it needed it necessarily, but because I've got a chronic overfeeder in the household that just keeps dumping food on the pets regardless on what I have to say about it. The cat is fat, the dog is fat, the fish are fat, and get more food than they can eat, to the point of flake drifts piling up like sand dunes. if I left it in there the tanks would be cloudy, and kill the fish in due time, and no matter what I do to explain it, that fish don't need to eat 3x a day every single day, and it's hurting them, she'll still keep dumping more food on them, so I keep cleaning the tanks. it's just what we got to do I suppose. best of luck to ya!
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Old 03-07-2022, 05:31 PM   #5
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@Sparky_Jones: Thanks for the reply. I completely agree, we got the glowfish tank with the lights, and some Tetra glowfish, so glowfish is what we should stick to. But of course try explaining that to an 8 yo. I'm about to tell her I gave black ghost away, let's see how she takes that. But anyways, thanks for the advice and suggestions.

That said, at least she clearly understands to feed the fish just a bit and once a day at the same time. So we're not having the problems you're describing.
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Old 03-08-2022, 01:38 AM   #6
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I notice you arent doing water changes, just topping up evaporation.

There are 2 parts to a water changes, removal and refill. Evaporation doesnt count as removal.

Evaporation is only H2O coming out of the tank, all the stuff that is disolved in the water that periodically needs to be removed gets left behind when water evaporates and so just builds up if you dont actually change water.

You should be changing 30 to 50% of the water every week as well as topping up for water loss from evaporation.
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Old 03-09-2022, 10:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiken Drum View Post
I notice you arent doing water changes, just topping up evaporation.

There are 2 parts to a water changes, removal and refill. Evaporation doesnt count as removal.

Evaporation is only H2O coming out of the tank, all the stuff that is disolved in the water that periodically needs to be removed gets left behind when water evaporates and so just builds up if you dont actually change water.

You should be changing 30 to 50% of the water every week as well as topping up for water loss from evaporation.
Yes good info, thank you. I did do two water changes now, one a few weeks back and one this past weekend. Should I really be changing 1) that much water (30-50% every time), AND 2) doing this Every Week? I thought water changes were more or a once a month thing and somewhere in the 25-30% range?
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Old 03-09-2022, 11:11 AM   #8
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Water changes should be done as much and as often as needed as dictated by your water test. You should be doing sufficient to keep nitrate no higher than 40ppm. For a fully stocked tank this normally means 30 to 50% weekly.

If you can get away with less, great. If your water test immediately before your water change shows nitrate above 40ppm then you need to be doing them more frequently or change more volume when you do them.

Regardless of water test results, change 30% every 2 weeks. Personally a weekly 30% water change shouldnt be too much of a chore even if its not needed.

If you are finding your nitrate is above 40ppm even with 50% weekly water changes, then you are overstocked. Get a bigger tank or remove some fish.

Also remember, every time you add fish the amount of nitrate produced by your tank goes up. Fish grow and produce more nitrate. So even when you get to a comfortable water change schedule its worthwhile periodically checking your parameters to ensure you are still on track.
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Old 03-09-2022, 04:55 PM   #9
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Thank you. Very clear and to the point. I did get a real test kit, I never liked relying on the strips that I got at the store. That said, the water test I did this past weekend looked good to me and then I brought water into the store for them to test which they said was fine, but again this was Petco, so we can completely discount whatever they said. I learned quickly when we moved to a house with a pool a few years back to ignore whatever they told me at Leslies, got my won "Breaking Bad" pool water test kit, and learned how to take care of my pool 100% by myself. I guess I need to apply that same approach to the acquirium. Will start testing regularly and changing water as suggested and as appropriate.
Thanks again.
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