Re: tail fraying

Hi Oleg.

1. Just out of curiosity... why do you ask if feeding earthworm flakes alone would cause this, if you are saying you feed a balanced diet? (or did I read wrong... sometimes I need to skim through posts!). You mentioned (Frozen Mysis, Frozen brine shrimp and earth worms flakes...I'm also feeding catfishes with earth worm and Spirulina stick).

In this regard, are you feeding live or fresh earthworm to the catfish?, or also earthworm flake or pellets? I would be suspicious of fresh or live earthworm, unless you get them from a reliable source (not exposed to pesticide or contaminated in other way) and you give them a good rinse. Otherwise this would be a great way to introduce pathogens into your system.

If you are feeding only earthworm flakes, and if you've been doing it for several months, that could definitely bring a nutritional deficiency of some kind, be it mineral or vitamin or both. I doubt this is the case if you are feeding the other items you mentioned.

2. Both Mirador and Mark have made excellent suggestions. Upping the water changes and ensuring top quality is your best shot. Adding the vegetable or plant component to the diet is very important. You mentioned the spirulina sticks for your catfish...maybe you can add nori algae sheets (my altum gorge on them), or chopped spinach. Sally's Emerald Entree is a practical and nicely balanced frozen food for those of us short on time.

3. The aggressiveness. Mike and I were OTP several weeks ago on the subject and we were talking about this. His opinion was that this could have to do with too many dominant males in the same tank. I've had to deal with this frequently. So, for all practical purposes it would be a bad sign of things you don't want (too few females) and those boys you have, ripping each other up! Could it be the same the other way around (too many females)?

Scratches and a little bit of fin tearing, from driftwood branches or sharp branch stubs, is a relatively normal thing that we fix by rearranging things so it won't happen. But if all or most of the fish in your tank have the kind of fin damage we see in your fish, I agree that something else is going on.

In my case I have literally seen an entire ventral fin get bitten off right from the base of the stub and fall to the bottom of my aquarium, and I have seen this happen 2 or 3 times in my life with these fish (altums). They can get miserably mean. Again, looks like this is not you case.


So other than the great advice you have received from our good members, one practical thing that could help, is supplementing the dry component of the diet with a product such as Seachem Nourish or Boyd's VitaChem. I would like to keep my pH at around 5.5 (preconditioning your tap water), maybe adding ketapang leaves (or extract), and some salt (1 teaspoon per gallon, which is a minimum therapeutic dose). I mix all this stuff in my preconditioning barrels to keep the water stable. You might want to try this for at least 2 or 3 weeks to see in there is any improvement.

And these recommendations, any of them, should be preceded by Al's (Mirador) recommendation of deparasiting/deworming your fish... all of them.

Need to go for now.

God listens. He may not always give you everything you want, when you want it; but he always gives you what you really need, when you need it most!

Re: tail fraying

Ed, Al,

Thank you for your feedback. Sorry for the delay - took me some time to prepare.
I did the following:
- all catfishes besides 7 X Sturisoma
- removed most of driftwood and plants
- removed 80% of the substrate ( since I don't need plants to be rooted, I only left a minimum required to cover the glass, between 1/8"-1/4"
- cleaned 2 canister filters ( well, preserving the media OFC )
- did 50% water change

In addition, I'm going to start Melafix treatment just to speed-up fins recovery. I'd prefer to avoid using any meds at this stage but to keep weekly 50% water changes + Melafix and check for results, since I do not see any signs of parasites.

Regarding the feeding, I did the following:
- ordered "Boyd's VitaChem", will start soaking the dry wood (see below) as soon as it arrives
- ordered some freeze-dry black warms
- replaced black warms flakes by black warms bits ( flakes creat way too much mess )
- switched to 3 x day feedings

I'll keep doing that for 30 days ( including melafix daily + VitaChem daily with food/directly into water) and see how it goes, will share the results after 30 days.

P.S. Funny thing - removing most of the decoration was a very positive move - a lot of swimming space was added, they started to move freely around the tank. However, I guess it also triggered some pre-spawning behavior and I'm afraid a pair is starting to form. At least it looks like. Going to break this huge open space by planting Anubias
(which are free floating at the moment) into pots, create some territory markers for the pair ( if it is a pair ). Check picture below - sorry for the mess, still in the middle of the maintenance.
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Re: tail fraying

Hi Slobodan,

I made quite a lot of changes, but it looks like the fins issue is indeed related to fighting (mostly), followed by stress etc. The pair I separated looks much better than the rest - their fins are still far from being perfect, but I clearly see improvement there. I'm really pushing it to build 2 breeder tanks to completely separate the aggressive ones since I have a feeling 2-nd pair ( on the right side ) is forming, adding even more stress to the (already) stressed-out fish.

I switched to 50% weekly WC in addition to the daily 10% (drip), but I don't think it changed a lot. I also added some vitamins to the water column (weekly) and to the food (daily), but as I mentioned, the only improvement I see is with the pair which is separated ( and thus no fighting ).

I'll keep watching them closely and keep you updated. My greatest fear is the smaller/weaker ones on the right side are going to be sick as a result of permanent stress caused by the 2-nd pair forming, hope I don't lose any to hexamita and alike before I have my breeders ready.

Re: tail fraying

Short update: it's been almost 2 months since I started to fight fins fraying.
As mentioned above, I removed most of other fish, increased water changes, removed most of the driftwood and sand. I also separated a pair that, as I assumed, was causing all that fins damage when fighting the rest.

Unfortunately, that didn't really help. I do not see any change looking at the pair separated. I could assume other fishes still fight, but the pair is stable and they never seem to fight. They also do not have any decor in their "chamber", minimizing the chances for fins damage. So that is certainly not caused by fighting.

The fish is very active but something is definitely wrong, and I think I found the problem. It will take a while to prove it, yet I hope I'm right this time.

Yesterday I was doing the canister filter cleaning ( I do that every 3 months ). One of the filters (Eheim) has its return connected via UV unit. I noticed there's a huge amount of dirt/dead organic waste in the hoses leading to UV. It was hard to see since the hoses are not transparent, actually, that is the only place in my entire system which is hidden from me: the UV unit and hoses connected to it, which explains why I couldn't detect this issue in the past. UV also decreases Eheim output significantly. I'm going to remove UV and clean all EHEIM hoses from the dead organics and will see if that helps. Considering the amount of waste I found there, I really think that is it. Will keep you updated.

If that helps, I'll probably install a 'polisher' powerhead + filter floss to remove as much organic as I can from the water column. Looks like this is the major issue Altums cannot deal with.


Re: tail fraying

thanks for the update Oleg. I've been fighting fin frying for about 10months now..

Just question for the group, at what point if ever would filter foam get saturated with organic matter and needed to be cleaned? how do you clean it?
I noticed in my sumps that I have to rinse the foam once every two months otherwise flow gets reduced through them.
I use ... foam-shop/ Poret 30ppi foam.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow but fins on my altums are just horrid and I'm afraid it's something else.
In my 110 gal. I introduced 6 young Green Discus and they have having the same problem. In that tank I have 6 altums and 6 discus in 180gal of water (tank + sump).