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Help with fluffy fungus? 2 dead in a week. WITH PHOTO

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Last Saturday I noticed that one of my Firemouths in the community American tank had a fungal type growth on his head. See photo below:-


Off to the LFS for advice and remedy (took the photo down). They advised that I use API - Pimafix.

I have dosed the whole tank daily for the last week as per the dosage instructions.

The fungus seems to be isolated to the Firemouths. I have lost 2 fish so far and my remaining two Firemouths in the tank are showing the same fungus.

Today is the last day of the 7 day treatment. I decided to do a water test and was quite concerned with the results.

PH: 5

Nitrate: 5mg/L

Ammonia: 2.4mg/L

I perform regular weekly 30% water changes with tank rainwater (PH 6.5).

The PH reading is low and the Ammonia is high.

Am I treating the disease with the correct medication?

Does Pimafix alter the water parameters that dramatically? As it recommends a 25% change after a week.

I am about to perform a 50% water change to fix this water quality issue.

Any advise or guidance would be appreciated.



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hey sorry bout the loss. i am no expert but i would be treating that with something else rather than pimafix. There are plenty of medications on the market which tarket external fungal infections that work quite well. i don't know exactly what this disease is called but i am sure it could be treated with something like promethyasul or something similar. hope it wasn't your breeding pair that you lost. good luck with the treatment

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From a quick review of the web, the white cotton-like growth is a secondary fungus infection normally due from injuries like fighting, or rough handling. It could be possible that the Fire mouths have been fighting between themselves.

Pimafix is a general remedy for all sorts of illnesses.

Most medications recommend water changes before and after use. Generally for the fishes health rather than water parameters.

You could possibly try products like triple sulfa tablets or fungue – ade. The best thing to do would be to read the comments provided under any online aquarium product supplier. The Age Of Aquariums website provides good information about their products.


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We have kept and bred firemouths for numerous years as they are a definite favourite fish of ours.

By the position of the fungal growth on the head, i doubt it was from fighting or wounding.

Firemouths jawlock a lot when spawning or just being territorial, so if it was from a wound there would be moe evidence of skin damage around the mouth area.

The fins would also be damaged, with fungal attack,particularly the tail fin.

The results from your water tests are alarming, and the water parameters are the probable cause of your trouble.

Firemouths actually like hard water, so straight rainwater {soft} may not be ideally suited, unless you can bring hardness and ph up.

The ph of 5 is ridiculously low !

Check your rainwater ph level and ammonia level in the tank.

You may be introducing the ammonia from the tank {something dead in the tank or guttering,etc.} straight into your aquarium.

I gather the aquarium has established filter media and is fully cycled?

Sorry to see such beautiful fish in trouble.

Don't underestimate salt as a remedy either, together with temp increase.

and plenty of bubbles............

Regards Darren

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Ya I would say its more to do with the low ph and maybe water temp

I had the same groth on a few fish

The ph was low and the water temp was 18

I would try a 30% water change get the temp up to around 28

Use tap water the ph is around 8 ish and depending on ya tank size some salt might help

Good luck with em mate


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Ammonia levels are high, but with your ph the way it is, the ammonia reading will contain mostly ammonium, which is harmless. The problem is your levels are to high. & if you wish to rasie the ph, that ammonium will convert to ammonia, therefore more trouble for your fish. Only ever rasie the ph when doing water changes.

I would be doing water changes, probably 3 x 30% this week alone. I would be using a product that contains Malachite green for treatment of the fish. It is a harmful to human product, but will cure the problem you have. Try & buy a multicure product, your local lfs should have. Chances are with your water not being right, the fish will have bacterial problems as well. The fungus is the secondary infection.

With your rain water, it will be very soft, as in no gh/kh. I would be using a buffer in the tank, ie; calcium carb in the substract. Or using a mixture of salt, epsom salts & bicarb soda.


As above comment, test your tank water for ammonia too.

How ofter are you feeding your fish? How do you clean your filters? Do you use a gravel vac?

Frenchy :D

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Hi all

Thanks for your responses and advice.

Yea it was my breeding pair I lost.

Tested rainwater from the tank, PH 6.5, ammonia 0mg/L

Did a 50% water change with rain water yesterday (before I read the replies)

Tested ammonia and PH again this morning, PH still 5, ammonia dropping to 1.2mg/L.

Performed a 30% water change this morning with Primed tap water. Will test again this afternoon.

Tank is now bright green, using a fungus and fin rot medication with Malachite Green

Tank is well cycled, 30% water change regularly each week along with a gravel vacuum. Temp maintained at 24 deg.

Is the temp right at 24 deg, I have Firemouths, Blue Acara, Angels, Convicts, BN, Kribensis.

Will keep you updated with my progress



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I'd bump the temp up to 29 or 30, with extra aeration.

Still doesn't explain why your rainwater is 6.5 and your aquarium 5 ?

- particularly since you've been doing regular water changes,and vacuuming.

I'd bet my LEFTY that you might have cleaned out your filtration entirely with tap water recently? , therefore killing all the good stuff.

or maybe overfeeding.

If the rest of the tank do survive, you must get that ph and buffer up for now and keep it up for the future.

A 50-50 rainwater and tap water combination for water changes in the future might work, but straight tap water is a lot easier {aged of course}.

To get from PH 5 to the desired say 7.4, should be done over several days or a week, otherwise more probs with deaths or disease.

The best method to achieve this would be to set up a drip tube and SLOWLY drip new water into the tank , eventually replacing existing water.

This method is used everytime new fish come to live here :lol:

Forget floating fish in the bag, rip the bag open, tip the entire contents into a bucket, and then slowly drip water from our system into the bucket, with an airstone in the bucket and a lid to stop jumpies.

This achieves a gradual adjustment of both temp and ph along with other water qualities,without fish gasping for oxygen in a bag.

Good luck GS

Regards Darren

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Should the temp rise be a gradual process and do I wind it back once the illness is over?

You can keep your lefty as I only wash out my filters in fish tank water.

But if you had bet your righty on over feeding, I think this might be the reason for the ammonia spike. I have always fed twice a day no probs, the last three weeks i have noticed that food was being left behind so I was removing the uneaten floating food, the sinking food is a little harder to spot though.

I have been a little lax with my water testing since since I put the Seachem alerts in. I think the PH indicator just expired but the ammonia alert was saying all is well.

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my personal opinion, i would be doing a 100% water change, use tap water age it as per usual and buffer it with a few teaspoons of bi-carb soda, i would bet my frontosa colony it fixes your problems.............................


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fair comment Mr. French :lol:

Christo, obviously you don't value your fronny's :lol:

Yes a 100% change - using aged tap water

but over a looong period of time,

bicarb , for americans wtf ?

if he does regular water changes using tap water he should be sweet

Bottom line is, our tap water is hard enough and has the correct ph level for central americans.

It's a hell of a lot easier and more importantly, any fish like a constant balance of water, so forget adding all the chemicals, to achieve a no better result in the end, just to save a pissy amount of water, he could have used elsewhere or saved anyway.

Geez for years many have bred americans, by just doing the weekly aged tap water changes, some coffs harbour gravel and a filter and a heater.

the poor guy is getting all sorts of advice 8O

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I think you will find that people are giving advice on the fact GS uses tank water & the solution if wanting to continue to use tank water.

Sure for breeding central americans, Brisbane & Gold Coast water is fine to use with no buffers. Be careful when you say "our" water. ie; People on Redlands water supply have very soft water, therefore may have too, well should use buffers.

I agree with the 100% water change. That should never be done for something like this. The huge ph change can shock the fish, but will kill the bacteria.

Frenchy :D

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Hi all, thanks for all your assistance.

I lost my third Firemouth on Sunday night but since then things look to be on the mend.

The fungus has cleared on my remaining Firemouth. The ammonia levels are dropping and the PH is slowly on the rise.

Tested the water again this morning. PH = 6, Ammonia = 0.3mg/L.

Will perform another 30% change today with drum aged tap water with added Prime.

The drip idea sounds great, but not feasible or practical for me at the moment. I am draining the 30% out and over the course of the day slowly replacing the water.

I think I will now leave the rainwater for watering the garden and cleaning around the house, and use aged tap water for my fish. Our house is under 120L / person /day any way, so the 100L I'll use in the tanks each week will not have much of an impact.



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bicarb , for americans wtf ?

i buffer all my tanks with it, its great stuff, i use it with my



rivulatus &


all very happy healthy fish ;) at around ph7-7.8



Bicarbonate ions can be used to increase the pH-value up to 8.2, but it will have no effect on the water hardness.

The water should be around 10dh as the colours of fish kept in hardwater will gradually fade

Thorichthys meeki (formerly Cichlasoma) comes from Mexico, specifically from the Yucatan peninsula. It lives in many different types of locales, from rivers and streams to lakes, ponds and estuaries. In the aquarium, T. meeki prefers a pH of 7.5-8.5

so i seriously doubt bi carb is going to hurt these little fellas ;) and i would say the seriously low ph they were at they are probably lucky to be alive

and i did say a few teaspoons of bicarb not 500g :D

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Bicarb = b-u-f-f-e-r = buffer

helps hold the ph steady................................

In an established aquarium, the pH tends to drop rapidly from fish wastes. The only thing that fights this is the kH buffer. It acts much like a sponge, absorbing all the acid and keeping the pH neutral. So, the aquarium could be producing a whole lot of acid, but it's all being absorbed, and the aquarium is safe.

As soon as the kH "sponge" is full, it starts to overflow all of the sudden, and the pH will drop. If you have low kH (soft) water, the "sponge" will be very small and fill up quickly. Adding a shell or some sort of crushed coral or artificial buffer to the tank will leech more of this kH "sponge" into the water, which will give you more acid aborption capacity. Also, changing water will replace part of the "sponge" with a new, empty one.

so your tap water might be at 7.whatever but it will be there for all of .5 seconds if you dont have a ph buffer of some discription....and 9-10 synthetic buffers contain.......you guessed it bi carb!!!

and as for the other fish......

angels......... Ph 6.8-7.7

Blue acara... Ph 6.5 - 7.5

Convits....... Ph 6.0 - 8.0

firemouths... Ph 7 - 7.8

Bristlenose... Ph 6 - 7.8

kribensis.... Ph 6.5 - 7.5

looks like they all slot into 7.something

so "wtf" please feel free to educate me some more :D


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Not trying to let this become a sledging match,

but is turning into an informative lesson on water chemistry for peoples :lol:

So i'll be nice :roll: ,

Christo ,most of what you have repeated off another fish forum makes some sense.................. :lol:


[so your tap water might be at 7.whatever but it will be there for all of .5 seconds if you dont have a ph buffer of some discription....and 9-10 synthetic buffers contain.......you guessed it bi carb!!!


The tap water ALREADY has an adequate hardness to maintain a reasonable ph level between weekly water changes for americans.

Are you seriously trying say that if tap water ph 7.8 today in a tank,

will be...... what.... ph 6 after a week with moderate feeding and a fully cycled tank, without adding bicarb?

The other tank mates actually like soft water, so why increase the hardness any further?

My point is if GS keeps it simple and is not baffled by bullshit,

and if he does his weekly water changes using tap water,

because he has a mix of fish in the tank,

they will all be happy with {somewhere in between} water values

no additives are needed.

Geez next bit of advice might be { try adding half a bottle of domestos }


Our american system holds about 5000 litres,

Food is pumped into this system everyday to thousands of juvies and adult breeders.

No additives are EVER required, guess what the ph is everyday,

7.8 - same or very close to our tap water.

No calcium carb, no coral, no buffer..............

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i actually cut and paste it all off google :D

you are entirely correct in regards to giving GS a million diffrent ideas i was just suggesting what has saved me in the past, and the only thing that makes your system diffrent to GS's is its a touch more difficult to change the ph on a 5000l system than a 120l tank :D

we'll leave it alone now, would like to say i still hold all due respect towards you as a regonized quality breeder and was in no way questioning your knowledge but just trying to say i wasnt wrong i just you made little of my input that was all

all said and done, hope the fish make a full recovery GS :D


Christo :D

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The joys of this hobby is that there are more than 2 ways to skin a cat. In this case no one is doing anything wrong. Central Americans do like the water on the harder side of things.

Brisbane tap water is hard enough to sustain Central American Cichlids if weekly water changes are done.

If you live in Redlands, you need buffers.

If on the Gold Coast, you have to be careful, water is on the softer side.

If using tank water you need to use buffers.

Just remember if playing around with water, do it slowly.


If raising the ph, only do this in conjunction with water changes.

Have fun everyone.

Frenchy :D

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Thanks Guys.

I love forums when the discussions get going.

The important thing with forum advise is to determine what makes sense and what works for you.

I'd like to tank btb and christo for the PH and buffering discussion, it certainly made me research further.


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