View Full Version : My retail catfish is acting weird. :( help!

03-17-2014, 05:06 PM
First, I have a 60 gallon with 2 small oscars, 5 small silver dollars a pleco and just recently got a baby redtail cat.
He was in good health at the store, and has been in good health here at home too, for a little over a week. He eats, mostly handfed(just because nothing gets by the oscars) is out and about and has been acting normal.

Last night I noticed he was acting. A little weird tho. And it's continued today. He's swimming in place barely, and tilted to the side a bit. He is breathing fine, and still moving fins and tail, but stays hidden in a log and won't come out for anything. When I do get him out he'll swim around and them go back to what he was doing. I got him out of it yesterday evening and tried to feed him and he didn't want anything to do with it, same response this morning. :/

Really love this guy and don't want anything happening to him. Help please! Advice?

Our other fish are in great condition and nothing happened that would cause a disturbance. He's also been eating the same food as the oscars. The tank is also verrrrry well filtered.

Stumped and worrying. :/

03-17-2014, 05:13 PM
With such a small tank, the Oscars are going to assert themselves on any new fish. How long did you cycle the tank? What are your plans for the fish in that tank over 6 months from now?

What's the ammonia and nitrite parameters? Make sure you use a liquid test kit.

03-17-2014, 05:20 PM
I sincerely hope you're upgrading that tank in the future, that's a huge stock for a 60 gal

03-17-2014, 05:23 PM
We've tested the water a few times, everything is perfect. The oscars don't bully too bad, and of the do they just chase the silver dollars.

We're in the process of building a bigger tank, we're waiting to move. But right now everyone has plenty of room. The oscars are very young. So is the redtail.

The tank has been up and running with everything but the redtail for about a month now.

03-17-2014, 05:30 PM
And yes, I knew id get yelled at for the tank situation, everyone just rest assured that they will be in a very big tank soon :) like I said, we're building our own and still deciding how big we should go. :)

They're just little guys now :) and the ammonia levels are perfect along with everything else :)

That's why I'm stumped as to what's the matter with our redtail, Pluto.

03-17-2014, 07:51 PM
Anyone have any ideas?

03-17-2014, 07:53 PM
I just did a water change, about 30% water change and Pluto (the redtail) came out of the log and swam around for a sec and now he's back in the log and acting really lethargic again. Won't eat still.

03-17-2014, 08:13 PM
what does the water tested fine mean? What did you use to test the water?

How often do you feed the catfish?

Do you have an airstone?

Did you quarantine the catfish?

Since the fish was fine, then it is either stress or water quality.

03-17-2014, 08:38 PM
Ammonia level is fine, ph is fine, nitrate level is fine, etc. I used a five in one test strip as well as ammonia test strips. We hand feed the catfish probably every other day.

Yes, a water curtain actually. So, plenty of oxygen. And the fish wasn't quarantined but has been in great health over the last week or so and has been very active. Just has been odd the past two days.

03-17-2014, 08:38 PM
I mean all the levels are where they are supposed to be

03-17-2014, 08:57 PM
Profile for redtail catfish, which can grow to 5 feet long.


03-17-2014, 09:06 PM
I'm aware of how big they grow. I have a friend with a pond of different cats which he will be going into once we aren't able to house him and accommodate his needs anymore. Thanks for the link.

Would be nice to have some helpful advice on this forum instead of constant criticism. :/

03-17-2014, 09:23 PM
I'm aware of how big they grow. I have a friend with a pond of different cats which he will be going into once we aren't able to house him and accommodate his needs anymore. Thanks for the link.

Would be nice to have some helpful advice on this forum instead of constant criticism. :/

I see in another post you have an oscar with a bruise - and this post about a catfish that is acting "weird". Yet you have not posted any exact water parameters (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH, dGH) as requested so members can try to help your fish. Many times when fish get injured or are not acting right, it is because of the environment they live in.

03-17-2014, 10:13 PM
Before the water change earlier, everything was at recommended levels. Except for my ammonia was a wee but high. Did the water change, ammonia is at about .6 and my ph is a little too acidic, what can I do to bring those down?

03-17-2014, 10:23 PM
The recommended levels are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and under 20 ppm nitrate.
if you are not at those levels, keep up the water changes. presence of ammonia or nitrite can indicate an uncycled tank.
as mentioned, knowing the exact values of your water parameters would help a lot. " fine " is very vague. as mentioned,
an established aquarium should not contain any detectable ammonia nor nitrite. many pet stores claim that higher levels of ammonia7nitrite are absolutely fine, but they
aren't, which is why we always ask for numbers instead of "within recommended levels" or "fine".

Good luck.

03-17-2014, 10:26 PM
I just read over my last post, I meant the opposite, the water ph is at about 7-8

03-17-2014, 10:31 PM
We could suppose the OP cannot give accurate levels of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph, etc because test "strips" for the most part are not a reliable measure of tank water parameters.

Ammonia a "wee bit high"? In a cycled tank, there should be no ammonia.

I would suggest purchasing a liquid test kit to the OP. Post the results from it. Then we will go from there.

03-18-2014, 12:33 AM
What kind of water test would be best? What type to buy?

03-18-2014, 12:41 AM
Just an API testing kit

03-18-2014, 12:41 AM
most members here use the API master test kit. it contains the tests
most essential (pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) and is quite commonly found.

EDIT: Andrews got there before me...

03-18-2014, 01:04 AM
I wasn't sure if it was called the master kit or not, opt for that instead of the individual kits, it'll save you money in the long run

03-18-2014, 02:49 AM
Before the water change earlier, everything was at recommended levels. Except for my ammonia was a wee but high. Did the water change, ammonia is at about .6 and my ph is a little too acidic, what can I do to bring those down?

Do not mess with the PH. What are the ammonia, nitrite and ph of your tap water after it has been sitting in a cup for a day? Test strips are highly inaccurate and has a high chance of showing levels much lower than they really are. Ammonia should be less than 0ppm, nitrites should be 0ppm and nitrates should be greater than 5ppm for acceptable or fine water parameters. Find a pet store that uses a liquid test kit to give you numbers if you cannot afford to buy a liquid test kit.

Get a water conditoner like Seachem Prime or Kordon Amquel that will neutralize ammonia for 24 hours. Start doing 50% water changes everyday until you can get a liquid test kit. When adding water coditioner dose for the total volume of the aquarium.

03-18-2014, 01:05 PM
Ammonia should be less than 0ppm

Ammonia should be 0ppm. It wouldn't be possible to have less than 0ppm.


03-20-2014, 03:00 PM
We've got a water testing kit on order, every place anywhere halfway close to us has been out. We have been doing one or two almost 50% water changes a day and the water is now pristine and the catfish is starting to act somewhat normal again. We also added another filter which has definitely helped.

I feel like his behavior was caused by the medicine we were using to treat ick on two of the silver dollars, it said it was catfish safe, but I still think that's what it was.

All ick is cleared and been gone now, and we had a little fin rot too, everyone's fins are fine now except for catfish. Any trick to getting theirs better or just more of the same treatment? We're using Prime with aloe.

03-20-2014, 03:20 PM
Just keep up with the water changes. As long as the fish are eating and the water is clean, you should see healing in the fins within a week.

Generally, when using ich medication, you should only use half a dose when you have catfish.

03-20-2014, 06:12 PM
Check the water parameters like everyone says. Redtail catfish they prefer to eat at night. I had some of them in the past that grow almost 2 1/2 feet. When I first got them they were 1inch. At first they don't eat when the light are on. You can turn off the light to see if this help. What type of food do u give them?

03-20-2014, 07:33 PM
The OP was misleading. You mentioned that every other fish was fine and there were no disturbances, etc. Fin rot + ich = a big disturbance and signs that fish are not fine. It's also a sign that your water isn't healthy. One of the first things you should do, once you notice a sick or dead fish, is test your water parameters. Unhealthy water will lead and often leads to unhealthy fish. It compromises their immune system.

As for your redtail cat, who seemed to have been healthy and now apparently has fin rot, here's something to note:

The important fact in feeding these fish isn't what it's when. Red tails should only be fed sporadically. Once fed they become sluggish and so the time to feed a red tail can be gauged by the activity of the fish. It will become permanently active when hungry. Over-feeding can be disastrous and is a common cause of death in these fish. In the wild the fish eat fallen fruit, crustaceans and fish.

03-21-2014, 03:45 PM
Another update! We had our water liquid tested yesterday. And our water is great! Everything tested where it should and our water is crystal clear. We also noticed Pluto, (the redtail) was a little active yesterday so we turned off the light just to see what he would do and he instantly started swimming around. He even ate some too! :) first time in almost a week! :)

But, whenever the lights are on, he goes back to this one spot and stays completely still, doesn't even swim. Last night he was active again, but this morning he's back to sitting still. Is he just fully nocturnal now? I know a lot of cats can be, but he wasn't like this at all when we first got him.

Just so glad he's finally eaten and our water is back to normal again.everyone is healthy again. :)

03-21-2014, 03:57 PM
The Redtail catfish, like most catfish, is nocturnal. You probably won't see much activity during the day/when the light is on. I'm glad things have returned to normalcy. That's good news.

03-23-2014, 03:51 PM
Once he get used to the routing of on/off light, feeding time and everything he will be active. Because he is nocturnal he will be more active during night than the morning. I suggest that you feed your fish 2 times a day. 1 at the morning and then at night, this way if he don't eat first he will eat at night. And glad he is much better.