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I'm newish(2years or so), to the hobby. I still don't know how to diagnose my fish. A.C. is the only place I listen to for advise about my tanks just because I don't want to do the whirlpool of information on the internet. I have heard Cory say many times that this forum is the best place to get help. And I thank everyone who has helped me so far. Now I'm looking at some advise given here by a fellow user that is going to be very costly, (for me anyway) and be putting medications in 2, 55 gallon community tanks. That is scary for me, one because I love these fish but also because it will cost so much. How do I know which advise I can really trust and which is advise given by someone who just thinks they know? 

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  • Streetwise changed the title to Trustworthy Advice

That is a question I think all of us struggle with! I usually will try to do a little research myself and then compare it to the advice given, unless I know the person is of reputable standing in the aquarium community and has given sound advice before. When I am given a solution that is costly, I usually try to see if there is an alternative that is cheaper and still effective, but maybe not to the same strength as the medication. This has its risks as well. If the fish really do need that stronger treatment they could die. I tend to go this route only with smaller, less expensive fish. Second opinions are always the optimal way to go forward. I do think that most people on here will not respond unless they have actual knowledge of how to treat the ailment or will at least tell you that its their best guess. It's really up to you to make the final call as to whether the advice given is sound or not. Try to trust your gut as to whether the advice given makes sense or not if all else fails. Sorry, I know that is not super helpful, but I hope it alleviates some of your anxiety.

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Thanks for the response. At least I know I'm not alone! It sure would be nice if there was a guide for intermediate beginners. Maybe pictures of what illnesses actually look like in each stage of the illness. Maybe there is and I just haven't found it. Doing the learning at 60, when I'm forgetting so much in general, is tough🙂.

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I am reposting this because I think it might be relevant here --

When giving advice in a post it can be helpful to explain the thinking behind the advice you are giving and your personal experience that leads you to feeling confident about the specific advice your are giving.

I'll give an example.

The original post reads something like this:

Help! I think my fish have fungus, what should I do??

The next forum member giving advice says:

'Treat with salt'

What is missing in the answer is quite a bit. Why salt? What does salt do to a fungus? Is there any situation that salt would not be appropriate? Have you personally had a fish with a fungal infection that you treated with salt, and if so, what were these results?

Maybe something like this would be even more helpful:

'One common treatment for fungus is to use aquarium salt. My Serpae tetra recently had a fungal infection and I treated with salt. I left the salt in the water until the fungus cleared up (which was about a week). After that I did a water change. If the fungus had come back, I would have dosed with salt again at a higher concentration for an additional week.

Salt works by dehydrating the fungus, which kills the fungus (but not the fish).

Do you have plants in your aquarium? If so you need to know that plants are sensitive to salt so you might need to move your fish to a quarantine tank if you intend to treat with salt.'


Not every post has to be this detailed, but the additional information can be very helpful and educational, which is one of the prime reasons we are all here.


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I've only been fish keeping as an adult for about 10 months, and I've already treated every tank in my house for ich (seriously, folks, quarantine those gosh darn fish you buy), fin rot (never buying betta from a chain store again, ugh, traumatizing), and mystery mild reoccurring body fungus (I think this one was actually my fault for letting my livebearer tank get too crowded and stressful).

One thing I've learned from my experience is that diagnosis is so, so hard. Even experts who've kept fish for decades may not be able to tell you for certain, and, often, the treatment can be your only good diagnostic tool. Try the treatment you think most likely to help, if that doesn't work, try the next most likely, and so on. When the fish looked cured, was it the treatment or did they just get better on their own? (shrug)

There are some different philosophies to that, too. If your fish are cheap to replace and you're low on cash, you might try the least expensive, somewhat-likely treatments first, then work your way up the ladder to whatever your financial limit might be, then you might say "sorry, fish, did all I could."

As far as taking advice goes, remember that there are fish keepers of all experience levels here, with no certification: some raw beginners, some literal children, some children who happen to be wise experts, it runs the gamut. And while I'm sure experienced veterans would step in if they saw some outright harmful advice, they're not everywhere at once, so there's a point where you'll have to use your best judgment, see what advice feels best for you and your situation. If you're unsure, it never hurts to research or get a second opinion.

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Thanks, that is very sound advice. It's just nice to have a "friend" (second opinion), who has more experience than I do, to bounce suggestions around with. It will be nice when the fish club gets going. I'm excited about interactions with other hobbiests. I don't know what it will actually look like, but it seems like something that will be a great boost for us. Anyway, thanks.

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If you read a lot of threads on the forum, you can see how various members share their knowledge, and get an idea of their hobby experiences. For example, I have very limited experience with treating illness, but I'm very comfortable with organic soil.


Edit: I use my signature to provide context for anyone who reads a post of mine.

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This is a brilliant thread. I only comment on things I have some experience and knowledge on. If I do not know, I will move on to another post to let someone more knowledgeable answer or if I have something to say, I will just add the warning that I am not too experienced in it. Something to keep in mind as well is that we are all really just doing our best, none of us really know everything that is going on in our ecosystem. There are so many things that are unknown in our hobby. That is what makes it so difficult at times but also so wonderful, especially to those that have that curiosity. 

There are also many different philosophies on keeping aquariums. Over time you will find what kind of aquariums you enjoy the most and you should not let anyone with a different philosophy steal that joy from you. 

Very wise of you @HisMineandOurs to stick to only one source of information. It is very easy to get “paralysis by analysis” in the world we live in today. 

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