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Panda Cory catfish (was) recovering in hospital tank

Prologue: I wrote the following post to share a story of our new Panda Cory catfish, named Panda, whose tail got nipped by one of the 2 Platy fish in the aquarium and how we tried to revive its health. However, when I finished writing the last sentence to this post, Ellis yelled down the stairs that Panda died and was laying on its side. She net it out into an empty plastic container and placed it by the garage to bury it outside next to our other fish and frogs from the past.


To make it easier to know which fish I’m writing about: list of names and description.

  • Sparkles – female Betta fish. oldest surviving fish, 3 years and 3 months
  • Sunny – orange Platy that recently passed. a bully fish stressing out tankmates and nipping tails
  • Panda – one of the smaller Panda Cory catfish (died) who was put in a separate hospital tank
  • Stripey – the bigger Panda Cory catfish that is still alive
  • Scaley and Tail – the 2 Platy fish that nip tails. they are now placed in a bowl for allegedly injuring Panda’s tail

For few years many critters have called our place their home before their demise, but one female Betta fish named Sparkles has survived them all and has been with us for 3 years and 3 months.

Sparkles, female Betta. longest living pet fish for us

This fishkeeping success gave us confidence to upgrade from 10 to 20 gallons fish tank. Chris was indecisive (for over a year) worried that a larger tank would add more work for me. I made the decision easy for him by keeping it a surprise. When he came home from work, voila…look, a new tank!

As expected, kids promised to help with the care assuring me that fishkeeping is useful for “learning” and “education.” In terms of them helping, I wouldn’t say that it actually relieves me of the task. When feeding fish, sometimes they accidentally over tilt the pellet packet spilling more than a week’s worth of food. Their mode of cleaning involves trails and splats of water from fish tank to bathroom and other accessories left in disarray.

The set up for the new tank took 2 days: assembling the aquarium set, filtering the water in new tank, soaking new gravel in conditioned water, and lots of wiping down spilled water taking extra care to not get cleaning solution near or on fish tank. Ack! I had to stick multiple muscle relief patches on my back and legs afterwards.

Current 11 fish were gingerly transferred into their new abode after the completion of prep work. We all held our breaths. This could have been the death of them all if the new water conditions were not suitable. Thankfully, their were no fatalities.

Well, now that there’s space for extra fish kids already had their new fish picked out. This involved a tearful squabble and compromises to have less variety of fish and add more of the same. Elliot thought having too many different kinds of fish would make the tank look messy as Ellis was keen on picking one of this and one of that.

New habitants: Ellis chose 2 Panda Cory catfish. They’re small tan colored catfish with black spots, Panda look-alike fish. They’re small compared to our current 2 Albino catfish, but we have no concerns putting them together: peaceful bottom dwellers. Also, the small catfish will be free from the stress of a bully fish named Sunny, which was an orange Platy who used to chase and nip the tails of its tankmates.

Panda Corys adjusted well the first night. One was a fast swimmer, named Stripey, but the other one was probably younger due to its smaller size and swimming speed. Anyhow, last night Ellis alerted us to a fish emergency that Panda’s tail was nipped and that it was laying listlessly on the gravel. Sure enough, the tail was cut off and it was awkwardly hobbling on the gravel when another fish swept by.

Panda or Stripey; this is what a Panda Cory looks like

We are pretty certain of its culprits: the 2 remaining Platys named Scaley and Tail. They were initially aggressive in the 10 gallon tank but they stopped after getting chased and nipped by Sunny. I assumed they were no longer aggressive and their species is considered peaceful except for some prone to nipping others. The offenders were separated into a fish bowl. Panda had to be isolated in another tank with clean water so recover and not to spread the sickness (if it is a spreadable kind). My goodness…the drama of fetching the 10 gallon tank again and filling it up with water and filter to transfer the injured fish required hours of shuffling around and arguing with each other of what to do or not to do.

Names: Scaley and Tail. Platy fish known for nipping other fish tails. Have been moved into a fish bowl.

The overall goal was to have one 20 gallon tank, but now we have 2 running tanks and a fish bowl. sigh…

I’m not sure if Panda will survive. It’s breathing but barely moving except for some turning here and there. Its recovering in the hospital tank. Tomorrow we’re getting API Melafix (antibacterial medication), which is a soluble medicine to help with wound recovery.

Ellis asked to go to PetSmart to get the medicine tonight, but I told her that the package will arrive tomorrow. She and Elliot think I’m evil for not caring about Panda’s misery and says it’ll be my fault it it dies.

It’s the ongoing fish drama at the Suh home. I’ll have to see what events unfold with the new medicine.

All this drama unfolded within 24 hours. I didn’t realize that caring for fish would involve this much physical labor and emotions. It’s a learning experience for all of us in relating to the little lives inside this 20 gallon world.

God cares for them and knows each one; how much more does He care for us and know all of the details. Mind boggling.

Thank you everyone for stopping by and sharing your valuable time here! Appreciate you all and hoping you have a wonderful start to July 4th weekend. Stay well and happy July.

Categories: Aquarium & Fishkeeping

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singlikewildflowers

Welcome to my blog! My name is Esther and I'm so happy you are here. My posts revolve around the beauty of nature, homeschooling adventures, Bible reading reflections, gardening feats, and life as a daydreamer and nature observer. Thank you for stopping by and hope you'll find some interesting posts to read!

3 replies

  1. You are really immersed in the fish-raising Esther. Good thing it is Summer vacation and you don’t have your other teaching curriculum going on. This is a teaching moment for all and I had to laugh at how the kids took that responsibility for helping to clean the tank. 😉

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    1. I guess we are immersed in this fish keeping hobby! It’s on and off but summer is when we pay more attention to it.
      Situations like Panda happen once in a while; amazing to observe fish’s behavior and interactions. Ellis made a fish jail and a “wanted” poster for a bully fish. Lots of learning happening for all of us, but the main brunt of cleaning and care falls on me. Yay me! lol The kids say they’ll help, and 3 seconds later I hear “uh oh.” What should take 3 minutes takes me an hour to damage control.

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      1. My boss used to teach at the law school and he had a co-teacher. My boss was on Monday nights and the other attorney (Joe) taught on Wednesdays. Joe had two or three very large fish tanks in his office at work. He applied for a job as Regional Director (head honcho) at the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago. Got the job and had to move all his fish tanks and fish to Chicago to that office. Never lost a single fish and was proud of that fact. I think it’s that way with most pets and kids … I know they promise to walk and clean up after dogs or cats and it doesn’t happen. So in Michigan the DNR is celebrating 100 years of state parks. They put an ad on the radio about taking your kids to parks and how to get them to learn things, like having them I.D. wildflowers, birds, mushrooms. I know some of this site is just for Michigan, but they had science experiments which were kind of cool looking: here is the link to the science experiments to look at when you have time.
        https://www.kcedventures.com/blog/backyard-science-lab-and-science-experiments

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