UPDATED: Please help! Is this finrot?

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lisa987

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Genie's dorsal fin and the very back of his analfin is starting to look a little bit raggedy. He doesn't seem to notice, but I want to make it better as soon as possible.

Water temp was 78-80 previously and I turned it up too 82 today.

Ammonia = 0.02 (this is probably not a perfect reading because I have one of those live NH3 sensors that ranges from 0=safe to 0.40=toxic. I never let it get past 0.10. I am planning on picking up a master test kit this week)
Nitrites = 0
Nitrates = 0

His tank is not cycled and I'm beginning to wonder if it ever will. I have probably had it about a month.

Is this finrot, and if so how should I treat him?
 

LZ Floyd

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Re: Is this finrot?

Hi lisa987 and Genie.

Bumping up the temp to 82 is a good first step for fin rot treatment.  In an uncycled tank you do want to keep the ammo, nitrites, and nitrates down so as not to stress the fish.  That means regular water changes especially for cases of fin rot.  IDK how your NH3 sensors compare number-wise with the AP Master Test Kit's numbers.  With the AP MTK it's recommended to not let the ammo get to .5 w/o a partial water change.

It appears you are trying to cycle your tank with the fish in it.  Have you considered using Bio-Spira?

As for the photos of Genie and possible fin rot, I saw some curling at the end of the rays, but I couldn't see any actual fin rot.  For me, I would need to see a photo with the fins erect, and that's not always easy to get a picture of.

One of the better example photos of fin rot can be found <a href="https://www.aquariumcorner.com/disease.htm">here</a>.  If it's what you are seeing, you can start treatment by making sure all water parameters are kept in check (ammo = 0, nitrites = 0, and nitrates < 20; temp at 82 degrees, pH between 7.0 and 7.6) and see if that starts to turn things around.  If meds are called for, you can start with Jungle Labs Fungus Clear or Maracyn 2.  Persistent cases may require more extreme measures (we're battling a persistent case, ourselves).  You then might want to try a Maracyn and Maracyn 2 combo.

Though I like to follow what the directions tell me wrt dosages (after all, I am not a chemist), I've recently read that bacterial infections may need at least 8 days on meds to get conditions to clear.  I believe each of the above meds gives directions for both a 5-day and a 10-day run on the drugs.  Unless adverse reactions manifest, I'd go for the 10-day dosing period.

IDK what size tank Genie is in.  If it's not a 10-gallon tank, you'll need to adjust the dosage amounts as the ones given on the box are for a 10-gallon container.  For anything outside a 10 gallon amount, we dissolve a tablet (or packet) in 10 ounces (or 10 of your favorite units) of dechlorinated water and dispense one unit for each gallon.  One tab in 10 ounces of water for a 10-gallon tank calls for 10 ounces of solution, or one tablet (or packet).   For a 3-gallon Kritter Keeper, it would call for 3 ounces of the solution.  (Note: Day 1 of Maracyn 2 calls for a dose that is double that of Days 2 - 5.  For a 3-gallon Kritter tank, you would use 6 ounces of solution on Day 1). 

We've tried a few dosing techniques here on the forum recently when water changes have been necessary (the Maracyns call for no water changes during the treatment periods).  It may be best to keep water changes down to a minimum, but not to push things when it comes to keeping the water clean.  If you do a water change, add the called-for dose after the change and add a unit of solution for each gallon of water replaced.  The current thinking is to discard any remaining solution and start fresh the next day with new meds.

Hope this helps and we wish you and Genie the best.  Keep us posted.

Mike
 

gammerus

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Re: Is this finrot?

doesn't look like finrot, just a curling tail. I have heard that this is caused by uncycled water/hard water..but no one really seems to know :-\
 
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lisa987

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Re: Is this finrot?

I hope it's just curling fins but I'm not sure. His tail fin has just today begun "splitting" at the bottom (see new picture). Mike, from the picture of finrot that you linked to I think it's possible that Genie's fins could be in the beginning stages of this but I'm sure that people with experience would be better judges. But he does not have any of the behavioral symptoms yet like clamped fins or acting sick. I definitely have very hard water (on the extreme end according to the test strips). I'm sorry that I only have a "live NH3" ammonia reading and not a Master Kit reading as they are on different scales. I have now learned from reading this site that I need a master test kit instead of just a live ammonia + test strips. Also, my pH is very high based on the test strips, around 8.4. Genie's tank is a 5 gallon.

About the Bio-spira, I have thought about it but I am pretty concerned about the price. I am in med school and living entirely on student loans and in $100,000 of debt, so I'm already panicking a little that I have spent so much money buying 3 fish tanks over the past couple of months! I won't even begin to earn an income for another 2 years! I was hoping I could just cycle the tank slowly and keep doing frequent water changes but if I'm still at 0 nitrites in a month I may have to go for it. One thing I was wondering is if my tap water is not being adequately dechlorinated from the water conditioner and if the chlorine could be killing any bacteria that did begin to develop from the cycle instantly? I see some people talking about "aging" their water but the water conditioner says it dechlorinates instantly so I just mix it in a pitcher and go straight to the tank. Is that wrong?

Thanks for all of the advice. I will keep up with water changes and watching his fins before I resort to meds, but if the picture below helps anyone decide if he is in an early stage of finrot I'd appreciate it!
 

chickadee

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Re: Is this finrot?

They say that a high pH can cause fin problems and the only thing I know to lower pH in the water system is to use some purchased water or perhaps get one of the Brita water pitchers that Mike talked about. I will say that Alexander has always had curled edges on his fins and my pH is 7.2 almost all the time. But he is a Halfmoon. Sometimes with all those fins you just get curls and waves. Don't get too concerned unless they start to disintegrate, as it may be normal for your betta. It looks like he has a lot of fins.

Rose
 
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lisa987

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Re: Is this finrot?

Thanks It's encouraging to hear that it's probably not finrot.
 

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Re: Is this finrot?

Just a word of caution. I have a VT and his fin rot started out the same way. His fins started curling and waving on the ends. I was in the process of doing a fishless cycle on his tank, but I realized I needed to get him out of the bowl and into the tank so I could raise the temp and treat the fin rot. His tank is still uncycled and the pH of his tank is 7.6. I left for work one day and he had long fins. I came home and he looked like he stuck his fins in a socket. His fins have split in 3 different places at one time or another. I have had him on meds and the splits healed very quickly. I say all this to just say, keep a very close eye on his fins because this could be the beginnings of fin rot.

As far as the clamped fins and acting sick, you probably won't see that with fin rot. Lil Blue has no idea he looks a mess....lol. Life is the same for him. He still dances, flares and eats everything that comes his way.

Nicole
 

LZ Floyd

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Re: Is this finrot?

Hi lisa987.

Our Betta has had an ongoing case of fin rot for months now and has not displayed any behaviors indicating that he felt sick.  (He does occasionally gravitate to the heater, but I'm not sure if it's because he likes draping himself over the heater's suction-cup mount or if he's seeking heat because he feels bad;  I've read that a sick fish may seek warmth.)  What happens with GB is that the edges of his fins begin to turn a whitish color right at the edges and the whitish-ness starts to encroach on his fins.  Once the white area has gotten to be about 1/8-inch deep into the fins, his tail starts to disintegrate and split.  There is then a period of time where his tail looks really ragged, then evens out somewhat, then starts to turn white on the edges again.  I see nothing at Genie's fin edge to suggest fin rot.  But that doesn't mean meds won't be needed.

There may be something in Genie's tank that is causing injury.  One thing noted here on the Betta forum is to make sure that nothing in the tank fails the nylon test.  If you run a pair of nylons over a decoration or plant and it catches, don't use the plant/decoration in a tank housing Bettas.

Injury to the fins may require meds for healing.  But, keeping the water clean and the parameters where they need to be (ammo=0, nitrites=0, nitrates<20, and temp=82 to 84 degrees) may be all that is necessary to help Genie repair the fins naturally.  If meds are needed, you may be able to get away with Jungle Labs Fungus Clear, which seems to be the first thing to try.  Just keep an eye on the fins and watch out for any further problems.

Rose clued me in to the possibility that the problem we're having with our Betta's fin rot might be linked to too high of a pH.  Yours is much higher than ours.  I understand Bettas can have a high tolerance to a wide pH range.  Whether Genie can tolerate it is another question.  Our pH is around 7.6.  Your pH of 8.4 is eighty times more base (alkaline) than ours.  (The pH scale is logarithmic.)  One source I have suggests that a pH above 8.0 can result in fin damage.  It also says that ammonia levels that may be considered safe in water with a low pH will be more toxic in water with a high pH.

As far as water hardness, I'm not up on how that may affect Genie.  But, in combination with a pH of 8.4, I might start to consider using spring water (not distilled water) in the tank.  Unfortunately, in an uncycled tank where a lot of water changes are needed, that will cost some $$$.

As far as dechlorinaters are concerned, nothing works instantly.  Even the speed of light has a time component to it.  Though a good dechlorinater does work quickly, it's a good idea to let the water sit for at least a day to expel some of the unwanted gases and settle down a bit.  I've been doing daily water changes for our Betta since mid-December and typically make up the water I'll need a day before I need it.  I store it in one-gallon containers w/o the tops on in a cabinet where neither the cats, nor dust can enter into the containers.

You indicated that you dechlorinate your water in a pitcher then use that water as replacement water.  One thing to mention (and forgive me if you already know it) is to not use anything plastic that has been exposed to soap or other chemicals for anything fish-related.  Most plastics can absorb soap/chemicals and release small amounts of the stuff on subsequent uses.  If your pitcher is plastic and has been washed in soap, it may release some of the stored soap back into your replacement water, which is just not good for the fish.  I don't know your tank size, but purchasing a few gallons of spring water just for the containers would be a good investment.

It's best to keep your Betta in water conditions the Betta is already accustomed to, unless those conditions are toxic and slowly depriving the Betta of it's life.  I don't know how well Genie can handle a pH of 8.4 in particularly hard water.  That will take some research and a knowledge of Genie to find out.  But if you are starting to see problems associated with particularly harsh tap water, you may want to start weaning Genie of the water and get your Betta into less harsh water conditions.  That may require purchasing spring water or obtaining water from another tap that supplies water more consistent with what Genie needs.  Of course you'll need containers for the water and how many of those you'll need will depend on whether the tank is cycled or not as there are fewer water changes needed, over time, in a cycled tank.

If Genie is active, eating, and healing up, and all you do are regular water changes, that's great.  Genie may do fine in the harder water with the higher pH.  But if the fin problem continues, it may be a sign of other problems that need attention, after all, the fin rot is often a symptom of a water problem or stress.  At that point you may need to try other things like gradually altering Genie's water to something less harsh, or even meds.  If you do end up using medications, follow the box directions altering the dosages to match your tank size and remove any charcoal/carbon from the filter.  Even old charcoal may inhibit the meds function.

I hope this was helpful.

Mike

ETA:
Just did a tap water vs. Brita water filter test to find it's effects on pH values.  Starting with tap water @ 7.6 pH and cycling it through a fairly new Brita filter once, the resultant pH value was off-the-charts low.  Even with a 25% Brita, 75% tap water mix, the pH wasn't any higher than 6.6.  This might be something for you to try as it could be less expensive than spring water if you have to go that route. 
 

chickadee

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Re: Is this finrot?

Thank you very much for the information about the Brita Pitcher water, Mike. It may save a lot of people a lot of money on the purchase of Spring water for pH problems. I have a Brita and I am going to try it on my Nitrate problem this summer as they get above 80 and I am purchasing Spring water all summer and now that I have 12 gallon tanks that is going to amount to a lot of money.

Rose
 
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lisa987

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Re: Is this finrot?

I think I can now say with some certainty that Genie has finrot You can see from the picture below how much his tail fin has shredded in one day. In my case, I didn't get any of whitish color change beforehand like you did with GB (at least I think that's your only betta?), Mike.

Thanks so much for the long responses! I really appreciate the help. You consider every angle which is wonderful. I'll try to address them all here.

There is nothing that I can see that can be causing injury in his tank. Plants are a mixture of real and silk and there are no sharp edges on anything.

The pitcher that I am using to refill the tank has been in the dishwasher long ago, but I did rinse it with water many times and had been keeping a 12 gallon tank for about a month before I bought Genie's Hex5, which he's been in about a month. I haven't had problems up until now, but I didn't consider that soap residue could be in the plastic. I'll get a new pitcher to be safe.

Water quality appears to be my biggest issue, so I'm going to pick up the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals master test kit tomorrow and see how the readings compare to the test strips I've been using. Maybe I'll get a different pH reading with that. Thanks for the information about the Britta filter -- I would much rather try that route than spend all hours of the day hauling tubs of water in! I think I'll also take the advice to mix the water with the dechlorinator 1 day before adding to the tank.

I want to transition him into a lower pH (if necessary depending on the new test results) and give him some time to see if his fins start to improve before I try meds. Does that sound reasonable? And if so, how long should I give that before I resort to medication? I think I'd be okay with using the Jungle Labs Fungus Clear but I am hesistant about Maracyn because isn't that an antibiotic? Is finrot caused by poor water quality, and a complication of the finrot the possibility of a bacterial or fungal infection? Or is finrot directly caused by bacteria? I hope that what I'm trying to ask here makes sense. I just don't want to use antibiotics before I know that they are called for because I've had the horrors of antibiotic resistance preached to me for years.
 

LZ Floyd

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Re: Is this finrot?

Hi lisa987 -

It does appear that Genie's tail has some splitting.  If you have no other explanation for this to occur, i.e., sharp objects in the tank, fin rot is the likely cause.  Fin rot is often associated with stress or poor water quality.  Poor water quality can cause stress.  Stress can negatively impact the fish's immune system making him/her more vulnerable to bacteria that is naturally in the water, but that would have been fought off by the fish had the stress not suppressed the immune system.  (That was a mouthful.)

The first thing is to try to improve the water quality.  That calls for a test kit that is reliable and accurate.  The kit most often recommended here is the AP Master Test Kit.  (I didn't catch that you had been using test strips or I would've warned you about their inaccuracies.)  Once you've gotten some accurate readings, you should have an idea of what needs to be done water-wise. 

Most things we correct for are taken care of by cycling the tank or through water changes.  Things like adjusting pH is not often bothered with unless the pH is way out of line.  If your pH turns out to be that high that it requires adjustment, there have really only been a few solutions that I know of: use additives or spring water.  (The latter being better than the former, IMO.)  This idea of using a Brita water filter to alter way-out-of-whack pH levels is something I picked up somewhere else and have only recently been toying with the idea of trying; it has not yet been deemed to be tried-and-true.  And it may not help with a hard water problem (or one so bad that it's having a negative effect on Genie).  We have no hard water here, so I have nothing to test the degree of our water's hardness.  Consequently, all I tested for wrt the Brita was it's effect on pH.  If you have to alter the pH, do it gradually.

With the water parameters in check, you can give it some time to see if Genie responds negatively or positively wrt the fin rot.  I don't have a timetable to follow, but if the fin rot doesn't stop, it won't be long before you realize that meds will be needed.  (Conversely, if you wait to prove that Genie is okay, well that's one of those things that could take forever.)

If you determine that the fin rot has not dissipated and you are ready to try meds, the JL Fungus Clear is what most here seem to start with.  My experience with a Betta having a perpetual case of fin rot has gotten me to start following a medication timetable of no less than 8 days, if the meds dosing directions allow it.  I think the JLFC does.  The next step would be Maracyn 2.  If it were me, I'd do both Maracyn and Maracyn 2, simultaneously.  Unfortunately, the dosing of the Maracyns requires you to forgo water changes throughout the treatment.  Mardel (Maracyn's maker) provides no dosing method for those of us with uncycled tanks needing water changes.  One thing you might do, though, to help you get past water changes for the Maracyn treatment is to use Amquel+ as your water conditioner.  Amquel+ eliminates the usual chlorine-related toxins along with ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.  Keep in mind, it will kill your cycle, too.  But if you're in need of forgoing water changes in an uncycled tank, that's the route I'd suggest going.

The Maracyns are not a real powerful med.  I believe they can be used more than once if sufficient time is given between treatments.  I believe one of the members (I think it was Natalie) said it was two weeks.  Other antibiotics may have a single lifetime usage.  After that, the fish no longer responds to the med.  There is some speculation around that some meds, i.e., the Maracyns, have been so overused they've caused Maracyn-resistant bacteria strains to evolve.  I think that's one reason I'm starting to lean toward 8-day treatments if the dosage directions allow that large of a treatment window.  Being in med school I'm sure you've heard some stories about what happens when antibiotics are misused.  Unfortunately, they are sometimes needed to help our aquatic friends survive. 

I hope this helped with some of your questions (I hope didn't miss any) and I wish you and Genie good luck getting rid of the fin rot. And, keep us posted.

Mike
 

0morrokh

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Re: Is this finrot?

Just for clarification. Fin curling is generally caused by unheated water, poor water quality, and/or a lack of light (with the lack of light contributing to the curling but not being a sole cause)...though, from observing my Bettas, I believe it is possible a high pH contributes to it some. In this case the fin curling and the finrot are likely caused by the same thing--the amonia in the water due to the tank cycling. You are doing a good job keeping the ammonia minimal, but any traces of ammonia in the water is considered poor water quality since it is harmful to fish in any amounts. I agree that the best way to keep finrot in check is by making sure the water quality stays as good as possible. I also recommend Jungle Labs Fungus Clear to start with. I think that at this point the tail has been torn up enough to know that it is finrot and not merely tearing by sharp objects...so, you'll want to start treating asap. It may be necessary to do water changes in the middle of treating to keep the ammonia levels, after which you would have to treat for that day and then put back the additional amount of what you removed through the water change.
 
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lisa987

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I got the AP Master Test Kit and have come up with some puzzling and alarming results. Before I posted on here that my tankwater pH was 8.4 by the test strips. Here's my Master Test Kit numbers:

Tap water: 7.2-7.4
Tap water + conditioner: 7.4
Tap water + conditioner + using plastic pitcher I have been using (which was in the dishwasher some time ago): 7.4
Tank water: 8.2

YIKES! I can't figure this out. I even repeated these measurements to make sure they were accurate. I have heard that some gravel may increase the pH, but my tank water is at pH 8.2 in all of my tanks even though two have Walmart gravel and one has Petsmart gravel. I rinsed the gravel very well in a collander before adding to the tanks. All tanks have silk plants, and Genie's also has a real plant. They all have tank ornaments from Walmart, plus an old-fashioned tank thermometer. They all have Bio-wheel filters. So basically, everything in them is designed for tanks but I'm convinced that whatever is causing the freakishly high pH is in the tanks.

Please help my fish and me! Genie's finrot has stabilized but certainly is no better. He's lost 1/3-1/2 of his tail

Edited to add: I have no corals, or fossils, and the tanks are kept around 80 degrees, except Genie's which is currently 82 for his finrot. Only the 12 gallon is aerated. The tanks are not cycled. I had "thought" that I cycled the 12 gallon before I added fish using raw shrimp and measuring with test strips, but it appears not to be the case now because I get low ammonia readings, 0 nitrite, and 0 nitrate. But that is another story and not my concern at the moment.

I'll take any advice at this time. If you tell me it's the gravel, I can run out to Petco tonight and get that epoxy-coated stuff that people like. If high pH is a part of early (ammonia-phase) cycling (?), I'm prepared to shell out the money for the Bio-spira. I just need to ease to fishies into better conditions soon!
 

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I'm not really sure what's going on with your PH levels. Is there any way you can replace the water with Spring water and see what your readings say? It could be your tap water.
 

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That's really weird. I know one thing that can jack up pH a ton like that is vigorous aeration, but doesn't sound like that's your case at all.
Here's what I'd do just to make sure the gravel isn't the culprit...scoop out some gravel from each tank and pour a spoonful of vinegar on each type of gravel. If the vinegar bubbles, it is reacting with the gravel which means that the gravel can increase your pH. Now if the gravel isn't the problem then I don't know what to think...
 
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lisa987

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I just did the vinegar thing and I didn't get any bubbling from any of the 3 different gravels so I guess it's not my gravel. About trying spring water, I actually just tried that in one of the 5 gallons yesterday, using a combo of 2 gallons spring water with 3 gallons conditioned tap water. So if it was the tap water, using partial spring water should have lowered it to around 7.6-7.8. But since my tap water is reading at 7.2-7.4, I don't believe that's my problem. I'm wondering if it's because I'm not cycled. Could the presence of ammonia in the absence of nitrates (since I read that nitrates lower pH) cause a high pH? As in, could NH3 bind H+ from water to make NH4+, leaving more free OH-? I'm not enough of a chemistry whiz to figure this out
 

chickadee

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Tanks that are uncycled will indeed cause a change in the pH at times. My new tank 2 days up is going through a 8.4 pH in the 2nd day of cycling with Bio-spira. The other tanks that are cycled are at 7.2, 7.4, and 7.2 and my tap water is 7.4 so cycling can change this. The difference is that within a couple of days with the Bio-spira my pH will be back to normal but when you are cycling with fish, the process can take weeks.

Rose
 
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lisa987

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Thanks Rose. I wasn't too excited about the price of Bio-spira (well I don't mind the $20 so much, but it's a lot with $20 for shipping!) but now I'm thinking that I should spring for it because I would feel terrible if my fish got sick beyond this finrot problem. Do you have to use the whole 1 oz packet for each 5 gallon or can it be split between 2 tanks? And can they leave it at my door without a signature since I'll probably not be home until the evening?
 

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When you order there is a drop-down at the end of the order that allows you to specify that the package be left at the front door or other options, and you can let them know to do it.

It is packaged in a small styofoam cooler and has a couple of ice packs with it so it should stay plenty cool. (unless you live in the tropics)

If you use it at the same time, I see no reason not to be able to use part of the packet in each tank. Just make sure that you get enough in each tank and that you SHAKE the pouch so the stuff is mixed well. If you have a cheap set of measuring spoons, get about a tablespoon in each of the two tanks. (there are 2 tablespoons in the 1 ounce pouch)

Hope this helps.

Rose
 
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lisa987

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Thanks so very much for all your help! And I live in the anti-tropics up here in Minnesota where we just got 12" of snow this weekend, so I think the temp will be okay!
 
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