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Protozoan parasites attacking butterfly barbs...any advice for what to use?
August 9, 2016
2:06 am
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Entomancer
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Several days ago I found that my butterfly barbs were under attack from some kind of protozoan parasite (ich-like cysts). This has happened before, and despite many attempts to stop the parasites, they ultimately killed all but one of the barbs. That barb is still alive, and I was going to put it together with this group, but I suspect that this round of parasites came from the last barb, which may be resistant (I've read about this happening to other people, and I did move some java moss from the tank with the lone barb to a quarantine tank with the new barbs, so it's possible).

 And yesterday I found cysts on some B. brigittae sharing a tank with licorice gouramis.

 Does anyone have any recommendations for medications for treating protozoan parasites on sensitive softwater fishes? I have treated these kinds of diseases in the past with malachite green/formalin, but from what I could find, formalin/malachite becomes far more toxic in low-pH water, so I don't want to try it here. I've also tried H2O2, but I've learned that it decays quickly in soft, acidic water, and I've had mostly bad results with it in the past because of how powerful it is, even in seemingly small doses.

I did already do more research myself and found that metronidazole is supposed to be effective and safe even for things like discus, so I bought some the day after I found the cysts and began applying it that night. So far the barbs haven't improved much. I lost two of them shortly after dosing the tank, and while the others are still holding up okay, they also still have the cysts, and I'd like to find something that works at the cyst stage, if possible.

In my search I also found results plus chloroquine phosphate and some other things. From what I've read, the chloroquine phosphate can work too, but it's very hard to find more accurate information on this, because most of my search results are for marine fish parasites or about using malachite green/formalin or other ingredients.

 So does anyone have any experience using metronidazole, chloroquine, or any other less commonly-seen medications on fish, especially really sensitive soft-water species? I don't want to lose my B. hulstaerti...I really like them and they were kind of expensive.

August 11, 2016
2:43 am
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Byron Hosking
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I would suggest salt and heat, if you are certain this is an external parasite of the ich or velvet type.  On the advice of Neale Monks, I did this with my sensitive wild-caught fish (loaches, corys and pencilfish) and it dealt with a stubborn case of ich.  Raise the temp to 85F/30c and use 2 g per litre of aquarium salt (not marine).  One level teaspoon is approximately 6 grams (I found this helpful, as I am without a scale).  Do a major water change first, then add the salt over several hours, say a day, and maintain for 1-2 weeks; I found a 2-week period better.  Replace salt at the same dose for any fresh water (only) added at waterchanges during the treatment period.

Metrodonidazole is effective for internal protozoan, but better if taken orally, by mixing it with food.  I have used this also with sensitive fish mentioned previously (separate issue, not together with the heat/salt).

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA Vancouver, BC Canada
August 15, 2016
1:41 am
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Byron, I appreciate the advice, but I don't that's going to work for B. hulstaerti.

Butterfly barbs do not tolerate temps. above 75 F very well. They really need to be kept below 75 F or so, and they are soft-water fish that really need a pH of less than 7 and they seem to prefer a pH of less than 6.5.

My problem is that many of the typical treatments will treat the tank of the parasite and the fish. I'm looking for other options; since the original post I've tried metronidazole with no success, and now I'm trying chloroquinone phosphate. I started with 13 barbs and I'm down to 7, so I'm running out of time. I've also tried H2O2 in the past with little luck; according to some of my findings, it can destroy the parasites during the cyst stage, but the last time I tried it there was only one survivor, and I now suspect that the lone survivor is resistant and acting as a vector (which would be the source of this outbreak).

Any ideas? I've found instructions for preparing medicated food, and I'm going to do that in combination with the chloroquine phosphate. I've found a report of someone stopping an ich outbreak by feeding their fish medicated food (with metronidazole), so I'm going to give that a try.

August 16, 2016
5:55 pm
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Byron Hosking
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I am not insisting on the heat/salt...but my point previously was that this is a much less detrimental treatment on sensitive fish than most chemical medications that would contain copper or malachite green for example.  Corys are as "sensitive" as the barbs, even more so, but the heat and salt is temporary, two weeks maximum, one week might do it.

The ranges for GH, pH and temperature of a species are intended to be for permanent maintenance.  My pencilfish are pH 5 fish.  And as for the salt, loaches, corys and characins are about the most sensitive fish you can have.

I know nothing at all about chloroquinone phosphate, so I won't guess at its possible effectiveness or detriment.  As for Hydrogen peroxide, I would myself never put that in an aquarium with fish, but I know some use it for algae on plants.  Remember that every substance added to the tank water is going to get inside the fish, by osmosis through the cells, entering the bloodstream and many internal organs.  Heat is not going to be like this, and salt we know has quite different reactions.  Neale Monks is probably the most highly respected ichthyologist in the hobby, and this was his recommended treatment.  Up to you.

Metronidazole in the food should be OK with barbs, as it was for my more sensitive species.  I'm not saying it will be effective, any more than salt/heat.  I have used metro for internal protozoan with good effect, but it did not deal with external parasites as well as heat/salt.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA Vancouver, BC Canada
August 18, 2016
5:38 am
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Plaamoo
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My go to is flubendazole. It's a little bit messy but I've never had adverse reactions and it works 95% of the time for me. Actually.

http://www.inkmkr.com/Fish/Ite.....rSale.html

August 20, 2016
12:21 am
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Plaamoo said
My go to is flubendazole. It's a little bit messy but I've never had adverse reactions and it works 95% of the time for me. Actually.
http://www.inkmkr.com/Fish/Ite.....rSale.html

 

I read your discussion on using Flubendazole on the rainbowfish forums a few days ago and bookmarked it. Very useful information, and thanks for the link to buy some.

Anyway, I've sadly lost all but three of the barbs, but the chloroquine seems to have stopped the outbreak. A few also got to my B. brigittae, and dosing them the same way (1/8 tsp per 10 gallons; I don't know what mass this is but I might update this later if I can find my pocket scale). So far the B. brigittae are stressed, but they are doing alright. 

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