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Trying to Save Hillstream Loaches (Gastromyzon spp.)
May 16, 2014
9:11 am
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aquariumhobbyist
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I noticed my LFS got a shipment of "Borneo Hillstream Loaches" which I determined to be a Gastromyzon spp. (not sure which one yet). 

 

I purchased all 9 in the store but the store clerk was unable to properly bag 2 of them, which remained stuck to the water container he kept as he removed them from the aquarium using his bare hands (he said they were to fast for a net so he pulled them off the glass and said it was perfectly ok when I was alarmed that they fish may get hurt). I tried telling the clerk repeatedly to leave the two in the container and that I changed my mind about buying but he was determined to sell (get rid of?) them. After trying for several minutes to force the poor creatures into the bag (by hitting the back of the container), he tried to pull off one of the fish which resulted in the poor creature falling to the floor. Again, the clerk tried removing the poor thing off the marble floor for about 5 minutes all the while the other loach remained in the container now without any water. 

At the end of this horrible endeavor, the fish let go of the marble floor and he pulled it off and placed it into the bag then proceeded to pull of the other one from the container which he did with ease (because the fish suffocated?). I had already paid prior to bagging and they had a "no guarantee on lifestock" policy so protesting by not buying was no longer an option. However, I want to be able to provide the best possible care for these poor (and by now highly stressed) fish. 

I set up a tank with a high flow rate, unheated, with a couple of rocks covered in algae from my main aquarium. However the fish are all huddled up around the filter head (which is warmer?) and none are eating. I lost the one that fell to the floor this morning. The other one (left without water in the container) has lost its dark black color and is now a shade of olive green (stress?).

I dropped some algae wafers (that I had for my bristlenoses) into the tank and added corydoras panda so that they are not lonely (though the panda cories don't seem to appreciate the current- may have to remove).

Any suggestions as to what I should do to save the remaining 8 (or maybe 7 if the other is beyond saving)?

 

May 16, 2014
9:12 am
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Oh and yeah, that was my first post here :)

May 16, 2014
12:55 pm
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Oreochromis
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I don't have any experience with keeping Gastromyzon loaches. However, when in my previous professional life I was working in a aquaculture company raising tilapia, our veterinary used to say that raising the salinity of the water can help fish that are stressed.

What I understood is that bringing the salinity close to the 1 g/L (similar to salinity of cells), would help fish cope with stress. Can somebody confirm this? Or should this not be generalized?

As a side note, I would never accept to pay for fish that have been mistreated as you are describing in your post. On second thought, I would not return to that shop anymore.

May 16, 2014
2:01 pm
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coelacanth
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Where to start?

You may need to keep the Corydoras isolated now from any other established fish in case of the Hillstream Loaches having brought in a disease. I wouldn't worry in future about fish being lonely, they'd get all the social interactions they need from their own species.

Never pay in advance for fish, I've never heard of this before, and I'd complain to the store management about the skills and training of the staff (indeed, I'd find out which local government department deals with pet store licensing and make a complaint).

Don't use that store. 

What are your current water parameters?

May 16, 2014
2:25 pm
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coelacanth said
Where to start?

You may need to keep the Corydoras isolated now from any other established fish in case of the Hillstream Loaches having brought in a disease. I wouldn't worry in future about fish being lonely, they'd get all the social interactions they need from their own species.

Never pay in advance for fish, I've never heard of this before, and I'd complain to the store management about the skills and training of the staff (indeed, I'd find out which local government department deals with pet store licensing and make a complaint).

Don't use that store. 

What are your current water parameters?

temperature: 23 degrees

ammonia 0

nitrites 0

nitrates 20 ppm

ph 7

 

what do you mean about the Corydoras, please explain? they were placed into the aquarium a day after the hillstreams so there were no established fish per se.

May 16, 2014
4:31 pm
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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Agree with coelecanth, report that shop to anyone who will listen and don't do business there! To answer your question in his absence, by adding the cories to the tank with the new gastros you've exposed them to any pathogens/parasites that the gastros may have. Fish shops are notoriously rife with them. Do some research on quarantine and develop a practice, it may be the most important rule of fishkeeping.

I would just keep the water as clean as possible through water changes. Get your nitrates down to 10 or below, but be aware of your water chemistry from tap to tank so there are no drastic changes. Be careful feeding so as not to foul the water. I wouldn't feed at all for a few days and then very small amounts. Gastros can be very difficult to feed and many will never accept offered foods. Algae covered rocks are good, don't put them back into your main tank or they will also carry nasties with them. Good luck!

 

P.S. Can you post some pics?

May 16, 2014
5:20 pm
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mikev
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You definitely should have refused to take the fish that was not handled right. You should have requested to see the manager/owner. If you pay with credit card, you could simply leave and reverse charges.

OK... not all that much you can do at this point. That the fish is near filter head is likely because there is more O2 there, and in fact hillies generally like sitting around the filter head, this is not a warning sign. They may take some time to settle down and begiin eating -- just wait. If the fish is large enough (say 4cm) you can see if they are interested in frozen bloodworms, cyclopeeze is another type of food that they may like. Turn the lights off, light is stress. Make sure there is some dark quite area for them to hide (underside of a large stone, or under driftwood).

Loss of coloration usually is a very bad sign.

Corydoras was a wrong idea. They will not do anything good. If corys are also new, they may spread some infection to the loaches; or loaches may spread some infections to the corys.

And preventative treatment is usually helpful for any new loaches. I treat for internal parasites (flubendazole) and for protozoan (quinine). This improves the survival rate and should be done even if you see no symptoms of disease now.

hth

May 16, 2014
9:13 pm
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Matt
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Have merged the two identical threads that aquariumhobbyist posted.

Agree with all posted by coelacanth, plaamoo and mikev, and to answer Oreochromis, I doubt that salt would help in the case of Gastromyzon, although maybe mikev or plaamoo can confirm?

 

Cake or death?
May 16, 2014
11:03 pm
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mikev
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No to salt.

(For some fish it is indeed helpful, rainbows would be one example.)

I would not worry too much about nitrates, but watch nitrites, sometimes in a new tank they will show up a bit later and this is devastating to the hillies.

May 17, 2014
12:17 am
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plaamoo said
Agree with coelecanth, report that shop to anyone who will listen and don't do business there! To answer your question in his absence, by adding the cories to the tank with the new gastros you've exposed them to any pathogens/parasites that the gastros may have. Fish shops are notoriously rife with them. Do some research on quarantine and develop a practice, it may be the most important rule of fishkeeping.

I would just keep the water as clean as possible through water changes. Get your nitrates down to 10 or below, but be aware of your water chemistry from tap to tank so there are no drastic changes. Be careful feeding so as not to foul the water. I wouldn't feed at all for a few days and then very small amounts. Gastros can be very difficult to feed and many will never accept offered foods. Algae covered rocks are good, don't put them back into your main tank or they will also carry nasties with them. Good luck!

 

P.S. Can you post some pics?

my ammonia and nitrites are on the rise. I had used a mature filter from my goldfish tank to get it going but I guess 17 fish in a 70L was too much. 

 

You say they can be very difficult to feed. I read they feed on algae and microorganisms that live on algae and such. I would have thought that bu providing the alg covered rocks I provided an adequate short term food source?

 

The cories were a concurrent buy more or less, I had bought them for the gastro tank, but they seem to be out of it too; they are not eating. 

May 17, 2014
12:24 am
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mikev said
You definitely should have refused to take the fish that was not handled right. You should have requested to see the manager/owner. If you pay with credit card, you could simply leave and reverse charges.

OK... not all that much you can do at this point. That the fish is near filter head is likely because there is more O2 there, and in fact hillies generally like sitting around the filter head, this is not a warning sign. They may take some time to settle down and begiin eating -- just wait. If the fish is large enough (say 4cm) you can see if they are interested in frozen bloodworms, cyclopeeze is another type of food that they may like. Turn the lights off, light is stress. Make sure there is some dark quite area for them to hide (underside of a large stone, or under driftwood).

Loss of coloration usually is a very bad sign.

Corydoras was a wrong idea. They will not do anything good. If corys are also new, they may spread some infection to the loaches; or loaches may spread some infections to the corys.

And preventative treatment is usually helpful for any new loaches. I treat for internal parasites (flubendazole) and for protozoan (quinine). This improves the survival rate and should be done even if you see no symptoms of disease now.

hth

If I were still back home in the States, yeah. Unfortunately, you can't charge-back on your credit card where I now live and there isn't a lot you can do about such practices (I had been to a shop where there were around 400 gold fish at about 2-2.5 inches in a 100L tank for example) because although there are laws protecting the rights of animals and such, there is a whole bunch of bureaucracy associated with it and in a foreign language (you cannot apply in English).

The gastros are fairly large, and yes I'd say they are around the 4 cm mark. Will be posting pics soon.

Regarding preventative medication, I had searched for flubendazole before when I had a case of internal parasites with my Albino Bristlenose fry and juvies (literally tens dying everyday) but I was unable to find the medication. I did, however, find an alternative, metronidazole, that seems to be working according to some sources and got some of that. I did not dose, however, for fear that the filter bacteria would die with it. Should I dose now? 

 

I have no access to quinine

May 17, 2014
12:33 am
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they h

mikev said
No to salt.

(For some fish it is indeed helpful, rainbows would be one example.)

I would not worry too much about nitrates, but watch nitrites, sometimes in a new tank they will show up a bit later and this is devastating to the hillies.

They gave began to show up sadly... I am considering adding some Ceratopteris Cornuta to combat the ammonıa and nitrite spikes.

May 17, 2014
1:31 am
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mikev
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Now I'm curious... what country does not allow chargebacks on credit cards? (I need to make sure I never go there).

metronidazole is not an alternative and rarely useful for anything. Zero effect against internal parasites.

flubendazole can be ordered from the UK (google for "Wormer Plus"), they ship worldwide.

quinine is less important.

nitrite is *VERY DANGEROUS*. Use Prime if you can get it to deal with it. Feed very little.

Good luck!

May 18, 2014
4:35 pm
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Now I'm curious... what country does not allow chargebacks on credit cards? (I need to make sure I never go there). metronidazole is not an alternative and rarely useful for anything. Zero effect against internal parasites. flubendazole can be ordered from the UK (google for "Wormer Plus"), they ship worldwide. quinine is less important. nitrite is *VERY DANGEROUS*. Use Prime if you can get it to deal with it. Feed very little. Good luck!

 

You can chargeback I suppose if you have your own credit card from wherever you are that allows chargeback. I can chargeback with my Bank of America CC for example when I use it. If, however, you use a CC from a local bank, you can't chargeback; the concept is too foreign to them. Country is Turkey, btw.

 

Can't order online, import of medications is prohibited except through a license (if I was a vet or doctor) or permit. Problem is, I have no dea how to apply for a permit and even then it is subject to taxation. I guess the only way is if and when I travel to the UK or back home to the US I will buy a supply to last me a while.

 

About the metronidazole; it is an antibiotic and was recommended (on my searches for a local internal parasite infection with local aquarium and fish keeping forums) though reading it again I may have mistranslated it and it says it is useful for internal infections, not parasites though it claims that success has been reported using a combination of it and ampicilin.

May 18, 2014
5:25 pm
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mikev
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Metro is NOT an antibiotic, it is a (weak) antiprotozoan med.

Fish Disease Diagnosis: Anti-protozoan, Hole in the head disease (hexamita), chilodonella (body slime), freshwater ich, malawi bloat (internal hexamita), epistylis in pond fish.

The good news is that since it has no bacterial action it is safe for the fish and for the biofilter, but it is not likely to do any good either.

Ampicillin: this one is antibiotic, but a very old one and not effective against most pathogenic bacteria in fish. It is not impossible that once in a blue moon it is effective against something... heck, I had success with erythromycin one time! ... but one should not play with even ineffective antibiotics unless there is some evidence it is the right thing to do.

Import of medications: most countries limit import of antibiotics, but the two meds I mentioned are not, so likely you can get them. If you cannot get flubendazole, consider using fenbendazole (or another med in the same family) or levamisole.

June 6, 2014
9:24 am
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mikev said
Metro is NOT an antibiotic, it is a (weak) antiprotozoan med.

Fish Disease Diagnosis: Anti-protozoan, Hole in the head disease (hexamita), chilodonella (body slime), freshwater ich, malawi bloat (internal hexamita), epistylis in pond fish.

The good news is that since it has no bacterial action it is safe for the fish and for the biofilter, but it is not likely to do any good either.

Ampicillin: this one is antibiotic, but a very old one and not effective against most pathogenic bacteria in fish. It is not impossible that once in a blue moon it is effective against something... heck, I had success with erythromycin one time! ... but one should not play with even ineffective antibiotics unless there is some evidence it is the right thing to do.

Import of medications: most countries limit import of antibiotics, but the two meds I mentioned are not, so likely you can get them. If you cannot get flubendazole, consider using fenbendazole (or another med in the same family) or levamisole.

Thanks! Will try to look for them. My search for medications here are limited to pharmacies tbh, as there are not that many vets around.

There is a commercial fish food medication "sera bactotabs" that has something in it but I cannot be sure if it is the right one.

 

 

June 6, 2014
9:28 am
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Just wanted to give an update; the fish (except the one that died after the sales clerk tormented it on the shop floor) are all alive. Some are lighter than others (perhaps they are of different species because they have been like that since the tank became established?) but they are fairly small little buggers. They have begun to eat algae wafers as well as flake foods sometimes.

They are doing well with the panda cories that actually help them by nibbling the wafers and breaking them into pieces that the gastro's then nibble on as well.

 

I also added Ceratopteris Cornuta that seems to be removing excess nutrients from the water.

June 13, 2014
9:18 am
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Sad news: another gastromyzon died. I am not sure why. I just found the half eaten remains.

 

What do these guys eat in the wild. I read algae so I placed a couple algae covered rocks in there. A couple I saw make a move to some algae wafers.

 

Anything else?

June 13, 2014
4:29 pm
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mikev
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Unfortunately, this is how it is with hillstreams: they may die at any time without any obvious causes and new fish is more likely to die. OTOH, they may live for many years too, toward 10 is possible.

IMHO, food does not matter all that much. Preventative anti-parasite treatment has more effect on the survival rate.

June 13, 2014
4:33 pm
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Plaamoo
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Gastros commonly arrive so emaciated that there's no bringing them back. You also have quite a few, what size tank? In the future you might try 2 or 3 at a time until you get them established. I like to shave fine pieces off blocks of frozen bloodworms/mosquito larvae for my smaller fish and I have had some gastros take this. Did you get a handle on your cycle, ammonia/nitrites? Keep in mind whatever you feed will add to this problem so keep up the water changes.

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