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In Need Of Expert Guidance For Worsening Fish Illness

Home Forums Fresh and Brackish Water Fishes In Need Of Expert Guidance For Worsening Fish Illness

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    Many of the measures below I do not take on a regular basis if at all on an established tank, I will provide the desired info as best I can.

    My fish issues as of late do not signal, to me, a water quality issue, but rather an infectious process of two types. A parasitic infection alongside some internal bacterial infections. I apologize for not having pictures of everything. I will describe the signs and symptoms. I will start with the parasitic infestation.

    It began with one electric blue ram (EBR) and has since spread to primarily my cardinal tetras. It does not seem to have infected the other rams, however more sites have appeared on the originally infected fish. It appears to be a small white worm like parasite in the outer layer of tissue. It affects primarily areas near and on the fins of the cardinal tetras. It is located along the lateral line of the EBR and between the pectoral fin and gill. There are no behavior changes observed with this infestation. I have also seen it infect the eyes on the cardinal tetras, causing the ocular space to swell with fluid. My combat measures thus far have included manual removal with small forceps for examination, quarantine, and treatment with malachite green. Probably not the best choice however I did not have anything else available at the time. I do have a picture of this one:

    The worm like parasite is smaller on the cardinals and not attached as much to the body as it is the fins.

    Here is the description of the suspected bacterial infection. Over the last 2 weeks I have begun to notice a change in 2 fish, one a porkchop rasbora the other a cardinal tetra. There has been discoloration along the lateral line primarily in the belly area of the rasbora and the caudal end of the tetra. The discoloration appears to be suggestive of internal hemorrhaging. Yesterday it seems the discoloration has opened into a sore on the rasbora, which is quite large for the size of the fish. Interestingly the fish is swimming normally and not hiding or breathing in distress. It has eaten normally, however is not schooling as well. No behavior changes in the tetra. My initial reaction is to euthanize the infected fish and observe the others. However just today I noticed discoloration, or rather, a loss of coloration in spots on the EBR’s. I do not know if this is due to initial parasitic infection or underlying bacterial. I know i have both problems. I can try to get pictures of these, however I do not know if the quality will be good enough to aid in diagnosis.

    I have erythromycin and AP’s general parasite cure ready to go. Can I dose both of these meds at the same time? I believe they will be safe for my shrimp, but if not let me know and I will setup a hospital tank. Instead of saving the severely infected fish I believe it best to euthanize them to stop their contamination of water and other fish. I also have packets of flubendazole, which I have used in the past against some hydra in a shrimp tank. This was effective and safe for the shrimp in the low dosages I used.

    Help is GREATLY appreciated. If you need more info or further details please let me know and I will provide whatever I can. Thank you!

    pH: 6-7 (CO2 injection)
    Ammonia: not measured as it is an established tank and heavily planted, so should be 0
    Nitrite: as stated above, should be 0
    Nitrate: 10-20 ppm’s according to my fertilizing schedule, again i do not measure
    Temperature: 78-80 deg F
    GH/KH: I do not test these, but out of the tap the water is on the harder side, I would estimate KH 6-8 and GH 10-12; maybe higher
    TDS/Conductivity:never tested
    Tap Water Parameters: pH avg. 8-9; i have link to water report if anyone really wishes to see it.
    Test kit used: Redsea fresh test kit. Mainly titration tests
    (Liquid or strip)

    Tank Size: ADA 90P; 90cm x 45cmx45cm; 48 gallons
    (Dimensions & Volume)

    Length of time set-up: 3 months
    Filtration used:eheim pro 3 2078; usual eheim media with purigen
    (Type & media)
    Maintenance Schedule: weekly water change >50%, use seachem prime, dose DIY liquid ferts on estimative index schedule, filter cleaned every 3 weeks
    (Amount of water changes? How often?
    dechlorinator used? Filters cleaned? etc.)
    Detailed stock list: 6 EBR’s, 12 cardinal tetras, 7 porkchop reasboras, 5 otos, unknown number of fire red shrimp, roughly 20 amano shrimp
    (Species, size & how many)
    Recent additions to tank: this problem existed prior to breaking down an old setup, quarantine of fish for 4 weeks for treatment and evaluation.
    (Fauna & flora)
    What fish are affected: primarily cardinal tetras, EBR’s, and one rasbora
    What are the symptoms:described above
    Treatment already used:malachite green



    With all of the problems you are having I would do more testing. You should be testing your nitrates weekly, I’d definitely check ammonia & Nitrite also.3 months is not a lot of time to be well established. I’d also test Gh, Kh, tds of tank water and tap/replacement water to be sure they are comparable. It does seem like with your stocking and 50% weekly changes that things should be good, but I wouldn’t assume. Ferts & Co2 can cause problems but somebody else can speak to that?
    I would euthanize anything you feel is beyond saving. I’ve become quicker about this myself but it’s a personal choice. Providing your replacement water is close to your tank water I’d do large water changes 2 days in a row and then treat with flubendazole for the parasites. Allow the treatment to remain for 4 or 5 days as long as things look ok. Big water change after and see how they look. You may need antibiotics if there is a persisting bacterial infection. I don’t like to use them unless absolutely necessary. When I do I use Furan 2 & Kanaplex together. Good luck and hopefully you’ll get some more opinions. This kind of thing, especially bacterial issues, can be confusing and very difficult to diagnose=cure.

    Disclaimer: I’m not an expert



    I do have to disagree that ferts cause issues. CO2 can, however the signs are generally the same as other water quality issues which manifest as behavioral changes. Testing nitrates weekly, or regularly at all is pointless in this type of a planted tank with high dosing of ferts, which come no where near toxic levels. Supportive evidence of this point is that the shrimp are fine which would rule out ammonia, nitrite, CO2, or ferts.

    this is definitely an infectious process. From another source someone mentioned a protozoan could be responsible for what i thought to be bacterial. If this is true, then that is actually a relief because the same treatment for the “worm-like” parasite and the protozoan would be the same.

    I will try API’s General Cure tomorrow and update this thread in a couple days to hopefully report positive progress.

    I agree with the antibiotics, avoidance if at all possible.

    In retrospect you are right 3 months is not a long time, I have been running it with established filter media, so considered it ahead of schedule on that timeline. Like I said, many other things signal to no water quality issues without testing.

    Thank you for your response, plaamoo.

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