Illness, Health & Nutrition • Fin Rot or Injury?

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Fin Rot or Injury?

Postby LN_C » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:51 pm

Hi All,
I think I need some help identifying a possible bout of Fin Rot.
The Info: Tank is 135 gallons, constant temperature of 78 degrees, pH is 8.2, Ammonia, 0ppm Nitrite 0ppm, Nitrate 0ppm (as of yesterday). Tank maintenance is done once weekly, 40% water change, (which I have done from the get go) vacuum and glass is scrapped at this time as well. This tank has been running for six months and all of its inhabitants have been together for two years. The tank is being filtered with a 30 gallon sump.
Tank in habitants: Six Band Frontosa x 5, Alto. calvus Blk x 6, J. ornatus x 3, N. brichardi x4, N. cylindricus x 4 and N. leleupi x 5. These guys were all purchased within a few months of each other and all approximately at the same size.
The issue: About two weeks ago my husband and I went home for a few days to visit family. Usually we have someone come in and look after the fish while we are gone but he was unavailable this time. Upon leaving everything was normal. Although, I suspected that a pair of calvus were getting ready to spawn. When I returned home and turned the lights on I immediately noticed what looked like some major fighting had gone on. My Fronts (who like to hang around the calvus for some reason) all had large wounds on their caudal fins, looked to be nips. My calvus look to be missing most of their caudal fins. The calvus are all in hiding which I have never seen before. I immediately checked the parameters and all was perfect as it had only been a few days since their water change. I did a water change the next day and have been keeping a close watch ever since. The problem does not seem to be getting worse but I am noticing some black edging where the fins were damaged.Other than the fact that they are missing parts of their fins and now the black edging, there has been not other symptoms. I don't want to treat the water on the assumption that it is disease when it's not. The problem is I have scoured the internet to try and determine whether or not it is fin rot or just the result of fighting. Initially I didn't even think of fin rot because I keep my tanks in pristine condition and these kinds of infections generally tend to show up in poor water conditions. It looks as though the Fronts and the calvus are the only ones who are damaged. I have tried to see who is nipping because I thought maybe it was the brichardi, but now that they are back to their usual schedule the behavior is normal and I haven't seen any increase in aggression. I have never had disease in any of my tanks and I feel a little at a loss because I don't know how to identify the problem. I'm so frustrated because I feel like I have done everything I possibly could to keep a healthy fish tank and I go away for a few days and it all falls apart. Side note: New arrangements for the Fronts have been in the making for a little while now because they are getting to size (about 6inches) that is starting to make me uncomfortable with their current living arrangements.

Thanks in advance
LN_C
 
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Re: Fin Rot or Injury?

Postby GTZ » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:26 pm

Any chance we could get a picture?
I'd be inclined to observe over the next few days. If you have a camera, you have a means to record individual fish conditions for comparison in the future. It can be difficult to tell if a fish is getting better or worse via daily observation.
Do you have plants in the tank or sump? Just wondering why your nitrate is at 0.
Another thing you might try, if you haven't already, is to observe your fish for aggression after the lights are out, without them knowing you're there. Fish behave differently when they aren't expecting food.
While you were gone, were the tank lights on a timer or were they on or off for the duration of your trip?
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Re: Fin Rot or Injury?

Postby LN_C » Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:12 pm

I'm fairly new to the forum and I'm not really sure how to upload pictures. I did go down and take some for you this morning. Forgive me but could you instruct me on how to get the pictures up?

To answer some questions, their lights are out more then they are on because the basement gets such a generous amount of light. So really the only time the lights come on is if I'm laying down there. When they were in the bedroom I never had the lights on because there was so much natural light I couldn't justify it, plus I didn't want to encourage any more algae growth. As far as the nitrates go, I have only ever had readings more than zero a few times, while the tanks were cycling and twice while they were in the bedroom, the I had a reading of 10ppm last summer, the following week it dropped down to 5ppm and by the third week it was back to zero. Aside from some trumpet snails, which do a marvelous job sifting there is nothing but rocks and shells in my tank. I test all four tanks every week a day before I do the maintenance and I get the same readings consistently.... for a total of two years for these guys, not to mention the other tanks. I keep a different log book on each tank which gets an entry every day so I could even tell you the date that the Nitrate spike happened. I spend quite a bit of time every day just watching them and I have done this since they day they came home. I don't think I mentioned it before but it has been about two weeks since I came home to this and I have just been diligent in keeping things clean and watching. The black edging just cropped up a few days ago and that has been the only change since I got home. I can honestly say I have yet to see any real aggression. Apart from the usual shenanigans I haven't seen anything unusual. This is part of why I'm so frustrated. I can't pin point the problem, it would be one thing if you could say "ahhh okay this one is being aggressive, lets do a little switch and see if it neutralizes the problem" or if the water is off. But there is literally nothing out of the ordinary except for the damage and now the Calvus are more inclined to hide. I think the worst part is they look so awful and I feel like my hands are tied because I really don't know how to identify disease. I have a ton of books here as well that I have referred to and I still feel very uncertain as to what is actually going. I know I'm just rambling but I'm so devastated by this situation.
LN_C
 
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Re: Fin Rot or Injury?

Postby GTZ » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:55 pm

You can upload pics to www.imgur.com then paste the BBCode (message boards & forums) link in your reply here. Click on Preview so you can check that it works before submitting.
Sounds to me like you're doing everything you should be doing. Clean water low in nitrates is often enough to allow a fish to heal on it's own without medication.
Sort of grasping at straws here; your nitrate test isn't expired? You're giving each bottle a good 30 second shake? If it's an API kit, the #2 bottle is famous for not mixing quickly and providing incorrect readings.
Has there been any fin growth on the affected fish or just the black edging? There are different symptoms listed for fin rot depending on where you look, but one I came across did mention black edges on fins. Most others described them as white or gray and fuzzy. I'm afraid I haven't had to deal with anything similar to what you're describing so I'm limited to what I find online.
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Re: Fin Rot or Injury?

Postby LN_C » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:34 pm

Thanks so much, I was kind of embarrassed because I didn't know how to get the pictures up. About the test kit, yes it is the API and the date is good. I'm pretty sure I have been shaking the bottles but I'm partially on autopilot when I'm getting the test tubes ready. It is actually due to be checked tomorrow so I will consciously make sure to shake it and perhaps may see a different result. Honestly, I went through all kinds of literature, in print and as well on the internet and was unable to actually tell for sure because I did read something about the black edging. But like you said most of it was saying fuzzy and white. It really is hard to tell if there has been some regrowth, I would like to say yes I believe I have seen some but it is so hard to tell. I just know it isn't worse and there are no other symptoms. In pictures 2 and 3 you can see how much of the caudal has been taken off. I'm starting to lean more towards injury now that the initial panic has worn off but I would still like a second opinion as there are a lot of you guys out there that really know what you are doing and your diagnoses would really help a lot, especially if something like this ever occurs again.
Thanks again, and I appreciate you taking the time to look over this for me.
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Re: Fin Rot or Injury?

Postby triscuit » Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:49 am

Your pictures clearly show fin damage from nipping. The black line is very common on the healing edge of fins, and are a good sign.

Your particular mix of fish will mean a lot of nipped fins... particularly for the frontosa. If the brichardi and cylindricus are the the same size as the juvenile fronts, they are old enough to breed, and big enough to kill the other fish in the tank. I suggest finding a new home for both those species, as they won't be good neighbors.
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Re: Fin Rot or Injury?

Postby LN_C » Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:15 pm

Thank you triscuit. I appreciate you taking the time to look at my photos. I must say for me it was not obvious because like I mentioned earlier I have never experienced this before, nor anything like it. The brichardi and the cylindricus are significantly smaller than the fronts and I have had all kinds of breeding going on and never had an issue like this. The brichardi have had a dozen broods in this tank and there has never been a fin touched! That's why it was so alarming. This was the first time that these fish went without food for a few days and unfortunately it was disastrous. My main concern was that disease had developed where the wounds were and I am no expert in fish diseases. I felt as though I was out of my league in trying to diagnose the problem properly and I have invested to much time and money into these fish to just assume. It is quite traumatic to come home to fish that look like this when you have spent the last 2 years babying them without incident. I wanted to be sure.

I appreciate your advice, thank you. I would like to thank GTZ as well, I appreciate the time you took to help me.
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Re: Fin Rot or Injury?

Postby triscuit » Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:04 pm

You're welcome- that's what the community here is for. :thumb: My best guess for the rapid change in your tank was that your major predators (calvus and fronts) got hungry, and started rooting through areas they've left alone before. It's not your fault for not feeding them, just a natural reaction of having aggressive territorial fish under predatory pressure. It could have happened overnight when you were home, or it could have been much worse. My brichardi attacked at night... I would wake up to badly mauled, mostly dead fish after a completely "peaceful" period before. My helianthus (closely related to brichardi) wouldn't mess around- they would immediate hunt down any plecos I tried, and then went right after the snails I tried after that.

So, the good news for you is that you didn't lose fish... yet. And, I don't see any sign of disease on those fins... yet. Best thing to promote healing is clean water, so do a few extra water changes this week and next. And, remove the culprits, of course. If your cylindricus are not breeding, then it's likely the brichs that are the bruisers right now.
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