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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, new here. Been keeping fish for about 20 years and am so frustrated the last year or so I'm about to abandon ship. I'll try to give the full story. About a year and a half ago I had a thriving 75 gallon Mbuna setup. Beautiful tank with happy fish. Then, I got the bright idea to upgrade to a 125 gallon and have had problems ever since. During the move about a year and a half ago, a couple of the fish got stressed obviously but all made it until one came down with what I believed to be columnaris or fin/mouth rot. It quickly spread and I vigorously tried everything to cure my beloved Mbuna. After a long battle and numerous antibiotics and treatments, the majority died and the few remaining were horribly sick and I euthanized them.
At that time I took down the entire tank and cleaned everything and drained it completely. It all sat in my garage completely empty in -30 degree weather as I live in Minnesota.
Now, a year and a half later I just set up the 125 gallon again and performed a fishless cycle using Dr Tim's ammonia. Cycled in about a month, and conditions were pristine. Nice hard water, ph around 8.5, no ammonia or nitrites obviously and very low nitrates. Temp is a steady 77 degrees. I introduced 20 Mbunas from <vendor name removed> on Tuesday this week. They all appeared healthy but took cover as expected. None would eat or come out and now it is day 3 and same story. However, upon closer inspection tonight it appears that several of the fish have symptoms of the columnaris or fin rot yet again. Could it be that the **** survived on my rock or tank walls with no water in sub zero temps for over a year? I just don't believe that is possible. I'm so incredibly frustrated that I'm considering just giving up on the hobby. <vendor name removed> will refund my money but that's not the point. I just don't get it. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
 

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Welcome to Cichlid-forum! Sorry the circumstances are not better.

If the tank was totally dry (was it?) for months I find it hard to believe a pathogen lived, but I also don't have any good ideas about what is happening. Hopefully other Members will chime in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. Yep, totally dry and in a garage with sub zero temps all winter. Everything was completely dry and sat in the garage for about a year.
 

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I also doubt that anything would survive with the tank being dry for so long. I do question whether your fishless cycling actually worked, even though I know you believe it did. Drain the tank and throw in a few small feeder goldfish. Leave them for a month. If water levels are steady after that time and goldfish are healthy, return them to the fish store and switch them out for Cichlids. Don't add too many Cichlids at once.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm 100% confident that the tank cycled because I've done it this way many times and the test results don't lie. Adding pure ammonia is just like adding fish, they poop, it creates ammonia, it breaks down and the cycle begins. You test each day and continue adding ammonia every 2/3 days until your ammonia and nitrites stay zero while nitrates are low.
Anyway, I know the tank cycled. Just don't know what the heck is going on with my fish.
 

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Is there one or some fish that show symptoms and others not so far? Do you have a separate tank for them? Maybe you can limit it to a couple of fish.

Since columnaris and fin rot are treated differently, you have to decide which it is. Did you use kanamycin before?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I see about 4 with symptoms, however I have extensive rock work in the tank so there's a lot I can't see. Only maybe 2 or 3 are actually out and eating. The symptoms I see appear to be that of columnaris. Some grey spots/lesions or tears on the head near the mouth and frayed fins. I did try numerous rounds of kanaplex and furan 2 without success last time. I don't know.. maybe I'll get lucky and tonight will be better. It's day 4 today, eat or starve I'd imagine..
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
From what I'm hearing and understand, there's just no way this bacteria or pathogen or whatever it is could have survived. That would make it be the fish I guess
 

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Stressed fish are susceptible and new additions are stressed. I would start the kanamycin yesterday.

If you have a hospital tank, I would separate the sick ones. Take out all the rocks. Any chance that some might survive.

Malawi can live 28 days without eating. The not eating is not as worrisome as the symptoms of spots/fins. My fish died of this, but I did not know about kanamycin. I know people who HAVE cured this with kanamycin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
No quarantine or hospital tank so I'll have to treat all 125 gallons. With everything closed, the soonest I can get medicine here is next week Tuesday or Wednesday. Thanks for the help. I'll do what I can
 

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I just looked up columnaris in my Handbook of Fish Diseases and I would say that's what it looks like opposed to a fungal infection. If you cant get meds until next week I dont know if any will survive, sadly. And even if you were able to treat right away, there are no guarantees anyway. The book says to keep the temperature lower to try and slow it down. It lists poor water quality, high ammonia concentration and low oxygen content as contributing factors. It also lists different courses of treatment. One is Chloramphenicol (Chloromycetin), one is Acriflavin (Trypaflavin) and one is a combination of Chloramphenicol and Acriflavin. Honestly, I dont know if any of these are readily available but you can search and see if they are sold under a different name. Sorry I can't be of more help. Definitely feel bad for what you're going through. I know you have tested your water and it's good so not sure why this problem would come up again. Good luck, man.
 

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Did a little more reading and it says this bacteria is most likely present in all aquariums and becomes a problem for fish under stressful conditions. Another reputable site says to use nitrafurazone and kanamycin together. Also to slowly lower the temperature to under 75 degrees. Hope this helps
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So whatever it was spread quickly and wiped out the tank again minus a few sick survivors that I euthanized, sadly. So, now I'm disinfecting the tank. Upon doing a lot of reading and inquiring with different sources, I decided to try the salt disinfecting method. Fill the tank with water and add salt (swimming pool salt) until it stops dissolving and the salt accumulates on the bottom. This gets you a saturated salt solution. According to my source and a couple posts here and there, this extremely high solution of salt will kill everything. I decided to choose this method because I'd heard a lot of bad things about bleach, and since my rocks are very porous I didn't want to risk the bleach sticking around.

Has anyone had experience with using this saturated salt solution? I just really don't want to set the tank back up to have whatever disease it was come back. Thanks.
 

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I sent you a PM. I think bleach is the way to go because salt won't kill bacteria or viruses. As long as you rinse thoroughly and use a dechlorinator like Prime you won't have any problems with the bleach.
 

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kerncake233 said:
So whatever it was spread quickly and wiped out the tank again minus a few sick survivors that I euthanized, sadly. So, now I'm disinfecting the tank. Upon doing a lot of reading and inquiring with different sources, I decided to try the salt disinfecting method. Fill the tank with water and add salt (swimming pool salt) until it stops dissolving and the salt accumulates on the bottom. This gets you a saturated salt solution. According to my source and a couple posts here and there, this extremely high solution of salt will kill everything. I decided to choose this method because I'd heard a lot of bad things about bleach, and since my rocks are very porous I didn't want to risk the bleach sticking around.

Has anyone had experience with using this saturated salt solution? I just really don't want to set the tank back up to have whatever disease it was come back. Thanks.
Sorry to hear about your loss kerncake233. That is very unfortunate.
 

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It could have also come with the fish. You never know until it happens. I don't think any quarantine period for a new fish COMPLETELY eliminates the risk of a new fish spreading a disease to a tank, but it reduces it. If all the fish die, disinfect everything using an actual disinfectant, and try again. Although I highly doubt that anything survived the dry period, some strains of bacteria, viruses, and parasites have evolved to survive in a cystic form when conditions are not favorable. These cysts would be microscopic so you would not be able to see them with a naked eye. There are even fish (like killifish) whose eggs can survive years bone dry and cold. Also, brine shrimp eggs are actually cysts as well, and this is the reason why they are very hardy. I'm not saying thaat there are cystic bacteria in your tank, but it may be possible. Avoid the same vendor. Use the money he gave you and try a local breeder. They tend to keep their fish better.
 
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