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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For the past week and a half I have been having major fish deaths in my 29 gallon aquarium. I have a breeding pair of Steatocranus casuarius who had a large brood a few months ago. I'd say that there were about 50 fry ranging from .5-1.5 inches.
I got lazy and busy with school and began to neglect my tank, doing infrequent water changes. One day I noticed that my fry were getting big so I took about 17 to my local fish store. Days later, the remaining fry starting dying off at a very rapid pace, up to 6 a day. I did all the nitrogen tests. Ammonia and nitrite were at 0, nitrates were very high, somewhere between 80 and 160 on my color scale test.
This result led me to believe that nitrates are the cause for the massive fish kill, simply from the biological overload in the aquarium, not to mention the food i was giving them was decaying uneaten, and a few fry were dead without my knowing. After the first deaths I began doing frequent water changes, about 15-20% 3-4 times a week. My nitrates are back down to normal range, but fish keep dying! Almost all the fry are dead, and the parents are seeming quite lethargic. Also, a week ago I noticed some fry had body flukes.

Sorry for the long story, I'm just trying to figure out what could be causing this. I'm sure the parasites don't help the situation, but fish were dying before I noticed any external oddities. It seems that the fish become lazy and immobile, eventually they begin to belly up and struggle for breath, and shortly after are dead. Could nitrates cause such a large amount of death? Any input would be very helpful!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Revision:
I just retested everything.
Ammonia is around .50 ppm
Nitrites are at 0ppm
Nitrates are between 20-40ppm
 

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Well, you can't really afford to neglect a tank that has 50+ fish in it, especially a tank that size.

It sounds like you may have done irreparable harm to the fish and their internal organs. This resulted in immediate deaths for some, and the end result that you see with the others struggling to stay alive.

The flukes are also a result of the neglect.

I'd also be suspect of your ammonia and nitrite readings, if you neglected the tank to this point.

I'd be doing daily water changes on the tank and treating for flukes.

Flukes aren't easy to get rid of, so you're going to have to pay close attention to the tank for a long period of time and put alot into it.

Kim
 

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Hi,

What evidense did you find that made you think the fish have 'body flukes'?

Something else you might want to check is the filter media. It may have gotten clogged up with the heavy fish load and this can contribute to sudden fish death. If you find that the media is gunked up then just rinse it off in a bucket of declorinated water. Watch and make sure that there's a good strong flow coming out of the filter(s).

What are you using for a declorinator?
I know you checked your ammonia levels but with so many fish deaths I wouldn't be surprised if you've had some ammonia spikes that have contributed to the problem.

Robin
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have made sure that the filter is in top working order and that the sponge is clean. As for the body flukes, I'm not sure exactly that this is what they have. I looked again and noticed that they didnt look like worms, but almost like a white fungus that is growing off of their fins and bodies. It looks like ich, but it has some longer strands that hang off almost like a worm. I have been treating the tank with a parasite remover in the form of a dissolvable tablet.

I do suspect an ammonia spike, and this may have happened without my knowing because I didn't check for ammonia as regularly as nitrates when I noticed the fish were sick. Is it possible that a biological overload could "shock" the nitrogenating bacteria colonies and prevent them from breaking down ammonia for a while?

Anyway, thanks again for the input and helpful advice.
 

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Its possible that they have ick AND a fungal or bacterial infection. Are you familiar with what ick looks like? The ick article, (linked below), has some good info and also pictures that may help figure it out.

As far as an ammonia spike goes--you can't know for sure without testing and its possible to miss the spike unless you test daily during an episode of problems in the tank. An over-stocked, neglected tank, (not faulting you, we all have those times when its hard to keep up with maintenance), is at a greater risk of water quality problems. Your tank is small, too so that makes regular water changes a must as water quality will go down hill much faster in a smaller tank.

I don't know what you're using for an antiparasite med but whatever you're using try to fit in as many partial water changes as possible. Daily 30-50% for the next week or so if you can manage it. Make sure you're using a good quality declorinator. Some declorinators, (Seachem's Prime is one), will remove ammonia and detoxify nitrite as well as remove harmful chloramine and chlorine.

I would turn the heat down to 78 as a precaution just in case its Columnaris.
The addition of salt, (sodium chloride, plain old table salt without any additives) may help to prevent the spread of any bacterial infection as well as work against the Ick. Try 1-3 tablespoons per five gallons. Disolve it first and add it slowly.

Please post back after you've read the ick article to let us know if you've determined whether or not the tank does in fact have ick. I'd like to narrow down the possibilities here so you can focus on treating the fish for what they actually have. :)

Robin
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm almost positive it isn't ick. There is no abundance of white spots, but more like longer strands of white material that attaches at the fins, eyes, and bodies. I have not seen any flashing from any fish. Unfortunately this is killing my fish very quickly now, i only have 2-4 fry left. So far my adults are still clean, but remain very lethargic and do not eat. All of my nitrogen readings are normal at this point.

I'm gonna start salting today, and I'm going to buy a dechlorinator like what you recommend. l have already been doing large water changes almost daily, but I will continue.

Any other ideas? If an ammonia spike or high nitrates has caused this sickness, is there a chance my adults will recover? I am not too hopeful about my fry, it seems I'm losing one a day now.
 

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You may need to begin treating with antibiotics. With this drastic of a loss, I would definitely do something different.

The problem is, the tank isn't really stable with an ammonia reading, and adding antibiotics may not help that situation since your beneficial bacteria are already compromised.

This sounds like it may be Columnaris, so I would begin treatment with Maracyn and Maracyn II following a water change of at least 50%. Did you lower the temp as Robin suggested? This will also slow the spread of the disease.

I would treat for a minimum of 7 days. You may need to add extra circulation to the tank, such as an air stone. You can also drop the water level a bit so that the surface agitation will be increased by the filter flow.

Kim
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I am currently using a powerhead, which should increase circulation better than an air stone. The temp has been at 78 since they became sick. I saw some pictures of Columnaris and I am fairly certain that this is it. Is there any literature on this disease that could help me confirm this? Unfortunately I just came by and checked on them again and noticed that the adults are beginning to show some white spots, so the situation is getting increasingly urgent.

So treat with Maracyn, Maracyn II, and then do a 50% water change after treating? Should I still salt the tank?
 

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Have you read this in our library?

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/c ... isease.php

Do the 50% water change prior to beginning the meds. Sorry, I didn't say that just right before!

Since you've had problems with ammonia, monitor the water quality carefully while treating - you may have to do some water changes, and if so, just do them right before adding meds for the day.

No need for the salt...

Keep the tank darkened as much as possible, and feed sparingly.

Kim
 

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I would still do the salt. It may help to slow the spread of Columnaris by preventing the bacteria from attaching to the fish's skin--same intent as increasing water movement.
1-2 tablespoons sodium chloride per five gallons is not alot of salt so there's really no risk involved in adding it and there's good reason to believe it will help.

But definitely treat with the two Maracyns and the sooner the better. Good luck and please let us know how it goes.

Robin
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I bought maracyn and maracyn two and began treatment with the maracyn. Reading the diseases treated by maracyn two, I do not see the necessity. Is this just a safe-guard against these other diseases? I am very strapped for cash and treating fish with both of these expensive meds will be difficult to afford, especially if I will be treating for a long period of time.

Basically I'm wondering if the maracyn two is absolutely necessary.
 

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If you are dealing with Columnaris, the Maracyn II is a necessity, IMO.

Columnaris is one of the worse fish diseases I've ever encountered in 30+ years of fish keeping. You need the extra protection against secondary infection.

You could always try just the Maracyn, and if they don't seem to be improving start in with the Maracyn II, but should they develop a secondary infection, the erythromcyin might "mask" it, and by the time you realize something else is going on, it could be too late.

Another med you could use instead of the Maracyn combo is Kanamycin, although I have a hard time finding it here.

Kim
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm gonna go ahead and use maracyn one and two, and salt the tank.
Is morton's table salt fine? The ingredients say "salt and calcium silicate"

I'm still testing the nitrogen levels. I'm down to 0ppm for ammonia, but the nitrite test reveals some small amounts. I'm thinking that there was a bubble in ammonia which has now been broken into nitrites, so hopefully all the levels will be back to normal soon. Nitrates are now at 10 ppm, so it seems this cycle is finally normalizing.
 

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I use non iodized salt or aquarium salt.

Kim
 

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For cheap salt that has no additives look for Kosher or Pickling salt at the grocery store. You want plain sodium chloride. There's debate over whether sodium chloride with additives is okay to use--personally I wouldn't take the chance.

Good luck with the treatment.

Robin
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My next concern is that I have not seen my fish eat for some time, at least since the beginning of my treating the tank a week or so ago, and they possible had not eaten before this. I feed them the tropical flakes and they ordinarily gulped it down happily. The food often drifts right past their face and they do not make any attempt at grabbing it like they normally would. Is there any way to get the fish to eat? Other types of food might help?

Also, I salted the tank like Robin said, even erred on the sparing side, and when I came back to my apartment tonight the water seemed cloudy and my adults seemed extra lethargic. Is adding salt going to cause stress to the fish in this way?

I'm very concerned and I am beginning to think that my fish may not recover from this. In the mean time I am continuing maracyn and maracyn two treatments.
 

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Don't worry about the cloudy water--its normal with Maracyn--or maybe it's the Maracyn-two that clouds, I can't remember--should say on the package.

Fish can go a long time without eating so its not a huge concern that yours are not and probably only indicates that they are feeling too sick to be interested in food. Not a great sign but one that accompanies most illnesses as does the lethargy. Hold back on any significant feedings as the uneaten food will foul the water. Drop a few flakes in from time to time to test their interest in eating but other than that, don't feed.

All you can do is continue with the treatment. Fit in water changes where your medication schedule allows but make sure to re-add any salt lost with the water change. (If you've got 1 Tablespoon per five gallons and you remove twenty gallons with the water change then you'd need to re-add 4 tablespoons.) The small amount of salt you have in there will not hurt your fish. When we treat for ick we add anywhere from 3 to 5 tablespoons per five gallons and many aquarist routinely keep 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons in the tank as part of their normal tank maintenance.

It may be that your fish are so ill that they are not going to make it and I hope that's not the case but you may also see things turn around in the next few days so hang in there and keep us updated with any changes or concerns. :)

Robin
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Here's tonights update:

Whereas before the adults havent shown signs of exterior infection, now i can see some white blobs forming on my male. On the other hand, the one remaining fry has been surviving despite sickness, while others died very quickly. All around, they are still just as lethargic and still do not eat. I am continuing treatment and salting, and doing daily water changes.

In other news, I've been having a lot of strange cottony-cloudy fuzz growing on my rocks and substrate. It started as just a little patch on my driftwood and i have been routinely scraping it off during water changes. Now it is quite out of hand. What could this stuff be? Could it be harming my fish?
 

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Not sure what the cotton fuzz is growing in the tank. Unless it's Hydra.On close inspection Hydra looks like little palm trees.

If its not Hydra then just keep doing the water changes and more than likely it will go. Can you post a picture of the fuzz?

Robin
 
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