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I have a Ps. acei that developed a bloated stomach and started spinning uncontrollably at the bottom of the tank, and I need to know what I should do next.

Here are the details: it's a 60-gallon tank (51 x 14 x 20) that I initially set up and cycled in January of this year. I stocked it with 5 (probably hybrid) yellow L. caeruleus, 7 Ps. acei, 6 C. afra (cobwe), 6 I. sprengarae, and 2 S. petricola, the largest of which are still less than 2 1/2 inches. I do 30-50% water changes weekly (water treated with Prime and brought up to temp), the ammonia and nitrite stay at zero, the nitrate fluctuates between 10-25 ppm (depending on where I am in the water-change cycle), pH is 8.0, and temp is 80f. I feed twice a day, usually NLS substitued with spirulina flake 3-4 times a week and freeze-dried mysis shrimp once a week.

The last of the fish were added to the tank on March 14, and all seemed well for close to a month. Around that time, I noticed that the smallest of the yellow labs was being picked on a little bit, and he was hiding near the bottom of the tank with some dorsal fin damage. On April 15, his belly looked swollen and he wasn't eating, so I set up a quarantine tank, using an old filter and some gravel for bacteria. However, when I tried to catch him, I found that he could barely swim--he just kind of waved his tail without making any headway. I also found that his fin damage was worse than I thought. I read some of the posts here and kind of diagnosed this as stress-induced bloat; noting that the prognosis is pretty poor once it reaches that stage, I decided to euthanize the lab. I checked the rest of the fish in the tank and noticed nothing unusual, but the next day I found the one of the smaller rusties dead at the bottom of the tank. I looked but found no external signs of illness--no bloating, fins were OK, no spots or discoloration, etc.

On April 23, I noticed that one of the smaller aceis was hanging at the bottom of the tank with clamped fins and not eating, so I put it in the QT, which I kept cycled with some giant danios. I didn't see any external sign of bloat, but it did continue to hang at the bottom for a couple of days. It began to look better though; it was swimming around more normally, came to the top at feeding time, and I did my best to see it got one or two pellets of NLS at each feeding, which it seemed to take eagerly. I had decided that maybe it had been a little stressed, but was now on the road to recovery and would keep in in quarantine until it had a chance to get a little bigger, but this morning found the poor thing spinning at the bottom of the tank, obviously unable to control itself, and with a severely bloated stomach that was whitish in color at the edges and reddish in the center--almost ulcered-looking. I immediately euthanized it and am including a photo of the body to show the bloated belly.



All three victims were on the smallish side, probably not having grown much (if at all) since being added to the tank. Two of the three were hiding at the bottom and eventually develped the bloated stomach. One had fin damage, and one (the rustie) hadn't shown any symptoms that I could notice.

So here are my questions: is there something going wrong (bloat?) with my tank? Should I be treating it with something? What should I be doing to spot these problems earlier, and help these fish heal instead of just waiting for them to die? Thanks all for your help.
 

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With the deaths being spaced as far apart as they are, and this tank being relatively new, I would be inclined to go ahead and treat for bloat.

The "spinning" isn't exactly something we commonly see with bloat, and there is a disease called "whirling" disease that affects fish in the wild, but from what you're describing, this sounds like the final symptom that your fish show, the precursor for impending death, so I don't think that's what you're dealing with.

I would go with Jungle Parasite Clear for 3 treatments, spaced 48 hours apart, with a large water change 50% before starting it, and 25% water changes prior to the 2nd and 3rd treatment. Don't feed at all unless you feed NLS soaked in metronidazole...(Jungle also makes an antiparasitic food that you could use.)

Remove carbon from your filtration if it's been in use for less than 2 weeks.

Good luck!

Kim
 
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