bristle nose deaths

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cabfish

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Seem to be having a bad run with bristlenose catfish. I have a fully cycled 50 gal tank with a healthy population of Barbs - 7 Tiger and 5 Olive. Ph, Nitrates, Nitrites and Ammonia are monitored weekly and haven't budged at all.

The problem is the Bristlenose - I had 2 that lived for 4 months then both died within a week. I waited 2 weeks, treated the tank with medication and monitored the barbs, 2 of which had got itch. This cleared up so I got 3 new bristlenose - these died within 2 weeks :-( Went straight to the pet shop where I got them to be informed that ALL the bristlenose they had had died too so it seems like I had sick fish from day 1. Waited 4 weeks, watched my existing barbs - all looking very heathy still - and got 3 new bristlenose. For the first 8 weeks they seemed very active and grew, skin was healthy looking and the barbs looked good too. Tanks levels were excellent, temp 26*... then in the space of 3 weeks all three died. No sign of illness, no warnings except 1~2 days before they died they went quiet and hid in the bottom of the tank - which they do a lot anyway so wasn't too worried?

Now I am not sure what I am doing wrong if anything? Am I buying bistlenose fish from a dodgy supplier who is supplying my LFS with weak, diseased fish? I have read that the first 2 months are the most difficult to get Bristlenose established but I am not getting much warning that things are amiss.

Food wise, I am feeding flakes to the barbs in the morning and algea pellets (about 4~6) in the evening after lights out. There is an apple snail in the tank too so between them there is no food left in the morning. There growth and activity in the first 8 weeks suggests I have the food levels right?

Any tips?
 

COBettaCouple

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I think it's a possibility (just a low one) that you'll need to buy them from another LFS, perhaps something is wrong with the stock that supplier has. This is a mystery of sorts, so we can't rule that out.

Ammonia has stayed at/near 0 throughout, correct? how do their bellies look when they go quiet (sunk-in, flat, rounded or VERY rounded)? Are their gills showing any redness? Do their eyes go thru any cloudiness or such? Do they show any signs that they might have undergone damage from other fish?
 
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cabfish

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This is the mystery - ammonia levels are zero, along with nitrite and nitrate and pH hasn't moved or been adjusted. The barbs look great and are very healthy with no deaths or illness (apart from itch on the first occaision).

Can't say I've looked at the gills but pre-death bellies look flat - not buldging or sunken. Skin is clear - no itch and no damage to fins or fin rot (barbs leave them totally alone all the time).

When dead, a closer look reveals nothing - eyes remain clear right upto death. Its hard to describe the rapid change from active healthy fish to dead ones in the space of a day or 2 whilst leaving the other tankmates (barbs) totally unscathed?

There are 2 LFS in the area and I suspect they are supplied from the same place - I am thinking of staying away from the Bristlenose for a while - perhaps the supplier has major issues with heathy fish? But what are they dying from? Having them live for nearly 2 months would suggest they have survived the new tank and home?

Confused and unsure what to do next!?
 

COBettaCouple

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I wish i had a definite answer, but this is made unusual by the fact that they live nearly 2 months. I suppose that my best guess is the breeder supplying the 2 LFS has either gotten into breeding stock with some sort of genetic defects and/or has gotten into in-bred fish. Cats are reputed to be more sensitive fish than Barbs I believe, but I'm not sure what could be getting them at appx. the same amount of time and have no effect on the barbs. I'd look into getting some from a store with a different supplier and/or a different type of catfish, like corys or otos - unless anyone else has a sickness answer as opposed to genetic failings from poor breeding?
 
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cabfish

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Thanks for the thoughts - my thoughts too but wasn't sure if there was some disease that would hit the bristlenose and leave everything else untouched?

Thanks again.
 

COBettaCouple

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you're welcome. I wish you better luck with the next cories that you get & that they're from a much better supplier.
 

Butterfly

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You didn't say what you were feeding the Bristlenose. They need a diet that is 90% vegetation (veggie wafers and fresh vegetables and algae)/10% protein. one meal a week that is protein will suffice, such as shrimp pellets, frozen bloodworms etc. They will clean up what drops to the bottom but they have to be fed also.
Sorry you've had such problems. IF feeding isn't the problem I would change LFS. I breed BN's and know them to be quite hardy.
carol
 

COBettaCouple

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Butterfly - Do julii cory cats need the 90/10 diet?
 

tan.b

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sorry to hear about your bns. wish i could help, but i really have no idea :-\. mine seem to do well despite the ammonia probs i had a couple of months ago which suggests to me they are very hardy and they've moved tanks a few times and thats not phased them either and thus was while they were babies and new to the tank so they didnt have the best settling in period here. i would suggest a diff supplier too. you say the lfs's bn's died too, so def not something you're doing wrong. must be some bad stock with a genetic prob as flbettacouple suggested, or really poor conditions where they're bred which they just dont recover from (cramped, dirty/poor water quality/inbreeding etc). cramped conditions can cause stunting where their organs grow but the body doesnt. i guess as babies their growth is rapid and if not given the space to achieve this could lead to organ failure? just a theory? anyway, sorry to hear your troubles with them cos they are great fish. may be worth asking both lfs's where they get them from. they may use dif suppliers? failing that it'll be a trip out further afield!
tan
 

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Sorry to hear about your BNs. Is it possible that they are not getting enough food? Sometimes BNs don't go for the algae pellets much (like mine) . Have you seen them eat after you drop the pellets? The next time you get BNs, try to drop a slice of zucchini or cukes and check if they eat it.
 
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cabfish

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Thanks for all the thoughts and suggestions. I have seen them eat the pellets and the 2 months of healthy growth lead me to think I had the food equation about right with the pellets.

The main thought I have is the 100% loss the LFS had in their tanks... I think weak genetics are at work here but not having extensive experience with this type of fish I am unsure if there are other things at work. The food ideas are good and were my second thought - living with the barbs means I feed flakes to them in the morning and afternoon. Then, after lights out, I add algea pellets for the bns - add the pellets to early and those food bandits the barbs go chasing after them.

Like I said, 2 months of healthy, active, growing bns - then dead - I worried that my tank has some strange pathogen that attacks them and leaves everything else alone. The tank is planted, also from the lfs - I assume that there isnt a problem with a toxic plant species, knowing that the bns do spend some time crawling across the leaves... If someone knows of a "bad" tank plant please advise and I'll cross check whether I have that sort (the plants were un-named when I got them).
 

Butterfly

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FLBettaCouple said:
Butterfly - Do julii cory cats need the 90/10 diet?
From what I've read Corys are fine with a higher protein diet such as bloodworms and shrimp pellets. I do give mine veggie wafers also as I like for them to have a variety in their diet. I find water quality affects them more than what kind of food they get as long as there is a variety.
Carol
 

Butterfly

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Plants are fine for BN's and they aren't a particularly destructive fish. But I do want to emphasize they need FRESH veggies in their diet. They need the bulk as well as the vitamins and minerals.
Carol
 
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