Columnaris Is Wiping Out My Guppies!

LacertaIlla
  • #1
Hello everyone, I'm new here to the forums (I'll post in the newbie section after this post) and to fishkeeping.

I'm currently dealing with what I believe is Columnaris in my guppy tank (I'm guessing, I did ask on another forum but no one has replied and it's been 3 days). I purchased 4 female guppies from my LFS on Tuesday, woke up on Wednesday to two dead fish and one with a strange looking tail. I took the fish out, gave her a salt water soak and dosed the tank with salt too, thinking she was alright (and not really knowing any better) I put her back in the tank.

Oh how I screwed up.

I went on Thursday to a different pet store and bought some more guppies, 2 males and 2 females. Both males died and so did one of the females. All 3 of them had the strange tail-looking thingy going on. I will be going back to the pet stores and getting replacement guppies for "free" once this has cleared up, as my money has gone down the drain due to their fish not being taken care of properly.

I've pulled all the plants and decor out of the 140 litre tank (39 gallons) but the gravel is still in there, as I don't have a gravel vacuum (I'm going to order one on Monday). After scouring the internet at 1AM in the morning (because I couldn't sleep) I've narrowed it down to either Columnaris or fin rot. I went out today and bought some Melafix, some Tetracycline Hydrochloride tablets and a "multI cure" formula containing Malachite Green, Methylene Blue and Acriflavine. I've moved the fish into a 20 litre tank (5 gallons) and I've dosed the fish with the recommended dose for fry (I have 5 fry in a breeder box in the tank as well, 4 mollys and 1 guppy, surprisingly, they don't seem to be infected at all, but they're in quarantine with the adults just in case), I've also dosed my 140 litre tank (39 gallons) with Melafix and Tetracycline, and I'll change the water when I get my gravel vac.

I've also just finished a bleach-plant dip, my elodea wasn't too happy about that, and I've got my decor soaking in a tub of boiling water.

I have a couple of questions.

1) Can snails (specifically, mystery snails) carry Columnaris? I've got my three snails sitting in a plastic tub at the moment because I don't know if they carry/can transfer the disease to my other 400L tank, and I don't know if I can treat them with the chems I have in the 20L tank.

2) Are there any other treatments I can get for my fish? (I had a look in two pet stores today and neither of them stocked Kanaplex or Furuan 2, I'm in Australia and I think the meds we have for our fish are limited...)

3) How do I make sure the 140L tank is clean and free of Columnaris? I would prefer not to use bleach to clean it...I already have a huge headache from the plant dip and I didn't use very much bleach plus the tank is in my bedroom, I'd rather not have my bedroom smell like bleach.

4) Is there anything I should treat the decor with besides boiling water?

Thanks,
Blue.
 
LacertaIlla
  • Thread Starter
  • #2
I've woken up this morning to 5 more dead fish. I've only got 3 left plus 5 fry which don't look like they're affected by this at all.
 
Mom2some
  • #3
Ugh so ssorry! I don't have experience with this, but I think some of the more experienced members do (sadly). I will page CindiL, Coradee, Aquaphobia and @TexasDomber for you. Good luck. I hope you get this resolved and stick around the forum.
 
Aquaphobia
  • #4
TexasDomer

I don't have any experience with columnaris (thankfully) or much experience with any fish disease really.

Can you explain more about what you mean by the tails looking "strange"? Maybe a picture would help?
 
LacertaIlla
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
They've all had their tail deteriorate like this within 24 hours and then they're dead. It's happened on their dorsal, anal and pectoral fins and some of them have had a white "mold" growing on them too. Its not mold, but that's the best way to describe it.


Screenshot_2016-07-07-15-29-04.jpeg


Screenshot_2016-07-07-15-29-29.jpeg


IMG_20160710_123731.jpg


IMG_20160710_123717.jpg
 
Aquaphobia
  • #6
From my limited knowledge that does sound like columnaris. It's a gram-negative bacterium that can be treated by a number of different medications and changes to the environment. I've found recommendations for Furan-2 and Kanamycin as well as salt, removal of bullying tankmates, and lowering the tank's temperature.

I would wait for the real experts though!
 
LacertaIlla
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I've rang all the local pet stores and none of them stock Furan-2 or Kanamycin. I do, however, have Melafix, Tetracycline and a 3 in 1 Malachite Green, Methylene Blue and Acriflavine mix...with a butt ton of green dye in it...

I've put all of the guppies into a 5 gallon tank and I'm treating all of them, just not my 3 snails because I don't know how to treat them...

I'm going to make a gravel vac and get rid of all the water out of the 140 litre tank, take the gravel out and bake it in the sun for a few days, as well as leave the tank empty. Will drying everything out kill the bacteria or does it go dormant?
 
Aquaphobia
  • #8
Melafix is more supportive of wound healing than an actual medication to treat infections and Tetracycline does not work against Columnaris if that is indeed what this is since it treats gram positive bacteria. Methylene Blue is listed as a good treatment when used as regular bath for infected fish. In this case you may want to add salt to the tank, effective dose seems to be a minimum of 1 tablespoon/5 gallons.
 
LacertaIlla
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
I've got the 3 remaining adults and fry in the 5 gallon, I put a tablespoon of salt and epsom salt in there on Friday night/morning (It was 1am and I couldn't sleep, that's when I moved all the fish to the 5g) and Saturday as soon as I got home from the pet store I added all the meds (following the instructions) to both the empty 140l tank and the 5 gallon tank. I'm still loosing fish.

At least my best friend made the funny joke about my fish dying being a sign of how The Walking Dead is going to end (I named my guppies after characters from the show, the irony is kind of hilarious)
 
CindiL
  • #10
Hi, welcome to fishlore

I had a terrible columnaris outbreak in my tank a few months ago. I would actually leave the fish in the tank and treat everyone. Columnaris is actually a bacteria that is in ALL aquariums in small amounts and not an issue with healthy fish so I would not empty the tank or bleach it.

I don't think snails normally get it but not sure on that one but I do know that they're very sensitive and probably the malachite green will kill them so maybe just quarantine them in the 5 gallon tank while treating the larger tank.

Since you can't find the standard meds I think the all in one cure you mentioned is probably a good choice. There was someone else here in Aus that treated it and had success....I'll see if I can find that thread so you can see what they used.

I wouldn't use epsom salt and if you're going to use salt I would just do it as a dip because the normal amount used for regular fin rot .1-.3% isn't enough to kill the bacteria.

I agree that I would stop using either melafix or the tetracycline.
 
Tropicwolf
  • #11
This happened to me too. I went to petsmart, bought to cobra guppies, and put them in my tank (properly) the next day one of their tails was losing color completely. I put him in my 1 gallon quarantine tank, and he died that night. I woke up the next morning to find my other guppy died. Everyone else in my tank has survived
 
LacertaIlla
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
I've had another two pass overnight. I'm left with one male (funnily enough, I called him Merle, who doesn't look like he is infected at all...darn redneck XD) and my 5 fry. I'm going to do a partial water change today and re-dose with the 3 in 1 medication and melafix.

I also ordered a gravel vac yesterday, it should get here today, tomorrow or Wednesday, I'll strip the 140L tank and I'll wash and dry out my substrate as well as let the tank dry out.

I've learned my lesson. Quarantine is a thing that needs to be done. No iffs or buts. XD
 
CindiL
  • #13
Did you see my post above? I'd treat the tank and not bother washing and drying out the tank and substrate as the columnare bacteria is in all tanks......

Also I wouldn't bother using melafix, it will cause more harm than good while treating with the other meds.
 
Tropicwolf
  • #14
Wait, how do we treat it? I think my fish died because of that, one of them just passed, we was alive and well all this morning
 
CindiL
  • #15
Wait, how do we treat it? I think my fish died because of that, one of them just passed, we was alive and well all this morning

If its columnaris the recommended treatment is kanamycin (kanaplex) and nitrofurazone which can be found in Furan-2 or Tetra's fungus guard.
 
Tropicwolf
  • #16
Ok thanks

I'm adding the fungus stuff to my tank, should I add aquarium salt?
 
LacertaIlla
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
CindiL, I did read your post above and I am treating the entire tank. I moved the guppies to the 20L so I didn't have to use as many meds (I bought the second smallest bottles as I didn't have the money for the large ones), and only a single dose on the 140L because I'm going to strip it, just in case its something else and not columnaris (I'm worried about loosing more fish to it when I get new ones).

Good news though, I rang the two pet stores I bought the fish from, told them they had died within 48 hours and they're gonna give me replacements once my tank is set up again.
 
CindiL
  • #18
That's good news. I hope the treatment goes well for you

I'm adding the fungus stuff to my tank, should I add aquarium salt?

Why don't you start a new thread of your own so we can just work on your particular issue separate from this thread? Just tag me and I'll find it
 

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