75 Gallon Tank Copper Oscar Fish Sick, Please help!


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What is the water volume of the tank? 75 gal
How long has the tank been running? July 2020
Does it have a filter? yes, AquaClear Fish Tank Filter for up to 110 gal, as well as 2 large sponge filters
Does it have a heater? yes, 500 Watt Submersible.
What is the water temperature? 79 F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 1 Copper Oscar fish (Samson, the sick one 12" L) 1 Tiger Oscar (Sampey Junior, appx. 5" L), 1 guppy, (there were two until yesterday when 1 ended up on the floor during a water change and wasn't caught until a later time).

How often do you change the water? 1-3
How much of the water do you change? 10%- 20% average. 40% water changes once a week for the last month since we have been battling a nitrate issue in the tank. Just did a 40% water change yesterday.
What do you use to treat your water? Ro system, remineralized with a small amount of replenish and alder cones or peat moss
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? Vacuum substrate

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Yes
What do you use to test the water? API Freshwater Master Test Kit and API GH/KH
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0 PPM
Nitrite: 0 PPM
Nitrate: 160 PPM
pH: 6.6

How often do you feed your fish? 1-2 times daily
How much do you feed your fish? Until they stop eating. I will provide the food, then remove the remainder.
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Hikari Cichlid Gold and Hikari Sinking Cichlid Gold (for Sampey Junior) soaked in Brightwell Aquatics MaxAmino and Vitamin-F, recently I have fed Frozen cooked peas mashed and mixed with the softened Cichlid Gold Pellet for bloating, was only able to get him to eat them once so far
Do you feed frozen? Yes, Frozen Blood Worms
Do you feed freeze-dried foods? No
Other Foods Offered: We have our own stock of guppies birthed in our tanks I have fed as feeders, just today I picked up live mealworms to offer ( as I thought Samson was pouting due to the new light on his tank, I wanted to get him something to cheer him up, Sampey Jr. ate them, Samson refused)

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? April 2020
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? He was sick with Hole in the Head when he came to us, he is a rescue. As of today, is when I have noticed him with the worst symptoms so far.
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Bloated, Fins drawn to the body, laying on the bottom of his tank, sideways (laying on the bottom of the tank is normal for him when he is pouting, but never sideways, the way a horse lays down on its side), it appears he may have some blockage/prolapse of his anus, his coloring is really splotchy and he has new lessons/sores under his gills and side fins. I have taken photos and will provide them.
Have you started any treatment for the illness? No
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? Physically ill when we received him. Previous owners were going to throw him in a lake, he was in a tank I purchased from FB marketplace, I was not informed there was a fish in the tank until I arrived to pick the tank up. I took him too, we have battled his hole in the head since I have had him, he has experienced bloating as well on and off since I have had him.
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? HIs coloring is much darker basically black around the gills, gills themselves are grey, darker coloring at the base of his side fins, new hole in the head lesions, (he was almost completely healed last week). He looks skinny, but bloated around the anus, just laying on the bottom of the tank. Right before I posted this, we seemed to have some sort of violent "fit" (if that's what you can call it), almost like he was having a seizure, he spun around in 1 full barrel roll, then looked like he was rubbing his body in the substrate, then when he straightened out, he swam into the glass causing some abrasions and cuts on his face and gills. His nostrils are also discolored, grey/blue they do not normally look that way (pictured)

Explain your emergency situation in detail.
(Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)

Samson has had Hole in the Head since I received him as a rescue fish last year. I have attempted to treat his illness the best I can, sometimes he has a flare up, and sometimes he is clear of all lesions. I fed Samson this morning, his Hikari Pellets, he seemed well and good. This afternoon I began working on water changes for a couple of my other tanks, and for his again today to try and get the nitrates down and noticed Samson laying at the bottom of his tank, on his side with his fins drawn close to his body. He sometimes will take a dramatic stand when I turn the light on in his tank, so I thought he was pouting. I turned the light off and he seemed to start swimming some, but he didn't look like his normal self. I grabbed a flashlight to get a better look at him and that is when I noticed all of the new lesions from his hole in the head, along with the discoloration in his gills and around his side fins. I also noticed he is bloated, but looks skinnier than normal with what appears to be either some sort of blockage/constipation/prolapse in his anus, or perhaps worms protruding. I took some photos, because I could not tell if it was actual waste material that is showing, or worms of some sort. It is brown like waste, and not moving, or at least only moves with the water current, but not protruding either, I have to actually look up into his anus to see it. He also has some sort of white dot coloration in addition to the brown waste/worms. My fiancée placed free floating alder cones in the tank last week to help with the tannins, and he suggested that Samson many have ingested one. We have removed those cones since he suggested that might have happened, but I am in a panic because I have no idea where to start.

I did read on another thread in Fishlore that someone else had a constipated Oscar and refrained from feeding for 3 days, along with a 50% water change and an Epsom Salt dip, but it seems Samson has multiple issues, I don't want to just start with the reduced feeding and he just plummet into the red with everything else. I am working on the water change as I write this (RO takes FOREVER to produce 35 gallons).

I know the nitrate levels are WAY to high, I had a miscarriage in July and my care of his tank fell to the wayside while I was recovering, this is in part (not to mention he is a pig when he eats) why the nitrates spiked and I have been battling them since. I can handle any criticism about my caring for Samson if it will get him on the right track to health. I knew nothing about Oscars when I got him, but couldn't just let someone throw him out. I have learned a lot, but am well aware I am nowhere near an expert. I am open to any and all options to healing this guy. I love this fish, he is my favorite.

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Sorry about your miscarriage and hope you are doing well.

You are probably aware the tank is probably too small for Samson much less two Oscars and you are already aware the nitrates are a problem and most likely contributing to the reoccurring hole in the head so I will skip that and instead just recommend if possible to try upgrading to a 125 gallon for 2 Oscars sometime in the future or rehoming the younger oscar.

It also sounds like you are over feeding. I know its difficult to judge how much oscars want to eat but they really just need a few pellets a day MAX and you can skip a day or two a week. I would significantly cut back on your feeding in the future. Dont try and judge how hungry they are based on their behavior as Oscars are piggies and will eat themselves to death quite literally.

To help resolve his issues. You should probably do a 50% water change today and again every day until you get the nitrates under 10ppm. I would also add salt 1 tablespoon per 2 gallons of water. Then I would aim to continue to keep your nitrates below 40ppm but preferably under 20 while he is healing from hole in the head. Using RO water gonna make it labor intensive. I would also refrain from feeding him for the next 3-5 days. He will be fine without food and then if you notice an improvement start feeding small amounts at first. Bloodworms are good to start them back up on or mealworms.


Yes, it would seem nitrates are the problem here 160ppm is really high. You will have to keep doing water changes as suggested by Darthmoli above. Once you get he nitrates down I also recommend getting some water lettuce or other floating plants. They will suck up the nitrates and help you to keep them under control without having to do water changes every day. I hope Samson pulls though, and very sorry about your miscarriage, I can completely understand how the tank would have been neglected for a while.

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