Dark purple bump on Peppered Cory under mouth - treatment advice needed

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by asquirrel, Jul 17, 2015.

  1. asquirrelNew MemberMember

    Hi folks,

    I was wondering if someone could take an educated guess as to what this bump might be on my peppered cory. Please let me know if and how I should treat him for this bump. Thanks for your help!

    Back ground information base on a fish tank questionnaire:

    What size is your tank? 20 gallon
    What temperature is your tank? Around 80
    Does your tank have a filter? Yes. : AquaClear 50 Power Filter
    Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? no
    Is your tank heated? Yes . Eheim Jager 100 watt.
    What tank mates does your peppered cory live with? Albino, emerald, and melini cory catfish. One rubber lipped pleco.


    What type of food do you feed your Peppered Cory fish? Omega one Veggie Rounds, API Bottom Feeder Shrimp Pellets.

    How often do you feed your Peppered Cory? I give him between one Veggie Round in the morning with his tank mates and one in the evening. Also put 3 bottom feeder in the morning and 3 in the evening.


    How often do you perform a water change? Weekly change on main tank every Friday or Saturday. Last change was today.

    What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? I take out approximately 70-80% of the water.

    What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? API Stress Coat + 10ml for my 20 gallon tank. API Aquarium salt - 1 TSP per 5 gallons added. (reduced from last water change of 1 TBS per 5 gallons). Latest change today (7/17) I added no salt.

    1-2 ml of Seachem Prime 2x per week. First dose on water change day and second dose on Wednesdays.

    Water Parameters:

    Have you tested your water? Yes.
    From API Freshwater Master Test Kit

    Note: I did an early water change today because the fish seemed really lethargic. I did a water chemistry check and discovered the nitrites and nitrates were very high. Last two water changes I've been using doing a hydrogen peroxide bath before each water change following these instructions:


    After looking at the numbers I suspect I might have killed off the beneficial bacteria in my tank.

    The other thing is that I noticed a lot of uneaten food in the tank during the cleaning. The food was floating around with a dandelion like fuzz around it. I siphoned the tank with a gravel vac and also vacuumed the tank some more once the water change was done. Not sure why there was so much uneaten food. I don't feed these guys a ton.

    First set of numbers before the water change today:

    PH: 7.2 - 7.6
    Ammonia - 0 ppm
    Nitrite - 5.0 ppm (very bad)
    Nitrate - 20 ppm (unbelievably bad)
    Hardness: I don't have a way to test this.
    Alkalinity: I don't have a way to test this.

    I did a 70% water change on 7/16 (the fish looked stressed so I didn't take out any more water). After the water change, here are the parameters.

    PH 7.2 - 7.6
    Ammonia - 0 ppm
    Nitrite - 1.0 ppm
    Nitrate - 5.0 ppm

    I changed the water today 7/17/15. The number are now:

    PH 7.6
    Ammonia - 0 ppm
    Nitrite - 0.25 ppm
    Nitrate - 0 ppm

    *note: I can still see some food coming up from the substrate when I siphoned the tank today. I think I need to do some more deep vacuuming.

    Symptoms and Treatment

    How has your Peppered cory's appearance changed? Yes, I noticed this dark purple bump below under his mouth.
    How has your Peppered cory's behavior changed? He appears to be eating normally but not a lot of movement. He just sits on the bottom and breathes, with occasional position change. He's hiding under vegetation.
    When did you start noticing the symptoms? Yesterday.

    Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? I have not started treating him.
    Does your fish have any history of being ill? Nope.
    How old is your fish (approximately)? No idea. I've had him since December of 2014.

    Attached Files:

  2. Stuart42Valued MemberMember

    asquirrel, does your peppered cory show sign of heavy breathing with his gills. I am wondering if the purple spot might be damaged gill plates from nitrite poisoning.

    Methylene blue can be used to detoxify a fish that is suffering from nitrite poisoning.

    Make sure you use a separate container is you plan to use methylene blue. it is toxic to live plants and can harm your biological filter.
    I also see you are using salt in your tank. A lot of cory keeper recommend against using salt as some corys have been shown to be sensitive to salt.

    The gravel that you are using for your substrate looks rather rough. This could lead to damage and infections when the corys use there barbells to hunt for food in the gravel. i use sand in all the tanks that I have corys in.

  3. asquirrelNew MemberMember

    Hi Stuart,

    I'm not sure if his breathing is heavy but it does appear that he is breathing rapidly. Yesterday I did another water change without putting any salt in this time. Only thing that is a little bit high at this point in terms of water chemistry that I can evaluate is the nitrite level at 0.25 ppm.

    I checked my local fish stores and it looks like they don't carry methylene blue. I did a search online and found Kordon Methylene Blue on Amazon and Ebay. Is this the stuff I should be getting:


    Is it okay to put him in a 3 gallon tupperware tank during treatment? Should I put gravel from my main tank and put it in there or is it okay to use a bare tank? I don't know if he will eat without sand in the tank. How long should I keep him in quarantine for? Until that bubble disappears? Should I be doing daily water changes with fresh methylene blue added?

    He seemed really active yesterday as did my pleco. I think they are relieved that the nitrite and nitrate levels have dropped significantly. Tomorrow I'm going to to a deep vacuuming of the gravel and see if I can get any more poo or food waste removed from the water.

    Oh, one more thing. This is the sand that I'm using in the tank. It's not a fine as aquarium sand but it's much less than gravel.


    Thanks for your help!

    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
  4. Stuart42Valued MemberMember

    I did not see the first time I looked that you are running your tank at 80 deg C. Peppered corys are more of a cool water cory. In the wild they are found swimming in water as low as 59 deg F and a maximum of 77 deg F. The tank raised peppered cory are more tolerant to warmer water but he would probably appropriate it if you ran the tank at a lower temperature.

    emerald cory 71.8 - 82.4 deg F.
    albino cory (probably a bronze cory as they are the most common albino version in the LFS) 69.8 - 80.6 deg F
    melini cory 71.6 - 78.8 deg F
    rubber lipped pleco 71.6 to 80.6 deg F

    All temperature information from Planetcatfish.com

    Looking at the temperature range for the rest of your stock, every one would be happy if you drop the temperature in your tank to 75 deg F. As a plus the cooler water holds more oxygen. Just make sure you drop the temperature slowly to give time for the fish to adjust to the change, 2 deg F an hour change is fine.

    Kordon Methylene Blue is what I have.

    3 gallon tupperware tube is fine to use for treatment. I would go bare bottom for long term treatment (easier to keep clean but provide a cave so he has some please to hide (a small clay flower pot (no glaze) would be fine). With methylene blue I generally only do a one hour bath before returning the fish to the main tank. For one hour baths I you 1 teaspoon (5 ml) per 5 gallons. For your 3 gallon tube i would use a 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) since you would have the tube filled all the way to the top.

    I got a cheep set of baking measuring spoons to help measure out medicines when i have to treat my fish. using the household measuring spoons will probably not put you in good standing with the rest of the household.

    Be careful using methylene blue, it stains. Speaking from experience.

    If he is active and eating I would hold off with treating with methylene blue. The stress of catching and moving him will probable be worst than the beneficial effects of the methylene blue. Watch the bubble and only treat if it gets worst or you see he is becoming less active and stops eating. Keep an eye on the cory bellies they should be plump and round. If they stat to become flat or worst sunken in then the cory is not eating and there is something really wrong with them. From your picture the peppered cory has a round belly.

    Lower the temperature of the tank, keep up on the water changes and gravel vacuum to get the nitrite levels to 0 ppm.

    If the gravel is smooth like river or beach stones then it should be fine for the corys. I find sand better because fish waste and uneaten food stays on top and does not get trapped in the spaces between the stones and decompose.

  5. asquirrelNew MemberMember

    Hi Stuart,

    Thanks so much for your help. I really appreciate it! :) I will drop the temp down to 75F and let you know if the bubble changes at all. I had the temp at 80F because I had a betta in there who unfortunately passed away recently. I was going to get sand but I heard there was problems with it clouding the tank and getting into the fish gills. It also takes a long time to wash so that it would be ready for the tank. Plus, I was concerned that my aquarium vacuum would pull the sand up with the fish waste. I hook my gravel vacuum up to a powered pump so I thought it would damage the pump assembly if it got in there.

    I'm going to try and do a deep vacuum of the tank again now and then check the chemistry to see where I'm at as far as the nitrite and nitrate levels. They all seemed really active once I got those numbers back down. My pleco even came out of his terra cotta pot to hang out, which he was only doing before at night. I'll keep you posted of any changes. Thanks again! :)
  6. Stuart42Valued MemberMember

    Your welcome.

    Hope your cory gets well soon.
  7. asquirrelNew MemberMember

    Hi Stuart. So far no improvement with the peppered cory. He is still eating but spends most of his time staring at the corner of the tank and not moving. The bump appears to be getting bigger and it's hanging down now like a bloody sac. I'm concerned it is going to burst. I checked the parameters today and only thing that is out a little is the nitrite at 0.25 ppm. Everything else is 0 (except ph which is 7.2). Tank temp has been set to 75F since my last update. It's been three days since the last water change of about 75-80 %.

    I've been looking online for other catfish owners with similar problems but unfortunately I haven't found any with attached pictures.

    Just got a good look at the bump. It's looking really huge and ready to burst. I'm concerned now if I take him out of the tank the bump is going to burst if I try to move him. But the other thing is if it bursts in the tank he's probably going to infect the other fish with whatever he's got in there.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2015
  8. Stuart42Valued MemberMember

    If it is getting worst it is time to move him to another container for long term treatment. if it is getting bigger it is probable a bacterial infection and you will need to treat with antibiotics.

    The method i use for catting cat fish is to use two small plastic containers. Try to remove as much stuff from the tank as you can so the fish don't have as much to hide behind.

    Hold one in front of the cat fish and use the other from behind to direct him in the first container. Ideally the two containers are the same size so they provide a tight seal when push them together. then just stand them up and got the fish in the bottom container. pull the two containers up to the surface before pulling them apart. Allowing any gap under water and your fish can have an escape root. Make sure you are still over the tank and do it slowly or you have water everywhere. (another lesson learned by doing first and not thinking about the consequences of your actions)

    It helps if the container are square so you can place them in a coroner of a tank., with no gaps between the tank wall and the substrate.

    Hope your little cory makes a full recovery.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2015
  9. TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

    It sounds like your tank isn't cycled either, which is why you have high nitrites and no nitrates. Do you know about the nitrogen cycle?

    A nitrate level of 20 ppm isn't "unbelievably bad" - it's actually quite normal. What's more alarming is the high nitrites.
  10. asquirrelNew MemberMember

    Hi Stuart42,

    A moderator deleted the link you provided but I got the link before it was removed. While I understand Fishlore would want to remove links that are spam, I don't understand why they would delete links where members are posting links for the purpose of helping members with their sick and dying fish.

    So I went to the site you referenced and I'm torn what I should purchase. They all seem to work on bacterial infections but some mention gill infections. Which one do you think might have the best chance of success for Pepper's cyst?

    API Melafix?
    API Pro Series; FURAN- 2?
    API Pro Series; TRIPLE SULFA?
    API Pro Series; GENERAL CURE?

    How to keep the dirty tank water out if I'm doing the "clamshell" method? Should I do a 80% water change and then catch the Pepper between the containers?

    Once I get him in the hospital tank, how often do I do the water change?

    Can you help me with the antibiotic calculations as far as the amount goes once I pick the antibiotic item you recommend? Pepper will be going into a 3 gallon Tupperware container most likely.

    Thanks again for all your help!

    Hi Texas Domer.

    I have the nitrites down to 0.25 ppm, which is one level above zero from what I can see the API Freshwater Master test kit chart. Everything else is zero. I've had the tank running since December of 2014. I think the tank had cycled at one point because the nitrites had never gotten that high in one week.

    What I think happened was that I had an algae bloom and used the "One-Two Punch" Whole Tank Algae Treatment." (hydrogen peroxide tank treatment) as referenced at plantedtank.net for two weekly water changes. I think it killed the biological filter even though I removed the media from my power filter. I can't understand what else could have put everything so out of whack.
  11. TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

    When a tank is cycled, you should have zero ammonia, zero nitrates, and between 5-40 ppm nitrates. Since you have zero nitrates and an elevated nitrite level, your tank isn't cycled. You shouldn't ever see any once your tank is properly cycled. This is probably not helping your situation with the sick cory. Any way you can start to cycle your tank again? When you removed the media from your power filter during treatment, did you let the media dry out? This might have killed your beneficial bacteria. Next time, if you have to remove the media, keep it in water to prevent the BB from dying.
  12. asquirrelNew MemberMember

    Hi TexasDomer,

    Sorry for my ignorance but I thought if I just keep doing regular water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels down, the tank will cycle through on its' own. Is there something else I should be doing?

    I'm not sure what caused the nitrite spike. When I pulled the two sponges and ceramic beads from the power filter they were still damp when I put them back in. They never got dried out because I washed them in tank water two get most of the heavy debris out and then I did a further rinse on the sponges with tap water (I left the ceramic beads alone from the tap). Maybe the minute or so rinsing the sponges out under the tap water killed the bacteria?

    Thinking of going with Seachem Kanaplex for the antibiotics. Seems to be recommended and is easily absorbed through the fishes skin according to the products site. Based on what I've read it looks like an early case of aeromonas or vibrio. The pus sac is there but it hasn't popped. Hoping the Kanaplex can penetrate it and kill the bacteria before it bursts. Hoping Stuart42 will see my post and chime in before I make the purchase to see if its' the right thing to get. I really want to order the stuff before it bursts or his condition worsens.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2015
  13. TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

    Hmm, the tap water on the sponges may have killed some of the beneficial bacteria. Sometimes tanks can take a while to cycle. You could use seachem stability to help cycle it faster - follow the directions on the back of the bottle!

    Sorry I can't give advice on the sick fish!
  14. asquirrelNew MemberMember

    Hi TexasDomer,

    That might have been what happened. I probably have the nitrites back down to zero now but I'll check it in a couple of days.

    Today I went and took three more photos so you and Stuart42 can see the difference between the photos I took on the 16th and the photos I took today. It seems to me that the bump has gotten a lot worse.

    I also vacuumed the aquarium again and changed out 5 gallons of water.

    Attached Files:

  15. TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

    Poor little guy :(
  16. asquirrelNew MemberMember

    Yeah, I feel terrible for him. :( I think I'm gonna take a chance and order the Kanaplex online tonight and see if it works.

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