Discus with white stuff in holes in head

ActualPisces

New Member
Hey
One of my discus has developed this on its face. I can’t tell if it’s hole in the head or some weird parasite. Some white stuff seems to be stigning out of the holes. The water is fine, but I’m currently changing 50 percent anyway. Any ideas? It has happened over a few days.
The other discus in the tank look perfectly fine.
Thank you in advance.
 

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OP
ActualPisces

ActualPisces

New Member
Okay:
Tank
What is the water volume of the tank? 350 liters
How long has the tank been running? A year and a half
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater?Yes
What is the water temperature? 29-30 degrees celsius
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 10 discus, 2 altums, 10 emperor tetras, 2 pearl gouramis, 10 cories, a bristlenose and lots of helena snails - and stones and wood and plants

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? Weekly
How much of the water do you change? 50 percent
What do you use to treat your water? I don’t, the tap water in Denmark is excellent
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? I sometimes vacuum some of the substrate, which is white cichlid sand

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Of course I did
What do you use to test the water? JBL drop test kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: I don’t know
Nitrite: 0,025 mg/l
Nitrate: 2 mg/l
pH
: I don’t know, but the tap water is around 7

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? Twice a day
How much do you feed your fish? What they eat up in 5-10 minutes
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Tetra Pro flakes and Stendker beef heart and frozen cubes
Do you feed frozen? Yes, but I let it un-freeze first (sorry, this is not my mother’s tongue)
Do you feed freeze-dried foods? No

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? A year
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? Les than a week ago
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? I did in my first post
Have you started any treatment for the illness? I upped the temperature to 30 degrees and did an extra water change
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? No
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? Its behaviour is normal and active
Sorry, my mistake - this fish I’ve had for around 6 months, not a year.
 

MacZ

Fishlore Legend
What is the water temperature? 29-30 degrees celsius
Even though you say you upped the temperature, the fish should be fully content with 27-28°C.
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: I don’t know
Nitrite: 0,025 mg/l
Nitrate: 2 mg/l
pH
: I don’t know, but the tap water is around 7
pH, GH and KH are actually the most interesting values in this case.
Tetra Pro flakes and Stendker beef heart and frozen cubes
Ok, there's a very important hint. Beef heart is garbage and not food you should give any fish. Stendker introduced this in the 70s and it is near impossible to get this misconception cleared. It's also the reason people keep Discus at such high temps, because otherwise they can barely digest that stuff. Tetra dry foods in my opinion also are among the worst. Cheap protein (fish meal) and starches (grains) are not healthy for most fish.
This is a very much useless diet for these fish. And the diet is one of the main factors for health.
Here's some info on how to properly feed:


Now to the main event: This looks like a Hexamita infection and the holes have secondary inflammations. Discus and many other south american cichlids tend to have these parasites more frequently than any other fish. It can take months until the infection shows on the surface. What happens is basically the parasite destroying the intestinal walls and thus preventing the fish from absorbing nutrients. In combination with poor diet this can easily lead it to show itself.

Get a proper med (E.g. Sera professional Flagellol or JBL Spirohexol or EsHa Hexamita if you can still get any of those) to treat it and as it's a parasite you will have to do this in the main tank. Repeat the treatment after 2 weeks.

After the treatment change the diet and maybe add some extra vitamins like JBL Atvitol.
 

TClare

Well Known
Beef heart is garbage and not food you should give any fish. Stendker introduced this in the 70s and it is near impossible to get this misconception cleared. It's also the reason people keep Discus at such high temps, because otherwise they can barely digest that stuff.
That is interesting, I often wondered why discus have to be always kept at such high temperatures all the time - the owner of my local fish shop also tells me 27-28C is fine for them. I have also wondered who thought of giving beef heart to fish and why, I believe it was to achieve (unaturally) high growth rates in juveniles. It really doesn't seem to be a very logical thing to think of though, and discus in the wild eat large proportions of plant material and detritus.

And yes, Tetra foods have mostly rubbish ingredients but fish do seem to like them a lot (like junk food I suppose - perhaps they include some kind of fish MSG?). I use them very occasionally and not as a main diet. A dry food that most of my fish love is BugBites spirulina flakes - they contain spiruina and insect larvae so quite a natural combination for many fish. The bigger cichlids also like the bug bites cichlid pellets - much more than Hikari ones which have worse ingredients. Of course own prepared food, live and frozen are best, but not always convenient all the time.

As for Hexamita I am not familiar with the medicines that MacZ recommends but another option is Seachem metroplex. It can be used in the water but apparently is much more effective if used in food, providing that the fish is still eating of course.

What is white cichlid sand? If it is meant for rift lake cichlids it may be making the water too hard for discus and altums - though I would have expected to see problems sooner.
 

DoubleDutch

Fishlore Legend
To me quite a severe case of HITH (hexamita)
 

MacZ

Fishlore Legend
As for Hexamita I am not familiar with the medicines that MacZ recommends but another option is Seachem metroplex. It can be used in the water but apparently is much more effective if used in food, providing that the fish is still eating of course.
Metroplex isn't available in the EU, actually that is the case for all their meds. Metronidazole is a prescription drug here. As the OP named other products by german companies I took the liberty to recommend other german and dutch meds, that should be available in Denmark.

To me quite a severe case of HITH (hexamita)
Thanks for the confirmation.
(like junk food I suppose - perhaps they include some kind of fish MSG?)
Whenever you read yeast or yeast extract in the ingredient list: That is actual MSG.
 
OP
ActualPisces

ActualPisces

New Member
Allright, thank you all. I’ll treat with Esha Hexamita and check up on the diet.
The white cichlid sand, well, that’s what it’s called here. It’s fine grained white sand. It’s innate, I think.
 

MacZ

Fishlore Legend
The white cichlid sand, well, that’s what it’s called here. It’s fine grained white sand. It’s innate, I think.
Probably check if it's really inert. You can also post a close-up picture. If it's finely crushed coral sand you will want to replace it with actually inert sand. But I can't tell you without either GH/KH levels of tap and tank and/or a picture of the sand in situ.
 

TClare

Well Known
Metroplex isn't available in the EU, actually that is the case for all their meds. Metronidazole is a prescription drug here.
Ah yes I was forgetting that. Here Seachem products are the most easily available.

I hope the discus recovers, it looks like a lovely fish. The other thing that occurs to me is that the tank seems quite heavily stocked, perhaps weekly water changes are not enough? Although the nitrates are low so maybe that is OK..
 

86 ssinit

Fishlore Legend
What I’m seeing is hith and what is called discus pimples . I’m going to say the cause is water quality. As in your not changing enough water for that discus. Your other 9 discus and 2 altums are all fine? None showing signs of hith? Or those white pimples? Thing is you’ve got a 90g tank with 12 large fish + a bushy nose pleco and 20+ other fish. Now your feeding beefheart which is just messy and not natural for a fish tank. Because this stuff that isn’t eaten is just rotting in the tank. Most who feed beefheart do multiple water changes a week. All of this just wasn’t doing it for that fish. I’d remove it into qt and change 50% daily and a small amount of salt 1tbs per 5 g. This is a discus ailment and it’s come from water quality.
 
It is Hole in the Head with secondary fungus infection

You need to treat it ASAP with Metronidazole.
1/4 tsp per 20 gallons, every 24 hours, water change 10% for 10 days. Temp 84-86.. Got the same few months ago. After medicating for 6 days all gone..
 

MacZ

Fishlore Legend
It is Hole in the Head with secondary fungus infection

You need to treat it ASAP with Metronidazole.
1/4 tsp per 20 gallons, every 24 hours, water change 10% for 10 days. Temp 84-86.. Got the same few months ago. After medicating for 6 days all gone..
The thread is over a month old. As the OP hasn't written an update the fish was either successfully treated in the meantime or is dead. I presume the former.
 

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