Fish Disease?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by JGombs99, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. JGombs99Well Known MemberMember

    Hello, all. I apologize if this isn't the correct place to post this, but I couldn't find a specific place for fish disease, so I figured this was the best place.

    My tank has been running since early April and this is the first time I've dealt with fish disease, so I'm not sure what I should do. I just noticed some white spots on the head and face of a couple of my Serpae Tetras. Along with the white, the spots also look pretty "raw"/less shiny than the rest of the fish. The fins are also looking very torn/shortened. At first, I thought this was ich, but some research made me think columnaris is a better guess.

    All other fish in the tank look fine, and all fish, even the obviously infected ones are acting fine so far. I want to try to get this under control before it spreads, if possible. The most recent addition to my tank was a Blood Parrot, added a week and a half ago, which appears to be quite healthy at this time. No deaths yet, other than a mysterious Bolivian Ram death last weekend. Although I'm unsure of what killed the Ram, I saw no signs of disease.

    I don't think I'll have any luck getting an accurate picture, but I'll try. I'll also do a water test, but I wanted to get this thread going as soon as possible to begin to get some thoughts. However, my last water test, after the Ram's death, the water looked good. So, unless I'm missing something, I don't believe this is a water quality issue. Please advise me on what actions I could take. Thank you!

  2. CoradeeModeratorModerator Member

  3. JGombs99Well Known MemberMember

    There IS a disease forum? Ok, sorry for missing it!

    Ok, water test results are in, and there were a couple of surprises (although I'm not sure if any could be the culprit of disease). PH seems to be 7.6, which is weird because it's been holding steady at 7.4 for awhile. Admittedly, I've never tested for high PH and I'm not sure if I should be doing that. Ammonia is 0.25 (which I didn't expect as it was 0 even after I found the dead Ram). Ammonia is 0, and Nitrates are about 10.

    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
  4. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    Hey, sorry about your fish! If you could get a photo, that would definitely help ID what the issue is and provide next course of action.

    And is your ammonia 0.25 or 0? You have it listed twice. :) When was the last water change? The trace ammonia(?) could be from the addition of fish or overfeeding though it probably isn't the cause of the illness.
  5. JGombs99Well Known MemberMember

    Thanks, el337! I'll try to get a picture, but it's not looking good for that to happen. The ammonia is 0.25. What I was saying in regard to 0 was that the ammonia was 0 after I found a dead fish, so I was shocked to see it higher almost a week after that happened.

    The last water change was at the very end of May. I know this is going to be controversial on here, but I've been told by the guy doing my maintenance (and who has biology degrees in this area) as well as my favorite employee at my LFS have both assured me that I'll be fine with monthly water changes.
  6. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    What's your nitrite then?

    I highly disagree with the maintenance and LFS guys. I know we talked about it before but regular weekly water changes (at the very least biweekly) are so so so important for your fish and again, is not about just the nitrate level. It also prevents illnesses and diseases. I really do suggest that you get them done weekly. The trace ammonia could be from the uneaten food or debris that's in the substrate you are not picking up by doing regular water changes. And with your sick fish, you really do need a good water change asap.
  7. JGombs99Well Known MemberMember

    Thanks, again! I just don't understand how someone who does aquarium maintenance for a living, and who has degrees in related topics doesn't know correct maintenance schedules. Same goes for the LFS guy. He happens to be the guy who does the maintenance service for the store, too, and he seems quite knowledgeable. Not to say you're not...I just don't get it.

    Anyway, nitrites are 0. I thought I said that, but perhaps my auto correct caused a typo! The only thing I just thought of that I didn't mention in my initial post was the fact that I've been changing out my filter cartridges. Perhaps I messed something up with this, but I thought I was doing it correctly. I hadn't touched them since setting up my tank, so I figured it was time to do it. The maintenance guy also agreed. Between my two filters, I have three cartridges. I replaced one cartridge at first, waited exactly one week, and replaced the second. The second was changed this past Sunday. I plan to change the third this Sunday, unless I get other direction on here. Also, to me, it seems that if I did this wrong, I'd have a problem with nitrites and nitrates, and not just a slight spike in ammonia. But who knows, I'm still a beginner and could be completely wrong about this.

    I was able to get a couple of pictures. They're horrible, but they do show the white spots. The first shows just how much of the fish is covered, although it's super blurry. The second shows the fish a bit 1466700047567.jpg better, but the detail of the spots are impossible to really see.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 23, 2016
  8. peregrineValued MemberMember

    It's hard to tell form the picture. But the white spots. Do they look like tiny grains of salt/sugar are attached ((eg raised off the scales)) or are they kinda fuzzy, or just smooth like the rest of the body??
  9. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    It is pretty alarming to think these "professionals" would be the experts in the hobby but more often than not, they know the least about caring for fish properly. Trust me, you definitely will see your fish more perkier and healthier when you stick with weekly water changes. I haven't been in the hobby long but I regularly do at least 60% weekly without fail and I haven't had one sick fish in my tank yet. If my water changes are contributing to that, I'm sticking with it!

    You never want to change out your filter cartridges and since it's only been set up since April, I don't see why you would need to unless they were falling apart or the water wasn't flowing through properly. Plus, it gets super expensive changing them out so often. Why not modify your filters and use sponges, filter floss and ceramic media instead? They would work better and should never need replacing.

    I honestly can't tell from the pics, sorry. If it looks like salt sprinkled all over then I'd say it's ich. If the spots are larger and fuzzy, it could be fungal or bacterial. Very hard to say without a clear pic. Let's see if someone else can determine what it could be.
  10. JGombs99Well Known MemberMember

    It's really hard to tell. I could be very wrong, but I'd venture to say they're most like the salt/sugar option you gave. They seem to be mostly around the face and head, though. Maybe a little on the body, but no white seems to be on the fins. The fins do appear to be decaying from the tips in, though, which is consistent with what I read about columnaris. I truly see no white spots on the fins like I think would be consistent with ich.

    So, I should NEVER change out my cartridges? Wow! The packages all day to do it monthly! So, is it likely that doing this caused the disease even though the only reading that seems to be off is the ammonia?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 23, 2016
  11. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    If you're seeing torn fins and decaying, it could also be a bad case of fin rot in addition to whatever else is going on. And fin rot can be caused by poor water conditions.
  12. peregrineValued MemberMember

    Jgombs the reason they say that is because they have activated carbon and that is how long that lasts. ((There are people that will tell you it's because the companies are money grubbers which is true but the carbon is the reason, but for most people carbon won't matter and there are technically ways to replace it)). And not never. just you can wait a LONG LONG time... Mine has been in for 3 months...

    Really Ich can be anywhere it wants and not where it doesn't want to be.

    However if your fish's fins are decaying, to me, that could like some sort of bacterial infection. Maybe columnarus maybe not but definitely sounds bacterial.

    EDIT: agree with El. Fin rot, bad water conditions and bacteria. YAY... But could be a combo of several things...
  13. AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    Ask the maintenance guy what exactly his degree is in next time you see him. I can almost guarantee you it wasn't in the water chemistry of closed systems;)

    Sometimes people get fixated on a "fact" and can't let it go, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It's human nature:;dk

    Frequent water changes are often a good way to deal with betta problems, or at least to prevent them;)
  14. JGombs99Well Known MemberMember

    Thanks, again for your help! I do appreciate it, and I'm not trying to argue or sound ungrateful for your assistance (I don't want to argue, and I AM grateful), but I do need to push back just slightly (if, for no other reason, so I can continue to learn more about successful fish keeping). You've both talked about poor water conditions, but is what I've described REALLY poor water conditions? Sure, the ammonia is not ideal, but does this truly constitute poor water quality? I have to ask because I've seen folks on here with far higher ammonia, and I, myself, have had this same ammonia reading (0.25) in the past, for longer than I have currently had it for without having any problems (unless having 0.25 ammonia a couple of different times approximately a month apart can cause a cumialitive effect of disease in the tank). To me, every other level seems perfect, though, so it seems that a slight spike in ammonia shouldn't compromise the water so much as to classify the entire tank as being in poor condition. However, perhaps I'm wrong, which is why I ask. I would like to be set straight if, in fact, I am wrong.

    Next thing...The cartriges. I had not changed any until about a week and a half ago, like I said. I hadn't rinsed them or anything. I just let them run. So, I figured it was time. As a beginner, I didn't really want to get into adding more carbon to an existing cartridge, etc. I wanted to do things easily at this point (although I still wanted to do things right, too), and I figured that I'd worry about cheaper methods at a later time, once I became a bit more experienced. Please also set me straight on this topic, and what I should really be doing (still trying to keep to an easy method at this point).

    Lastly, the disease. Regardless of exactly what it is, or exactly what caused it, there is definitely a disease going on in my tank. Do I absolutely need to diagnose it before I treat it, or is there a treatment for fish disease in general? I ask only because I have no idea to diagnose it better than we have already since I'm not an experienced aquarist, and I cannot get a decent picture. I really don't want this to spread, though. Most of my fish still look healthy, including my larger fish. I really don't want this to take them out, and I figure disease in a fish tank can most likely spread super fast! Thanks again for the help and support!
  15. JGombs99Well Known MemberMember

    Below is an exerpt from the "bio" section of the website for the company I use to maintain my tank. Admittedly, he has only serviced my tank once so far, and of course, he is trying to make money; that's what companies do. However, when I read the following, I'm very comfortable with this man maintaining my tank. I can't help but read this info and think that this guy absolutely knows his stuff. But, this thread is about trying to figure out what's going on with my fish, not about debating whether monthly water changes are sufficient.

    [COLOR=]Eric has over 20 years of professional experience in the aquatics industry. With multiple degrees in the biological sciences to include fisheries & aquaculture, marine biology, and wetlands science / wildlife management – he has multi-faceted “hands-on” experience.[/COLOR]
    [COLOR=]His time as a special projects person at the New England Sea Aquarium in Boston, MA has allowed him to accomplish the goal of designing/constructing an aquaculture exhibit room in time for a national AZA conference to be held at the facility. He has been responsible for compiling and interpreting data collected for submission to be published, implementing data collecting methods to make various conservation projects a success, evaluated protocols on aquaculture methods in research laboratory and designed solutions for improvement through alternative methods. He conducted a study on public perception of facility design and interest. This had also involved educating the public on conservation issues.[/COLOR]
    [COLOR=]As a hatchery manager, he had been responsible for directing / maintaining the operation of a 40,000 gallon experimental hatchery. This had involved presenting tours of the facility to educate the public, as well as, market aquaculture species to increase revenue. He had designed an alternative filtration system to improve the aquaculture capacity of the hatchery.[/COLOR]
    [COLOR=]Eric’s involvement with numerous environmental agencies has allowed him to participate in studies/evaluations in order to coordinate ecology programs, create published data in scientific journals, and recommend methodology for plan of action.[/COLOR]
  16. peregrineValued MemberMember

    There is a general cure. Never used it but there is one. can't remember the names.

    As for is it poor water conditions. Well it's not as poor as it definitely could be and have fish survive. However let me put it a little more close to home. We all know carbon monoxide in our air. At 35 PPM it won't kill you but you will likely get headaches and nausea and not feel so hot. at 150 PPM you could die from... that is kind of like the .25 PPM ammonia vs the 1.5+ PPM ammonia
  17. AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    An ammonia reading of 0.25 isn't bad at all and is actually quite common in fairly new tanks. A small dose of Prime would easily take care of that.

    Your nitrates aren't all that high, but since your last water change was a month ago (or thereabouts) it is quite likely that you have poor water conditions. Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are not the only substances in water and there are ones that you want that can get used up by life processes. Minerals for example!
  18. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    You also have to remember that there could be other toxins in the water that you can't measure with a test kit. Yes, your 0.25ppm ammonia may not be lethal at this very moment but over time, who knows when/if it will get higher than that? Why take the chance? Regularly and frequently changing out the water will result in less dissolved waste built up. And water conditions CAN be the root cause of illnesses. We're just saying that more frequent water changes can act as a preventative measure from illnesses.

    Depending on what the illness is, you may or may not need something stronger than a broad spectrum med like General Cure. And since some meds are harsh, it could be a better idea to quarantine the affected fish first when medicating. Again, I'm no disease expert and we still don't know for sure what your fish has without a clear pic (aside from the fin rot which should be cured from frequent water changes).
  19. JGombs99Well Known MemberMember

    OK, thanks, peregrine. It does make a bit more sense when you put it that way! Admittedly, I have tried to keep fish in the past, and have done very poorly at it. I've taken years off, and now, am considering myself a beginner, and am starting over. I really wanted to do things right this time, and although I may not be on the very best schedule at this time, I can honestly tell you that my current schedule is the best I ever had so far, and it seems that my problems are beginning much faster this time than in the past. I just don't understand how I can be doing better with worse results.

    Not to make excuses for potentially not doing things right this time, and not to bring up my largest past failure, but I had a 10 gallon grossly overstocked with a fancy goldfish, and later on, two fancy goldfish. Unfortunately, I didn't know what I was doing until it was too late (never would have done that on purpose). Honestly, I didn't know enough at the time to know anything about testing my water, so I wasn't doing any tests at the time, but I can't imagine what the readings must have been for that tank! I wasn't doing water changes regularly or properly, either. I would completely change out all water and rinse the gravel, artifical plants...EVERYTHING, except for the fish, every time the water looked dirty (which was far less than monthly from waht I remember). I say all of this for one reason only. As horrible as all of that was, I was seeing less problems than I am now. It took at least a year or two before there were any visible problems! Yet, now, I have a much larger tank, with at least better than described above maintanence, and a couple of months in, I'm having major problems. This is so frustrating!
  20. AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    Oh geez, been there done that! I tried for years to keep fish and did very badly. Tried one last time and ended up here after I nearly killed my betta changing out the filter media. It was a steep learning curve but I'm so glad I found a group of people who knew what they were doing and were willing to help me:)

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