Help - Please Help Me Diagnose Before More Fatalities!

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by fishycris, Apr 6, 2019.

  1. fishycrisNew MemberMember

    IMG_7021.JPGIMG_7021.JPGIMG_7021.JPGIMG_7021.JPG Tank

    What is the water volume of the tank?
    Main Tank 55 gallon; quarantine tanks are 10 gallons.

    How long has the tank been running?
    Main tank has been running for over 6 years; the quarantines were set up this week.

    Does it have a filter? The main tank has two 2+ year old Marineland Emperor filters (cycled) and the quarantine tanks each have smaller filters and airstones. I've removed the carbon from all filter pads.

    Does it have a heater?
    No, I have heaters available, but I don't use them.

    What is the water temperature?
    The water temp is between 70 - 74 degrees.

    What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.)
    1 Stick Catfish (he's just passed away.)
    2 Upside-Down Catfish (They both died yesterday.)
    4 small weather loaches/dojo loaches about 4 inches long. 3 large weather loaches 8 - 12 inches. (The 8 inch loach died yesterday, and the largest loach has been in a quarantine tank for 3 days.)


    How often do you change the water?
    Every two weeks.

    How much of the water do you change?
    I change approximately 20 % every 2 weeks.

    What do you use to treat your water?
    API Tap Water Conditioner

    Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water?
    I vacuum.

    *Parameters - Very Important

    Did you cycle your tank before adding fish?
    The tank was cycled, and had been set up for years.

    What do you use to test the water?
    I have the water tested at the local fish store. They use API 5-in-1 and API Ammonia test strips.

    What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.

    Ammonia: 0
    Nitrite: 0
    Nitrate: 30
    pH: 8
    (Total alkalinity tested at 280, and water hardness was 300. The fish store manager tells me that everyone in our area has extremely hard water, but that it's not a problem.)

    How often do you feed your fish?
    Twice a day. Morning and mid-evening.

    How much do you feed your fish?
    About as much as they can eat in 1 minute. They'd usually gulp it down.

    What brand of food do you feed your fish?
    50% Tetra Crisps, and 50% Wardley Bottom Feeding Shrimp Pellets.

    Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods?

    Illness & Symptoms
    How long have you had this fish?
    The youngest is 4 years.

    How long ago did you first notice these symptoms?
    6 days ago.

    In a few words, can you explain the symptoms?
    Staying near the top of the aquarium (trying to get air?) dark red fins. The fins are ragged at the edges. Listless, and floating in the water rather than swimming. It also seems as if they are "shedding" some skin in the advanced stage, and they also get white blotches - definitely not fungus. Their bodies get bloodshot-looking, and then they have died.

    Have you started any treatment for the illness?
    Because of the white blotches on the dojo, I thought that maybe he had columnaris. I treated with Kanaplex and Jungle Tank Buddies Fungus Clear Tablets (which contain Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone.) I dosed according to the instructions on the package 2 days ago, and administered the Kanaplex again today. I've also been giving them all API Melafix for the past 4 days. They haven't seemed to adjust well any of the meds - they've all been extra listless especially after the Kanaplex.

    Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase?
    My guys have always been healthy and lively. But please see the details below.

    How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all?
    They are all listless and mopey.

    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)

    Please help me diagnose what is wrong with my fish, and recommend a treatment, so that I can treat them properly and save the remaining ones.

    A friend was pet sitting for me while I was away last week. Last Saturday; 7 days ago, she rescued three sad looking goldfish from a local superstore and put them with my loaches. By the time I got home Sunday evening, one of the goldfish was already dead, and the other two were drifting near the top of the aquarium. I removed them at placed the two remaining goldfish in a separate tank. I also changed almost all the water in my loach tank, leaving only about 95% of the old water in the tank. I really thought that the goldfish had suffered only from ammonia poisoning in the store. Their bellies, and gill and vent area was bloody looking, as if they had hemorrhaged. They had long tails, and over the next two days the tails got ragged looking and pieces of the tails even started falling off. The goldfish both died late Tuesday night. My weather loach started to "drift" around in the water and spend time at the top of the aquarium on Monday, and the Stick Catfish also began to stay at the water line. I removed them and placed each of them in separate 10 gallon tanks with heavy aeration. Meanhile, in the main tank, the two Upside-Down Catfish both died Wednesday night. The weather loach passed away yesterday, and the Stick Catfish today. They all show vibrant red fins and red patches on their bodies. The loach also had some white blotches, but it's hard to tell if the Stick Catfish has any. My largest loach has been very listless and "drifting" since Tuesday, and he is in another 10 gallon tank now. His pectoral fins are reddened. Neither he nor the fish in the main tank have any appetite.

    Also, I have another 55 gallon tank with two large common plecos and a brood of juvenile bristlenose plecos in it. This tank has almost the same parameters as my loach tank. I noticed yesterday that the large plecos seem to have their fins clamped, and the bristlenoses were alost all clinging high on the glass. Usually the bristlenoses spend their time in their ornaments or scurrying around the substrate. I changed about 90% of their water yesterday, but their behavior hasn't changed. Upon pressing my friend, she admitted to having had originally placed the goldfish in my pleco tank, but that they didn't seem happy there so she placed them with the loaches after about half an hour...

    Please help me! My fish have always been so lively and friendly. The 3 large loaches and one of the plecos even take food from my fingers. They all have adorable personalities. I must treat them and prevent any of the others from getting sick, if they are not already so.

    I will try to attach a photo of the Stick Catfish below. Beware, it's a sad photo - he had already passed when I took it. I only thought to take the photo about an hour after he died, and much of the redness in his body seems to have subsided. When I first took his body out of the water the red was much more obvious.
  2. JenCWell Known MemberMember

    Wow. Your poor fish.

    This isn't my area of expertise but look up septicemia to see if it fits. Broad spectrum antibiotics like kanamycin or erythromycin might help if it's bacterial. I don't know if there's reliable treatment if it's viral.

    To be honest, given the rate at which they were dying I'd have thrown a Hail Mary with the antibiotics too. It was a good try.

    I hope they improve.

  3. fishycrisNew MemberMember

    Thank you JenC. I just looked up septicemia, and that may be what they have. It's just so hard to tell, for me all of the symptoms for so many illnesses seem so similar. For a while I thought they had columnaris, but it's so hard to tell.

    I hope that it's not septicemia - from what I've just researched, there is no cure or treatment. One source online that seemed reliable recommended a combination of Maracyn and Maracyn 2, so I'll try that tomorrow. The fish that are still in the main tank are listless and not eating, but don't show any physical damage yet. They seem to be hit hard and get extra sluggish when I medicate, but I guess the alternative to medication is worse. I just feel so devastated, and don't want to lose any more.

  4. AvalancheDaveWell Known MemberMember

    Septicemia can be Gram positive but Gram positive infections are rare overall so I wouldn't use erythromycin (especially since it doesn't work well in a bath). You can also stop using nitrofurazone as it's only effective on external infections. Also stop with the Melafix.

    Kanaplex needs to be dosed 17-34 times the recommended dose. I would try that.

  5. JenCWell Known MemberMember

    Dave, is it just septicemia that requires that specific dosing protocol or are there other illnesses that respond best to nonstandard kanamycin concentrations? 17x-34x is a lot and so specific. I'd like to know more.

    @fishycris, how are the fish today? Does it seem like they're getting enough oxygen in the main tank? Just in case the various meds are depleting it.
  6. AvalancheDaveWell Known MemberMember

    Any use of Kanaplex. The dosage of kanamycin should be 50-100 mg/L every 3 days. Kanaplex is 30.7% pure so once you crunch all the numbers it comes out to 6.16 grams per 10 gal.
  7. fishycrisNew MemberMember

    One of the smaller loaches in the main tank seems a little more despondent today. Over in my pleco tank, the majority of them are clinging to the glass. Other than a 90% water change two days ago, when I vacuumed about 2/3rds of the substrate but left the filters undisturbed, I haven't added any treatments to the pleco tank except their usual water conditioner. There are a lot of baby bristlenose in there. Would it be safe to treat them with Kanamycin? None have died yet, but I suspect it's just a matter of time.

    JenC, in my main (loach) tank and the pleco tank, I don't have other aeration because the filters do a great job. But you're right, because of the meds and because the loaches are all just sitting at the bottom now, I'm going to purchase a couple air pumps and stones for them today.

    AvalancheDave, you mentioned using a bath. Could I put a lower dose of Kanamycin in the tanks, and then put the loaches in baths of about 25 times the recommended dosages? If so how long should they be in the baths? You recommended the heavier doses, but even with the recommended doses the loaches seem overwhelmed. They're eating very little now, so it wouldn't help to put it in their food. I think it would be more comfortable for them if they had the baths, and then could just return to a less medicated tank. Would that be possible?

    I live in a rural area, and the nearest pet store that sells medications is in Omaha. It's about a three hour drive. I'm heading over there later today to pick up more Kanaplex and air pumps. Reading over my post and looking at the photos of poor Stickie, does anyone have any other suggestions for medications to try if the Kanaplex doesn't work in a few days? If so, I can pick it up today to be prepared.

    JenC and AvalancheDave, thank you for your help!
  8. AvalancheDaveWell Known MemberMember

    Here's a screenshot from Noga's Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment book:


    It's a continuous bath not a temporary dip. If any fish in the pleco tank appear infected or are acting sick then I would treat those fish as well.

    Kanamycin's the best you're going to find at a pet store. Ciprofloxacin is better and can be found online but I'm not sure it works in a bath. I was researching it earlier and haven't reached a conclusion yet.

    The best option is to find a vet that sees fish. It may take some effort to find them but there are a surprising number of them.
  9. fishycrisNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the info about Kanamycin, Dave. I will stock up on it. I'll dose the plecos too.
    There's a fish vet in Minneapolis that I'll contact. I'm really desperate to save these little guys.
  10. SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

  11. AvalancheDaveWell Known MemberMember

    The University of Minnesota has a veterinary school and hospital. It looks like they have people answering the phones even on weekends so you could call now and see if they see fish:


    They have urgent care and 24/7 emergency care so if they see fish you could, in theory, go in right now.
  12. fishycrisNew MemberMember

    Just an update. This morning all the loaches and the plecos were gone, with the exception of one loach who is very close to passing. I dosed with the Kanaplex again yesterday, but I guess the infection was just too severe.

    You know, we hear it all the time - quarantine, quarantine, quarantine! This is an example of what happens when we don't. I wouldn't wish this on anyone or their pets. Also, for fish enthusiasts that have someone come in to feed their pets when they're traveling, don't just talk to them about checking to be sure the filters are running properly, and giving the right amount of food. Be sure to explain about cross-contamination and specify that they should NOT bring strange fish into your home! (Who would of thought someone would do that!?)

    I did call the University yesterday, but they don't treat fish. I have a feeling my guys were too far along anyways. Thank you all for your advice and kind words.
  13. JenCWell Known MemberMember

    I'm so sorry.

    I still can't believe your friend did that. Really. It blows my mind. Don't feel bad for not specifically telling her not to do that. It would never occur to me to bring it up because why would anyone do that? I wonder if she understands the ramifications of her actions.

    Do you think you'll start again? :(
  14. Jessie251New MemberMember

    So sorry all of this happened to you and your poor fish. It was a valiant effort and you should be proud. Your fish were lucky to have you.
  15. Nick72Valued MemberMember

    @fishycris - very sorry to hear about loss of all your fish.

    I completely understand how awful it is too see them suffer in this way.

    I had a very similar situating in January. My 50g tank had only been stocked for two weeks when I had to go overseas on a business trip.

    My wife, who had the best of intentions, but no knowledge of fish keeping, bought five 6 inch Koi that my kids took a liking to at the local market, and added them to my tank.

    By the time I returned home the Koi and my fish: 2x GBR, 2x Honey Gourami were all dead.

    In my case the newly cycled tank just couldn't cope with the ridiculous bio load my wife had added.

    Do try to forgive your friend, I'm sure she didn't mean to cause any harm.