Help! Sick honey gourami wasting away!

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by ladyagate, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. ladyagateValued MemberMember

    For a little over a week now, a honey gourami that has been thriving in my 10 gallon for about 8 months has begun to waste away!

    I noticed a few weeks ago that his fins were looking a little ragged so I began adding some stresscoat to help him heal. At that time, I also noticed that his color was faded and his gills were looking a little red. He appeared to be stressed in general and I figured I would move the plants around my tank to give him some new hiding places to help him recover. The water parameters at the time had ammonia and nitrite at 0, and nitrate at 20 - little higher than I would prefer. I did a water change afterwards to bring the nitrate down.

    Anyway, his behaviors during this time remained the same, still eating like a pig and chasing around everyone else in the tank, but the fins and gills and color did not improve. Then, about a week ago I noticed that he was becoming very thin and hanging around the bottom of the tank. I've been feeding brine shrimp in hope of plumping the honey gourami up, but he seems disinterested in food and does not eat. He will eat a little bit of flakes, but no brine shrimp. I've been throwing in bottom feeder tablets as a last resort to ensure that he has an opportunity to eat at least something when he's ready to. Strangely, he does seem to enjoy the tablet quite a bit and spends quite a while picking at it (much to my panda cat's disliking I think..)

    The other thing that has me concerned is that his swimming seems to be slightly labored and he spends a lot of his time sitting around the bottom of the tank. This might sound strange, but it almost seems like he is tired.. Every time I come to the tank to watch, he is happy to see me and comes out right away to greet me. (Honey gouramis are the friendliest fish I have ever seen!) Only now, after a minute or so he makes his way to the bottom to "sit" down for a while again (upright like he is sleeping, not on his side). I've also noticed that he kind of wiggles while he swims, like he is struggling a little bit. Something else that I find strange is the way he is now breathing at the top of the tank. The best way I can describe it is that he breaths aggressively.. He makes quick motions towards the air for few seconds at a time, instead of calmly poking his nose out of the water to breath. Otherwise there are no sores on him, no spots, no strings, no swelling, or any other signs of parasites.

    So far, the actions I have taken have been as follows - first, a large water change, followed by turning up the air stone to help him breath (I'm still unsure if that is something he is struggling with), changing his diet to mostly brine shrimp along with the bottom feeder tablets (so he doesnt have to compete for food and can eat when he is ready), and removing my carbon filter and adding 5ml of melafix daily. Since adding the melafix, he seems to have perked up a bit and his fins are improving, but he still sits at the bottom quite a bit and does not eat much.

    My other fish, a panda catfish, another honey gourami, and three rummynose tetras are all extremely healthy. My other gourami's colors are vibrant and my rummynoses are living up to their names.. (I should also note in case anyone is wondering about bullying, my sick gourami is king in this tank and is generally unbothered by my healthy one. Even while ill, he still chases my tetras and healthy gourami around as best he can!)

    Lastly, I checked the water a few days ago and the ammonia and nitrite are both at 0. I didn't check the nitrate because I had just done a 50% water change, which should have lowered it anyway. (I will be checking water parameters tomorrow, nitrate included this time)

    I am at a loss right now because I don't know if this is a parasite or what? I also have no idea how to get him to start eating properly again. I think if it weren't for him picking at those tablets who would have died by now :(.. Does anyone have any ideas on a type of medication I could try or any other remedies? This fish has been with me since I started this tank and I admit, I absolutely love him! He swims up to greet me the instant I walk up to the tank and he has definitely gotten me through some sad days (parents announced divorce a matter of days after I brought him home). I am willing to do anything to help this little guy out!
  2. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    aww poor guy! I would try to get him in a breeder net inside the top of the labyrinth fish, they NEED the surface air to breath....that way if he is in a net, he wont struggle so much .....even being the tank boss, 2 honeys in a 10g probably got to be too much on him and he could be exausted/stressed from that...the red indicates ammonia but you say you have had none....what test kit are you using and if its the api liquid, whats the lot #s on the bottles? and last thing, melafix and labyrinth fish dont mix :( heres a link for that so maybe his partial water changes with some fresh garlic juice added to his foods, and stress coat will help....and the breeder net to keep him at the top? maybe some other members can help with other meds as im not a med user but I do hope he perks up soon!!!

  3. ladyagateValued MemberMember

    Ah, yes I have read that thread about Melafix. Thing is, I've been putting it in my tank for 5 days now and he has perked up a little, with his fins beginning to heal and what not. My other gourami is still looking as good as ever so I am hesitant to quit medicating with melafix just quite yet.. Lastly, the man at the LFS that I trust (the ONLY one that I trust now days!) recommended it to me, knowing that I am treating a gourami.. It's difficult for me to judge exactly how dangerous melafix is to gouramis when there are mixed answers in that post and a majority of the comments are referring to bettas that are kept in much smaller tanks.. Does anyone else have any experience specifically with gouramis and melafix?

    But, with that said, I will definitely consider dropping the melafix and revisiting my LFS to see if I can get some more feed back on the issue.

    Some other things I am wondering about.. Would salt be helpful? Is it safe for gouramis? Also, what about Maracyn/Maracyn 2? From what I understand those are both stronger than Melafix..

    Does anyone else have any thoughts on whether a breeder net is a good idea? My only concern is that it may stress him out more being so confined while being out in the open at the top of the tank. When he sits at the bottom he likes to hide himself away.

    Right now, one of my biggest concerns is getting him to eat again properly so I may try the garlic juice/oil. (btw, what is the purpose of this? Does it help heal in any way or does it just make their food more appetizing?)

    I do have an API kit, but I'm not at home and therefor don't know any numbers off of the bottles.. Are there defective kits out there? I purchased the kit about 8 months ago and I always follow the directions on the bottles.. I take extra time shaking the nitrate bottles since it is recommended to do so.

    Also, I am REALLY hoping, assuming my poor guy comes around, that I will be able to start up a second tank soon and move one of the gouramis so they wont stress each other out. For the time being though, the tons of plants in my tank and rearranging the decor when I do water changes seems to do wonders in distracting them and keeping them happy.

    Geez, think I asked enough questions yet? Heh..

  4. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    questions are always good!! :)
    Im not telling you to stop meds, epspecially if you feel they are working ....just wanted you to be aware is all :) bettas and gouramis are related and very much alike in structure....they both NEED surface air for their labyrinth organs....the net was so he wouldnt struggle to get to the can put some plants in the net with him if you want to make him more comfy...but he definitely needs to be able to get to the top without struggling...if hes doing that, GREAT :) as far as your test kit, some have been sold that are already expired..:( just wanted to be sure yours wasnt glad you have a trusted pet store.....allot of us dont ....the garlic helps entice them to want to eat and also helps with their immune system....again I so hope he pulls through and hope other members will have advice on the meds :) Good luck!
  5. ladyagateValued MemberMember

    Also, I am pretty much to the point now that, even though it's slightly out of budget, I think I will be setting up a quarantine tank. I'm guessing that is the best way to lower his stress level while he (hopefully) heals.

    My only question on quarantine tanks.. how will I jump start the cycle so ammonia wont build up? From what I understand I can't use a filter while medicating so that seems ot complicate things..
  6. ladyagateValued MemberMember

    Okay good to know about the garlic.. And great idea putting the plants in the net to make him feel a little more comfortable! I think unless I get a hospital tank going, this will be my next step. That way he wont have to compete for food either, I can just put it in his net..

    Thanks for the quick advice!

    Any one else have any ideas or advice as far as medicating goes? Or what might actually be wrong with my gourami? Any other thoughts would be much appreciated :)

    I've merged your posts since they were back to back with no response between. This helps to save a little space on the forum. Don't forget there is an EDIT key at the bottom of every post that you can use for corrections and additional thoughts.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2010
  7. ladyagateValued MemberMember

    Well, I have my sick gourami in a breeders net now with two small plants and he seems to be pretty relaxed in there.. Crushed up some flakes soaked them in a couple drops of garlic juice/oil and eventually he's started to eat a fair amount of it so I think this is a positive sign. It's a good thing he gets all the food in the breeder net to himself because he is taking his sweet time.. On the other hand, he still appears to be struggling while he swims and ends up sitting at the bottom of the net off and on. I'm also hoping he gets some color back soon, although his top and bottom fins seem to be looking better since adding the melafix.

    I'm going to float his net in the tank while I do a quick partial water change and then continue to medicate.. Nitrite was still at 0 but the ammonia did creep up a tiny bit..
  8. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    im glad hes eating! thats a great go to daily partial changes as you are in a mini cycle...probably from using the meds.....
  9. ladyagateValued MemberMember

    A quick update:
    Honey gourami still hanging out in the breeders net.. I feed him tiny amounts of flakes 3 times a day now in the net and so far he hasn't left much behind. While they aren't perfect yet, his fins are looking quite a bit better from the melafix and his swimming has improved a little as well. He spends a lot less time at the bottom of the net and more time hanging around the top poking around at the food. The garlic worked well the first day and I haven't needed it since. He seems to have fattened up slightly.

    Now my only concerns with this fish are that his gills are pretty red, he breaths at the top a lot, and his color is still very pale. I know these are all signs of ammonia poisoning but my readings are coming up very low.. With my API kit, yellow is 0 and my results are coming up yellow with a slight green tint so I know there is hardly any in there.

    Yesterday was the last day of melafix treatment so I put a filter back in (it was getting a little cloudy in there..) and did a 50% water change to rid the tank of that ammonia and give them a break from the meds. I added some stresscoat to the new water. I think I will wait a day or so and see if there are any improvements and decide then whether to begin another treatment of the melafix. In the meantime, it looks like daily water changes will be in order..

    One other thing that has me concerned.. My other gourami has a very very small whitish mark or something on the edge of his tail. :( It is very difficult to see so I can not tell if it looks like ick and possibly just a scrape from a rock or something else. I also caught him rubbing past plants and rocks right before I shut their lights of. Other than that, he's full of energy and looks very plump and healthy. I'll be keeping an eye on this over the next couple of days.

    Still debating/searching for a quarantine tank.. So far a 2.5gal has caught my attention and I figure I wont need much more room than that since my fish are so very small.

    All in all, it appears that while we are not out of the woods yet, my poor gourami has shown signs of improvement! My only question: Any idea why his gills are so red, even though the ammonia is at 0/nearly 0?
  10. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Hello LadyGate,

    So sorry to hear that your Gourami isn't feeling up to par. Any amount of ammonia can be harmful to your fish.

    Too, I'm a bit concerned that you stated "I put the filter back in". Where has the filter been? Did you make sure to keep the filter media wet?

    If you would be so kind as to complete your aquarium profile information it will be a great help to others. You can access the profile by clicking on My Settings in the blue bar close to the top of the screen. In the drop down box click on Edit Aquarium Information.

    Best wishes for a full, speedy recovery!
  11. ladyagateValued MemberMember

    Hmm, I guess I didn't word that quite right.. I put a new filter in. My old filter was out while I treated so as not to remove my medicine while treating. I actually did keep an old filter in a container of water from the tank after my last water change but it was old and in my opinion, no longer useful anyway. As far as the ammonia goes, the red gills have been an issue before there was any ammonia in the tank. I did a 50% change last night so I hope that takes care of it..

    As I mentioned in my first post, 10gal - 1 panda cat, 3 rummynose, 2 honey gouramis. I will be upgrading to a 20 gallon this summer after I make a few more bucks. :)
  12. ladyagateValued MemberMember

    Oops, one more thing, checked ammonia again and i'm back at 0..

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