I suspect TB, options?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by ameliadanielle, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. ameliadanielleValued MemberMember

    I have not added any new fish to this tank since February/March. I did have some fry moved briefly into a newly set up fry tank for a couple of months and then added back to the main tank. Over the last two months, one by one all of the adult platies have become ill. They all end up seeming deformed with a hump back. Some laid on the bottom, some hung around at the top of the tank. All ended up looking so hopelessly pitiful that they were euthanized.

    One would fall sick, show symptoms and be beyond help. I didn't have any clue as to what this was. The school of neons, the fast growing platy fry, and the bristlenose have shown no signs. Only the adult platies. At first I thought maybe they were just old. As it started in the first trio added to the tank. Then the other platys succumbed. I still didn't think it was contagious as no other fish in the tank have been affected. I saw the signs of fish tb while randomly googling, now I'm worried.

    What are my options? I have one adult platy, clinging to life, I was going to euthanize her today. As previously no treatment has had any positive effect. I considered looking to see if she had the nodules on her internal organs which would point to tb. I have no other way of testing further.

    What about the rest of the seemingly healthy tank inhabitants? I'm obviously not going to add any more fish, I keep seeing people recommending euthanizing all fish and sterilizing with bleach. I would HATE to do that. I am scared about tank cleaning now. I have never used gloves. How would I even go about having a fish or tank tested for tb? If I tore the tank down and euthanized and sterilized, I would have to know for sure. We have a toddler that loves to help feed the fish, I'm worried about her getting near the fish tanks now. Could this have spread to my salt water tanks as well?

  2. hampalongWell Known MemberMember

    Fish TB is a very rare, and usually misdiagnosed disease. If you haven't treated yet, I would treat first for the possibility of a systemic bacterial disease. More likely, and a far less stressful treatment.

  3. jilehaWell Known MemberMember

    I personally can't judge that, but here's an interesting article on fish TB, according to which TB is much more common than generally known:


  4. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    Fish TB, more accurately mycobacteriosis, is not rare at all. 8 years ago, scientific studies revealed it accounted for over 50% of fish disease. More recent studies claim a number closer to 75%. It can be confusing, as often the fish don't die of mycobacteriosis, but die of something they otherwise would not have succumbed to after becoming carriers of mycos. Usually this is true of secondary bacterial infections, but since mycobacterium lowers immunity, it could really be anything.

    The OP has two options at this point. First know that if you decide to go with option two, no other fish should ever be added to this tank.

    Option 1) Assume it's mycobacterium. Euthanize all fish that are in this tank, and any other fish you have in any other tanks which have been cross contaminated (I suggest this option, especially if your MTS is as bad as mine lol)

    Option 2) Assume it *might* be mycobacterium and decide to keep the fish that survive. QT and euthanize anyone who becomes sick, and be extra sure to NEVER stick your hands or equipment in this tank and then work on another tank with the equipment. Also you should always wear gloves to prevent the infected water from touching your skin, as mycobacterium is transmittable to humans. You probably won't catch it unless you're immunocomprimised, but IMO it's not worth the risk.

    Edit: Forgot to add, if/when all the fish die, the tank should be left dry for 30 days and/or washed with bleach and rubbing alcohol before being put into use again.
  5. endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    I am actually of the opinion that TB is much more common than people realize. I just found a case of it in a tank that has been running now for over a year. I am in the middle of posting a link to a video of it that I have put on YouTube.

    On occasion, you will find veterinarians who will test for TB. You could take your remaining fish in for them to get a sample from her to check under a microscope. They will probably have to euthanize her to do this.

    I would good putting her down and tearing the tank down completely. Spray non-porous surfaces very well with rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol) and just let it air dry. Rubbing alcohol destroys the cell walls of mycobacteria. You do not want to go to high, such as 90% isopropyl alcohol, as it evaporates too quickly to do the job.
  6. kevymdWell Known MemberMember

    It might sound a little sad and defeatist, but I've started thinking of it as the fish/bacteria equivalent of HIV. If you buy fish from a source and you don't know 100% for sure that they don't have fish TB, you should probably act as if they do. Keep the tank in the best condition you can to bolster their immunity, and hold on. Don't treat unless it looks like you're starting to lose fish, then treat aggressively. You know?
  7. endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    I have been thinking of fish TB as being rather like HIV also. They are both household and family diseases that can be lived with for a long time under the best conditions possible. This does mean, however, that one must learn not to depend on antibiotics.
  8. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    Haha me too guys, especially after it's wiped out three tanks and possibly will wipe out a bunch of my fancy bettas.

    I looked into having testing done... it costs several thousand dollars and isn't 100% definitive. Even my fish vet said that if you really think it's mycos, it's mycos.
  9. endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    The problem I am seeing, which is similar to the HIV issue, is that the fish often die first of a secondary infection before the symptoms of the underlying mycobacterial problem become evident. Moreover, TB is merely one of many mycobacteria. So when you use antibiotics, you may temporarily wipe out a Mycobacterium that you have recognized, but then something else may become apparent instead. Currently, I have recognized symptoms of three types of mycobacteria in my tanks, and in the last month I have come across something entirely different that I am not sure of.
  10. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    According to Diana Walstad in a thread she has on APC, a very common symptom of mycobacteriosis is unexplained death. She gave a bunch of numbers... I don't remember what they were or even where the thread was.

    I do think the "lesser" (though not by much) aquatic mycobacterium can be sent at least into remission with the use of a UV sterilizer and a strong antibiotic like kanamycin, but I also think that by the time you get around to that, the fish will be too far gone for it to do much good. :( And those fish will always be carriers of the disease, so you could never safely put them with other fish.

    I'm sorry to hear about the new stuff going on in your tanks, ec :(
  11. endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    @ Junebug
    I have gotten confused between several threads about TB and ended up responding to this post of yours somewhere else. I will write a separate thread about my new project using a level one UV sterilizer.
  12. ameliadanielleValued MemberMember

    Sorry I haven't gotten back. Things have been hectic with end of quarter taxes at the business and me upping the amount of maintenance on my tanks as they have all been cross contaminated at this point.

    I used mollies back and forth between this tank and both salt water tanks during cycling, I've used equipment from this tank in the goldfish tank. It's a mess. So I'm concerned. With only one UV filter to use between all four tanks.

    The weirdest thing is, I don't want to euthanize, sterilize, and start over. The rest of my fish are healthy. The SW tanks that have had the mollies in and out and inbetween are perfectly healthy. Even the pleco, neons, and baby platies in the tank with the dying adult platies have shown no signs of illness or issue.

    I love these fish. If they are healthy, I can't see putting them down. It's dangerous if it is. My cats drink out of the aquariums. Our little girl sometimes feeds the fish and gets her hands in the water. Thinking about it spreading to the cats or our daughter is enough to turn my hair grey, much less thinking about myself.

    If it is TB, all tanks are infected. If it isn't, then I'm back to square one trying to determine what in the world happened to my adult platies while leaving fragile fry and neons untouched. I have extremely hard water, so the neons probably are a little stressed with that. I would think they, preferring soft water for optimal health, would have shown signs of disease first.

    Since my last post there has been no more sign of illness and no more deaths. I'm waiting to see what happens as the platy fry become adults and see if they are affected the same way. Maybe the platies are just more sensitive to whatever this is than the other fish. Maybe the surviving fry are somewhat immune, being born into it.
  13. endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    Everything is infected and there is no silver bullet, but this is a disease that can be lived with for a long time. There is no such thing exactly as being immune to mycobacteria, at least not as one would after having had a disease and recovered from it or having had good vaccinations. Someone with immunity would not pass the disease on to someone else, whereas a carrier of TB does not have symptoms but can give it to another. Also, a carrier of the disease can develop a full-blown version of it at any time.

    At any rate, I have been going through all of these things myself and blogging about it. Microbacteria is actually a very common issue in fishtanks, and it magnifies all the difficulties of keeping fish and children in the same house. I have been intensely stressed out by this, but at least my child's cautious nature kept her out of the tanks when she was small, and now she is old enough that she is learning why she needs to follow basic procedures. After a huge fight a couple of days ago, my husband is also finally beginning to understand that a continual regimen of cleanliness is necessary throughout the house.

    So yes, it is possible to keep all of your fish, but you're going to have to work out a manageable schedule and procedures to lessen the danger to your family.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  14. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    If the platy fry were born from infected parents, they aren't likely to show symptoms, at least not for a very long time (if ever). My fry were among the few survivors of my outbreak. Your neons may or may not ever show symptoms, but all of these fish are carriers if it is mycobacterium.

    The adult livebearers are the most likely to become symptomatic, whereas for whatever reason, neons don't seem to become symptomatic as often. You may not ever see symptoms in your saltwater tanks, depending on what fish you have. I would definitely stop the cats and child from accessing the tanks, though, just in case.
  15. NissileValued MemberMember

    I'd be careful as I've read that tb can jump species

    Sent from my ONE TOUCH 6012A using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app
  16. endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    I have always been hesitant about buying livebearers because I always see one or two sick and dying in the LFS. I understand now, however, is that the fish you don't appear together actually have it, too. I think that the fish that people tend to kill off quickly while learning me otherwise have die of mycobacterial infections. perhaps people tend to give up on tanks before they even realize that there is microbacteria in there. Livebearers, however, being both hardy and prolific, last long enough in tanks for mycobacterial problems to appear even in beginners' tanks.
  17. ameliadanielleValued MemberMember

    There are no symptoms in any of the other tanks. The tank with the deaths has not been accessed by my toddler or cats. The tank they always go to is the goldfish tank sitting on the kitchen counter. Which may be the only one that isn't cross contaminated, everything I bought new for that tank, instead of piecing together from other tanks like all the rest. She feeds the goldfish sometimes, but she's 3 and has lately lost interest in the fish. I have the goldfish tank covered and all gaps closed because of the snails but the cats will knock the tops off of the filters to drink the running water from the filter. Gross. I leave the bath tub trickling for them, but I guess fish water must be better.

    I must have messed up by buying a couple of extra female platies from walmart. At the time the tanks looked healthy. I went back the other day and looked and saw a platy suffering from the same thing. I'm guessing that is where it came from.

    Now I'm getting a new 65G drilled tank to turn into salt water, and I was going to move the black clown pair from the 20GL into the 65G so I could get rid of the 20G. I guess I shouldn't. I want at least one tank that isn't possibly infected. The mollies from the platy tank spent some time in the 20GL to keep it cycled while it was empty.

    The goldfish tank has one black oranda, he acts normal and hasn't had any health problems. The 20GL has a pair of black ocellaris that have shown no symptoms of anything since I've had them in there for the last 2 months. The 55G saltwater has a bristletooth tang, a strawberry dottyback, a falco hawkfish, and a pair of ocellaris who have shown no symptoms of anything since all having to be treated for marine ich months back. Every time I reuse a piece of equipment, I always clean it in hot water. However, I assume they're all contaminated because I've never bleached anything, and when doing maintenance I just dry my hands off between tanks and wait until I'm done with everything before washing my hands.

    Is there any other disease it could possibly be? Are these symptoms only for TB?
  18. RivieraneoModeratorModerator Member

    ameliadanielle, I hope there was an absolute answer, but without diagnosis through a lab or microscope, it would be difficult to diagnose myco based on visual and behavioral symptoms since some are very similar to other disease or effects on fish.

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