Long term barbel erosion in cat

  1. MissRuthless Well Known Member Member

    I recently purchased someone's entire tank of fish off craigslist. He said he was moving and couldn't take them, but I suspect he was overwhelmed and just didn't want to attempt to deal with them anymore as the tank was only 29g, very poorly stocked (schooling fish in singles and pairs, one lonely kribensis, etc) and the water they came in was very dirty. Among them are a glass catfish, two bristlenose plecos and a julii cory. The plecos have no bristles to speak of, the glass cat has one and a half barbels that looked slightly fuzzy when he came home but are doing better now, and the poor cory's mouth is just an O with no barbels at all.

    The guy said his tank was three years old. I didn't think to test the water before dumping it, but with the lack of barbels all around I can only assume these fish have been living in subpar conditions for quite some time. What I'm wondering is if the catfish have been wounded for so long, is it possible that their barbels may not grow back? The glass cat also has some damage to his underside, a few tears in the edge of his flesh, that have not shown any signs of healing. The cory does not behave anything like the other twelve that I have, nor does he socialize with them (or anyone else for that matter). I haven't seen him scavenging or eating much. I'm afraid he can't find enough food. He's not very active in general, but I suppose it could also be that he's older and has calmed down with age. The plecos seem fine, though their bodies are very small and fat, only about 2.5" long but almost comically fat, so I almost wonder if they've been stunted.

    Should I be worried at all? Is there anything I can do to help, especially the cory? My water is clean, healthy and changed regularly, substrate is smooth gravel kept clean and I don't know what else I could do. I have melafix but I'm hesitant to treat my entire tank, and I don't want to stress them by moving them again if I don't have to. The tank hasn't been cycled more than a couple weeks, and it took a lot of work to get it stable so I don't want to kill off any bacteria with the melafix.

    If anyone has any thoughts or experiences please share. I can take photos if it would help, just let me know. Thanks.
     
  2. DoubleDutch Fishlore VIP Member

    Think a proper diet and clean water will do miracles, but I doubt the barbels of most fish will grow back.
    The BN's probably are females. BN's don't really have barbels but males show bristles.

    Melafix won't kill bacteria and could be used to get rid of the fuzzy stuff. For real infections I'd use something stronger (but those can affect bacteria indeed).
     

  3. MissRuthless Well Known Member Member

    I've had great luck with melafix helping my pictus grow broken barbels back - but that was directly after the breakage, not like this. Melaleuca is in fact a natural antibacterial agent though (I've used it for everything over the years, awesome to find out it can be helpful in fishkeeping as well!), which is why I wonder if it may harm some of my BBs... Though I suppose a fishlore VIP would know better than I about its compatibility with filter bacteria. I just know it kills plenty of other types! But yes, I prefer it to other meds as, like you said, those chemicals can really throw off the balance.

    After I posted I had a nice chill session with the fishies, and it almost looks like there are tiny nubs where the cory's barbels would be - possibly a good sign. I hope so anyway.

    I know most cats do have the ability to regenerate barbels, though I had to cut them off my smallest pictus once when they were broken but wouldn't fall off, and one was broken too far down and never came back. So I believe too much damage will be permanent, I'm just hoping some good pampering will do the trick. Does anyone know anything about the glass cat, if they regenerate the same way? The pictus cats break and regrow theirs allllllll the time, but the glass cat doesn't seem to be growing at all. Will he have a half barbel forever? I feel so bad for him, I can tell he's been alone for so long that he doesn't even realize he's supposed to be in a shoal, he just cruises around like normal and hangs out with the hatchet tetra that he came with. I know I should get a few more, but I don't have the space in my 29g and I don't think they'd fare well with the inhabitants of my 55. Poor fishy.
     

  4. Redshark1 Well Known Member Member

    I don't think my Cory grew it's barbels back way back when I kept one on unsuitable gravel.

    I do think my African Glass Catfish regrew their barbels after a period of poor water quality was addressed.

    Given really good conditions many things can improve as in good conditions the fishes can regenerate and their immune systems function well.