Platies flashing and clamping Help

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by Donnerjay, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. Donnerjay

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember

    Hello all. I'm having some problems with platies. This is a long post but I've tried to include as many details as possible so you can help if you can.

    Last week I purchased what I THOUGHT were 2 females and one male (the store only had two females).

    My plan was to put the platies in my 2 gallon, take the fish from the 2 gallon (1 Betta and three albino cories) and put them in a new 5-gallon Hex. I was going to take most of the filter media from the two gallon and use it to jump-cycle the 5 gallon. BUT when I got home, there was a plumbing emergency and I had to shut the water off to the house. I ended up with all the fish in the 5 gallon and no two gallon QT tank because I didn't have the water.

    Next, one of the "females" began to chase around the other platies. I looked closer and found an underdeveloped gonopodium that could pass for a female's anal fin, so it was actually a male. Now my tank actually had 2 males and 1 female. The two males started chasing each other and the female. The other male started nipping at my Betta's tailfin and the two of them got into it. By now I had water, so I started up the 2 gallon and put the Betta back into it.

    But all of the platies started intermittent flashing. i could see no damage but did see scales drop off after each episode of flashing. The one male who had been fighting with the Betta had clamped fins and one of his pectoral fins wasn't moving. But all three of the platies started intermittent flashing.

    The five gallon went through a few days of .25 ammonia, 1 nitrite and 20 nitrate. So I did daily 20 percent water changes with extra Prime and added Stress Coat. The five gallon is now cycled. Today I took the he/she/it platy back to the store. Total stocking now in the five gallon is two platies and three cories.

    The cories are fine, flying around the tank and having a blast. Over in the two gallon, the Betta is fine, none the worse for wear. The problem is the two platies. Both of them have clamped fins, and tonight the female flashed once or twice. The male flashed a few times. And the male is chasing the female.

    ALSO: My ph is very low, 6.4.

    I don't see any white spots on them. The female is staying close to the surface as I type, and the male is hiding out below. The carefree cories are oblivious.

    I appreciate any help, advice, suggestions, etc. that you have. I'm suspecting the pH, but not sure what to do about it.

    THANK YOU and thanks for reading through the long post! :)
  2. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    As double dosing Prime and also adding StressCoat, it could be too much product. Prime does everything that StressCoat does, and more. There is no reason to use both together.

    I would do a large water change and only use Prime. See if that helps.

    Also, check pH to ensure it is stable.
  3. toosie

    toosieWell Known MemberMember

    Clamped fins means the fish is stressed and not feeling well. Flashing means something is irritating the skin. You said you had a level of ammonia and nitrites in the tank. Ammonia can burn and irritate the skin so that is a possible cause of the flashing. If this is the case, then the flashing should stop as the fish's skin heals and stops irritating them. External parasites are another cause of flashing but I wouldn't treat them for parasites unless obvious signs develop, or if the fish is still flashing in a few days and there is still no ammonia or nitrites present in the water and you feel any discomfort they may have experienced through that should no longer be affecting them. There are other irritants that can make their way into the water column as well so to make sure the water stays pristine enough for the fish to heal and to dilute any possible irritants, do large daily water changes for a few days.

    A tanks pH will fluctuate throughout the cycling period and will stablize as the tank's biological balance becomes stable. If you aerate some tap water in a container for 24 hours with a bubbler, you can test the true pH of your tap water. This will help you determine what you can expect the pH of your tank to be after the effects of cycling are over and you have done a few water changes. If your tap water has a low pH, don't add any pH altering chemicals to the tank. They will usually do more harm than good. If pH seems to be a problem we can guide you through safer ways to raise the pH.

  4. OP

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember

    Thank you for the advice. My water parameters are stable at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 40 nitrate, with 6.4 pH.

    Today I did a 65 percent water change and used only Prime. No more Stress Coat.

    The male and female platies are still flashing, although it seems to be less. Yesterday I counted 12 flashes in a row for the male. :(

    Both fish still have clamped fins, for the most part. At feeding time, they open their fins and go after the food. Then they return to the top with clamped fins. The male is not using his right pectoral fin. He also seems to be somewhat bloated, although there's no pineconing. The female, oddly enough, seems to be getting thinner (I don't know that she was ever pregnant, which strikes me as odd for a livebearer but she might be young).

    Thanks, that is good to know about the pH fluctuating through the cycling. Tomorrow I will test again. I have read that Platies prefer a higher pH and that a low pH can cause flashing. Have you heard this? And since I will not use chemicals to adjust the pH, what do you suggest for naturally raising it and keeping it stable? I also have 3 cory catfish in the tank, and they are doing great.

    Thank you so much for your help. Your suggestions, advice, answers to my questions are very welcome!

  5. kinezumi89

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    I actually have really high pH so I can't comment in that, but one way to naturally raise it is to put a small mesh bag of crushed eggshells or seashells in your tank. Perhaps they're simply not healed from slight ammonia burns from before the tank was cycled, and if it's true that low pH bad for platys, maybe that is exacerbating the situation.
  6. toosie

    toosieWell Known MemberMember

    I haven't heard that low pH can cause flashing, however.... fish that prefer acidic conditions can adapt to alkyline conditions easier than fish that prefer alkyline conditions can adapt to acidic conditions. Acidic conditions usually tend to have soft water with a lower concentration of minerals and Alkyline conditions can (not always but can) indicate harder water conditions with a healthy amount of minerals. Fish need a variety of minerals for osmoregulation. Some species of fish require more than others but in general it is easier for a fish's osmotic function to perform in water with a higher mineral content, higher pH than it is to function when it is lacking enough of these minerals and a lower pH. So considering this, it's possible the fish are simply stressed because of a lack of minerals that they require.

    Have you aerated some tap water to see what the true pH of it is? Adding anything to the tank if things can be corrected with water changes could just cause you grief, and a lot of acids are produced during the cycling process that can drive pH down, so I would prefer the pH is corrected with water changes if possible. If your true pH is low then trying kinezumi's suggestions could help. Crushed coral, crushed oystershells, or even argonite (a type of substrate) can increase your levels but you never want to start out using too much of any of these products either. It is better to use a small amount and monitor the tank for several days, then add a little more if necessary.

    If you are going to attempt to alter your pH through methods other than water changes, it would be a really good idea to purchase a GH/KH test kit. KH has a direct relation to pH and it's stability and this test kit will help us to see more about the type of water you are dealing with and a better method of monitoring your progress than through pH alone. I really don't like to make too many water adjustments without the aid of this test kit.
  7. OP

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember


    Thank you again for your advice. Since my last post, the remaining female platy died. She wasn't eating, was breathing rapidly, and just ran out of life. I did not see anything externally wrong with her.

    The male platy (the one with the torn pectoral fin) has recovered well and appears strong and healthy.

    Last week I bought two female platies from a different store, and placed them into a 2 gallon quarantine tank. They soon began flashing. :( And then, the male in the main tank started flashing again. I haven't tested the pH from my tap yet. (Next on my list). The pH in the main tank is now showing 6.8.

    Yesterday I bought Coppersafe and I'm dosing both the QT and main tank. Since then, the flashing has dropped off dramatically.
    Today I did 75 percent water changes on both tanks and re-dosed with Coppersafe.

    Aside from testing my tap's pH, can you think of anything else I should be doing? The male and two females appear healthy now, and for sure one of the females is pregnant. The two females have been in QT for one week.

    Thanks again. All comments, suggestions, encouragement, tips are welcome!
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
  8. OP

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember

    Another question: How to dose coppersafe? Is it okay for pregnant platies?

    I've read conflicting posts here re: Coppersafe and would appreciate some insight! Thanks!
  9. toosie

    toosieWell Known MemberMember

    Well.... even though some say coppersafe is ok to use with scaleless fish such as your corys, I wouldn't risk it. I don't know how it would be for fry.
  10. OP

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember

    So what about the two platies in quarantine? They seem to have stopped flashing after I started using the Coppersafe. Also do you know how long I should use it? the directions only give quantity of dosage, not time.
  11. toosie

    toosieWell Known MemberMember

    Back when I used coppersafe which is quite sometime ago now, it used to be something you only dosed once a month and replaced the appropriate amount in water changes. I don't know if they have changed the formula since then, but I can see if I can come across something for you.

    EDIT: Here is a link that agrees with my memory but I would like to find something directly from Mardel. Mardel isn't owned by Mardel anymore though, but I can't remember the company name now. Does it say on your bottle of coppersafe?

    Here's that link.

    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
  12. OP

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember

    You're very kind! Thank you. I have done a search on Coppersafe which is where I found the conflicting information, so anything you could find would be very much appreciated.

    Unfortunately I was looking at one of my cories tonight and she seemed somewhat lethargic. I saw some red areas near her gills. The other two cories are fine. I'm wondering if the coppersafe did that? I did a major water change yesterday and then added more coppersafe. :( I hope I didn't hurt my cories, they are great!) The male platy flashed once today that I saw. Again no sign of anything external.

    Anyway, sorry for my rambling. I'm a bit concerned about my fish, is all. I appreciate your help very much, thank you.
  13. toosie

    toosieWell Known MemberMember

    It's your thread, you're welcome to ramble away. ;)

    Did you add enough coppersafe to treat the entire tank again with the water change? If you did, I would do a water change asap. The cory will continue to absorb the copper every minute it's in there.

    Have a good look at your platy's gills. Net it if you need to to get a good look. Is there anything about his gills that don't look right? The reason I want you to look is the fish could have a gill parasite which could explain why they are flashing without other external symptoms, and would be an alternate reason from the coppersafe for your cory's gills to be red.

    EDIT: The gills should be a nice bright red, but not an inflamed looking red, or any other shade of red such as a dark red.
  14. OP

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember

    Yes, I treated the entire tank. I'm off to do the water change now. Figure 75 percent?
    Will check the platy's gills. Last time I looked they were bright red, as you describe.
    thanks re: rambling! I can't figure this out at all with the platies!
  15. toosie

    toosieWell Known MemberMember

    Sure, 75% is a lot of water but I know people that change 80 to 100 so I'm sure it is better to be safe than sorry, and there is basically a double dose of coppersafe in there so yeah, I think it would be a good idea.
  16. OP

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember

    OK, good. Done.

    I looked closely at all the fish. In the main tank, all the fish look healthy except for the one cory. And even he doesn't look so bad after a water change. His gills do not seem inflamed to me; there is only the reddish patch on one side.

    In the other tank, the QT tank, one of the platies definitely has inflamed gills. The other one's gills look okay to me.

    Now what? :;dk
  17. toosie

    toosieWell Known MemberMember

    Well, with the fish in the QT, lets give the Coppersafe a week to see if the flashing stops all together. The fish might have somethings as simple as ich in their gills. Ich can be present in the gills but not show up elsewhere on the fish unless the fish gets stressed and then you can have a full blown ich attack. Gill flukes is another parasite that can just affect the gills, and I'm not sure if CopperSafe will treat them if that is the case. It is also possible it's not a parasitic infestation at all, and could be something that is just irritating them, so I think you need to just observe them for a while and see if the coppersafe does do anything for them or not.

    What are your current ammonia and nitrite levels at? Ammonia can be irritating to skin and gills. It can make gills unusually red, it can burn the skin and form red areas, and it can irritate the skin causing the fish to flash. Test the water parameters for me, but make sure the tests are performed 24 hours or more AFTER you last used Prime.
  18. OP

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember

    That sounds plausible. I suspected gill flukes initially but ICH is always a possibility.

    Main: Ammonia is just over 0.00 (hard to tell but the yellow does have a slight green tint), nitrite is 0, nitrate is 20.
    QT: Haven't tested, will test tomorrow (today LOL).
  19. OP

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember

    Water parameter update:

    The QT tank had readings of .25 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 0 nitrate. I did back to back water changes of about 80 percent. Then I cannibalized an aquarium kit and took an Aqueon HOB filter and set it up in the QT tank. Should have done that last week. :(

    Anyway, the female with the red gills started being aggressive toward the other one after I set up the filter. I had a glass divider that fit the QT tank so I separated them. Did a mini-dose with Coppersafe in the tank after the water changes. Will check numbers tomorrow.

    Maybe I'm worrying too much about these fish. Good grief! :;fru
  20. toosie

    toosieWell Known MemberMember

    Huh, go figure! Must be why you joined FishLore. ;)

    Do you have a little cycled media you can add to the new filter? Changing water everyday and dosing a small amount of Coppersafe for the amount of water you have to change isn't going to be fun.

    Is your cory doing better after last nights water change?

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