Please do not panic about TB

  1. endlercollector Fishlore VIP Member

    Yes, I am the self-proclaimed queen of mycobacteria, telling everyone that full-blown cases of fish TB are rare. More to the point, I have had less than 3% of my current Endler collection come down with full-blown TB.

    I have been experienced more TB and mycobacteriosis than most people because many of my fish come from a university laboratory where the research on them had been concluded. After I got the fish, I was alerted to the fact that the remaining fish had to be put down due to out-of-control mycobacteriosis, that included both TB and several other diseases.

    It is very easy for neglected fish to get sick and laboratories. When the research and's, they no longer get continuous attention from graduate students. The livebearers' numbers get out of control, their water parameters go bad, and they are housed in the quarantine room where the sick fish are, where they get contaminated. There is simply not enough time and money to take good care of them.

    So you are very unlikely to have a situation as out-of-control as mine. I take full responsibility for my situation because I am the worst animal rescuer that you can imagine. (We are down to six dogs at our house at the moment.) And yes, I am planning on starting a thread for others who also are in dire need of a 12-step program for compulsive fish rescuers. (And no, you can't have any of my Endler's unless you can write me a coherent explanation of why and how you will take care of them for life.)

    I am now managing multiple diseases in seven tanks with varying degrees of success and occasional setbacks. The survival rate has jumped considerably in the past year between several generations of livebearers.

    I have gone from 0% survival rate in my first experience with TB 35 years ago to 50%, using antibiotics 6 years ago with some fish from an LFS. The remaining fish never thrived and half of them gradually died from secondary infections until I discovered Camallanus worms and finally euthanized them.

    With the fish from the lab, I have culled for sick fish and used no medications whatsoever. From my observations, they have mostly been contracting columnaris and dropsy. They almost never die of the diseases because I euthanize them whenever possible. The survival rate has been 8% after 12 months with my first generation and over 80% in my second and third generations at between 8 and 11 months.

    After reading an article by Diana Walstad, I have now begun using level one UV sterilizers to see if I can get better results. I only started using the level one UV sterilizer in the tanks seven weeks ago, so the case of full-blown TB that I found recently cannot be counted against it.

    At any rate, I have to keep track of the fourth generation over the next year before I can figure out if this new strategy is having enough of an effect. I am aiming for survival rate of 95% at 10 months of age, but I need to get two more tanks set up that are dedicated to this generation alone, and I do not have the resources at this time unless I start euthanizing healthy fish, which I cannot do.

    No, I am not a biologist, I just know many in various biology departments. I am a daughter and sister of doctors and nurses both in the US and the developing world. So I have seen a lot. And yes, your fish and you can live with multiple mycobacteria.
     
  2. junebug Fishlore Legend Member

    lol EC. Silly you!

    Gah I wish my outbreak of mycobacteria had been limited to just a few fish. I've lost 90% of the fish in the affected tanks, the only survivors thus far being fry that were born in the tanks after contamination and a random lyretail swordtail. My outbreak happened while running a UV sterilizer too, but I think the darn thing stopped working because I had an algae bloom at the same time as the first fish got sick. You know what the worst part is? If I don't euthanize them, they actually are dying of mycos, not secondary infections. Because their water has always been clean.

    Very frustrating disease. I hope you have better luck with your level one sterilization.
     

  3. endlercollector Fishlore VIP Member

    @ Junebug
    So sorry to hear that your losses have been that high. Level one UV sterilizer station could help you further on down the road after things slow down, and you have carriers that are living with the mycobacteria. It's a question of their immune system's being sturdy enough to handle the presence of the mycobacteria. My experience is that second-generation fry should be viewed as carriers that have the capacity to live a healthy life. My hope was that I could get a cleaner generation each time, but that one boy that jumped into a virgin tank has thrown off my timescale. I am desperate to set up new tanks for the next generation but don't have space and having to hire help to clean my tanks when I got severe tendinitis eat ate up more than twice the money I was going to use to get more level one UV sterilizers set up.

    Stress reduction in the tanks and in us fish keepers is what I am focusing on now. And yes, I am going to be posting on my blog about that when I just have a little more time :p
     
  4. junebug Fishlore Legend Member

    I am not going to have carriers. With the exception of my wild bettas who never became symptomatic and therefore are probably not infected at all, everyone's getting euthanized. I just can't justify keeping the sick fish when I have a mid-scale semi-commercial breeding setup.

    My main regret is that I didn't realize what was happening until I'd moved plants from my "healthy" swordtail tank (where my outbreak started due to two sick fish from the LFS) to my other tanks. I've been paying more attention when I'm in fish stores lately. I have three nearish to me, two of which are specialty stores. All of them have fish with OBVIOUS signs of mycobacterium. The only fish I will buy from a fish store from now on will be bettas, which are essentially in QT in their little cups.

    I did break my rule and buy a really lovely pair of Russian Red Lace snakeskin guppies from one of the stores, but they were in one of the unplumbed tanks at the front, where they keep fish that customers trade in, and snails and shrimp. I buy snails from that place all the time, but I'm afraid to now unless they're going in the tank with those guppies lol.
     

  5. junebug Fishlore Legend Member

    OMG. My fish are weird.

    There is one tank I haven't euthanized yet... I occasionally see the adult fish that are heavily affected swimming around, rather poorly. There haven't been any fry in this tank since the last female got sick.

    Well the last female has apparently just given birth. There are a bunch of eyeballs swimming around the tank and she's twice as skinny as she was just from the mycos.

    What kind of fish doesn't reabsorb the young when they are clearly dying of bacterial infections? I swear, NOTHING stops Endlers from reproducing. :/
     
  6. endlercollector Fishlore VIP Member

    @ Junebug
    You are in a very difficult position. If you definitely want to know whether or not you are getting fish with mycobacteria, you will need a way to be able to test as they can be latent for years in a healthy population of symptom free carriers. I am onto the next stage, which is learning to feel at ease on a tight rope, even though I know that there is no net below and never was. While my family was able to get rid of human TB two generations ago, keeping fish is a whole other system that cannot be controlled. There are no easy TB tests like the ones that we give to children and educators to find carriers of the disease.
     
  7. junebug Fishlore Legend Member

    I am actually pretty much doing what you do, lol. When I set up a new tank, once all the fish are in, that's it, no more, no moving them. Each tank is it's own little QT. That way if there's ever an issue, it stays in the one tank.

    Restricting the strains I'm working on is helping too, I don't have nor plan to have a communal "male guppy" tank. Males will just be in with the females and there will be heavy culling. Only the strong survive lol. I raise fry in the tank with the adults, so the weak ones don't make it anyway.