Please Help, fish twitching & mouth fungus? :(

  • #1
HI guys, been reading thru the forums for a while & its been a great help so far, but I have a major problem that has me stumped!!

ok, so everything was going along fine in the tank & everyone seemed reasonably happy until I cleaned the filter for the first time.. yep, I screwed it up big time!! I washed everything out in tank water like I was told by the fish shop, but seems I didnt clean it properly & when I turned the filter back on a whole heap of 'stuff' blew into the tank! which has created a whole lot of problems..

This caused nitrite levels to go up slightly to 0.25ppm & Nitrate levels up to around 40. I have done water changes most days since to try & clean the water. & also put 'cycle' in for a few days & it bought everything back to where it shoud be.

first one of my green severums stopped eating & died about 2 days later.

then another green severum became constipated & also stopped eating, I tried everything to get him to eat a pea but he wouldnt play ball. he then got a white cottony growth around his mouth that I think was mouth fungus, it got pretty bad, I tried PIMAFIX but it was too late, the next day he died.

Then one of my angelfish dies a day or 2 later, not sure if this was related as a haddnt seen him eat much ever since I got him.

now one of my UARU's has got the wite stuff around his mouth, I started with the PIMAFIX again last night as soon as I noticed it, & I have also taken the salt levels up to around 550-600ppm as recommended by fish shop. but so far is not looking any better... gonna be absolutely gutted if I lose this one

ok now to the twitching problem.

it was before I cleaned the filter that I first noticed one of the green severums twitching & shaking his head. This was probably around 3 weeks ago. He has now stopped eating, & spends most of the time hiding.
Then one of the UARU's started twitching aswell (same on that now has moth fungus)
then I noticed one of the Angels twitchig,
then my other uaru, & the the sharks now seem to be doing it too..

Ive searched everywhere for answers, ive tested the water countless times, even taken water to the shop for them to test & they say water quality is perfect. The only answers I can find on here all point to high ammonia, but ammonia levels are fine, I just tested water 10 min ago, & nitrate levels are up at about 20ppm, but everything esle is fine.

I really don't know what else to do, I went to the shop & bought a whole new tank set up yesterday which I have cycling as I speak so can move them all as soon as its ready, cos I'm scared there is something majorly wrong with the tank/ filter. & I really don't want to lose any more fish.

Does anyone have any idea what could be going on? could it be an internal parasite that is causing the twitching? its strange cos it seems to be as soon as I put food in the tank they start twitching, the green severum goes crazy.

& am I doing the right thing to treat the mouth fungus?

sorry for such a long post, just want to give as much info as possible to try & work this out cos its really doing my head in.

List any water conditioners and test kits used:
API Test Kit, Pro Ammonia, PH Tester

no, but I have just set up another tank for this purpose

Do you know about the Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle?
Fish Keeping Experience
Just started

Aquarium Size
1400 x 390 x 450
App. 220Ltr.

Aquarium Type
Freshwater Planted Tank

Fish, Plants, Inverts, etc.
2 Gold Severums
1 Green Severum
2 Uaru's
3 Bala Sharks
4 Angel fish
5 Albino Bristlenose
3 Peppermint Plecos
5 Clown Loaches
6 or 7 Anubis Plants
2 pieces of driftwood
3 or 4 rocks
* I had some slate in there that I just took out.
Yes I know its overstocked, but at this stage they are all small & eventually will be moved to another tank.

Aquarium Start Date






Reef Octopus

Aquarium Filter Type
eheim 2215

Please Help!

  • #2
Good morning and Welcome to Fish Lore!

So sorry to hear that you've lost some fish. I know it isn't easy and it can be very frustrating.

Check out these links concerning the mouth fungus:

I'm not saying for certain that Columnaris is what your fish have but it sounds like it could be a possibility.

As for your filter media. Having debris come back into your tank after rinsing them in your siphoned tank water is just a fact of fish keeping. It's going to happen but it will filter out so don't fret about it. Just accept it. lol Don't over clean your filter media, just swoosh it around and maybe give it a gentle squeeze and put it back into the filter. I don't recommend that you wring the sponges or scrub the bio cubes or tubes. Go easy!

Have you checked the expiration date on your API test kit? Look for the Lot #. See the link below:

As for the twitching, I'm not certain. Let's get more responses on this.

For your readings to be fine you should have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and under 20 nitrates. Remember that any amount of ammonia can be fatal to your fish. The side effects may not be immediate but long term side effects are a great possibility too.

Best wishes for you fish. I'm sure you'll get some more responses before long.

Salt...why are you using salt?

Please keep us posted.

I don't feel that the debris blown back into your tank has caused any issues concerning your readings. I'm more concerned about the product Cycle. Using this product doesn't give your tank the chance to cycle naturally. I don't recommend using it.

Do a test now. If you have any readings for ammonia at all start with daily water changes of 30 to 50%. Add some Prime or Aqumel + to detox any ammonia for 24 hours until it's time for the next water change. Keep up with the daily changes until your readings are back to 0, 0, under 20.

If you've been using Cycle this entire time, I don't know that your tank is actually cycled.


  • Thread Starter
  • #3
HI Ken, thanks for the reply, firstly with the 'Cycle', I didnt use anything when I first cycled the tank, I cycled it with the 3 bala sharks, which thankfully survived, The tank has been running with only a few minor problems since Christmas. I only put 'Cycle' in for the first time after I cleaned the filter & the nitrite & nitrate levels went up (it was recommended to put it in by fish shop)

with the auarium salt. ive read differing opinions on salt, it was also recommended to me by the fish shop when I got a small outbreak of ich, & it cleared it up straight away. To be honest I'm only using it now because I don't know what else to do & ive read that it can help with parasites etc. according to this.

Thanks for the links, I will check them out now.

& thanks again for the reply, I will definitely keep you updated.

Hey Ken, I did a test around an hour ago (& countless tests over the past 3 weeks) & Ammonia levels are fine.

& yeah ive read that about using 'cycle' that's why I never used it, I originall ran the tank for around 2 week, added 3 bala sharks, ran it for a few more weeks, then started introducing other fish. I don't think there's a problem with the tank being cycled.

I merged your posts to save a little space on the forum.
  • #4
HI Stluke,

Whew! I'm glad that you cycled naturally Hopefully your fish that you cycled with will be ok too. I'm sure by now you've read there are methods to cycle fishless so I won't dwell on that

Salt has become an old school method. Some use it and some do not. Some use it only as you did to treat for ICH. However, I don't feel that it's necessary. Raising your tanks temperature to 86 degrees and leaving it there for a full two week period should rid your tank of ICH without salt and without medications. Do 2 gravel vacuums each week to remove the spores that fall off the fish and into the substrate. Warmer water requires more oxygen so an air stone/supply line should be added. Ich will appear worse before it gets better. Even if the ICH disappears prior to the end of the two weeks, leave the temperature raise for the full two weeks. This will interrupt the life cycle and the ICH dies off.

You'll get or see different opinions on using salt.

It's been said that using salt in freshwater aquariums can cause a build up of body slime on the fish leading to other health issues. See the link below:

  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Hey Ken, yeah I read that the other day & checked the expiration date & its fine. so I gave all the bottles a good wack on that table & a very good shake, & still all the levels are fine (tho the nitrate reading did go up from 10 to 20 after giving it a good shake)

& I even took some water to the shop for them to test just incase, & they told me water is perfect. ive been back & forth to the shop & on the phone many times & it has them as stumped as me!

I think you might be right about 'Columnaris' - it sounds like what I have.

it says:


Change water

•Vacuum gravel

•Add aquarium salt

•Treat with copper sulfate or antibiotic

•Discontinue carbon filtration during treatment

do u know what exactly would be the the best meds to use?

Edit: ah, I just saw you change the link, thanks, ill have a read & keep it in mind for the future
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
& what does it mean by 'Discontinue carbon filtration during treatment' ?


  • #7
Stluke we'll have to get more responses on the best medicines to use. I've been fortunate (and with lots of hard work) that I haven't had to use medications in my tanks in the past 10 years.

Anytime you use a medication you should remove the activated carbon, if not, then the carbon will absorb the medicines and you won't get the full effect of the medications.

  • Thread Starter
  • #8
ok no worries, well thaks again for your reply mate, much appreciated. ill wait to see if I get some more responses.

a couple of other things, I just turned temperature down to around 25c
& I have also had the lights off for most of yesterday & today to try & reduce any stress.

cheers, Luke
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
I just found this aricle on the treatment of columnaris

this guy seems to know what hes talking about..

so would this be the solution?

ive already added salt & lowered the temperature which everyone says to do. & I'm using pimafix. should I try these other meds?? & if I do will it affect the loaches?

I would really appreciate any help on this cos ive hit a wall & really don't know what to do..

then there's still the twitching problem... anyone have any idea what could be causing this?
  • #10

In the link above I did a search for "treating Columnaris". It may help you if you haven't already checked it out.



  • #12
Glad to help when I can

I'll be looking forward to hearing about your progress. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  • Thread Starter
  • #13
I will definitely keep you updated!

sorry mate just 1 more question, I have an eheim 2215 filter, which part do I need to take out while using the meds?
  • #14
Stluke, I've never used the medicine in question and I don't know how it will affect your biological filtration. Some medicines may ruin your cycle. So be sure to keep up with your water parameters.

The activated carbon should be removed if you have it in the filter.



  • Thread Starter
  • #15
yeah apparently maracyn 2 is ok for the cycle, its maracyn 1 that will kill your bacteria.

but what is the 'activated carbon' ? sorry for the n00by questions

edit. I just did a search, so its just the black one on the top? sorry just want to be sure.
  • #16
Activated Carbon is below:

  • Thread Starter
  • #17
ok, thanks again Ken! ill be able to sleep now

ill let you know how I go!
  • #18
My pleasure



  • Thread Starter
  • #19
ok, so heres what I ended up doing..

Maracyn 2 isn't available in Australia, so that option was out the window..

after a few phone calls to different fish shops to get opinions & more research on the net, I decided the best option was to try triple sulfa.

so I removed my canister filter & moved it to my new tank (which was an added bonus cos it will help to establish the new tank )

& I put 3 sponge filters in the infected tank, did a 35 - 40% water change & added triple sulfa to the tank because its supposed to treat both columnaris & mouth fungus among other things. so far everyone looks ok

I will let you know how things go over the next few days
  • #20
Thanks for keeping us posted!

I hope everything goes well.

  • Thread Starter
  • #21
ok, so its been 3 days of tri-sulfa... & I'm not sure if its done the job..

the tank has come back to life & everyone looks a lot happier, but the 'mouth fungus' on the uaru doesn't seem to have got any better & there's still a bit of twitching going on.. & when I came home about an hour ago, one of the albino bristle nose had died

I mangaged to get my hands on some doxycycline, so ive just done a 35 - 40% water change, & ill do another tomorrow.. then I will try the doxy on Friday.. hopefully everyone stays alive until then..

ill keep you posted!
  • #22
Hello StLuke,

Sorry that you lost a Pleco Glad that you're seeing some improvement though. Be careful adding these medications. Antibiotics may destroy your cycle. Keep an eye on your readings.

Best wishes,


  • Thread Starter
  • #23
yeah I pulled the filter out & I'm just using sponge filters until things get back to normal, but still keeping a close eye on things.. was trying to avoid using the doxy, but I'm still not 100% sure what the problem is, so at this stage I don't think I have many other options..
  • #24
I understand and I wish I could help you more. Good idea to move the filter and save your bacteria colonies

  • Thread Starter
  • #25
started with the doxycycline today. ive read that Doxycycline is extremely similar to Minocycline (Maracyn Two) so hopefully this does the trick!

Will keep you posted on how things go.

Cheers, Luke

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