Sick/Dying Albino Cory Catfish

Discussion in 'More Freshwater Aquarium Topics' started by Dberes723, Jul 14, 2015.

  1. Dberes723New MemberMember

    Hi everyone,
    This is only my second post, but I received so very good and appreciated advice on my last (similar) request for help.
    I feel it necessary to give some background as to how i am in this situation, but if you think it's irrelevant(or frankly couldnt care less), please just skip the following paragraph!
    I am very new to this, but trying to learn as much as I can. Thanks to this forum and a few others, I have really made some progress but obviously have a very long way to go. I have always been a HUGE animal/fish lover and way before starting my own tank I have had a very deep soft spot or all animals/pets. I originally went to petsmart and purchased a Betta and mystery snail with a basic kit. Looong story short, I now have a 5 gallon tank for my Betta and a 10 gallon tank for 5 total fish plus 2 mystery snails. I had no idea what I was doing or what cycling was until a member from this forum helped me! Aside from my slow start, I still have a huge soft spot for any sick/suffering/unhappy creature.

    Now the reason for posting this! I have already taken home a sick/neglected mystery snail from petsmart in a desperate attempt to help him. As if the pain of watching him suffer hasn't been enough, today while picking up a air stone I ended up bringing home a very sick and lonely albino cory catfish from petland discounts. He was the only cory in a huge tank of 50+ glofish and has red markings on his body. He was consistently darting up to the tank gasping for air. This behavior alternated with periods of what looked like paralization at the bottom of the tank where his gills would make him appear to be struggling to breathe. Being so inexperienced I know I probably shouldve left him there, but all the other tanks were filled with dying/rotting fish. Some struggling to swim, some struggling to breathe. Then I noticed that about 5% of the glofish which shared the tank with the sick cory had an odd curvature shaped body. At first I was thinking it was a product of genetic engineering. Then I realized that random(different) fish from other separate tanks had similar characteristics.
    Ok, so on a side note I am a student nurse and have heard of humans contracting mycobacterium tuberculosis(Fish TB) via open cuts/sores on their hands. I did a quick google search on my phone and realized that these deformed fish were all infected with TB. I have contacted the corporate office as well as the CDC because mycobacterium TB is a communicable disease and can infect people who may handle or care for these fish. I don't know what else I can do but it doesn't seem to be an urgent issue:(
    Back to my sick cory - he does NOT share the curved spine with the other fish. However he does have periods of paralysis, twitching, darting around the small quarantined bowl I am keeping him in, and even blinking. He didn't move for 4 hours which was why I was posting this, but right now he is darting all over his bowl. I have an air stone in there along with prime treated water. The parameters are all normal and the temperature is 76 degrees. I am freaking out because just a few hours ago I was researching ways to humanely euthanize him!!!!!!! Now that he's suddenly swimming all over I am really freaking out!! I have no idea what to do or how to handle this. Please, please help if anyone has an idea of what should he done for him. I was leaning towards possible ammonia poisoning but read that there is no treatment for that. I will be checking back frequently for any replies. Thank you!!!
  2. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    Welcome to Fish Lore, if I haven't already welcomed you haha! If I have, well then, welcome again lol!!!

    It does sound like it could be ammonia poisoning, could you post a picture? Tmk, the red gilles are kind of a dead giveaway to that. Does the bowl have a filter? That would help tremendously with ammonia.

    Sadly though, even though we feel so sorry for those poor fish left to die in those miserable tanks, there's often not much we can do for them in such a state. I saw a dying molly at Petsmart, and I felt so sorry for him/her, but I knew there was probably nothing that could be done. Hopefully, I'll be wrong in this case though.

    I'm not quite sure what this is, in all honesty, but one thing that seems to often help is pristine water conditions.

    Here's a link to an article about ammonia poisoning:  

    I'd wait for others' opinions on this though, just in case I might be wrong about some stuff. Maybe Coradee can help more.

    Good luck and best wishes for you and your fish. :)

  3. Dberes723New MemberMember

    He has stopped darting around and now seems to be paralyzed again. However when looking very closely, the pulsating of his gills are slightly visible which was NOT visible during his last period of inactivity. I also just caught him looking down for a moment before returning back to his stationary stare. This is also coming after a 4 hour period of complete paralysis! My heart is breaking for this little guy right now :*( !!!!!!

  4. Dberes723New MemberMember

    Thank you! I am not sure if you helped me before with my snail because I was too upset to even remember who it was and haven't quite gotten used to this site yet. I am way too emotionally involved for this! I know one day I may be knowledgeable enough to walk away but sadly today was not the day:( ! I will try to post a picture. In case I can't figure it out would you mind giving me instructions using the mobile site? I tried while posting but didn't see anything. Thanks again

  5. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

  6. Dberes723New MemberMember

    I tried posting these multiple times but it's not showing on my end, so if this comes up 3-5 times, u apologize!

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    Attached Files:

  7. Dberes723New MemberMember

    *I* apologize

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  8. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    Definitely looks like there's something wrong, but I'm afraid I can't help you much more beyond this point. Hopefully, someone else will be able to chime in with some more advice.

    I wish you the best of luck with him. :;hug2
  9. Dberes723New MemberMember

    Thank you so much

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  10. BluestreakflWell Known MemberMember

    Coradee is our resident Cory expert, perhaps she can chime in soon. Its hard to tell, but something almost looks odd with his mouth. Either way, keep his water conditions pristine until we can narrow down what exactly is going on.
  11. Bijou88Well Known MemberMember

    I'm sorry your cory isn't doing so well, I've been there. And yes, it was likely me with the mystery snail, was yours the rescue with the cracked shell?

    A couple things I notice immediately with the cory
    1. He's quite skinny imo, so he's probably not been fed well prior to your getting him.
    2. His barbells (whiskers) look to be worn down which has lead to irritation and what almost looks like a deformity around his mouth. This is often caused by the use of gravel, since it's hard for them to burrow/sift for food.
    3. The obvious red spots....I'm not sure on those. My guess would be either an injury or some kind of bacterial infection, but someone else will surely have a better idea.

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  12. Dberes723New MemberMember

    Thank you. I really didn't realize this was such a tight-knit forum. It's really nice and so helpful.
    I am beside myself with shock right now because this little guy has really come around. However I have experience with human health care and sadly that doesn't always end with a result of recovery. When people are near death they often have a period of enthusiastic activity. I know very little about aquatic life but I'm really hoping that isn't the case here.
    I have taken the small sponge filter from my bettas tank and moved it to the corys 1 gallon quarantine bowl. I added a small bubble stone also to increase gas exchange. I have a little hiding place in there that he has found his way under too. He's currently lying on his side with little movement besides those of his gills and occasional blinks. I would normally be freaking out but when comparing this to the last 8 hours , it shows a major improvement. I don't have a heater for the small bowl but I have propped it under a light bulb inside the cabinet display portion of my entertainment center. I used this spot for my sick mystery snail and it kept the AC air from flowing in..leaving the water at a general room temperature type of warmth. I will try again to post pictures of his current condition. Thanks again to everyone who is taking the time to share their thoughts/advice. I can't say that enough!

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  13. BluestreakflWell Known MemberMember

    Glad we can help, this is indeed an amazing community. Alot of us come here our first time around not in the best of circumstances, but there are indeed good times ahead, and people here have often made all the difference.
  14. Dberes723New MemberMember

    This is how he is now in a 1 gallon bowl, sponge filter, bubble rock and hiding spot. You can't see it but he is blinking often and gills are showing motion

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    Attached Files:

  15. Dberes723New MemberMember

    Bijou88 I don't know if I'm tagging you correctly, but thank you for your help with everything! My snail did not make it sadly. The smell became very strong soon after my last post. It was so sad because he SEEMED to have come around after I brought him home, but now looking back I have to admit his behavior was quite erratic. I fear the same is happening with my rescued cory. I have learned one thing for sure - never go to a chain pet store. I just can't handle what happens in these places.
    I visited a family owned aquarium shop just after my snail passed and ended up bringing home a healthy maroon mystery snail. He/she is smaller than my golden but the difference in the way this one is thriving is unbelievable. I don't know how these places that neglect these creatures manage to stay in business. They didn't care at all about the complaints I filed regarding my neglected snail. However petland discounts has been harassing me all day since I informed them they are distributing fish who are infected with a communicable disease. If I thought the media would care I would make a big stink..but ive lost hope in humanity at this point

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  16. Bijou88Well Known MemberMember

    Glad to help, if you have any more questions about snails I'll be around (that's really the only critters I know a lot about, lol). I'm sorry your snail didn't make it, sometimes they're just too traumatized to pull through:( happy to hear you got another one though, they really are so much fun, I really love my snails.

    I've actually gotten most of my snails and fish from petsmart and have had really good luck personally, so maybe it just depends on the store. (I saw your tb thread btw, that's horrifying)

    I understand your desire to rescue the sick ones though, I got my newest kitty addition as basically a clearance cat at petsmart (she was waaay discounted) because nobody wanted her and she had a golf ball sized sore on her shoulders. She's happy and healthy now, she's an awesome cat. :) I also got my ivory female mystery snail at discount because her shell was cracked, she's a healthy not so little baby making machine now. It seems like sick fish don't often recover however which is unfortunate, i hope your cory is an exception. Sorry for the extra long post everyone, hehe.

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  17. franksaquariumNew MemberMember

    If I may offer some opinions on this topic:

    Most likely this fish came in with a batch of other Corydoras and what you are seeing is the effect of a high ammonia concentration in the bag water along with the effects of self-poisoning. Corydoras can exude a toxin which can not only kill other species but, in the confines of a bag, can kill other Corydoras as well. I had this happen to me with a batch of true Corydoras aeneus from Trinidad. 100 2" fish in a full box bag. Normally not a problem. However, because of the toxin, over 80 were dead/dying by the time I got them. All had the red markings (probably from a high ammonia level from the decaying fish) and, upon necropsy, I found the gill filaments were damaged/destroyed. Those that did survive were almost constantly gulping at the surface since their gill were probably not functioning well (based on the gills of the necropsied specimens). They would, from time to time, also look paralyzed. I think I lost another 8-10 during the time I had them under treatment (nitrofurazone green, salt, methylene blue (helps with oxygen transfer) and malachite green) It took about two months of treatment, but the remaining ones are doing well.

    Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a human disease, AFAIK, and is not present in cold-blooded fish and is not the same as fish TB. Fish can carry M. marinum and, rarely, M. fortuitum (a nontuberculous species). Fish mycobacteriosis is not the same as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and handling Mycobacteria infected fish WILL NOT give you tuberculosis. M. marinum can be transferred to humans (and will give a positive result on a TB test) and causes a rare disease known as aquarium granuloma, which typically affects individuals who work with fish or keep home aquariums. But even that is relatively uncommon since the bacteria finds human physiology not much to its liking. Even with that, people do, from time to get, get infected with marinum, and usually undergo a 6-8 month antibiotic treatment and develop blisters. A co-worker of mine, after over 30 years of fish handling, got M. marinum, and was under treatment for quite a while. OTOH myself, who has been handling fish since I was 10, who has dealt with myco-positive fish, and who dives in large aquaria to do cleaning, has tested negative. Mycobacteria is ubiquitous, and it's almost impossible to avoid. If you've ever swam in the ocean, lake, pond, etc, you probably have been exposed to this pathogen. Also, the only way to get a positive diagnosis of Mycobacteria is to culture it, and perform a necropsy on the fish. That fish may have spine curvature does not necessarily mean Mycobacteria. Environmental conditions (overcrowding during the initial growth period, for example) and poor nutrition can also lead to this problem (I had this problem with white-finned Bedotia fry. The food I was using was not all that good, which lead to weak/deformed fish). And even if a fish is infected, it's probably sub-clinical and will not express itself until the fish is older and its immune system starts to fail. Like I said, this bacteria is ubiquitous. If you have an aquarium, chances are good you also have Mycobacteria. And it's nothing to be concerned about most of the time. Be aware that there is a possibility of infection, and be on the look-out for signs of this problem, especially in older/geriatric fish.

    As to contacting the CDC, I'd like to hear what they had to say. I'm not sure I would have done this myself as I'm not sure how familiar they'd be with fish pathogens like M. marinum and its effect on humans. I can see them over-reacting to what is essentially a non-problem. I can also see headlines on the nightly news: "Is your aquarium making you sick? Film at 11" :)

    Anyway, my three cents (inflation, you know).


    PS: I was told that this message makes me sound like a know-it-all. If it does, it was not my intention.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  18. Dberes723New MemberMember

    I'm sorry that I don't have the time to properly reply to your message, but I appreciate the information and will do so later on in the day when I have some down time. In short I haven't received a response yet from the CDC. I honestly contacted them out of frustration. I was upset after seeing how poorly the fish were being treated at the store and angry that the manager couldn't care less. I actually believe there is literature released by the CDC regarding fish TB and how it can be transferred to humans. I came across it when searching for the right way to contact them since it's not your average complaint. I will see if I can locate it later and send you the link. I think it downloaded to my phone actually so when I finish this post I will see if I have it. I may have read/heard wrong though!
    Given your experience, I am hoping that you may have some advice on how I should continue to care for my sick cory. He is looking much better today and his red spots are completely gone. He does look a little stressed and is acting quite listless, just sitting at the bottom of his tank most of the time. The biggest problem now is that I can't get him to eat anything. I've tried frozen brine shrimp, shrimp pellets, frozen blood worms, dried blood worms, algae wafers, zuchinni, cucumber...even fish flakes and betta pellets. I've even tried to drop a shrimp pellet a cm away from his mouth, but he just sat there for a minute and then swam away. I had him in a 1 gallon bowl but moved him to a shallow storage container. It's only about 1.5 gallons but it's rectangular so the surface area is larger and gives him more swimming space(not that he's really utilizing it).
    I really hate keeping him like this, but I'm afraid adding him to my 10 gallon tank will stress him to death. Should I expect this to go on for a long time? If so I can get him a 5 gallon tank but I'm not sure that would help with his loneliness. I don't have room for anything bigger right now and even starting another 5 gallon will surely put me at war with my husband (which is fine lol). I started with 1 betta and a few weeks later I have a 5 gallon tank, 10 gallon tank, and a quarantined catfish living in my entertainment center cabinet. He thinks I'm nuts as it is, so really one more temporary 5 gallon shouldn't THAT big of a deal. Any suggestions?? Thanks in advance

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  19. Dberes723New MemberMember

    Also do you think I should be treating him with the same methods you stated? And if so can you give me instructions on how to use the items you mentioned? The thought of keeping him alone and depressed for 2 months is heartbreaking!

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  20. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    A meth blue bath would probably help your cory out.

    As for the glofish they almost certainly have mycobacteria. I know this because they are in a petstore, and all the big petstores in the US get their fish from the same few places, and those few places all have mycobacteria present in their water. So all of those petstore fish are either infected or exposed, which means the bacteria is present in them no matter what.

    Don't be surprised. This has been the case since at least the 80s, probably earlier, and like franksaquarium said, it's a naturally occurring bacteria that you've been exposed to dozens of times over the course of your life thus far, and probably will be exposed to even more often as time goes on.

    Also like he said, the fish can't have M. tuberculosis, since it can't survive in water. M. marinum is the most likely culprit, but there are a grand total of 3 aquatic mycobacterial strains that could be affecting them. One other was mentioned above, and I can't remember the name of the third strain, but it's rather uncommon by comparison anyway.

    Fish who've been exposed to mycobacterium will often become symptomatic in poor water conditions, or if something (including age) causes an immunodeficiency. It takes years to kill fish most of the time, though IME once they do become symptomatic, they die within months. I had an outbreak in my tanks a while back, and it was not fun at all. Fortunately, once they got sick, they went quickly, I suppose.

    Good luck with your Cory :)

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