Strange Illness Killing Fish (long Post)

Discussion in 'Advanced Freshwater Aquarium Topics' started by DogfishCatfish, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. DogfishCatfish

    DogfishCatfishNew MemberMember

    I may be posting in the wrong thread. Please correct me if so.

    Pictures included so you can have a better idea of what's going on (see: the silver mollies and Blue the Platy).

    For the past month or so my poor tank family has been hit by a number of losses. I am absolutely out of my league and need help.

    I started my tank months ago with 6 Albino Tiger Barb's and four Platys from a local PetLand. Our only issue after adopting them was an occasional ammonia spike and keeping the water clear. Life was good.

    One day I notice some of the scales on my favorite Platys chest seem raised. Her name was Blue. I think maybe one of the Tigers took a nip, but she's swimming and eating so I don't think much of it. A few days later I find her dead, the chest 'wound' dramatically worse--it looked like internal bleeding, all this red beneath her chest and belly. It was strange to me because my Barb's are incredibly mellow. We have a sad fish funeral and move on.

    After a few weeks we go to PetSmart and adopt 10 Neons and 3 Cory's (2 albino, 1 panda). Water perameters stay about the same. Things are a little cloudy sometimes and ammonia goes up every now and then, but none of the fish act sick. A few days pass... The Panda Cory has white stuff covering him head to tailfin.

    I worry, pour in Melafix and aquarium salts based off some forums here. None of the other Cory's are sick, nor the Neons I purchased with the Panda. Two days later, the Panda dies.

    We decide to buy a better filter. We get a SunSun 302. Add fish floss and ammocarb to the layers. Tank clears up, water is Crystal. Purchase something to monitor the ammonia, still spikes occasionally but we have it under control and none of the remaining fish act sick.

    We think the problem is solved. We are very wrong.

    Over the course of a week and a half we lose our remaining Platys. They stop eating, all of them, and spend their time exclusively at the surface of the tank. They are lethargic, fins appear to be rotting. Occasionally I would find one sitting at the substrate, unmoving save their gills. The last one to go developed some sort of swim bladder issue. She couldn't keep herself up right before she finally kicking the bucket. We use Melafix as directed, and a 50% water change. They all die regardless.

    At this time, all 11 Teras, 6 Barb's, and 2 Cory's are still behaving as usual and are completely uneffected.

    We wait a while, test our water. Everything seems okay again.

    My roommate has a considerably smaller tank. His guppies give birth and he needs to move some of the babies. We wait until theyre a little over a half inch and move them to my tank since I have excess room.

    They die in two days; in retrospect I believe their tiny fins were rotted and what may have been ich was developing. They were small and it was hard to tell. At the time I thought they died because of how quickly we transitioned them. I am very inexperienced and recognize this was not the case now.

    Another week passes. Another water test. Everything is perfect, water crystal. There's some algea developing so we a 25% water change and clean all our fake plants and our bubbler.

    We go out and adopt 4 Silver Mollies (collectively named Karen) and a baby bristlenose Pleco (Taz). This time I am very conscious of the transition period. I spend 40 minutes getting them ready for the tank. I float them for 15 minutes, then spend the rest of the time slowly mixing tank water into their bag. Then I release them. I shut off the lights for 4 hours and add stress coat.

    I turn the lights back on to see how my new additions are fairing. I'm horrified to find all the Mollis covered in what may be ich. They're eyes have white stuff growing on them, their fins look rotted, and the same white stuff is covering all their fins and patching their bodies. They look like their flesh is fraying. This all happens in the tiny 4 hour span with the lights out. The pleco is perfectly fine, and so are all my other fish. It is very late at night and we panic. We put ammoxicillan in the tank because no stores are open. We expect the worse but hope for the best.

    The next day, all but one Mollie is dead. There is barely any of the white stuff on the surviving Molly, same as her dead siblings, but she's very lethargic.

    I fish out her dead siblings and have to leave for the day for work. But I come home with Neoplex. I use as directed. The Molly still looks better but won't eat and is hovering at the substrate. Pleco and all other fish are acting normal. I let the medicine do its job over night and while I'm at work.

    I came home today to find the remaining Molly and my previously unaffected Pleco dead at the bottom of the tank. Neither are covered in whatever the white stuff was, in fact the pleco looks physically perfect--fins and color.

    All other fish are acting healthy as usual.

    What the heck is wrong with my tank. Please help, I am so confused.

    Attached Files:

  2. DutchAquarium

    DutchAquariumWell Known MemberMember

    Firstly, put a hault on all new fish. Generally you shouldn't really have ammonia spikes in your aquarium since your water changes and filtration should nutralize this problem. As for the fish in the pictures, your molly has something that looks likes columnaris, a type of bacterial infection. You could treat it with marcyrn but this is a very hard disease to fight. What you described above as your fishes scales bumping up, this sounds like dropsy which is often a secondary infection resulting in effect from a bacterial infection. Your going to want to wait something like month before you even think of more fish. Also, could you tell us the size aquarium you have along with water chemistry and heating. All these things could tell us why your fish got the infections in first place. I also recomend staying away from petco and petsmart since they don't carry the healthiest fish and i find that generally, they don't know what type of health their fish are in due to uneducated staff.
  3. OP

    DogfishCatfishNew MemberMember

    I have a 60gal. Temp will range between 78 and 80.

    I will definitely take the advise to avoid pet stores from now on. :(

    Generally when we test the water pH is super low, ammonia will range from .2 to .5 (when it gets really bad), and nitrite and nitrate always seems to come up 0.

    I don't know if this matters, but I have a half planted tank, no C02 or plant stuff save some substrate I bought from PetLand that said it was specifically for plant growth. On top of that is a half inch of sand.
  4. DutchAquarium

    DutchAquariumWell Known MemberMember

    ammonia reading should always read 0, which tells me that your filtration probably isn't very good. Ph doesn't matter for freshwater fish, as long as it is kept constant. You start having problems when you have your ph levels start to vary. And the planted tank doesn't have anything to do with any of your problems.
  5. ralph113

    ralph113Well Known MemberMember

    We all get thar itchy moment about buying fish. i mean i think its mean that we have to pick the strongest and healthiest fish in the store but it saves the rest that you have. I never buy when i see a fish dying with something unusual in the tank. i usually wait weeks for the next new batch. patience is somewhay key and while you wait plant your tank ,scape it, and wait till it cycles.
  6. GuppyDazzle

    GuppyDazzleWell Known MemberMember

    If you've had the tank up for months and you're getting ammonia spikes, there's something very wrong. A tank should cycle in four to six weeks. Once cycled, if there is any ammonia above zero, it's a dire situation. If your nitrites and nitrates are zero, your tank hasn't even started to cycle. There something causing that problem.

    I'm reluctant to reach for chemicals at the first sign of trouble. Many chemicals and additives will block the cycle from occurring naturally. Especially with new fishkeepers, a panic tends to set in when a fish shows signs of trouble. A bunch of conflicting information from a forum, and next thing you know you're dumping in this chemical and that chemical, and wondering why your fish are dying and the tank won't cycle.

    One of the biggest problems with being too quick to medicate is that if you don't nail it, your fish continues to crash until you finally figure out what's really wrong, then it can easily be too late. A good example is a black moor I had, which looked like it has problems with fungus. I treated for fungus, then a few days later these nasty little anchor worm parasites popped out the side of the fish. The fungus treatment had been worthless, and the fish was almost dead. I treated for parasites, and luckily it made it. But the wrong diagnosis almost killed it.

    A couple of your pictures do look like ich, but they're not that clear. Ich looks like someone sprinkled salt on your fish. I've had the best luck treating ich with the temperature method, making sure to treat for the entire term, not just until the spots fall off.

    I'm an advocate for letting nature take its course with cycling. I've never used additives or starters, always with goldfish, but fishless cycling is OK too if you add the right amount of ammonia with the right frequency. If I had a nickel for every time I've seen people try to use the cycle starters and other chemicals and they never get cycled and wonder why their fish are dying. I think lots of those additives actually block the cycle from occurring. I'd try to get your tank to stabilize with as little in the way of chemicals or salt, etc., as possible.