Sunken spots on clown loaches

Discussion in 'Clown Loach' started by Dick Hwang, Aug 14, 2015.

  1. Dick HwangNew MemberMember

    I've noticed that my clown loaches have developed some sunken spots, which have been growing in size over the past week or so. In the photos below, you can see a large-ish spot on the side of the largest one. One of the smaller loaches also has a smaller spot above its right eye. I did have an issue with ich infection a while ago in the past (which was successfully treated with increased temperature and salt); however, this looks different. The loaches seem to be behaving normally; they are not acting sick. The other fish seem unaffected.

    Anyone have an idea what this is? I'm inclined to think it's some kind of a skin infection. I could try increasing salt since the loaches seemed to tolerate that fine in the past, but I'm not sure that whatever this is would be sensitive to salt. I do have a bottle of ParaGuard, but that made my loaches sicker even at 1/4 strength when I tried it for ich in the past, so I don't want to try that again.

    Thanks for any ideas!



  2. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Hello and Welcome to Fish Lore!

    I hate to see that your fish are not feeling up to par. I'm not exactly sure what the issue is but I would suggest that you not use salt on Freshwater Fish. It may do more harm than good.

    Is only 1 fish infected?
    (reference post #32 above)


    Best wishes for your fish and hold on for more responses.

    Keep us posted.

  3. Dick HwangNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the response. There are two of the loaches infected.

    The fish have tolerated low concentrations of salt for ich in the past without any change in behavior. Given that this doesn't look like ich, I have no idea whether it would even be sensitive to salt. So I agree on waiting for more responses before trying any treatments. The fish seem to be behaving normally in the meantime, so I'm not in a hurry to try things that might make things worse.

  4. Redshark1Well Known MemberMember

    Whenever my fish have appeared below par (e.g. lethargic or loss of colour) I have worked to increase the water quality using various methods of water testing, improving filtration, adding aeration (I found this important and desirable in my un-planted Clown Loach aquarium), increasing water changes, adjusting temperature (my fish seem best at 80-82F), improving the feeding regime (reducing food imput but increasing feeding frequency) etc.

    I am a firm believer that fish have great immune systems that will keep them healthy in good water and they only become sick when water quality is not good enough (which is most of the time when we are beginners).

    But I am afraid I don't actually know what this condition is as my Clown Loaches have only suffered from whitespot and then only when they were purchased in 1995. So I suggest working on the water quality. Don't take offence, all our water can be improved and we don't always realise it.

    To me adding salt would not improve the water quality, but as I am not expert in medication I would leave it to your judgement and wish you all the best in tackling this worrying problem.
  5. Dick HwangNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the suggestions. I have a Fluval 406, which should be more than enough filtration on my 29 gallon tank. I did adjust the filter return higher to agitate the water surface more to improve aeration. I do 20% water changes weekly, but I could do them more frequently for now to see if the patches improve. Ammonia and nitrites are undetectable. There are trace nitrates. Temperature is 82 F.

    The one thing I know is not quite ideal is the tank size, although the loaches are small enough that I'm still okay by the inch per gallon rule. I'm planning on upgrading to a 50 gallon tank, which I know is still too small for full grown clown loaches, but it's probably as large of a tank as I can fit in the space.
  6. Redshark1Well Known MemberMember

    Well it sounds to me that you are unlucky to have this problem. If the fish are new they probably came with it.

    I have not come across this condition before.

    I think you are doing everything right according to the information you have given. It would do no harm to do more water changes if you are able. Other things you could measure are your pH and hardness to ensure there are no extremes. You could ensure the fish receive some quality food such as frozen bloodworm (but not too much to spoil the water).

    It is very good if there is no ammonia, I would expect to find a small amount unless you are stocked very low. However, I feel nitrate should normally be at least 5ppm even if the water is perfect. Are you sure your test kit is working? I have not measured lower than 5pmm in my tanks and I have six! I do not test for nitrite.

    On the subject of tank size 72" x 24" x 24" is suggested as a minimum by Loaches Online but I think you may need a much bigger tank size produce a 12" fish!

    Mine is a little smaller at 72" x 18" x 18" and 90ukg/110usg. I thought it was big enough when I bought it and it is much bigger than what I was recommended at the time. I think bigger would be better so the fish would reach maximum size but I am reasonably happy and my largest fish has reached 9".

    I don't know if you will be happy with Clown Loaches in a 50g as it is a lot smaller than recommended. The fish will not reach their potential and will remain much smaller and people will keep telling you your tank is too small though I wouldn't deny that the fish can still live long and healthy lives.

    I do hope this problem will go away and not return but if not you may need to consider medicating as a last resort. I am not a good source of information here as I have not had any disease in my tanks during the last 20 years. It may be worthwhile doing some research online to see if you can uncover other cases.
  7. Dick HwangNew MemberMember

    I've had the clown loaches for some time, so I think they developed it under my care. Over the last few days, the spots seems about the same, or (I hope) may even be getting better. The fish are still behaving normally. So I hope the problem with go away on its own without only making sure that their living conditions are good. I'll keep a close watch over the next days/weeks to make sure the spots don't progress.

    The pH and hardness were in the middle of the test ranges on the test strip. I also measured nitrates on the test strip, and it was a very faint pink. White is 0ppm, and solid pink is 20ppm, so the very faint pink might be around 5ppm. I measured ammonia using the API test with the chemical drops, and it looks like 0ppm. The Fluval 406 is rated for up to 100 gallon tanks, so it's probably providing more biological filtration than I need, so the ammonia stays low.

    Yeah, I know my tank is too small for the clown loaches to grow to their full size. If the fish adapt to a smaller (e.g., 50 gallon) tank by staying small, that's okay with me. On other hand, if a smaller tank makes the fish more stressed and prone to disease, that's more of a concern to me.
  8. Redshark1Well Known MemberMember

    The tests are difficult to assign an absolute value so like you I use them as a guide. At least they protect you from dangerous levels.

    Let's hope the disease gradually fades away. It is always possible to improve conditions and special conditions are not necessary with these fish, just good conditions.

    My fish have reached 21 years of age without expensive equipment only consistent care and consistent improvement to their care. What I mean to say is if I can do it most people can.

    In the past these fish were nearly always kept in aquaria that denied them the opportunity to grow to their potential maximum size. The same could be said of many of the fish kept today.

    I have found plenty of cases of them living long and healthy lives at smaller sizes in smaller aquaria and I do not personally have an issue with these people who have provide good care over many years.

    However, now we are more enlightened as to their needs I have found that it is generally considered desirable to meet those needs where possible.
  9. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    Just wanted to mention that the test strips are really inaccurate. If you really want to know what's going on with your water, you'll need a drop test kit. Likewise, the inch per gallon rule is fairly meaningless, as it's not accurate at all.

    Another thing I will suggest is upping the volume of your water changes. 20% weekly isn't doing much for the TDS in your tank, which is rising quickly with so many high bioload fish in such a small space. The higher the TDS, the better the chances of it causing immune system problems. This, along with not having enough physical room, will likely lead to stunting, and as a result, overall health issues as the fish get older and larger. If a 50 gallon is the largest tank you can manage, you should look into rehoming the loaches, once they're well. :)

    An important thing to consider when looking at care for larger fish is that if they aren't given the room to reach their full size, they aren't going to live their full lifespan. Even if their bodies run out of growing room, their internal organs keep trying to grow and as a result, the fish die prematurely.

    As for the specific issue of sunken spots, my first thought would be that it's bacterial. Necrosis could potentially look like this if it didn't present with an external sore. My second thought would be a parasite, something that lives in the epithelium that we can't see with the naked eye, or just can't see yet. I would consider adding some garlic to their food for now, and keeping an eye on things to see if other symptoms present themselves.
  10. Dick HwangNew MemberMember

    Thanks for all your replies. It looks like the the spots are now fading away, and I can barely see them now. So the fish seem to be recovering on their own. Not sure that I'll ever know what the spots were, but I suspect an infection (as junebug suggested) since they were present on more than one fish.

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