Velvet - How long can I keep salt, high temp, & Coppersafe?


Providing the Aquatic Emergency Template below.

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What is the water volume of the tank? 25 gallons in a 30G tank
How long has the tank been running? 6 months
Does it have a filter? Yes, 50G Aquaclear HOB filter
Does it have a heater? Yes, adjustable and backup fixed temp heater
What is the water temperature? Currently, set at 88F for the past week
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) - one blood parrot (4inches)

How often do you change the water? Prior to the velvet outbreak, every 7 days 30% WC
How much of the water do you change? 30%
What do you use to treat your water? Was using Prime, now switched to API Stresscoat due to issues using prime with Coppersafe
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? Yes, everytime I do a WC

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Yes
What do you use to test the water? API Liquid test kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 20-40 (My tap water is already around 20-30ppm)
pH: 8

How often do you feed your fish? Once per day
How much do you feed your fish? Whatever they can eat in 2 minutes.
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Hikari Floating Cichlid pellets
Do you feed frozen? Sometimes, frozen blood worms
Do you feed freeze-dried foods? No

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 3+ Months
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? 4 weeks ago
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Started what I thought was ich on one of my small fish. Started treating with Ich, which did nothing. 3-4 days into treatment, I noticed my Lace Catfish was dusted with spots all over his body. I had no previously experienced Velvet, but after I saw that, and how it progressed and turned to a yellowish color and started peeling his skin, I knew it was Velvet
Have you started any treatment for the illness? I started Ich-x 2 days after I introduced the new fish, which I thought had ich. He had been in the tank for 2 days and on day 2 I noticed the 4 white spots on him. I made the fatal mistake of not putting him in a QT.
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? The new fish, which showed the first signs had no signs prior to placing him in the tank.
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? All fish in the tank started exhibiting strange behavior. Very sluggish, not as active nor trying to eat aggressively as they usually did. Only the Lace Catfish and the juvenile flowerhorn exhibited any external symptoms. The two blood parrots did not show anything external, just that they would be very sluggish and over time started to not eat and would lay on the substrate.

Explain your emergency situation in detail.
(Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)

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So at this point, it's been several weeks. We lost our two favorite fish, our Lace Catfish and our first ever Blood Parrot. It was quite crushing. We tried everything, but it seems that the medications we used were completely useless. For the first 7 days, I dosed Hikari Ich-X everyday and did 30-40% water changes on schedule. I raised the temperature to around 86F and added salt (around 1 teaspoon per gallon or 1 tablespoon per 3 gallons). Symptoms did not improve at all and the strange part is, that I started treatment before there was even an outbreak and the Lace Catfish developed external symptoms around day 4 of applying the treatment.

This didn't make much sense to me, because even with the new fish bringing the disease into the tank, day 2 of him being in the tank, I started treating the entire DT with Ich-X, so I don't understand how the parasite was able to multiply and then infect the Lace Catfish on day 6 (4 days into the treatment). But it did. I thought the Ich-X bottle could have been defective (kept at incorrect storage temperatures), so I bought another bottle and started treating with that one. No signs of improvement and the Lace Catfish was looking quite bad, so I moved him and the flowerhorn to a separate 10 gallon tank, continued treatment. The Lace Catfish was definitely a fighter, he tried to hanging on as much as he could but it was painful to watch. I was considering to euthanize him, as you could see that he was past the point of no return. He died in the middle of the night and the flowerhorn died with him, even though he was not as far along. My guess is that the Nitrates spiked over night with the dead fish in the 10 gallon tank and he died due to that.

Remaining in the main tank was my two blood parrots, Ben and Jerry. Jerry started laying on his side on the substrate which then made me think perhaps it was something else affecting them. I did two large water changes, about 75%, and started treating with Paraguard. I kept the temperature high with salt level the same (1 teaspoon per gallon). Started treating with paraguard daily. I did a Paraguard dip with both Blood Parrots and they seemed MUCH better after releasing them back into the main tank.

At this point, I still didn't understand what the heck was going on. As they did not have any external symptoms, like dusted spots or Ich looking spots. But I was certain that the Lace Catfish died from Velvet. It was quite obvious when it turned into that yellow dust looking spots. At this point the Blood parrots were behaving very strange, slow, lethargic, and laying on the bottom of the tank, sometimes sideways sometimes upright. The Paraguard dipped looked like it helped, but they were still not eating anything.

Did this for several days and saw no improvement. I was very stressed and felt like nothing was working (as it wasn't). I finally decided to try coppersafe as it seemed Ich-X and Paraguard are completely useless for Velvet, even though they say it on their bottle (never again trusting that stuff). I put both blood parrots in a 5 gallon bucket and dosed with Prime and Coppersafe. I see a lot of mixed information on this combo, but I didn't have any other water conditioner so I used it. I think Prime is an issue with cupermine (because its an ionic copper, versus Coppersafe which is a Chelated copper). I guess Coppersafe is okay with Prime. Anyway, after several hours in the bucket, they looked okay at first, but my large blood parrot started laying on his side. I moved them into another 5 G bucket of just fresh water with prime. The younger blood parrot seemed completely fine but the large one did not. I noticed a day earlier he had what looked like a white .5cm string hanging from one side of his gills. He had abnormal gills, almost stringy looking, but this has always been the case with him (i assume its a blood parrot deformity). Well, unfortunately he died later that evening. I took him out and noticed that that one white looking worm thing had multiplied and they were all over his gills. I don't know how to described, but it wasn't like cotton (or a fungus look), but almost like his gills were turning white and dying, as if the red parts lost oxygen. I'm not sure, but that's the best I can describe it.

The younger blood parrot had a bit of this as well but it was difficult to see, as his gill plate would not open as much, so while breathing I could sometimes see some white color inside. So I figured whatever the big guy had, he also now had and only a few days behind him. I read that Velvet can also attack the gills and show now external symptoms in some fish. My guess is this is what happened. So I put the small blood parrot into a cleaned out 10g tank as a hospital tank for him.

I decided to dosed the main tank with coppersafe, crank up the temp and black it out with a towel. Essentially try to nuke whatever the heck is in there and deprive it from light. During this time, I had the young blood parrot in the 10g tank, still not eating, not improving, just looking tied and unhealthy. A LFS asked me had I tried doing a salt dip. This is the first time I heard about doing such a high concentration of a salt dip. Around 30 teaspoons of salt per gallon. I read online you can do this for 5 minutes, up to 30 minutes or until the fish lays on its side. I thought, I have tried everything, why not. This appears to have saved my little guy and I hate the fact that I learned about this after I lost our favorite blood parrot. Wish I had known sooner. So I put the young blood parrot in 1 gallon bucket with 30 teaspoons of Kosher salt. He handled it like a champ, never once laid on his side, and I decided he may be already so stressed, so we did it for about 15 minutes. Then I put him back in the Hospital tank. I dosed it with Coppersafe as well. He looked MUCH better after the salt dip, he was more active, swimming around. Then the next day, the ammonia spiked in the hospital tank. I noticed him laying on the bottom and breathing heavily. So I did a check test and confirmed the ammonia had spiked to around 1.5-2. I immediately dosed with Prime to convert the toxic amount. I then decided, since I want to make sure this nasty Velvet stuff is gone for good, why bother two trying to rid from both tanks. So I got the temperatures to match and moved him over to the DT tank. Since it had been in darkness for about 4 days with coppersafe, I was thinking velvet might have been killed off already. So rather than just transferring him straight into the DT, I put him in another 15 mins salt dip and then transferred into the DT. Hopefully killing any parasite along the route.

I tested with API Copper test kit, it was around 2ppm in the main tank and perfect Ammonia and Nitrite levels. A nice strong dirt smell from the water, so I knew it was a healthier environment for him than the hospital tank. That was about 4 days ago. Over the past 4 days, he has gone from having lots of black stress spots (common for blood parrots when stressed), to being fully orange again. He's swimming. He started eating blood worms, although very slowly and today I'm happy to say, he was eating his Hikari floating pellets (soaked with garlic guard). He's back to his normal self of hiding when we come around and eating (almost aggressively and actively).

This was a painful 3 week journey, with a lot of lessons learned and lost fish.


Now my questions...

So here is my question now. He's swimming around happily in the tank and has started eating. I currently have the DT dosed with Coppersafe, around 2ppm, temp is set around 87F, and I have a salt concentration of 1 tablespoon / 4 gallons. I think the coppersafe will last about 1 month. Should I just leave it dosed around 2ppm for 1 month and do water changes gradually to get rid of it? Is it okay to keep the temp at around 86-88F for an extended period of time? And same question for the salt?

Also, now that I have learned how to do these salt dips, I'm also wondering if its okay to do them regularly until the treatment is complete or there is no further sign of Velvet? For example, could I do a salt water dip on him every 3-4 days? Or is that too much? Does the salt dips stress them out or is there only benefit from doing this?


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