What’s Killing My Fish? White Gills Help

  1. neofyt05

    neofyt05 Valued Member Member

    Hello all,

    I have lost 3 rams in 3 weeks.

    My tank:
    About 15 gallons, moderately planted, temperature 26C/79F, pH 7.4. Tank is 7 months old.
    Ammonia -0
    Nitrites- 0
    Nitrates- 40ppm (50ppm from tap, I bought some seachem denitrate and matrix that are supposed to reduce it plus nitrate consuming plants - hygro and water lettuce.)

    The following fish have been in the tank since the beginning: 3 albino cories, 9 cardinal tetras, 1 honey gourami

    I have bought a pair of rams from the lfs. Slowly acclimated.
    First one died within 4 days. Heavy breathing and not eating. Took it back and the lfs checked my water and gave me a replacement. This time I got 1 more female in case there was an aggression issue I hadn’t noticed. New fish seemed very healthy. The original male formed a pair with the new female and even spawned. Then things started going downhill.

    The male started flashing (no white spots or anything). Then all the rams started doing it and then the gourami too. The male had inflamed gills. I started treating with paraguard which is mild. Other fish stopped flashing. Male kept flashing and gill plates wide open. Still eating and active but heavy breathing. After a few days of paraguard the male started getting worse. Very inflamed gills wide open. I thought that it could be gill flukes. So I bought praziquantel. But it was too late. The male would hide for 2 days until eventually it died. When it died I checked its gills to check for worms. I couldn’t see anything but the gills were white!

    I then started treating with praziquantel and the second female ram started losing colour, flashing a bit and heavy breathing. Yesterday she lost all her colour. No inflamed gills or anything but heavy breathing and her belly was a bit swollen (full with liquid?) even though I hadn’t fed them. Eventually she died last night. As soon as she died I checked again for flukes. Nothing visible but white gills. The gills were also very tiny, as if they have rotten away.

    The last female is looking very good. Breeding colours, very active.

    What’s killing my fish? What should I do?

     
  2. Fishywife

    Fishywife Valued Member Member

    I keep rams myself and I find that if you keep your nitrates under 10, they will do fine. Over that, they can be really sensitive to it. I'd up your water changes and revise what you have stocked. My opinion is that you have quite a stocking level for a 15g, and your fish will be producing ammonia, which converts to nitrite, then nitrates during the nitrogen cycle.
    Another thing is that most south American cichlids have hexamita in the guts. If the fish is happy and not stressed this isnt usually a problem. However, once the fish starts stressing, it can get a hold and kill your ram within hours. Saying that, most rams are farm raised overseas and are fed hormones and antibiotics. Once they get to the stores tanks they are liable to pick up whatever nasty is floating around. Then when they get to our tanks, they can succumb real quick to whatever we have loitering in there too, even if no other fish is showing signs (all the more reason for quarantine tanks)

    Edit; in that small of a tank if you get a pair spawn, watch them. They may or may not bully the 'spare ram' and or your other tank mates. Stress will kill one of these sensitive little souls quickly.
     
  3. Rainy day

    Rainy day Well Known Member Member

    Fishywife is right by saying your nitrates should be lower but honestly well bred rams will do fine with 40ppm. Your tanks too cold for rams, that coupled with the stress of being added to a new tank + being weak stock is likely what made them susceptible to disease. Kick your heater up to 82 to provide them a better environment. Also, your tanks a bit too small for German rams.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    neofyt05

    neofyt05 Valued Member Member

    Thanks for the reply. I have kept rams for the same lfs for months. The problem is that my tap water has 50ppm nitrates. So a water change increases the nitrates instead. I have tried using bottled water but I think it stresses the fish out due to vastly different chemistry.

    Aqadvisor suggests that I was 103% stocked. Well I am down to 93% now. I have a lot a plants too. I want to buy a single male ram to keep a pair but I want to make sure my tank is safe first. In my past experience Ram would die off without any symptoms. In this case my rams have been fighting to live for weeks. So it makes me think it’s a parasite/infection and not my water. Cardinal tetras are sensitive too and they are fine.

    What could have cause the gills to turn white? Ammonia/nitrites would turn them red. Is there a product I can use to disinfect the tank without cause a mini cycle or hurting the plants?
    IMG_1380.JPG
     
  5. Fishywife

    Fishywife Valued Member Member

    As Rainy Day said also which I unwittingly forgot to mention is 78 or so is a bit cold for rams, I keep mine about 82. As for meds, I'm as in the dark as you right now, I rarely have anything go wrong with my tanks, and I've only been in the usa 4 years. It's all done differently here, a far cry from the king British stuff I used to used in England! I've googled like crazy to try and find what's up with a keyhole I got a couple of weeks ago and getting no further while each day its getting weaker and weaker.

    One thing I can suggest is try hex shield food. Its granular. I found some on amazon. I lost 2 rams before I realized it was my nitrates causing an issue. They weren't especially high either, 20 odd ppm, as rainy day said weak stock, but then what do you expect from petco, and that's the only store I can get to for miles. One reason i started breeding my own fish i guess.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    neofyt05

    neofyt05 Valued Member Member

    Thanks. Will my other fish be ok with the temperature set to 82?
    Before the male died the pair looked very happy. Unbelievable colour and behaviour. The female still looks and acts perfectly but I think she is better off with a mate. It’s a compromise between bioload and happiness I guess. If the female dies I will not buy rams again but if she lives and is healthy I think I wil buy her a mate.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    neofyt05

    neofyt05 Valued Member Member

    All,

    I came home from work to find all my fish gasping. The gourami had a very long. Like 15 inch long white stringy poo. The ram had black vertical lines and clamped fins. I performed a 40% water change and turned on the air pump. Now all fish stopped gasping but the gourami is lethargic. I have also noticed the ram and a tetra flashing.
     
  8. Fishywife

    Fishywife Valued Member Member

    It sounds like a nasty case of internal parasites to me. I'd try api general cure. I'm actually on my way home with a box of that for my keyholes, and couldn't resist a dollar for an adopti on of a molly with tail rot. Not letting her disintegrate in thier cold water plant tank.

    Keep us posted
     
  9. OP
    OP
    neofyt05

    neofyt05 Valued Member Member

    Aww that’s very nice of you.

    Update: tetras all look and act fine, corydoras no problems at all, female gbr seems fine now. Now the gourami. Very lethargic, heavy breathing, bloated belly (but not dropsy). I put her in a net close to the surface to make it easier to “breathe” air, and to avoid contact with other fish.

    Could it be that the gourami was infested by worms and this is the reaction to praziquantel?
    Unfortunately API general cure is not available in the UK (which is weird because most other API products are).

    I will let things be for 3 days, do a partial water change and start treating with Paraguard.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    neofyt05

    neofyt05 Valued Member Member

    Aww that’s very nice of you.

    Update: tetras all look and act fine, corydoras no problems at all, female gbr seems fine now. Now the gourami. Very lethargic, heavy breathing, bloated belly (but not dropsy). I put her in a net close to the surface to make it easier to “breathe” air, and to avoid contact with other fish.

    Could it be that the gourami was infested by worms and this is the reaction to praziquantel?
    Unfortunately API general cure is not available in the UK (which is weird because most other API products are).

    I will let things be for 3 days, do a partial water change and start treating with Paraguard.
     
  11. Fishywife

    Fishywife Valued Member Member

    I found out api general cure is banned in Canada too. (Btw I'm British but living in USA).

    Sounds like paraguard is the only way. Btw, can you still get king British meds there? I remember having to use some around 20 years ago lol yes I'm old haha. Octozin may work if paraguard doesn't.

    Hopefully your gourami pulls through. Some fish can be sensitive to meds too.
     
  12. bitseriously

    bitseriously Well Known Member Member

    I wanted to chime in on your fish gasping previously.
    Some formulations of praziquantel (Hikari's PraziPro that I know of, not sure about others) are or contain 'reducing agents'. These reduce oxygen in the water. Seachem Prime is also a reducing agent. So if you're not well oxygenated to start with, and you treat with prazi, and you've recently Prime'd either your tank or new water, that would certainly explain all the gasping, and why it resolved after you added air.
     
  13. Mazeus

    Mazeus Well Known Member Member

    Do you have any hornwort? That plant eats up nitrates like nothing else.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    neofyt05

    neofyt05 Valued Member Member

    Yeah I can get King British. I don’t like “british” brands though as an interpet med killed all my friend’s fish in 15 minutes in the past. I was there. All according to the recommended dosage no other meds. For now I will try Paraguard baths and dips (for the gourami if it pulls through). Will keep u posted.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    neofyt05

    neofyt05 Valued Member Member

    I am using eSHa gdex which is the only available praziquantel based med in the UK at the moment. It’s so expensive too. 20ml for £10. (It’s in liquid form). I have an airstone in the tank. What’s worrying me is that the gills of the rams were white (!), destroyed. Now the white stringy poop too. So I think it’s a parasite of some sort.

    The only real change in the tank was the addition of seachem matrix and denitrate in the filter. (I kept all existing media to avoid a mini cycle).
     
  16. OP
    OP
    neofyt05

    neofyt05 Valued Member Member

    No I tried it before but my fish were uprooting it all the time. I have plants some of which are supposed to eat up nitrates: Hygrophila, water lettuce, cabomba, bacopa, cryptocoryne, some anacharis, amazon sword, a huge anubia, a huge java fern and marimo balls.
     
  17. bitseriously

    bitseriously Well Known Member Member

    I saw that exact same thing in some dead sterbai and a rummynose tetra that I recently lost, to what I think was an internal bacterial infection. I can only go on intuition, but the scenarios I've read about online seem to align stringy white poops more with parasites, and loss of appetite/emaciation with bacteria.
    May I also ask if the white gills were before death, or after? In my case, I didn't examine any living fish, and I don't know if the color loss in the gills (and the rest of the internal organs for that matter) was due to a pathogen/disease, or simply due to death. If any readers here have experience or best guess on this, I'd love to hear it.
     
  18. OP
    OP
    neofyt05

    neofyt05 Valued Member Member

    It was both before and after.
    Unfortunately the gourami didn’t make it.
    The other fish seem fine.
    Fingers crossed the tank will stabilise again. If I lose one more fish I will really start worrying. I hope my ram is fine. She acts fine and she is flaring and swimming like she is the boss of the tank but she seems a bit darker than before and she sometimes shoes diamond shaped blue patches along her spine. Is this normal?
     
  19. Fishywife

    Fishywife Valued Member Member

    Sounds like stress striping. A water change and more hiding holes will change that
     
  20. OP
    OP
    neofyt05

    neofyt05 Valued Member Member

    Ok. Things seem ok for now.
    I have uploaded a video to show the ram.
    Any idea? Does she look alright? Are those stripes normal?