What is wrong with my fish??

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maddie

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Hi,

I have looked at the articles on common fish diseases and I can't seem to figure out what is wrong with my fish.

I have a 20 gal tank (have had for ~7 weeks) with 2 platys (got them 1 week after starting up the tank), 2 neon rainbows (added them 1 week ago), and a rubberlip pleco. Yesterday the female platy started floating by the top corner of the tank with her head right by the surface. All of the other fish (including the other platy) have been acting normally. Does anyone have any idea what the problem is?

Ammonia = 0.25, nitrites and nitrates are close to zero. I think the pH might be off (I bought 2 testing kits, one says its low and the other says it's high). I'm not sure if it can be the water quality since the other fish are acting fine. I did a ~25% water change yesterday, and another one today, and it hasn't helped. She floats by the top corner and only moves to run away when the male platy tries to mate with her. Not sure if this is relevent, but she gave birth about 2 weeks ago.

Thank you so much for reading this, please let me know if you have any idea what the problem is and what I should do.
 

Isabella

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Even smallest amounts of ammonia and nitrite are very dangerous to fish, so my guess would be that your Platy got sick from ammonia poisoning. I usually recommend (as most other moderators do as well) 50% daily water changes until ammonia = 0 and nitrite = 0. This is if you want to increase the chances of your fish surviving ammonia poisoning.

By the way, how large is the tank? And, do you know the adult size of your Pleco?
 

shollia

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Be careful when adding new fish to your tank.

We had 2 regular tiger barbs in our quarantine tank. Wanted to get 2 more green barbs before we put them into the main tank. So went out and got them. Well unfortunatly, one of them brought something very nasty with it. And panicing.. I placed one of the sick barbs into the main tank for an hour thinking it would get it to feel better.

Well, it ended up dieing.. all of the barbs ended up dieing.. and whatever that barb had.. ended up killing half of the main tanks fish before I could start treating it with some maracyn 2.

So yeah... could just be a single sick fish.. but you should really think about getting yourself a quarantine tank to place new fish in. That way if they do have something bad.. it won't spread to the other fish.

Not sure if this what is wrong with your platy, but it's something to think about.
 
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maddie

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Thank you both so much for your responses.

Isabella, I had called a pet store twice and spoke to 2 different people (before I posted the problem here) and both said that 0.25 ammonia isn't a problem, so thank you so much for letting me know that it is, this helps me so much. I feel really terrible, I'm not sure why the ammonia has risen now after the tank cycled, but I did get a new filter 2 weeks ago so maybe that caused the tank to lose its bacteria and re-cycle? I just did another 50% water change, and she seems to be acting a little better, although still definitely less active and not eating as much as usual.

I have another problem - not sure if this is the original problem (she was sitting in a corner in an angle in which I couldn't see her tail well before), or if she was made susceptible to it from the stress because of the ammonia, but - she has 2 little white dots on her tail, they look almost like salt crystals. From the disease sites I think she may have Ich - but, it is only only her tail and there are no spots anywhere else - can this be ich? Something else? If it can be a few different things, Does anyone know of a medicine(s) that would treat most of the possible causes and be safe for all of the fish? She also has been having cottony-white thin bowel movements. None of the other fish have this or the white spots.

Sorry for asking all of these questions, and thank you so much to anyone who answers any of them!

Oh, and it is a 20 gallon tank, and the pleco grows to 4-6" as an adult (I got that one because it is one of the smallest pleco species), and is about 3" now.

Shollia - Thank you. I did have another (10 gal.) tank, but right now the babies are in it. All of the other fish are fine so I don't think it could be a disease from another fish, but from now on I will definitely quarantine fish before adding them to my tank.
 

Isabella

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Hi Maddie

It's good to hear that you didn't get one of those Plecos that grow really large.

maddie said:
Isabella, I had called a pet store twice and spoke to 2 different people (before I posted the problem here) and both said that 0.25 ammonia isn't a problem, so thank you so much for letting me know that it is, this helps me so much. I feel really terrible, I'm not sure why the ammonia has risen now after the tank cycled, but I did get a new filter 2 weeks ago so maybe that caused the tank to lose its bacteria and re-cycle?  I just did another 50% water change, and she seems to be acting a little better, although still definitely less active and not eating as much as usual.
They have misinformed you at your local fish store - as I've said, even smallest amounts of Ammonia (and Nitrite) can make your fish very sick or kill them. Staff at most pet stores usually do not know anything about Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and the Nitrogen Cycle. As for Nitrate, it's not as toxic as Ammonia and Nitrite. If you keep it below 20 ppm, you should be OK - but it's always best, of course, to keep Nitrate as low as possible too.

If you got a new filter 2 weeks ago, and took your old filter off your tank once you've hung the new filter on your tank, this is definitely the cause for your Ammonia spike. The beneficial bacteria that are supposed to keep your tank cycled, are in your filter. So if you threw out the old filter, you also threw out all the nitrifying bacteria with it. As a result, your tank is cycling again. In the cycle, you start getting Ammonia first, then Nitrite, and Nitrate at the end. It takes, on average, about a month to cycle a tank - meaning that it may cycle faster or longer than that. A cycle is complete when Ammonia = 0, Nitrite = 0, and Nitrate is showing. NEVER rinse your filter media in tap water, as chlorine in tap water will kill your beneficial bacteria and you'll get another cycle again. ALWAYS rinse your filter media in your tank water - take some tank water in a bucket and rinse everything there.

As for the 50% daily water changes, keep performing them until your Ammonia = 0 and Nitrite = 0. You want your fish to be exposed to as little Ammonia and Nitrite during the cycle as possible.

maddie said:
I have another problem - not sure if this is the original problem (she was sitting in a corner in an angle in which I couldn't see her tail well before), or if she was made susceptible to it from the stress because of the ammonia, but - she has 2 little white dots on her tail, they look almost like salt crystals. From the disease sites I think she may have Ich - but, it is only only her tail and there are no spots anywhere else - can this be ich? Something else? If it can be a few different things, Does anyone know of a medicine(s) that would treat most of the possible causes and be safe for all of the fish? She also has been having cottony-white thin bowel movements. None of the other fish have this or the white spots.
Whitish salt-like tiny grains/spots on a fish's body may very well indicate Ich/Ick. But when a fish gets Ick it has usually many more grains than 2. But, if it is just an outset of the disease, the fish may just have 2. If you're not sure if it's Ich, observe it well and often now. If the fish gets more spots like that, it's most likely Ich. Mardel Lab's Maracide or CopperSafe both treat Ich. But, while you're still observing your fish, keep up with those water changes. When fish are sick water changes are very important as they need very clean water to recover. Also, when you're treating for Ich, you should gradually increase the temperature to 82F or even more (but I would personally be afraid to go over 82 ... though a lot of people do go over 82F). Aquarium Salt is also a treatment for many diseases, including Ich. It can be combined with medications too. If you're using Aquarium Salt, dose 1 tablespoon of salt per 5 gallons of water. Tank a cup of tank water first and dissolve the salt completely in it. Then, pour the solution very slowly into your tank. When your fish has recovered, you'll remove the salt and/or medication with water changes.

If your fish has Ich, it's most likely because of Ammonia in your water. But then again ... maybe it's just some patches and not a disease. My Angelfish will have some patch here and there, every once in a while, and it goes away the next day or so.

Anyway ... good luck with everything.
 

dsteamn

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Oh my.  I don't mean to confuse you, but I think you're getting a lot of conflicting information here.  I don't know how long other people on the board have been doing fish, but I've been working with them for 30 years and have 400 gallons in seven tanks running.  I would like to give you my insight on a couple of things. 

I personally would NEVER do daily water changes if you have an amonia problem.  The people on the board are right that your beneficial bacteria is housed in your filter.  However, there is always some that is removed by a water change as well.  You take out the good with the bad - kind of like chemotherapy killing your hair folicles while getting the cancer.  If you continue to do daily water changes, you will keep the fish in clean water, but you will take so much longer to build up your nitro-sinomas and nitro-bacter bacteria.  They are what change your amonia to nitrates and remove the nitrites from your tank. 

There are a couple of products you can add to the tank to help quicken the process.  One is Bio-Spira.  It has to be refrigerated until it is used and tends to be a little pricey.  For your tank, I think it would cost around $10.00.  A small packet does a tank up to 30 gallons.  The other is called Stability.  I'm not sure, but I think its a Seachem product.  You dose your tank once a day for 7 days.  It is much less expensive, and I have found it to be much more effective.  They both jump start the cycle process, but I have actually seen Stability complete the process in 7 - 10 days - 0 Ammonia and Nitrites with Nitrates starting in the tank.  Good stuff. 

While you are trying to get rid of your Ammonia problem, you can add any of the Ammonia Detox products on the market.  They do not remove it from the tank, so it will still show on a test.  What they do is change it from a toxic form to a non-toxic form so the fish are not affected by it.  Any amount is bad as it burns their lungs.  That's one of the reasons I keep salt in my livebearer tanks - all the time, not just when I am treating for illnesses or injury.  Salt balances the electrlytes of the fish, produce a better slime coat, protects their gills from burns, and works as a natural anti-septic if they get cuts or bites on them.  It also makes it more difficult for the ich parasites to live. 

Ich is not caused by ammonia in your water.  It is a parasite that often lives within your fish.  It stays in a dormant stage if the fish is strong, but can easily take over if it becomes stressed or its resistance gets low.  Kind of like if we were both exposed to the flu, but you were healthy and I wasn't.  I would be more likely to come down with it much quicker and get much sicker than you.  Ich parasites have three stages.  By the time you see the spots, they are fully mature.  They will come off the fish and find a new host - which is why it is so contagious.  Keeping salt in the water can prevent this because it attacks their outer shell and prevents it from multiplying as easily. If you are only seeing two spots, I would think it was more of an injury of some sort, like bumping against a rock or something. I would just watch them to see what they develop into Ich will look like the fish has been sprinkled in white pepper, and the others will develop spots as well.

As far as medications, I always keep a few old trusted stand-bys in my cabinet:  Quick Cure, Melafix, Pima Fix, and Aquarasol.  Those four medications will cover you from everything from funguses and bacterial infections to a wide variety of parasites and injuries, fin and tail rot and others.  Periodically, I need other things, but one of those can pretty much take care of everything you will ever need in your tank.  If you do decide to start salting your tank, which again - I highly recommend - especially for livebearers, you don't need to buy aquarium salt.  Its a lot more expensive than some of the other remedies.  You can get rock salt, sea salt, refined grain, kosher, or basically any kind of NON-IODIZED table salt.  You don't want Morton's in the blue container.  The iodine will kill your fish.  But, in my opinion, you buy a lot of hooey when you buy salt from a fish store.  Save your money and spend it on things you really need for your tank.


I surely hope I do not offend anyone by my postings.  That is truly not my intention.  I just know what has worked for me over the past three plus decades.  I have raised many varieties of fish - bettas, livebearers and egg layers.  I raise and propogate corals.  I own salt water, reef and freshwater tanks.  My intention is purely to share my knowledge in the hopes that people have a more successful hobby.  There are many ways to skin a cat, but I have been doing this for so long, that I think I have tried most of them.

Good luck to you.  Keep perservering and expanding your knowledge and you will be successful with your venture.
Debbie
 

Isabella

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Dsteamn, I cannot compare to you when it comes to the amount of time you've been keeping fish. I have only been in the hobby for about 3 years, and I very much respect your opinion as an experienced fish keeper.

The reason I have recommended 50% daily water changes (as would other moderators on this forum as well) is that Maddie ALREADY HAS fish in her tank. It would be a very different story if she had no fish in her tank - then she would just let the tank cycle with very small weekly water changes, or so. BUT when you have fish in your tank, AND you have ANY ammonia or ANY nitrite in your water, you're risking killing your fish. Therefore, the reason I recommended the 50% daily water changes is to increase the chances of saving the fish's lives. Even smallest amounts of ammonia and nitrite CAN kill the fish, and they can kill them very fast.

Yes, it WILL take longer to cycle the tank with such frequent and large water changes. But what is the choice here? (1) Either let the tank cycle fast with no water changes and with all the fish dying, OR (2) let the tank cycle longer with daily water changes and let your fish survive.

I change 50% of water in my 30 gallon tank weekly, and I've never had any problems in it. Before, I have been changing 100% water in the 30 gallon tank (50% twice a week), with no problems whatsoever. I have raised a batch of Angelfish by changing 50% of water in their breeder tank every day for the first 2 months of their lives - no problems whatsoever. Now, they are all grown, none is ever getting sick, and they're breeding like crazy. So, I do not believe that water changes can hurt.

Maddie can - of course - choose to cycle her tank artificially via the commercial products you have mentioned.

I have personally seen Ich caused by ammonia in water. I don't know any details on the origin of the disease, so you may be well right that it lies dormant in the body until the right set of conditions "activated" the disease. All I know is that I HAVE seen fish with Ich due to ammonia (and nitrite) in the water.

I KNOW you're not intending to offend anyone, and I am NOT offended by your post . You are trying to help, and I really appreciate this and have respect for you Maybe I can learn from someone with 30 years of experience. If I am wrong (and I am sure I am many times), I do not mind being criticized (constructive criticism is never offensive) as I can learn from this too. The point is to provide the most accurate information possible to the forum members in need.
 
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