What's Killing My Neon And Ember Tetras?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by HairyCatFish, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. HairyCatFish

    HairyCatFishWell Known MemberMember

    I have a 20 gallon filtered and heated tank. It's been running for nearly a year. All water parameters are normal 0-0-20, PH is 6.4 I keep driftwood and plenty of plants, Ocelot and Amazon Sword, Java fern, Java moss, Banana Lilly, etc..
    And my 14 Neon Tetras and 1 Clown Pleco that were moved from my 10 gallon to this tank about 6 month's ago. Since that time this tank has temporarily housed other fish such as my Zebra Loaches until I was able to move them to a bigger tank. And 4 Cobra Endler Guppies that still remain in this tank.
    A few weeks ago my neon tetras started looking and acting strangely. They went from bright vivid coloring to pale grey and what looked like white fuzz on their bodies and mouth. They stopped swimming and would hover in one spot. I noticed some rapid breathing and slight twitching also.
    Then they started dying at a rate of 1 or 2 per day until there were none. During that time I stepped up water changes but that didn't help. I thought my Clown pleco and Endler Guppies would be next to go but they are fine and appear unaffected.
    The tank sat like that for a week and I thought it would be a good idea to move my school of 20 Ember tetras, a female betta and 2 more Cobra endler Guppies that I've had all for over 6 month's to the now empty looking 20 gallon.
    3 days later and now the ember tetras are dying off at a rapid pace. But none of the other inhabitants are being affected. The symptoms are rapid breathing and difficulty swimming with head either pointing upward or bodies tilted or upside down. I've lost over half of them in last 3 days. What's going on?
  2. Max077

    Max077Valued MemberMember

  3. spicegirls5ever

    spicegirls5everValued MemberMember

    I think that is a type of columnaris, water changes and meds usually help. I dont have any experience with which meds would help but I know your first instinct to change water was correct
  4. McC516

    McC516Valued MemberMember

    My mollies and neons have had similar behavior/white fuzz. I did lose a few but melafix helped clear it up. I did find that my nitrates were fluctuating. I use Excel daily and minimum of 25% weekly water change. It has worked for me. Hope it helps.
  5. OP

    HairyCatFishWell Known MemberMember

    This is heartbreaking, I should never have moved the ember tetras to this tank. Another 3 have died this morning. Only 2 left that can be seen out in the open and both are shaking terribly, it doesn't look like they will survive. Even though I did an over 80% water change last night

    My first thoughts when it hit my neon tetras was also Neon Tetra disease or some type of columnaris. Water changes didn't help them. There was something odd I noticed clinging to my plant leaves that sticks in my head. Clear gel like blobs, sort of like snail eggs with lots of little bubbles inside but not completely attached to the leaves snail eggs. Looked like some sort of organism.

    Luckily I moved my Loach to a new tank just in time. It's skin was starting to peel, definitely related to whatever was happening to my neon tetras. My Loach is doing fine now in its new tank.
  6. Redshark1

    Redshark1Fishlore VIPMember

    Its Columnaris that grows on the gills and causes rapid breathing and also white patches on the skin. This is a very common disease and 50% of Neon Tetra batches have it.

    Neon Tetra Disease is comparatively rare and affects the interior muscle only as far as I know.

    The only way I've combated Columnaris successfully is by improving living conditions for the fish and it takes a long time to regress.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  7. OP

    HairyCatFishWell Known MemberMember

    After losing 14 Neons and then around 20 Embers, several massive PWC's, and days of pulling dead or dying Ember Tetras out of this tank. I think that the carnage and devastation is finally over... Or so I hope...
    This morning I awoke to find a single sole survivor Ember out and about, and it kind of looks okay to me, I pray it is. See photos below.

    But I'm still confused as to how an entire school of at least 20 embers, whom were all thriving and healthy for nearly a year in their old tank, could be wiped out almost immediately after being moved to this tank? So the columnaris that killed all of my Neon Tetras was living inside of my Neon Tetras? And even after they died it was still in the water?

    I'm even more confused as to how my Clown Pleco and 4 Yellow Cobra Endler Guppies survived 2 "death waves" that killed over 34 fish? And how my female betta survived the wave that killed off all the embers she's been living with for the past 6 months?

    What do I do next? How do I know if or when its safe to add fush, especially tetras, to thus tank??
    Tearing down and starting over is not an option right now. At this moment there are 5 Cobra Endler Guppies, 1 Clown Pleco, 1 peaceful female Betta, at least 1 survivor Ember Tetra and an assortment of snail's still living in this tank. See photos below.
  8. McC516

    McC516Valued MemberMember

    Melafix and water changes has been my go to when having health issues. I have had the white fuzz develope on neon and mollies that I have had for sometime. Unfortunately I have had to euthanize a couple when it didn't go away asap. I did come to the conclusion that it came about from water quality.

    When my tank was hit with BBA I over cleaned to the point it recylced.
  9. McC516

    McC516Valued MemberMember

    Hope things clear up quickly for you
  10. Redshark1

    Redshark1Fishlore VIPMember

    To my knowledge Columnaris (scientific name Flavobacterium columnare) is a common organism in freshwater all over the world.

    It can feed on a variety of organic matter (carbon compounds present in or derived from living and dead organisms). It does not need to live on a fish.

    Normally live fish are able to defend themselves against this and other microorganisms because they have an effective immune system.

    However, the immune system can be compromised by one or more stress factors such as sub-optimal water quality, bullying by other fish, wrong temperature, low oxygen levels, lack of plant cover to provide safety and security etc. etc.

    In this case the Columnaris can attack and feed on the body of the fish because the suppressed immune system cannot defend the body adequately.

    The Columnaris we are normally talking about is the type (well, many types actually) that has developed in the fish farms in Asia. Here fish are kept in crowded conditions in a system where high virulence is promoted. This involves rapid transfer of bacteria between fish living close together and death of the fish host so it may be eaten by the others which also spreads the disease. Here the killing of the host is a good strategy for the bacterium to follow.

    In the wild it is not usually in the bacterium's interest to kill the host as transfer to other fish hosts from a dead fish is not as likely as in a fish farm. So it is better for the bacterium to keep reproducing and entering the water from a live fish that is not killed.

    As fish farms are often medicated constantly resistant forms of Columnaris have developed which cannot be treated.

    However, it appears that the Columnaris that affects Neon Tetras only affects them and not other species though it seems possible that Ember Tetras may be a close enough match to be affected.

    From my own observations of fish I have purchased with Columnaris I would say that fish with advanced stages of the disease (invasion of the gills or muscle) are unlikely to survive but in near perfect aquarium conditions I have seen Neon Tetras with minor symptoms (such as the odd spot on fins or skin) recover fully. Similarly, just because a tank has Columnaris living in it does not mean all future Neon Tetras are doomed. I have 20 healthy ones present today.
  11. OP

    HairyCatFishWell Known MemberMember

    Thank you very much for sharing this, it has been most informative and helpful.
  12. coralbandit

    coralbanditFishlore VIPMember

    I too agree it is columnaris .
    My only success in treatinmg with a full cure is potassium permanganate .
    First step of curing columnaris is to euthanize any fish showing even the slightest symptom [sorry].
    If meds or this med [PP] seem too risky I would suggest the introduction of the Dr. Chihiros to your tank .
    I have personally seen this product clear eye infections with good quick results.
    It is a permanent addition to tank and poses little to no risk to life in tank .

    Here is more info on the DR.
  13. OP

    HairyCatFishWell Known MemberMember

    I was thinking about buying a bottle of melafix but after some research I chose to buy pimafix. Got home and did a little more reading on that and, oh well, I'll be returning the pimafix today. I have a betta in that tank as well as Guppies and a clown pleco that all seem healthy and so these meds just seem too risky. In the meantime I've kept up with massive water changes every other day.

    Unfortunately the sole survivor, plus one more ember that came out of hiding, both have died. So it's a total loss, my school of over 20 ember tetras completely wiped out. Oddly enough the mystery snails trapdoor snails and ramshorn snail's in my tank also appeared to have been affected. Throughout all of this they remained mostly frozen, on their sides motionless, at times looking dead, moving only when touched. They are now just starting to crawl around and on the plants and glass again.

    So I'll keep up with the water changes, no meds or Dr. chihiros for now... I have another tank with some tetra glofish that I'd like to move to this tank, however I'm afraid to do it and don't know when or if I should..
  14. OP

    HairyCatFishWell Known MemberMember

    Just wanted to update this thread because I'm experiencing a similar situation in my 37 gallon tank, and I think it is related to this... I started a new thread here
    First Tetras, Now Loaches Dying.