White Cotton-like Disease?

  • #1
Hello guys, I have a 55 gallon aquarium planted with melon swords, amazon swords and water sprites. Here are my tanks specs since I don't know how to include it in this app as a default: The aquarium is already cycled and stable for two months now. PH 6-7, Nitrites 0, ammonia 0 and nitrates under 20. I have a AC110, an air stone and heater that keeps my water at 86F.

A while ago I had a large group of 18 silvertip tetras and most of them died of a weird white cotton-like thing on their bodies, (pictures below) which I treated with API Pimafix without success.

I have no more of those fish and remain with the rest: about 6 Nerite snails, 2 dwarf neon blue gouramies, 9 red eye tetras, 3 upside down cats, one algae water, 4 cardinal tetras, 3 blue rams and one four groups and happy discus.

Now one of my gouramies has the same situation for which I have included photos so you guys can see. I also noticed one day one of the gouramies was eating the dead body of one of the silvertip tetras that remained stuck on the filter's intake.

Since that illness can look like many other things from fungI to bacteria, how can I treat it successfully based on your experience? Currently I am repeating the treatment with Pimafix to see if it helps because I have no other option I know.

Any help will be very much appreciated!

This photo shows three white dots on his side:


This one shows the white cotton stuff on his analfin:



And this is an example of the silvertip tetra before it died, they all died the same exact way:


  • #2
Looks like ich to me
  • #3
This is most definitely not ich, as they do not have the lots of tiny white spots that characterize the disease. I believe this is some sort of fungal infection, there are many medications that can treat this, but usually the cause is poor water quality.
  • #5
Yeah, looks like columnaris to me too. Which isn't caused by poor water quality, actually the opposite.
  • #6
Looks like columnaris to me too common symptoms for this disease are:
  • White spots on mouth, edges of scales, and fins
  • Cottony growth that eats away at the mouth
  • Fins disintegrate beginning at the edges
  • 'Saddleback' lesion near the dorsal fin
  • Fungus often invades the affected skin
  • Rapid gilling in cases where gills are infected.
Most Columnaris infections are external and present first as white or grayish white spots on the head and around the fins or gills. The lesions may first be seen only as a paler area that lacks the normal shiny appearance of the rest of the fish. As the lesion progresses it may become yellowish or brownish in color and the area around it may be tinged red.

You can treat the disease by

  • Change water
  • Vacuum gravel
  • Add aquarium salt
  • Treat with copper sulfate or antibiotic
  • Discontinue carbon filtration during treatment
External infections should be treated with antibiotics, chemicals in the water or both.
Copper Sulfate, Acriflavine, Furan, and Terramycin may all be used externally to treat Columnaris. Terramycin has proven to be quite effective both as a bath, and when used to treat foods for internal infections. Salt maybe added to the water to enhance gill function.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
HI again guys!

Thank you so very much for your great responses, you hit the nail on the head. I read the article listed above by CindiL and it does seems to deacribe the problem since fungal infection medication never did anything to solve the problem when I had the silvertip tetras. I got two packs of API FURAN-2 and I am ready to start the treatment.

I have a couple of questions in regards to the procedure:
  • Have any of you had bad effects with your biological filtration after this treatment? if I choose to remove the media from my filter -this is for my general knowledge- what should I do with my sponge to prevent me bacteria to die out?
  • The pack also sugugest changing filter media? Is it really necessary? If so, How is that done without starting the cycle all over again?
  • I'm thinking on saving some or the entirety of my filter sponge in another tank to keep the bacteria alive, is it a good thing to do?
  • Should I back this treatment with medicated food as well or should I keep observation and see if the FURAN does the work?
Thank you all so much for helping out this new guy in the block, I'm excited to see what you guys say next!

  • #8
Hello! Just wanted to chime in and say your temperature sounds quite a bit warmish. Are you treating for possible ich? That temperature may be causing some stress for some of your fishies, but I'm no expert, and I don't know the ideal temperatures for all those species. Just a general impression that 86 degrees is likely too warm for many of them. If this is their permanent temperature (not sure if it is), this could be the imbalance causing the suspected columnaris.

Seriouslyfish and fishbase are good sources for relatively accurate information on temperature ranges for fish species. You don't want to aI'm for the extremes of the natural range, but rather the middle of the natural range. You may have to compromise between species a little, or even consider re-homing some if you cannot meet the needs of a certain species. One sick fish can crash an entire community.

I'm not sure, but I think that nitrifurazone is cycle safe. Not sure about furazolidone? But do not take my word for it. Rather, post a new thread with that question, "is API Furan-2 cycle safe?" and a knowledgeable member will tell you for sure. Good luck!
  • #9
I just feed mine oxytetracycline food. Its cheap, and it works, just feed to them, no hassle mixing chemicals or killing the BB in my tanks. (Tho I do often use it with Methylene Blue)
Just my thoughts!
I have Kanamycin/Furan on hand, but it rarely gets used....

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