Worried about possible fish TB

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by chrisli, Aug 2, 2015.

  1. chrisliNew MemberMember

    I recently was looking at fish symptoms on some wiki page (I've lost the page now, unfortunately) and stumbled upon the definition of mycobacteria or fish TB. Unfortunately, I think it may describe what one of my cherry barbs has, and I'm somewhat panicking in case I might have become infected myself and not know it.

    I have a 29g tank with maybe 8-12 cherry barbs, all 2nd generation at this point, all apparently female (none of them are red). These fish ought to be at least 1.5 or 2 years old now, probably more. My tank is chock full of some type of live plant - I am not sure what kind, I got a free scraggly plant at a local fish store and now my tank is full of it. I'm not exactly sure how long the tank has been set up, but it's been several years, likely 4-5. It's got some little snails, no other fish besides the cherry barbs. I will do my best to get pictures tomorrow. As far as water parameters - I just bought a new API master test kit, but I am hesitant to go near my aquarium water at this point. I do live in an area with rather hard water, and to the best of my knowledge the tank is fully cycled.

    Maintenance schedule - not too often, I am afraid to say - I do 10% water changes but not exactly weekly; my schedule has been a bit variable. I know that's not good. I assumed the live plants were helping a bit, and for quite some time everything was going great, so I wasn't really worrying about the tank. It's actually after I cleaned the tank a bit a few weeks ago to get rid of some ugly algae that I've been having problems, perhaps because I increased the fish's stress levels. (Cleaning involved some water changes a few days apart, the use of an algae scrubber on the sides of the tank, and manually removing the worst of the algae from plant leaves.)

    Now about the affected fish. It's been having swim bladder problems for a long time - it used to always be swimming downwards at the side of the tank. I don't know how long this has been going on, but I'd say for a few months, at least. It does indeed have a spinal deformity - it's curved to the side. (I've noticed in the few pictures I've seen of fish TB, it seems to be curved up and down - can it be curved to the side as well?) Besides that, it looks a bit bloated and refuses to eat. (Considering how long it hasn't really been eating, it's kind of amazing it's still alive, if it is still alive - I didn't see it looking in the tank today, but it's good at hiding.) A few weeks ago, I started treating the tank with Melafix and Pimafix, because another fish had some slimy/shiny greyish stuff on its back and I thought it might be fungus or something like that. I isolated that fish in a plastic (maybe 12oz) cup in the tank, in case other fish would become infected.(I did daily "water changes" to remove water from the cup and put the tank's treated water in the cup, without contaminating the main tank's water.) I didn't really want to dig out my old quarantine tank, which I thought might have some residual fish disease from several years ago, though I'm not altogether sure what happened to the other fish. The possible-TB fish, during that time, went from swimming down constantly to floating upside down on the surface, so I put it in a cup as well and added a tiny bit of aquarium salt to each cup. I tried to feed the fish a garlic-soaked pea bite, but it didn't seem interested.

    The fish obviously hated being in the cups, so about a week and a half or two weeks ago, I cleaned out the quarantine tank (a 5g tank) and filter with some bleach, rinsed it well and let it air dry for a couple days, put those two fish in it, and continued treating with Pimafix and Melafix. However, my quarantine filter had an overly strong flow that was not adjustable - I tried stuffing it with extra filter media, but it didn't help much. I think that may have stressed the fish out more, especially the suspect fish, which has swimming difficulties. The fish with slime seemed to improve a little, though one gill looked overactive (like she was gasping for air on one side only), but the medication apparently wasn't helping, the quarantine tank wasn't working and I didn't want to keep both running. So (likely a bad idea) I put them back in the main tank. Today I noticed that one fish had a reddish bump on one side, like something under the skin, so I gave the tank another dose of Pimafix and Melafix. It could have been the fish with slime, or another fish; I didn't get a good enough look to tell.

    Some other information: Previously, I did have another fish that had swim bladder problems and then died. Besides that, the TB-suspect fish was born with a deformed mouth - it slants down at a really sharp angle (I'll attempt a picture tomorrow if I can find the fish in the tank), which has caused it some eating difficulties. A couple fish actually had this problem - not sure what happened to the other. So I kind of thought that the swim bladder and spinal thing were probably genetic. Also, none of my other fish recently have had swim bladder problems or other obvious defects, until the slime incident.

    I'm concerned about the fish, but at this point my bigger concerns are about my own possible exposure, because I haven't exactly been careful with fish tank water and such. My main questions are whether a TB test would show up as positive if I've gotten some sort of mycobacteria, and if I could invisibly spread it to someone else (I live with someone who is somewhat immune-compromised, so that would be a problem). Also, I read that it can take 6-9 months for symptoms to appear on humans. Is this true?

    Regarding the fish, my main question is whether this sounds like fish TB, especially considering that this fish has been living with whatever it is for quite a long time and other fish don't seem to have it.

    I apologize if this post is long or rambly - I was supposed to be in bed two hours ago. I would sincerely appreciate any information or help.
  2. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

  3. NympxzieValued MemberMember

    It could be TB, but it likely isn't. TB can quickly spread to your other fish as far as I'm aware. He may have just been born with the spinal deformity and now has a swim bladder disorder. It's important that you test your tank for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. If you are worried of becoming ill, just wash your hands after coming in contact with aquarium water.
  4. Sarcasm IncludedWell Known MemberMember

    The only way to catch mycobacteria from you fish tank is to be working with it with an open wound/cut. Most transfers occur when the person gets stabbed with a spine of an infected fish. If you get infected, purple lesions will show up at or near the wound site. It is not fatal and is not the same as human tb so no need to be concerned. Working with gloves and washing your hands frequently are all good practices when dealing with a fish tank. There are many nasty bacteria that can be present, some much worse than mycobacteria( staph, strept, salmonella).
    I need to see a picture of the infected fish that shows the curvature and one that shiws the ulcer, any other possible symptoms you might notice. It doesn't sound like myco but pictures should help me give a better diagnosis. We also need your water parameters for both diagnosis and treatment option.
  5. chrisliNew MemberMember

    Thanks all of you for your help so far. I really do appreciate it. I just tested the aquarium water - here are the results:

    Ammonia - 0 ppm, I think - it's possible it was slightly over, because the color wasn't quite as bright yellow as on the card, but less than 0.25 ppm
    Nitrite - 0 ppm
    Nitrate - 5 ppm or a little over (less than 10)
    pH - 8.2 - I used the high range test after the normal test appeared to be maxed out

    I've been looking at my other fish more closely and now I'm not so sure that they're all fine. Some of them look a little misshapen also, possibly, and some have some more minor swim bladder issues going on. I can't find the fish with the slime-ish stuff.

    I'm having a hard time getting my pictures to upload, but my videos turned out a bit better anyway, so I'll put them up for a start. It's a crazy day and I have to leave the house in a few minutes, but I'll work more on the pictures later, if they are needed.


    Here is the suspect fish.

    Here's another one.

    Here are most of my other fish eating. The one in the corner at the beginning did later join the party - just took it a moment to notice the food, I think.

    Here's the fish with the red bump.
  6. Sarcasm IncludedWell Known MemberMember

    The images look to be an internal bacteria infection. I would use Metronidazole to treat them, best fed to them.
    Spinal deformities can happen both vertically and horizontally, but generally horizontal is muscular and not an actual deformity.
  7. chrisliNew MemberMember

    I'll do my best to get some of that, though it might be a little while since I'll probably have to order it online. The one fish that's really affected probably won't eat it, since she's not eating at the moment, but I suppose I'll figure something out - can I add it to the water in addition to feeding it to the other fish, or would that be too much? Also, would it harm my snails or plants?
  8. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    Peabody's Paradise sells medicated flake foods. I'd be hitting up jetajockey (he runs it) to get some meds :)

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