UPDATE: IT'S FISH TB. ...Help me diagnose this disease that's killing my fish - Page 4
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Old 12-22-2011, 01:51 AM   #46
FlyingShawn
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Time for an update:

I've finished the second dose of flub (full seven days) with no improvement. The original sick Odessa ('1' from here on out) continues to eat well, but has also continued to lose weight and his colors have paled a little more.

After I finished with the flub, I did a three day does of Levamisole, which finished today. '1' seems to have slightly less stomach bloat than before, but is still very thin.

I've also noticed what might be an early symptom in another of the Odessa males ('2'). He hasn't lost any weight yet, but he does seem to have a slight swelling or bloat, but only on his right side. The swelling is farther forward on the body than '1''s stomach bloat, so I'm not sure what's going on. You can see where the bump is located in the first two pictures and the lack of it on his left side in the third.

I've attached the best pictures I could get of each (I had an EXTREMELY difficult time getting even these shots: they were friendly and swam up to me until they saw the camera (flash off) and immediately ran away. It's almost as though they knew what I was trying to do and didn't want to help). '1' was less skittish than '2' around the camera, but it was still hard to get a shot showing how much weight he's lost (the best indication you'll get is looking above his stomach in the last picture and seeing how narrow the body is right under the dorsal fin).

Since the Leva dose ended, I've done another ~90% WC and now have the tank 100% again. Between visiting family for Christmas and other commitments, I won't have enough time at home to dose any more medication for the next two weeks or so, so they're going to have some time to recover from the meds. I'll continue to feed generously to make sure '1' is able to get enough food in spite of the extra chasing-around the others have done since he started losing weight. If the Leva did the trick, he should start showing a visible improvement soon.

In the meantime, I'm going to be ordering some Kana to try in a couple weeks.
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Old 01-23-2012, 08:52 AM   #47
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It's time for a long-overdue update (sorry, been really busy with work and some other things):

When I got back from my Christmas trip, I found that the fish labeled as '2' in the pictures above had developed the worst case of Dropsy I'd ever seen. He was so big it seemed like many of his scales were nearly perpendicular to his body! Since I didn't have the Kana yet, I decided to treat the tank with Maracyn II and feeding them with broccoli in hopes of dealing with this new problem.

After a week of dosing the tank with the Maracyn II with no noticeable improvement, I moved both of the sick fish to a 10gal quarantine tank with a divider to keep them from harassing each other.

I've now been dosing that QT with Kana for two weeks using the dosing instructions for internal infections found here (targeting 100ppm active):
http://www.kordon.com/aquavet/kanamycin.htm
I know it only says to treat for 3-5 days, but another site (http://www.fishyfarmacy.com/products2.html) says to use Kana for "up to 30 days" for TB.

My dosage has been 2.25 TSP Kana in a 10gal QT, with 50% water changes and ~1.25 TSP more Kana every three days (slightly ODing on the Kana there, but that first link implies that a little too much shouldn't be a problem and I doubt it'll do any worse to the fish than the disease).

So far, there's been no significant improvement in either fish. Fish '1' still has a good appetite and his weight loss seems to have leveled off, but he's not gaining any either. '2''s dropsy varies in severity from day to day, but averages a little less than where you see him in the pictures below.

At this point, I'm not sure the Kana is doing these guys any good, but until I reach the 30 day mark or decide what to do next, I'll keep using it. I did pick up a bottle of PraziPro at the sorta-local mega-LFS (TFP in Lancaster), so I'm debating trying that next (either by stopping the Kana or by trying both simultaneously).

As always, I'm wide open to any suggestions or insights you may have!

Here are the updated pics. Sorry about the net for the last couple, '2' felt more like hiding than getting his picture taken...
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:29 AM   #48
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Bump/update:

The fish are still alive and their condition is unchanged from my last post.

At this point, I've pretty much given up on any chance of them recovering, but have continued to treat/care for them in the hopes of learning something that'll help me save the rest of the tank. Currently, none of the fish in the main tank are showing symptoms, but this disease moves so slowly I'm not drawing any conclusions from that.

I decided to look into the possibility of performing a necropsy on them and finally finding out the real problem. After making a thread about it in the Pennsylvania sub-forum and some time spent Googling, I may have found a solution:
Necropsy near Harrisburg?

The quick version is that the vet would perform a necropsy on up to three fish for $100 and look for internal parasites and mycobacterium. If he saw signs that made him suspect TB, it'd be an additional $80 to have samples sent off to a lab and cultures performed.

Steep, I know, but I can't keep up this guessing game of buying expensive meds and hoping they work. If I'm finally able to know what I'm actually up against, that would give me the ability to either treat the real problem or make some very hard choices about the future of this tank. However, if I end up nuking the tank anyway, I'd have $180 less to put into rebuilding it.

What do you guys think? Given all the time and money you've put into your tanks, is that knowledge (good or bad) worth $100-180? At this point, I'm leaning towards having the necropsy done.
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Old 01-29-2012, 06:50 AM   #49
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I decided to follow through and have the necropsy done on those two Odessa Barbs. The short of it is that the vet is highly confident they were infected with Mycobacterium (Fish TB). In my explanations below, I'll stick to the prior naming convention of '1' for the fish with all the weight loss and '2' for the one who had Dropsy symptoms.

After discussing the results, we decided to go ahead and send off the samples to a histopathology lab to confirm that it was Mycobacterium and not something else (according to the vet, there are very few other things that could cause these results under the microscope). Doing the histopathology will have the added benefit of seeing if there were any other bacterial or parasitical infections going on that we didn't see (including identifying the one nematode parasite he found).

At this point, I should put the disclaimer that all the pictures you're about to see were taken by and are the property of Dr. Brian Palmeiro and are posted with his permission and encouragement. The explanations, however, are based off my recollections of what he told me and any errors can thus be attributed to me (I welcome correction of any such errors, but if you're harsh in doing so, I'm liable to respond with an inverse-McCoy: "Dammit Jim, I'm a pilot, not a veterinarian!").

I'm including more slides than are directly relevant to this diagnosis, mainly because I thought they were really interesting and I thought you guys might appreciate them (but at the same time I apologize for the extra-length post as a result).


How about we start with the only bright spot of the day? Here is a section of 2's gills:

Have you ever heard how the ammonia in an uncycled tank can burn the gills of the occupants? The result of that is a thick coating that develops around the tissue and reduces the gill's ability to exchange gases, which is what makes this image notable: there's no such coating. Dr. Palmeiro said that these are the healthiest gills he's observed in a very long time and that it's evidence that my water quality is very high.


Now, onto the bad news, here's a section of 2's kidney:

The large dark masses are the granulomas that are a characteristic fingerprint of TB. As you can tell, there are a significant number of them. In case you're like me and first noticed the branched dark-spots with hard edges instead of the more rounded granulomas, those are apparently pigment centers and are normal.


Here's another section of 2's kidneys:

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that this is a picture of where 2's kidneys should be. The granulomas have taken over to such an extent that 2 actually had almost no functioning kidney tissue left. This, not a secondary infection, is the reason for the dropsy: because the kidney wasn't functioning to expel fluid, it was building up within his body and causing the bloat I'd been observing (you know, I didn't know that fish pee. It makes sense, I just never stopped to think about it before!).

1's kidneys weren't as extensively damaged, so he was still able to expel that fluid and avoid the bloating. Before today, if you'd asked me which of the two was in worse shape, I'd have guessed 1 over 2 nine times out of ten. Shows what I know...


In case you were wondering, here's a not-so-bad section of kidney to compare to (this is from fish '1'):

Note: the less-brown background color of this one is evidence of what I was saying earlier about a fish needing to be very freshly dead to give good data: it had been barely 1.5 hours since they were euthanized and there was already a notable deterioration of the tissue! The transparent tube- or worm-like structures are "mineralized tubules," an aging change in fish.


Moving on, here's a section of 2's spleen:

There are two things visible here: the same sort of granulomas caused by Mycobacterium that we saw on the kidneys and what's called "inflammatory centers." I can't positively remember which is which, but I believe the darker ones with the harder edges are the inflammatory centers). As you can see, the damage was pretty extensive.


For contrast, here is a spleen section from '1':

He still has the inflammatory centers and granulomas, but not nearly to the extent that '2' did.


Here's a section of 1's GI tract, specifically the intestines:

The circular things you see are actually food particles that were still in his system when he was euthanized, showing that he continued to eat up until the point we put him down. As a somewhat related side note: contrary to some of the articles I'd foud in my research that suggested loss of appetite as a symptom of TB, Dr. Palmeiro says the the massive weight loss and continued appetite till death or very near death is actually quite common.


Zooming in on a different section of 1's intestines, we found a single nematode parasite:

A single parasite does not a major health problem make, so the going theory is that this single parasite did little to contribute to 1's health problems. What I didn't think to ask Dr. Palmeiro was if the fact that there was only that one parasite could be indicative as to the effectiveness of the de-parasite/worming medications you guys pointed me to earlier in this thread.


Here's a more zoomed in shot of that nematode:

If you were able to see this on the live-image of the microscope instead of this still capture, you'd be able to see that this nematode wasn't quite dead yet (still moving a little bit). In case you're curious, the mouth is on the end of the body (kind of like a worm). The histopathology should help identify exactly which type of nematode this is.


That's all for the pictures worth sharing. In my next post, I'll talk about some more of the things I learned from him about TB/Mycobacterium and some of my brainstorming on what my strategy should be moving forward.
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Old 01-29-2012, 06:51 AM   #50
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Dr. Palmeiro seemed to have a fair amount of experience working with TB and was pretty well versed about it, so I wanted to share some of the other things I learned:

In my research, I saw some disagreement about the effectiveness of bleach against Mycobacterium. He was of the opinion that bleach does work, but that it likely needs to be in a higher concentration than what you'd normally use (he suggested a 10:1 water/bleach mixture). He also told me how when sterilizing tanks, he often prefers to take a spray bottle and spray isopropyl alcohol around the tank instead of using bleach. His reasons were that it was easier to cover every nook and cranny with the spray bottle and because it evaporates, it doesn't require the numerous rinses you typically do after using bleach (he didn't say if he does any rinses after the alcohol or just waits for it to evaporate).

It is true that the vast majority of all tanks have Mycobacterium in them at some low level. However, it isn't known what makes a fish become infected with it and it seems that certain species are more susceptible than others. Rainbows, most labyrinth breathers (gouramis, bettas, etc), and I think he mentioned some cichlids seem especially vulnerable to it. Koi, on the other hand, seem to be totally immune. He wasn't aware of any cases of Koi infected with TB, even when kept in tanks that were known to have it (I believe he meant "known to have it" as being infected with it, not just having it at the low-level background that is considered normal). So far, no one knows why some species are especially more/less susceptible.

Mycobacteria seem to live primarily in the biofilm on the sides of the tank and in the filter. I also seem to recall (not positive on this one, but it stuck out in my mind) that there typically isn't a lot of it living on the substrate of the tank. There isn't much in the water itself, so UV sterilization of the water is only of limited effectiveness. Ingestion of infected matter is the main way that fish catch it.

He seemed very familiar with ongoing research in trying to treat Mycobacterium with antibiotics, to the point that I got the impression that he knows some of the researchers personally. The point of their research is to treat $5000 sea horses, so there's actually potential value in using very-expensive antibiotics. So far, however, nothing has proven effective.

While we're on the subject, he also added that antibiotic baths (like the Kanamycin bath I'd been using) are so nearly useless that he likened them to the effectiveness of a person taking a bath in antibiotics. Since fish ingest so little fluid, the main way that such antibiotics would enter the system is through the gills. Medicating their food (and injection, of course) seems to be the only effective method. One of the best ways to dose them is to mix the medication into a gel-based food, so that it's easy to mix in and will stay in the food as they eat it (as opposed to soaking a dry food in medication).
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Old 01-29-2012, 06:53 AM   #51
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So, now what?

For the moment, his recommendation was to do nothing (aside from being really careful to protect myself from infection, such as not reaching into the tank with a cut and washing my hands really well after working on it), at least until the histopathology report comes back. In the meantime, he's going to research the latest data about TB and what antibiotics are considered to be the most effective. Following that, we've discussed two main options for what my strategy will be moving forward (and I came up with a third on the long drive home, so I haven't gotten any feedback on it from him yet):

1) Nuke everything. Euthanize all of my fish, toss the plants, tear down the tanks, and bleach/alcohol everything. This is the only way to completely eradicate the problem, but would be hugely expensive and the amount of labor required would be astronomical.

Since I haven't been practicing great isolation techniques, I have to assume cross-contamination and this nuke would also include my smaller tanks (a 20gal, 10gal, and maybe the 1gal betta). For those tanks, the labor is much more manageable (especially since I was about to redo the 20 and retire the 10 anyway), but I'm not sure a full nuke is even doable for the 52gal. I live alone and that tank is too big for my bathtub, so I'm really not sure how I'd perform that level of cleaning (when I first got it, I was able to get someone to help me take it to a friend's house to bleach/rinse in their driveway, but that's not really an option in the winter).

On top of that, the tank has mineralized top soil for the substrate (obtained at great difficulty from a formerly honest and reputable forum member who tried to scam me, so it's not readily replaceable). So, I'd have to extract the dirt, figure out a way to clean it without damaging it, and order new potash/dolomite to go under it when I redo the tank.

2) Attempt treatment. Basically, this would be built around the idea that since nearly all tanks have Mycobacterium, it might be possible to fight it back down to normal background levels. Even though antibiotics have not proven effective enough to cure an infected fish, there's a chance they might help a fish who either isn't yet infected or is in the very early stages. This was my idea, not his, but he admitted that it had at least a small chance. If nothing else, it might slow down the spread of the disease in the tank.

If the histopathology shows any other bacterial or parasitical problems going on, we'd also treat for those in hopes of keeping the tank as healthy as possible (and hopefully thus holding off further infections by keeping the fish's immune systems at full strength).

To do it, I'd clean the tank as well as I can while it's still running, including vacuuming up mulm and scrubbing as much biofilm as I could off the sides with an algae pad. The fish would be fed with an antibiotic medication and any fish that began to show symptoms would be immediately removed and euthanized.

On the plus side, this would be my only chance to save my livestock and even fairly expensive antibiotics would still be cheaper than a full nuke would cost me. However, the TB would never totally be eliminated from my tanks and I'd have to always treat them as being infected when working on them (gloves, thorough hand-washing, etc).

For the moment, at least, this is our primary strategy. Once we get the histopathology report and do that further research, that might change, but he made a point of not recommending drastic action just yet.

I'd really like your feedback on option 3, so I'm going to make it easy to reply to by making it a separate post...
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:00 AM   #52
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3) Nuke in situ / EMP

Before I start, I should reiterate that I came up with this idea on the drive home from the vet and haven't discussed it with Dr. Palmeiro yet, so I have no idea what he'd think of it. I should also add that this is very early-stage brainstorming, so I'm really eager to get your feedback (even if you think it's a horrible idea and totally un-feasible).

If the complete teardown/sterilization strategy earlier can be likened to a "nuke," this idea is the equivalent of a biological EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse). The concept is an attempt to answer the question "Is it possible to "nuke" the tank without performing a full teardown of it?"

At least in its current formulation, here's how it would work:


Preparation:

-The smaller tanks would all be given the traditional full nuke (except for the betta). Their occupants (mostly guppies) would be euthanized, plants would be treated as I'll outline below, and all substrate, decorations, equipment, and the tanks themselves would be fully sanitized (probably a two-stage method employing a 10:1 concentrations of bleach and then isopropyl alcohol).

-My 1gal betta tank would be left running, for the time being. I got him to celebrate a special occasion a year and a half ago and have always practiced good isolation techniques in order to protect him, so I think the chances of him being infected are pretty low. Those techniques haven't been full-quarantine perfect, but his exposure has been very minimal: essentially limited to the occasional claw-tool that had been in another tank, my hands, and a couple transplanted snails that came from the 10gal (which has had potential for cross-contamination, but never shown any signs of it). I'd let him live out his life under strict quarantine and nuke the tank once he eventually dies (I don't think most bettas live too terribly long anyway)

-Depending on your feedback about a later point, the 20gal would be set up with a relatively low amount of substrate/decorations and given a fishless-cycle.


Fish

-All smaller/inexpensive livestock would be euthanized: Guppies, Otos, Phantom Tetras, Cardinal Tetras (sorry msjinkzd!), Neon Tetras, even the three remaining Odessa Barbs.

-Fish would be euthanized with clove oil and then placed in the trash, so as not to "share" the TB with other aquarists via flushing them.

-The larger/more expensive/more personally-valuable fish, specifically the three Rainbows, two Dwarf Gouramis, and my German Blue Ram would be placed in VERY-strict, long-term quarantine in the 20gal. The main reason I'd try to save them is that I went to great effort to obtain them (such as flying up to Albany, NY, fighting the store supervisor to sell them to me, and then having to fly all the way down to Charlotte to get back to Harrisburg due to weather) and because of that they have sentimental value.
  • Once in quarantine, they would be fed with antibiotic-medicated foods.
  • I would have separate buckets and tools designated for the tank and would practice strict quarantine methods.
  • If the tank is able to run for a full year without any deaths, I'd assume that although they'd been exposed, they had not become infected with the Mycobacterium. Since at least two, if not all three, of these species are considered "especially susceptible" to TB, I doubt they'd be able to go a full year without showing any symptoms if they are infected.
  • If any of them started to show symptoms, they would be immediately euthanized. On top of that, all of the others would be temporarily moved to another QT, a full nuke would be performed before returning them to the tank, and the one-year clock would reset.
  • NOTE: this is one of the main points I'd like your feedback about.


Plants

-All the plants in the main tank would be removed and treated to a 10:1 bleach dip for 1 minute or 70% isopropyl alcohol dip (haven't figured out the contact time yet), depending on if I think they'd be able to survive the bleach.
-I'm expecting that some of the plants won't survive this sort of treatment, but even if I can only save half of them, that'd still be a huge amount of money that I'd save on getting the tank set up again.


Tank and Equipment

-All water would be drained
-Decorations (rocks, driftwood, a couple decorations) would be removed and given either a bleach dip or an isopropyl alcohol dip (need feedback on which one, but leaning towards the alcohol since I'm not sure how bleach would affect the driftwood).
-Inside walls are scrubbed to try to remove as much biofilm as possible
-Depending on your feedback, sterilizing the rest of the tank would happen one of two ways (or a hybrid):
  1. Entire tank is filled with a 10:1 bleach concentration, immediately drained, and then completely filled/drained another 3-4 times to rinse it out. This would be the easier method, but I'm worried about how the bleach would affect the mineralized top soil/flourite cap and if the exposure time would be too long for the silicone seals of the tank. By my estimates, the bottom of the tank would be exposed to the 10:1 mixture for 45min to 2 hours before being diluted by the first rinsing stage (best/worst case based on how long it would take to fill/drain/fill the tank).
  2. Bottom of tank (~1" above substrate) is filled with isopropyl alcohol. Rest of tank is sprayed-down/scrubbed again with isopropyl alcohol. After maybe 15 minutes contact time, the tank would be filled/drained twice to remove the alcohol. I'm also concerned about if the alcohol would have any detrimental effects for the substrate.
-The plumbing system for the filter would be attached to a 5gal bucket containing bleach solution and run for 15 minutes.
-Fill/drain hose would be attached to faucet, used to drain a bucket of bleach solution, then used to fill/drain bucket a few times as a rinse (if I use bleach on the entire tank, this step won't be necessary).
-All other equipment and buckets would be sanitized with bleach solution (or alcohol, if I think the bleach would damage it)


That's it, everything would be declared "clean" and I'd start the long and expensive process of rebuilding

The three main things I need feedback on from this idea are:
-Does this idea of a "nuke in situ" sound feasible?
-Would my one-year QT idea work? (Specifically, would it be safe to call them "clean" after that long?)
-Would either a bleach or alcohol bath sterilize my mineralized top soil and flourite cap without damaging it? How about the silicone seals? Which one would be better?


Thanks everyone for all your feedback and insight through all of this! I know these last couple posts have been lengthy, but I hope the info in them was worthwhile!
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Old 01-29-2012, 12:01 PM   #53
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First, this is an excellent set of posts on the results of the test you had done.

I'd say that there would be some risk, but you could quarantine the fish you consider valuable, and see what happens. As for the plants and substrata, I'd replace them. Plants would likely be killed by any disinfectant you used, and the substrata is just too difficult to really clean. The rest of the stuff, rock driftwood, and equipment should be ok.

Yea, it's a pain to replace substrata, but doable. Plants can be regrown.

Good luck with this project.
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Old 01-29-2012, 02:12 PM   #54
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Did you ask teh vet how long the pathogens would survive if you dried otu the tank? As in, instead of draining and nuking then refilling immediately, what if you let your tank and equipment totally dry out, while keeping the fish in a temporary tank. Even a plastic tote can be a great qt while you figure allt his stuff out.

You could then do the spray bottle with alcohol and let that dry, wipe it out, and refill.

I don't know *anything* about mineralized topsoil, so am really limited in what I can offer there. As far as sterlizing filters and equipment (nets, heaters, etc), believe it or not, I run them through my dishwasher on the hot/sterilize cycle (no soap).

As for if they would be "clean", I think the answer is probably no. From what it sounds like, they will never really be clean. Just because the fish that have been exposed are ok, it does not mean that new additions would be as tolerant, sadly.

Also, should you decide to medicate, I am selling gel foods and would donate a starter pack for you to try, as the vet mentioned, its a great vehicle for delivering medications.
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Old 01-29-2012, 02:48 PM   #55
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Excellent job at communicating your findings, thanks for sharing.

I found this thread a little while ago, doing research on the same type of problem you are having. I was hoping that it was parasites, but after this thread, I think I have a problem with Fish TB too.

So, as far as giving you my opinion. I have a hard time pulling the trigger on the full nuke/euthanasia option. If a low percentage of your fish have been infected I would try to treat the tank with antibiotics, after euthanizing all the fish that are showing any type of symptom, and see what happens for a few months/year (this is what I am doing). So I guess I would go with option 2.
But if I see that I keep losing fish, within a month or two, I will fully nuke/euthanize the tank and start over.

Regarding your specific questions. Again, just my opinion/intuition:

-I would not try to sterilize soil/substrate.
-The one year QT process could work to keep to background levels (as previously stated).
-After this experience, if it gets to that point, I will be sterilizing with bleach, alcohol, and Calcium Hypochlorite. No more guessing...

I'm so frustrated, so much effort to do things well, and this happens. The thing is, when you get a new fish at the store you would have to quarantine it for up to a year to see if it carries TB!? a 4-6 week QT can't be trusted with TB. Are all of us playing Russian Roulette with Fish TB?

Good luck!
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:48 PM   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveK View Post
First, this is an excellent set of posts on the results of the test you had done.

I'd say that there would be some risk, but you could quarantine the fish you consider valuable, and see what happens. As for the plants and substrata, I'd replace them. Plants would likely be killed by any disinfectant you used, and the substrata is just too difficult to really clean. The rest of the stuff, rock driftwood, and equipment should be ok.

Yea, it's a pain to replace substrata, but doable. Plants can be regrown.

Good luck with this project.
I already practice a bleach dip on all my new plants, since there isn't a reliable way to quarantine them. It's not as high of a concentration as I'm proposing here, but I've had good success on most plants (Hornwort being the most notable exception: it falls apart at even relatively low concentrations). I have a friend who recently used a 9:1 bleach concentration for one minute on some Ludwigia stems and a couple regular/lace Java Ferns and she's going to let me know how they do (they seemed ok immediately after being planted). She also did a 30 second dip in 70% isopropyl alcohol for some Hornwort and Java Moss and I'm waiting to hear back on the results.

If it's true that the Mycobacterium don't really live on the substrate much, I'm big as worried about getting it perfectly sterile. As long as I can drop it down to normal background levels, I'd consider it a success.

While I understand your concerns about the effectiveness and practicality of cleaning the plants and substrate, my estimates indicate that replacing all of them would roughly triple the cost of a rebuild, so I have a great deal of incentive to explore this possibility. Contrary to what a lot of people believe, we airline pilots really don't make all that much (you're lucky to make $20k your first year in the industry and it doesn't go up quickly from there), so that kind of cost is a MAJOR factor for me.

Last edited by FlyingShawn; 01-29-2012 at 05:52 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:55 PM   #57
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Did you ask teh vet how long the pathogens would survive if you dried otu the tank? As in, instead of draining and nuking then refilling immediately, what if you let your tank and equipment totally dry out, while keeping the fish in a temporary tank. Even a plastic tote can be a great qt while you figure allt his stuff out.

You could then do the spray bottle with alcohol and let that dry, wipe it out, and refill.

I don't know *anything* about mineralized topsoil, so am really limited in what I can offer there. As far as sterlizing filters and equipment (nets, heaters, etc), believe it or not, I run them through my dishwasher on the hot/sterilize cycle (no soap).

As for if they would be "clean", I think the answer is probably no. From what it sounds like, they will never really be clean. Just because the fish that have been exposed are ok, it does not mean that new additions would be as tolerant, sadly.

Also, should you decide to medicate, I am selling gel foods and would donate a starter pack for you to try, as the vet mentioned, its a great vehicle for delivering medications.
Excellent question, Rachel! I don't know why I didn't think to ask him about drying it out, maybe it seemed like it'd be too simple. That's now my top question for when I talk to him next.

You know, that dishwasher idea is also really good. I'll have to start using that for a lot of my smaller equipment!

Perhaps "clean" wasn't the best choice of words for what I was going for with the long-term QT idea: maybe "as clean as anyone else"?. It centers around the idea that TB exists at some low level in all tanks, so if the antibiotic is effective enough to beat it back down to that level in not-yet-sick fish, they wouldn't be any more hazard for the rebuilt tank than the replacement fish I'd be getting. I figure that since the two (or maybe all three) of the species listed are considered especially susceptible to TB, they're going to get it within a year if they're going to get it at all. I wouldn't medicate them for the full year, probably just the first month (or whatever is recommended for the specific antibiotic) to give them the opportunity to come down with symptoms if it wasn't effective.
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Old 01-29-2012, 08:06 PM   #58
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Excellent job at communicating your findings, thanks for sharing.

I found this thread a little while ago, doing research on the same type of problem you are having. I was hoping that it was parasites, but after this thread, I think I have a problem with Fish TB too.

So, as far as giving you my opinion. I have a hard time pulling the trigger on the full nuke/euthanasia option. If a low percentage of your fish have been infected I would try to treat the tank with antibiotics, after euthanizing all the fish that are showing any type of symptom, and see what happens for a few months/year (this is what I am doing). So I guess I would go with option 2.
But if I see that I keep losing fish, within a month or two, I will fully nuke/euthanize the tank and start over.

Regarding your specific questions. Again, just my opinion/intuition:

-I would not try to sterilize soil/substrate.
-The one year QT process could work to keep to background levels (as previously stated).
-After this experience, if it gets to that point, I will be sterilizing with bleach, alcohol, and Calcium Hypochlorite. No more guessing...

I'm so frustrated, so much effort to do things well, and this happens. The thing is, when you get a new fish at the store you would have to quarantine it for up to a year to see if it carries TB!? a 4-6 week QT can't be trusted with TB. Are all of us playing Russian Roulette with Fish TB?

Good luck!
Good luck with your fish, Fresh! I certainly know that this is a VERY frustrating experience. My initial plan was to go for Option 2, but as all this has sunk in over the last few days I've begun to wonder if some variety of nuke is somewhat inevitable simply on the basis of having to protect my own health. I just don't know how long I'd be diligent about good quarantine procedures and if I was, if it would cause me to burn out on the hobby in the long run. On top of it all, I'd feel bad introducing any new fish to the tank, which wasn't even fully stocked yet, because it'd potentially be a death sentence!

That's not to say that I've ruled out Option 2 yet, I just wanted to share my thought process for what's driving me to consider all the options as thoroughly as possible.

I think I've talked about most of your points in the last couple replies with others, but I do want to talk about your last one for a minute. The reason I'm looking at a one year QT for those guys is because those specific species are known to be especially vulnerable and because I positively know they've been exposed to it.

When it comes to QTing new arrivals, I'm also dealing with the same questions you're asking. I don't think a year would be necessary. A couple months ago I started practicing a 1 month QT, prior to that (when I got these guys) I was only using a week. Now I'm considering 1.5-2 months and might go as high as 3. It's certainly possible for TB to elude you longer than that, but there has to be a point of "acceptable risk" and I'm guessing most fish will begin to show symptoms within that time frame if they have it. Not an expert opinion, of course, but that's the direction I'm leaning.

Please let us know what you decide to do, both for your tanks and QT procedures!

Last edited by FlyingShawn; 01-29-2012 at 08:30 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 01-29-2012, 09:32 PM   #59
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Default Uv uv uv !!!

Prolonged sunlight is the best method of sterilization. UV in tank filters are also somewhat effective. Bleach is useless as is isopropyl alcohol IMO. I have TB is a 20 G tank, verified by necropsy in fish and myself. I exercise caution in this tank. The tank has no ill fish now,I do believe personally it is species specific as far as susceptibility. I did not have the intestinal fortitude to totally break down this tank and I am careful not to trade any specimens from this tank.
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Old 01-30-2012, 06:04 AM   #60
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Prolonged sunlight is the best method of sterilization. UV in tank filters are also somewhat effective. Bleach is useless as is isopropyl alcohol IMO. I have TB is a 20 G tank, verified by necropsy in fish and myself. I exercise caution in this tank. The tank has no ill fish now,I do believe personally it is species specific as far as susceptibility. I did not have the intestinal fortitude to totally break down this tank and I am careful not to trade any specimens from this tank.
The implications of the line I highlighted are, to say the least, troubling for someone in my situation. Since I don't have a high powered UV wand and no single place in my apartment gets sunlight for more than a few minutes each day, this would rule out just about any chance I'd have for eliminating this disease!

I'll be honest with you, at this point I'm not sure what to believe. On the one hand, I have Dr. Palmeiro recommending bleach and alcohol based on his research (and possibly knowing people who are doing active research on it), while on the other hand I have you and your personal experience with TB saying otherwise. If you search the net, you'll find a full spectrum of opinions ranging from "just use bleach, that'll kill anything" to "nothing works! Myco can even repair it's own RNA/DNA so it's even UV-proof!"

Ever since your post, I've spent the bulk of my free time in-between flights and in the hotel actively searching the net in hopes of finding some definitive, scholarly research. What I found may not be definitive, but they certainly ranks among the most scholarly works I've seen on the topic:

Here's a fantastic article by Diana Walstad: Mycobacteriosis− the Stealth Disease.
She suggests that repeated, routine disinfections can actually increase the population of Mycobacteria in a tank! However, that's not to say that she suggests never chemically nuking a tank, in fact it may be warranted when dealing with particularly large outbreaks, just that numerous, repeated nukes could be detrimental. She also strongly recommends UV sterilizers on an infected tank and suggests that TB can actually be beaten back through providing an environment where faster-growing "normal" tank bacteria can out-compete MB for resources! For my specific case, I'm not sure if the take-away of this article is more in favor of one of the nuking ideas or "Option 2", I'll need to re-read it a few more times and think about it. Side note for FreshtoSalt: read her QT recommendations, it seems like 2-3 months is a good target.


This article from the University of Florida Extension: Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has the following in its "Disinfection" section:
Quote:
Mycobacteria are resistant to many commonly used bactericidal agents at standard dosage rates, including chlorine bleach and quaternary ammonium compounds. As much as 10,000 ppm chlorine has been reported necessary to kill mycobacteria. Mycobacteria are sensitive to 60-85% alcohol. In addition, there are special products marketed specifically to decontaminate mycobacteria-infected surfaces. However, if these are used, efforts must be made to remove all residues of disinfectant.

The last link for tonight is from Adrian Tappin's free book Rainbowfishes ~ Their Care and Breeding in Captivity, which I've heard referred to as the "definitive work" on the subject. The link is to the relevant section in an ugly web-based version of the book, but you can also download the 200MB(!) book-formatted PDF version on that site. Here's the last paragraph of his "Treatment" sub-section:
Quote:
Veterinarians at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, USA recommend using chlorine to clean the tank and substrate, etc., and then spray 65-90% isopropyl alcohol onto the glass, and allow it to dry. They recommend the alcohol as they found that chlorine does not kill all mycobacteria. They use chlorine to remove/oxidise organic material to assure the alcohol contacts all mycobacteria in/on the tank. Remove all residues of disinfectant from the aquarium before reuse. (Denise Petty DVM, pers. comm. 1998).

Based on all this research, here's my tentative conclusion for the night:

esteroali is at least partially right: bleach is of very-limited effectiveness against Mycobacteria when using concentrations and contact times that wouldn't destroy the aquarium through silicone-seal damage. However, my research couldn't find any reliable backing for his assertion that alcohol is also useless (if anything, the sources I found suggested the exact opposite). He could still be right on that point, I just didn't find it. Given the lack of actual data, I'm not sure there's any way to confidently know for sure, short of actually running the laboratory studies to test alcohol-alone and bleach-then-alcohol protocols. In the end, whatever I do will be as much an "educated guess" as anything else.

At this point, I'd probably lean towards an "Option 3" EMP nuke inspired by the National Aquarium bleach/alcohol "one-two punch" protocol in that last quote. The idea would be to use the bleach to begin the killing process and break down the biofilm in the tank, then use the alcohol to finish it off.

Farther down the line, I'd continue to run UV on the rebuilt-tank and likely get an additional UV unit to use on the long-term QT for the fish I'm trying to save. I'll also probably employ a lot of Diana's quarantine recommendations in the future (especially the use of "Sentinel Fish").

What do you guys think?

Last edited by FlyingShawn; 01-31-2012 at 06:31 AM.. Reason: added thought, clarification
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