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Old 01-24-2012, 05:19 PM   #1
FlyingShawn
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Necropsy near Harrisburg?


So, the short of it is that I have some VERY sick fish and there's a chance its TB. (The long of it is detailed in this thread, with pictures: Help me diagnose this disease that's killing my fish one-by-one (with pics!))

They're still alive, at least for the moment, but I'm fast on my way toward having thrown a whole pharmacy's worth of meds at them with no improvements and I'm nearly out of ideas.

If/when they finally go, I'm beginning to think it'd be worthwhile to get someone who knows what they're doing perform an autopsy so I can finally know what I'm up against.

I don't know it of that means I need an actual lab or just another hobbyist who has a microscope and the knowledge of how to use/interpret it, so I'd like your advice/suggestions for how to accomplish this near Harrisburg.

If it is an actual laboratory, is there one you'd recommend? How much should I expect to pay?

Thanks!

Last edited by FlyingShawn; 01-25-2012 at 06:56 AM.. Reason: fixed thread title
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Old 01-24-2012, 10:11 PM   #2
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I really really hate to make this post.

In my opinion the fish are beyond saving. Your going to spend a bundle on meds and time and effort on treating the disease. Now that by itself isn't that big an issue. Plenty of people want to save the fish in question, no matter what the cost. However in your case, I think the fish are is such poor shape that at this point that the best thing to do is to put the infected fish out of the misery. I'd destroy the sick fish. I'd sure hate to do it, but I would.

If this were my tank, I would also make large partial water changes and consider any remaining healthy fish under quarantine. If something got sick I'd try to treat in, but in a quarantine tank. You do seem to be doing this. If everything stayed healthy for several months I'd then try adding new fish, after quarantining them.

If I still had issues with disease, I take extreme measures, and tear the tank down and start over. I would remove and destroy all live plants, snails, fish and other livestock. I would discard the existing substrata and replace that too. Everything else I'd "bleach bomb" to kill any remaining diseases.

Now I know this advice is really harsh, and most people wouldn't follow it. Many others would not agree. That's why I hate to write this post.
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Old 01-24-2012, 10:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveK View Post
I really really hate to make this post.

In my opinion the fish are beyond saving. Your going to spend a bundle on meds and time and effort on treating the disease. Now that by itself isn't that big an issue. Plenty of people want to save the fish in question, no matter what the cost. However in your case, I think the fish are is such poor shape that at this point that the best thing to do is to put the infected fish out of the misery. I'd destroy the sick fish. I'd sure hate to do it, but I would.

If this were my tank, I would also make large partial water changes and consider any remaining healthy fish under quarantine. If something got sick I'd try to treat in, but in a quarantine tank. You do seem to be doing this. If everything stayed healthy for several months I'd then try adding new fish, after quarantining them.

If I still had issues with disease, I take extreme measures, and tear the tank down and start over. I would remove and destroy all live plants, snails, fish and other livestock. I would discard the existing substrata and replace that too. Everything else I'd "bleach bomb" to kill any remaining diseases.

Now I know this advice is really harsh, and most people wouldn't follow it. Many others would not agree. That's why I hate to write this post.
That's, um not what this thread was about did you even read it?

Sorry about your fish. I would think a vet could tell you what they die of if they do.
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Old 01-24-2012, 10:43 PM   #4
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Dave, I appreciate what you're saying, but I think you're misunderstanding the main point of my post.

I've already resigned myself to losing these fish, that's why I'm asking for advice how to obtain the autopsy once they die. In fact, if I'm able to line that up at a somewhat reasonable cost, euthanaizing one/both fish is an option on the table. The point is that I need to know what I'm up against.

The tank was set up over a long period of time and some of the elements (like the high-quality mineralized top soil, which that I had to fight a formerly-honest forum member who was trying to scam me for) would be extremely difficult/expensive to replace, so nuking the tank is an absolute last resort.

On top of that, I don't know what you know about Fish TB, but bleach is useless against it. That's part of the reason why nuking the tank without identifying the core problem would ultimately be counterproductive. Even if it does come to that point, I have to know what I need to nuke it with to actually kill this stuff.

My continued attempts to medicate these guys aren't a "save them at all costs" but more of an Edison-ian "any data is good data" attempt to ID this thing and prevent it in the others. I've nearly exhausted that approach, so now I'm looking for a more expensive, but also more accurate option.

Like I said, I appreciate your point and agree that it's a hard truth that we have to be prepared for, but I don't think that's the best course of action in my case (at least for the time being).
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:07 PM   #5
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Ok, I understand that you want to find out what occured. I can't blame you there.

However, you only have a comparativly few fish in your system. I doubt it's going to be worth the time and money to take the matter further. Fish TB is a bacteria infection. While bleach can't be used to treat the infected fish, it sure will disinfect all your equipment if things come to that.

As for a vet helping you, you could try calling a few in your area. In my area I don't know of any vets that take care of fish, other than to write the Rx for the med you request, but you might get lucky.

Good luck.
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:13 PM   #6
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just flush em--thats it --the end --move on
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:20 PM   #7
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Default Fish TB

I have had fish TB in my hand. I confirmed the source of the infection by submitting the suspected ill fish to the Florida State Veterinary Lab. I obviously euthanized the fish first. I am a vet, so facilitating this was easy but I am sure you could arrange it through your local vet.
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Old 01-25-2012, 04:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveK View Post
Ok, I understand that you want to find out what occured. I can't blame you there.

However, you only have a comparativly few fish in your system. I doubt it's going to be worth the time and money to take the matter further. Fish TB is a bacteria infection. While bleach can't be used to treat the infected fish, it sure will disinfect all your equipment if things come to that.

As for a vet helping you, you could try calling a few in your area. In my area I don't know of any vets that take care of fish, other than to write the Rx for the med you request, but you might get lucky.

Good luck.
I'm curious how you drew the conclusion that I "have a comparativly few fish in your system," considering that I've never posted a journal or stocking list. Are you just thinking of the two Odessa Barbs in quarantine? If so, yeah, that's just two fish, but there are 30+ fish in the tank they were removed from to be concerned about, not to mention a strong possibility of cross-contamination to my other tanks from shared equipment (before I recognized something was wrong with them).

I've seen some discussion that bleach may not be effective at killing some strands of TB (ex: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/fi...ml#post1345739 or http://www.petfish.net/kb/entry/170/), which is part of the reason I'm so convinced that knowing what I'm up against is required before I even consider nuking the tank (which, like I said, is a last resort).
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Old 01-25-2012, 04:50 AM   #9
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just flush em--thats it --the end --move on
If only that were the case. But, seeing as how I have their original tankmates to be concerned about, it's not so simple.
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Old 01-25-2012, 04:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esteroali View Post
I have had fish TB in my hand. I confirmed the source of the infection by submitting the suspected ill fish to the Florida State Veterinary Lab. I obviously euthanized the fish first. I am a vet, so facilitating this was easy but I am sure you could arrange it through your local vet.
I've seen the pictures in another thread, glad to hear you're cured of it!

Can you give me an idea of how much an analysis like that would cost? I'm sure it's a little cheaper for you as a vet, but that would also qualify you to guesstimate the cost for someone in my situation.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:46 AM   #11
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1) the term is Necropsy when we're talking about fish.

2) i think you'll be surprised about the costs, considering there is not "public good" no labs will do it on charge.

Contact Vet schools, as they're likely the ones who are likely to have the labs.

The other one is your State Veterinarian.

Pennsylvania
Dr. Craig Shultz
State Veterinarian
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Animal Health and Diagnostic Services Bureau
2301 N. Cameron St., Room 409
Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-772-2852
Fax: 717-787-1868
Email: crashultz@state.pa.us
Website: www.agriculture.state.pa.us

http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/p...iculture/10297

http://www.vet.upenn.edu/
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OverStocked View Post
1) the term is Necropsy when we're talking about fish.
Thanks, title corrected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OverStocked View Post
2) i think you'll be surprised about the costs, considering there is not "public good" no labs will do it on charge.

Contact Vet schools, as they're likely the ones who are likely to have the labs.

The other one is your State Veterinarian.

Pennsylvania
Dr. Craig Shultz
State Veterinarian
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Animal Health and Diagnostic Services Bureau
2301 N. Cameron St., Room 409
Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-772-2852
Fax: 717-787-1868
Email: crashultz@state.pa.us
Website: www.agriculture.state.pa.us

http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/p...iculture/10297

http://www.vet.upenn.edu/
Thanks for the info!
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:20 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingShawn View Post
I'm curious how you drew the conclusion that I "have a comparativly few fish in your system," considering that I've never posted a journal or stocking list. Are you just thinking of the two Odessa Barbs in quarantine? If so, yeah, that's just two fish, but there are 30+ fish in the tank they were removed from to be concerned about, not to mention a strong possibility of cross-contamination to my other tanks from shared equipment (before I recognized something was wrong with them).

I've seen some discussion that bleach may not be effective at killing some strands of TB (ex: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/fi...ml#post1345739 or http://www.petfish.net/kb/entry/170/), which is part of the reason I'm so convinced that knowing what I'm up against is required before I even consider nuking the tank (which, like I said, is a last resort).
I should have put things a bit better. I should have said that we are talking about a single tank here, and not a breeder or someone with many tanks and 1000's of fish. Sorry about that.

As for bleach not being effective. I think this comes down to who you want to believe.

Every post or article you see on the net has to be judged on how credible it it. Personally, I don't find the posts you mention credible, but that could be me. What sets off "red flags" for me in the first link is when I saw the statements "... i read many articles saying that bleach will NOT kill it. the only way to COMPLETLY eliminate it is with UV sterilization. you need VERY high levels to kill it. ..." Now I know from bitter personal experience that UV is going to be effective only in areas where the UV can reach and that in most cases it's limited for disease control. In the second link seeing that the author used an internet name, rather than a real name tells me that I'm reading an article by another hobbyist. To me it also looks like the person just got the information from one or more internet sources, and made their article.

Now I admit that this is me, and how I read the material. Just to give you an idea, although it's not relevant to this topic, here is an example of an article I consider very credible. http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/10/chemistry Note that an actual name is used, and that the end of the article contains references to the source material.

Anyway, we are getting way off topic here, and hopefully you will not need to get involved with any last resort stuff.

An addition note - I did come across this link which might give you some ideas about fish necropsy - http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/in.../bc/170400.htm
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveK View Post
I should have put things a bit better. I should have said that we are talking about a single tank here, and not a breeder or someone with many tanks and 1000's of fish. Sorry about that. ]
Ok, I can see that, compared to those guys I don't have all that many, but what I do have still represents a significant investment of time and money for me and because of that I have to treat nuking as a last resort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveK View Post
As for bleach not being effective. I think this comes down to who you want to believe.

Every post or article you see on the net has to be judged on how credible it it. Personally, I don't find the posts you mention credible, but that could be me. What sets off "red flags" for me in the first link is when I saw the statements "... i read many articles saying that bleach will NOT kill it. the only way to COMPLETLY eliminate it is with UV sterilization. you need VERY high levels to kill it. ..." Now I know from bitter personal experience that UV is going to be effective only in areas where the UV can reach and that in most cases it's limited for disease control. In the second link seeing that the author used an internet name, rather than a real name tells me that I'm reading an article by another hobbyist. To me it also looks like the person just got the information from one or more internet sources, and made their article.

Now I admit that this is me, and how I read the material. Just to give you an idea, although it's not relevant to this topic, here is an example of an article I consider very credible. http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/10/chemistry Note that an actual name is used, and that the end of the article contains references to the source material.

Anyway, we are getting way off topic here, and hopefully you will not need to get involved with any last resort stuff.

An addition note - I did come across this link which might give you some ideas about fish necropsy - http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/in.../bc/170400.htm
In my research on TB over the last couple of months, it seemed like the majority of the things I read (including those that seemed to be more knowledgeable sources) came down on the side of bleach being less-than effective (often citing an unusually thick waxy membrane around the Mycobacterium cell as responsible for its resiliency).

When I went searching for links to post yesterday, it almost seemed as though all the articles I'd read had disappeared, so I had a hard time finding good ones to link to in my post.

Given that the density of my search results yesterday seemed to agree with you, I'd be inclined to believe that bleach is an effective treatment. However, even if I can't find them again, the number of things I read counter to that still leave enough of a doubt in my mind that I'm not sure which side to believe. In fact, your second link, which seems to be the most credible source yet, has this in its section about Fish TB (Bacterial Diseases - The Merck Veterinary Manual):
Quote:
Mycobacteria are not always killed by bleach; disinfection with alcohol or phenolic compounds is recommended.
I don't claim to be an expert, so if I get to the stage of nuking the tank I'll probably use a multi-stage attack of bleach and alcohol (not at the same time, of course) in order to err on the side of caution.
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:14 AM   #15
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I may have found a source for my necropsy! After spending some time with Google, I found a vet located in Allentown, PA who specializes in fish:
Pet Fish Doctor

After sending him an email and explaining the situation, he responded to me that if I brought/sent him the fish (still alive, since apparently they have to be very freshly dead to get usable results), he'd euthanize them and perform a necropsy checking for internal parasites and mycobacterium on up to three fish for $100. If the microscope analysis led him to suspect mycobacterium (by the presence of granulomas on internal organs), it would be an additional $80 to send samples off to a lab and have culture tests performed.

esteroali: as a vet, do those prices sound reasonable to you?

Obviously, even if it is a fair price, $100-$180 is pretty steep. I have well over that in plants and livestock in the tank in question, not to mention my other tanks and my own health, so I'm leaning towards having the tests performed.

Best case: it's not TB and the knowledge gained from the necropsy allows me to effectively treat my tanks and end this problem.

Worse case: it is TB, I'll have some very difficult choices to make, and if I nuke the tank I'll have $180 less to put into rebuilding it. However, I'd have a little more confidence in the decision from knowing what I'm dealing with. I'd probably still consider keeping the tank, since others have reported success with UV sterilization (which I have) and I'd likely attempt to preemptively attack the TB by dosing the still healthy-looking fish with kanamycin.

What do you guys think? If it was your tank, would that knowledge (good or bad) be worth $100-180 to you?
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