Tank Problem? A few deaths, fish increasingly lethargic - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-01-2020, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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Tank Problem? A few deaths, fish increasingly lethargic

I have a few tanks and one of them, a 29G which has been cycled since March is having some problems.

Most notably my cories (6 that I've had since April) and my rams (3 since June 1) are all a bit lethargic and showing a variety of subtle symptoms.

Cories - The iridescence around the gills has grown more prominent and I think I can see some whitish crystals. These have formed slowly since May so I highly doubt that it's ich. 2 of the 6 have lost barbels and they all have white streaks around their bottom fins. One or two of them flash once in a while (once every 8-10 hours of watching the tank) and when at rest their fins are more limp than normal.

Bolivian Rams - Appetite has decreased over past month. Gills look a little red to me and their breathing is a little labored. One of them is flashing more than the other fish and they seem to really pinpoint their gill areas when scratching. I see him flashing every few hours.

Other livestock doing fine: Rasboras, BN Pleco, Amano Shrimp, otos (sort of, long story)

In April I did bring in 2 Bolivian Rams that turned out to be pretty sick but I never figured out what it was. They both had a traumatic car ride and showed that their ability to manage a low oxygen situation was much worse than a healthy fish. They were both gills up after a 20 minute car ride. One died a couple days later and the other lasted 2 weeks before dying. They never showed any obvious symptoms other than lethargy and lack of appetite and they became rather thin.

The tank is very stable. I test the water frequently with API liquid test kit. Ammonia and nitrites are zero and nitrate rarely reaches above 10. That being said 2 weeks ago the tank did reach 30 in nitrates after I had removed a bunch of plants battling an algae problem, but I don't think that's a root cause of anything, but it may have increased the intensity of any possible sickness that has been lingering.

I have some pictures and videos and am curious with anyone's opinion.

I'm treating this like I'm quarantining a set of fish from a store that I don't trust and I'm suspecting gill and or skin flukes.

- Currently treating with PraziPro (flukes, worms). Will follow 5 day treatment. Do a water change, wait 3 days, and then do another treatment and then a water change after the 5 days.
- After PraziPro I'm going to treat with a combo of melafix and pimafix for any subtle fungus and to help heal any damage from any possible parasites.

Hopefully this will clear my tank of anything and rule out a lot of low hanging fruit.

Any input others may have will be appreciated so that I can snuff out whatever is going on before I lose any fish.

Last edited by Roboto; 07-01-2020 at 08:36 PM. Reason: fix
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-01-2020, 09:45 PM
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The cory cats look fine to me, at least nothing I can see from the video stands out. Something about that Bolivian ram looked off when I started playing the 2nd one. The body shape isn't filled out, just doesn't seem hearty. Looks a bit better the last 5 seconds of the video. I have pretty high confidence your cory cats will be fine, and the ram might be if you can keep good nutrition in him. The only thing worse than introducing a disease to your display tank is introducing an unknown disease into it. I'm a huge fan of quarantine tanks for reasons such as your story. Fingers crossed for you.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-01-2020, 10:16 PM
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To improve the health of both your rams and your corydoras take out the gravel and put them on a soft sand. Or, clear away some of the gravel and place sand in portion of the aquarium and direct feed there with sinking pellets.
Rams are micro-geophagines ( "eartheaters")- which means they take up small bits of sand through their mouths-- along with food-- and sift sand through their gills in the process of eating. The issue with gravel is that food falls in-between the larger gravel, where the rams cannot adequately feed. Many rams starve to death on gravel or become malnourished and, in turn, succumb to a secondary bacterial/fungal/parasitic condition.
Corydoras should also be on sand. If you put corydoras on sand you will see why, they will bury their mouths into the sand clear up to their eyeballs while searching out food. They are better at getting to the food than rams are- but they can suffer from "diving into" a rougher substrate by damage to their barbells. I do not see anything wrong with the corydoras in the video provided. If you see areas of bacteria/fungus that we cannot see ( which is entirely possible) dosing with either Seachem Paraguard or API Fungus Cure would be an excellent choice to heal these areas if frequent water changes alone have not done the trick. The reason why is the active ingredients both these meds share: malachite green and acriflavine.

The ram does look like its lost color and I do see some drooping of the fins. It looks almost "wilted". Im wondering if this is just nutritional deficiencies or something else. It is not normal for fish to rub at their gills, so you might be dealing with a gill or body fluke. But, if that is what it is it will take a heck of a lot longer to treat the fluke than 5 days. Flukes have a very long and complicated life-cycle. If flukes are present it takes up to a month of praziquantel to get rid of them. I will get you the dosing schedule for this.

But, parasites are not the only reason that fish rub up against objects in aquarium-- irritation from bacteria can cause this as well. When you first dosed the prazi did you notice that the fish rubbed more after dosing? This is a good way to see if they are present. The fluke gets irritated by the prazi and , then, irritates the fish. If they did not seem any more irritated than normal after dosing the prazi, then it may just be bacterial and the Paraguard or Fungus Cure should take care of this. But, also, in conjunction, give them an area of sand where they can eat properly and direct feed into this area with a good quality pellet food.

Dont bother with the Pimafix and Melafix-- the active ingredients in both are not what you need here.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-01-2020, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help Blue Ridge and Discusluv.

All of these fish will be going into a 75 gallon planted sand and soil tank once everything here is running smoothly. This tank did have sand, but I did a poor (noob) job of managing sand and gravel and the pebbles overtook the sand areas. I can easily move gravel around and clear out areas of sand (underneath the gravel is a layer of sand) but I don't want to stir up all that nastiness so I chose not to until I felt all fish were stronger. It sounds like I should do that with my next water change.

When I got the rams I got 4 of them and put one in a 20g long that I have. That ram is doing well as are the shrimp, otos and neons I have in there. I do think I brought something into this tank that I'm having trouble with last April when I had the two sick rams that died 2 days and 10 days after acclimation.

I have noticed slightly more flashing since introducing the medications (noticed it with the pimafix/melafix), but I've also been watching them more so it's hard to say with total confidence. There's definitely at least one droopy cory whose fins go a bit limp for a few seconds at a time when laying on the substrate. As you noticed, some barbels went missing in the last 2 weeks on two of them. Nitrates have stayed low the whole time and while I know that sand is better for cories, I don't subscribe to the notion that an otherwise healthy cory will lose barbels from substrate injury alone. The ram in the video who is swimming oddly only does this when he goes to this area of the tank where there happens to be a higher current. I read somewhere that they do this sometimes with gill flukes to help make their gills feel better... Who knows? They usually hang out in the lower current areas of the tank but the three seem to take turns coming to this spot for relief.

I'll be interested to read your regimen on flukes. I think I saw it elsewhere on the forum (and it was a month long process) but am having trouble locating it now.

There's a long list of subtle symptoms that point there for the fish, but they're all pretty subtle. I guess I could bust out a swab and get a microscope to be sure...
I would expect to see an improvement in 5 days if it is flukes and then I'll know whether to move forward with a full treatment to eradicate it from the tank or I'll treat them for something different.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-02-2020, 02:26 AM
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This is the schedule:

Day 1 -- remove carbon, perform water change with vacuuming, and add Prazi to tank
Day 2 -- add Prazi
Day 3 -- do nothing
Day 4 -- do nothing
Day 5 -- do nothing
Day 6 -- add Prazi
Day 7 -- add Prazi
Day 8 -- normal partial water change with vacuuming
Day 14 - normal partial water change, then add prazi
Day 21 - normal partial water change, then add prazi
Day 28 - Take out medication.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-02-2020, 03:14 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for that. Much appreciated. Iíll wait and see how this initial treatment goes before determining to go nuclear as described.

Update - 48 hours after treatment of PraziPro and I haven't seen any flashing in 24 hours. The rams gills look less irritated when I can look into them. They also are more aggressive toward seeking and getting food at feeding time.
A couple of cories still seem more limp at their normal resting state, but they are stoked for food and have good energy otherwise. They also have been in the tank longer and I'm guessing they started to get sick a couple of months ago when I brought in some sick fish. The rams have only been exposed for half the time so it makes sense that they aren't as ill.

Fingers crossed that the situation will continue to improve and I'll have nipped something in the bud.

Now on to building out the 75G where I'll keep the sand areas protected from intruding soil/gravel.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 07-02-2020 at 10:54 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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