Cardinal tetra - what is it and how to treat? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-26-2020, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Cardinal tetra - what is it and how to treat?

Help please!

My Cardinal tetra are not looking so healthy. Can anyone narrow down what they have and advise how best to treat please?

I spotted the first fish with what looked like fungus about 2 weeks ago. I didn't have a quarantine tank available so had to treat in tank. I did two treatments with Seachem Kanaplex 2 days apart, and also added Pimafix and Melafix every day for about a week. Honestly I then took my eye off the tank for a while and yesterday noticed more fish were affected.

I have not seen any dead fish yet and have searched the tank well. The affected fish are eating and behaving normally, no flicking against rocks etc, swimming with the group, no issues swimming. I've just got a quarantine tank setup to move them into to treat (main tank has nerites and a couple of amano shrimp so don't want to medicate that too heavily or often). The affected fish were hard to catch, definitely no issues swimming!

I'm doing a 1 hour dip with Seachem Paraguard before moving them into the hospital tank. Fish don't seem bothered with this.

I have the following med's on hand at home: NeoPlex, MetroPlex, KanaPlex, Melafix & Pimafix, API aquarium salt.

Thinking either daily dosing of Paraguard (as that seems to treat just about everything!) or MetroPlex (on basis that already treated with KanaPlex).

Your thoughts and advice please!!!

Thanks, James











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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-26-2020, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, so sadly a couple of the fish didn't make it through the Paraguard dip, or maybe the stress of being caught etc on top of being sick. Strangely it wasn't the fish that looked the worse affected that died though.

Looking closely at the deceased under a magnifying glass and with a bright torch at just the right angle, there are what appears to be white worms beneath the 'slime' on the sides of the fish. Some sort of parasite I assume? Anyone able to identify please?

I have treated the main tank from which they came with Paraguard (plus Melafix and Pimafix just in case it helps) as I'm assuming the other 'healthy' cardinal tetra are probably affected too. Hoping my nerite snails and Amano shrimp are ok with this, all fingers crossed.

I transferred the remaining sick fish into the quarantine tank, added the dip water plus a bit extra Paraguard to bring it up to the normal daily dose. Will see how they look in the morning.

The "parasites" are not as obvious on the fish in the tank as in the photos. It's only the angel of a very bright LED torch that is making them stand out like this in the photos. So I can't see these on the remaiining fish, only a sort of hazy slime / fungus, but I am assuming they have the same thing.



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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-26-2020, 06:23 PM
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This is Dermocystidium.

Here is some information about the condition and how to treat the secondary infections that Cardinals tend to get from it. It appears that many cardinals will overcome this illness if secondary infections are dealt with and after spores have burst, but need to be isolated from other fish when illness active. You are right on track with treatment for secondary infections with this. Myaxzin P, that is recommended for treatment of secondary bacteria/fungus in article, is actually a combination of malachite green, acriflavine, and formaldehyde ( active ingredients in Paraguard).

https://www.pressreader.com/uk/pract...81818579510293


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-27-2020, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
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Many thanks @Discusluv - that's exactly it! I have a feeling one of the worst affected fish's blobs may have burst in the main tank before being removed, so I'll be closely monitoring and treating both tanks. The quarantined fish look better today after their night of Paraguard so will keep going with that.

Thanks again, good to know what I'm dealing with and what to look for with the other fish.


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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-06-2020, 04:31 AM Thread Starter
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Any other thoughts, advice or experience in treating this Dermocystidium in Cardinal tetra please?

I managed to remove the 4 affected fish from the main tank to a small quarantine tank and have been treating regularly (daily for first 3 days then every other day) with Paraguard, and I add Pimafix and Melafix almost every day.

It's been about 2 weeks now and the good news is that none of the fish in remaining in the main tank seem to have been infected, fingers crossed. I traeted with Paraguard for 3 days, but then stopped as no fish seemed affected and didn't want to harm snails or amano shrimp.

One quarantined fish died the day after being moved and the remaining fish seem ok, but not doing great. They don't eat much, but aren't obviously sick in their behaviors either (i.e. they're swimming around together as a small shoal).

Hard to keep track of which fish is which, but the cysts on the originally worse affected fish seem to burst, there were obvious loose flaps of "skin" which slowly seemed to improve. But looking today, one fish is quite visibly infected with the white worm at various locations, probably the worse infection yet. Not sure if this is the same "worst case" fish, or whether that one has got better as this one has got worse. Thankfully they're in this separate tank now!

I have tried to keep the tank stable (i.e. no water changes) to avoid stressing the fish further and to keep med's in water. I'm guessing the key is to have the med in the water at the moment a cyst bursts and the contents become susceptible to treatment.

Any other ideas or guidance please? Should I try Myaxzin P as per the linked article above, or is the really no difference to the Paraguard I'm using?

The article mentions following up treatment with salt. I have API Aquarium Salt to hand, but how much should I add and how often to the 10l quarantine tank?

Thanks in advance, James


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-03-2020, 02:12 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, so 4 months later and I guess time for an update...

In short, of the 6 cardinal tetra that had "Dermocystidium", I yesterday returned only one healthy fish back to the main tank. So four months of effort and treatment saved only one fish, but the good news is that I saved one fish! Actually I saved two from the Dermocystidium, but unfortunately one must have jumped from the tank last week (I topped the tank water up a bit high I think) as I found it desiccated on the floor.

So, conclusions and lessons learned:
  • Dermocystidium is almost impossible to treat, but if you can keep the fish otherwise healthy they might pull through.
  • Isolation of affected fish to a quarantine / treatment tank ASAP is critical.
  • If isolation is not possible (e.g. no quarantine tank available), best course of action is sadly to euthanise fish at first sign of infection, save it spreading throughout tank and loosing all fish
  • You'll need to keep dosing Paraguard (or similar) every day for a month or more.
  • The medication is only effective when the spores break free from the fish and are in the water, hence the need for continuous dosing
  • I dosed Paraguard continuously for the first month, and then for a few days each time a "white worm" appeared ready to rupture from the fishes skin
  • Key to fish survival is to keep them otherwise haelthy and free of secondary infections. Dermocystidium probably won't kill then, but leaves the fish weak and prone to other things that will.
  • Recovery will be a very long process, at least 2 months, probably more like 3 to 4.
  • Keeping a small number of cardinal tetra away from the group is stressful for the fish and this can lead to stress / deaths in itself.

I am really really reluctant to conclude that Dermocystidium seems to be one of those fish diseases where euthanizing affecting fish at the first sign of infection is probably the best course of action for the tank as a whole.


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