Parasitic Contamination / impaction issues - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-03-2009, 10:32 AM Thread Starter
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Parasitic Contamination / impaction issues

I've had something of a disaster strike in my house. My standard setups are a 50g breeder that contains 8 B.Orientalis (Firebelly toads) It is fully planted, filtered, and heat regulated. The other two tanks each house a pair of surcobis and a pair of azureas, standard 10g stood up on their side. Also heavily planted, I do weekly water changes on all of them. I also use Light expanded clay aggregate to for the false bottom on one, the other uses layers of light diffiusion material.

Last night I went to crash, and read a little popular mechanics before falling asleep. I was laying in bed for about twenty minutes before I realized I couldn't hear any of my frogs/toads calling.. which is very very rare.

All of my tanks are high off the ground, my cats love to torment them otherwise. So I grabbed a stool to check the B.Orientalis tank.. from what I could see 3 were already dead and the other five looked extremely sickly.
I grabbed a clean pair of latex gloves and quickly set up a quarantine tank. I transfered the five living ones into it. Now I think I made a mistake in keeping them in the same tank, however I felt it was more important to get them out of the primary tank.

Its about 2:30 am by this point, so I go and check on my Surcobis. I had just placed a fresh FF culture in the tank about a day earlier.. Both surcobis were dead, severaly inflated in a way that makes me believe there may have been an impaction issue. Their tank setup has not changed drastically in the last 4 years..

I checked the azureus next and found both dead, similar to the Surcobis, however there was no LECA in this tank.. so I don't see how an impaction could have been an issue. I sorta hit panic mode, as all of my precious herps are dying or dead.. sorta over reacted and destroyed one of the ten gallons. My own anger issue, w/e. I don't contend with failure well.

I calmed down enough to crash out on the couch, woke up at 7 am to check on the remaining B.Orientalis.. Another had died in the 4 hours while in the quarantine tank.. At this point I decided it would best to isolate and hopefully prevent them all from continamting each other. So I broke out the 5 gallon buckets, and isolated each of the remaining 4 frogs.

After I got home from work, I checked them again, and found one heavily inflated and dead, the other was in its deathroes with a peculiar small hole in its abdomen. After it passed I checked the wound, and using a magnifying glass I could see some type of worm like parasite in the wound.

I am quite diligent and standfast about my cleaning & care regiment for my frogs. Each tank has its own equipment, the one tool I do use on all the tanks gets disinfected in Isopryl Alcohol before being used on the next tank, which are my pruning scissors. I am at a complete loss as to what to do, which is why I am posting here. I've lurked and done searches and not found anything similiar, can parasites be airborne?

The two remaining B.Orientalis seem to be doing better, I'm giving them each 50/50 on survival at this point, and will remain isolated until they either die or recover. I've also decided I'm throwing out everything in the 50g breeder and repopulating it as I don't know where this parasite could have come from.. Nothing new was added in the last year, no plants or fish.. unless crickets could have brought something in.. But even those I raise myself, and my colony is going as strong as it was when I started it two years ago.. and are fur superior in nutritional value then anything a LFS could offer.

Suggestions? Recommendations? Please?
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-03-2009, 07:06 PM
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OMG - I feel so sorry for you!

Just to let you know, I do know a few things abour amphibians. I have leucomelas myself.
It doesn't sound like a parasite infection due to all of your animals dying within days. I am not aware of a parasite that gets airborne and infects others. As for the firebelly toad having a worm - are you sure it wasn't a fruit fly or psorid fly larvae that had hatched in the dead frog? I know that a lot of the fire belly toads are wild caught so they probably had parasites to begin with.
Did the temps in your house change drastically lately? Or have you been using some type of new air freshener in your house? Amphibians are very sensitive. - you might want to try posting this in the dendroboard forum. They are pretty knowledgable.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-03-2009, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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All of the tanks are temperature regulated via a heater sunk either in the false bottom (within proximity to a small airstone to improve humidity, I hate misting) or concealed beneath driftwood and directly under the output of the in tank filter, which is the case with the B.Orientalis tank.

I've heard a few implausible theories on what may have happened, so far the general consensus has been an airborne toxin of some kind. I'm just a little nonplussed at what it could have been. The conditions in my bedroom have not changed in the least, nor had the temperature on any of the tanks. All the lights were on timers.

Pretty much it just boils down to I have no idea what went wrong, and that is driving me up a wall entirely. One option I have is paying the 65 bucks and taking one of the corpses into a local Herp Vet for analysis and professional dissection. I'm really debating if I should pursue and get some peace of mind, or just wash my hands of it and start sinking cash back into the tanks to repopulate them.

The B.Orientalis, to the best of my knowledge the two that are still alive are my original two, that are wild caught. The other 6, which are dead, were left overs from a breeding cycle, despite a few months that they spent in a quarantine tank, they were captive bred.

My surcobis were wild caught

The Azureus were captive bred.

As for dendroboards.. I've lurked there over the years, however the last six months or so I have encountered tremendous lag in accessing their boards, so I've pretty much stopped visiting them. (reminds me of the old 14.4 baud dial up days)
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-03-2009, 09:55 PM
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If you decide to do a necropsy (animal autopsy) you need to find a vet with a lot of amphibian knowledge. I doubt he is going to be able to find anything without sending samples out to the lab and that is going to cost a lot of money. What did you do with the bodies? If you do take it to your vet, you need to get it there ASAP and don't put it into the freezer, only the refrigerator.

I feel for you! I wish I could help more. I agree that it must be some unknown toxin, but what I don't know. For them to die so fast, it couldn't have been an illness as they usually show signs before death. If you figure out what happened let me know, I am curious.

Again I am so sorry for your losses.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-05-2009, 07:18 PM
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I'm sorry for your losses, it's extremely frustrating putting so much time, effort, and money into something to see it crash like this. I second Tame, parasitic infection seems unlikely. It really does sound like some sort of airborne hazard, such as a spray or fumes or something. For everything to kick it like that it must've been something sudden, not something that had been in the shadows all this time.

But I wish you the best of luck in figuring it out for sure. Let us know if you do.

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