Fish TB; how long without fish? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-23-2017, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Fish TB; how long without fish?

TL : DR version--how long can mycobacteria live in planted tank without fish, and can MTS serve as host?

One of my tanks has some sort of wasting disease. I think TB (mycobacterium), but am not 100% sure. What I'm sure of is that they waste away for weeks, one maybe for longer even, and then die. The first I thought had eaten gravel or something and gotten a blockage or something. Anyway, I'm down to two platies, who don't look good. They still eat, but don't maintain weight. I expect they will last a month if I let them. From what I've seen, euthanasia may be the more merciful route.

Basically, I dont expect to be able to save these guys, but I'd rather not lose the plants and driftwood. How long would the tank have to run without fish for the bacteria to die? Let's say I tear down this tank and replant into a different (empty) tank--how long before those plants were clear? A month? 2? A year? Are they just permanently a no livestock plants only community? And finally, will a large number of MTS affect any of this?

Thanks for any help you can give.

Incidentally: I do not "know" it is TB, it just sounds more like it than anything else I've found. I'd suspect camallanus, except I see no signs of them pooping red worms. I haven't run across anything else even close.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-23-2017, 11:34 PM
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Hopefully its not TB. If it is you should be really really really careful because it can be transmitted to humans. I would clean out the tank and bleach dip everything I wanted to keep. 20:1 water and bleach mix for about 30 seconds followed by a soak in a bucket with water and seachem prime until the bleach is gone. You should scrap the substrate, filter pads and anything that can't be safely bleached. TB is not something to be messed with. Can you post pictures of the infected fish?
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-24-2017, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by greaser84 View Post
Hopefully its not TB. If it is you should be really really really careful because it can be transmitted to humans. I would clean out the tank and bleach dip everything I wanted to keep. 20:1 water and bleach mix for about 30 seconds followed by a soak in a bucket with water and seachem prime until the bleach is gone. You should scrap the substrate, filter pads and anything that can't be safely bleached. TB is not something to be messed with. Can you post pictures of the infected fish?
Yeah, I've read that it can be pretty nasty, so just in case I've been trying to be good about scrubbing after dealing with them, and definitely keeping equipment separate.
I can't get a picture that really shows how bad they look. Also, the two that are left arent "that" bad yet. Here's the best i can show. It at least shows they hunchback at the back of the head. Doesn't show how bad their sides look--they look old and worn.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-25-2017, 06:42 AM
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Some species of Mycobacterium can use snails as passive hosts. If it really is fish TB, total tank takedown and scrubbing with bleach is the sure way to sanitize it.

There seems to be an epidemic of "wasting disease" among livebearers or it could just be that they are just not thriving in your tank. In my experience, I lost many guppies in a span of few weeks,all showing the same symptoms as yours. At first I suspected that it is fish TB or even columnaris but I had some doubts since my cardinal tetras were not affected at all. Went through different kinds of anti-parasite medications and even antibiotics to no avail. Just two weeks ago, I thought that one of my female guppy is a goner since she's really emaciated, missing gravid spot and already has a curved spine. I decided to increase the KH & GH of my tank (since the water from my tap has very low KH & GH) to suit her species' needs. Then I noticed improvement on her spine within just 24 hours of adding crushed corals. At around 2 days, she's still very thin but her spine is already normal. A few days ago, I gave her epsom salt bath and as if by some miracle, she perked up and became more active and eating. Now she's starting to regain the plumpness of her belly and her gravid spot is visible again and hopefully this would continue

Before euthanizing or taking down your tank due to a suspected illness, try first to optimize the water parameters to suit the specific needs of your fishes. Also note that the sure way to know that it is fish tb is to cut up the dead fish and look under the microscope.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-29-2017, 04:33 AM Thread Starter
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Some species of Mycobacterium can use snails as passive hosts.
That's not good to hear. Hopefully it isn't actually mycobacterium, but it will take pretty total measures to get all the snails out. Fortunately I've been thinking it would be better to use the plants for a planted bowl or something if the fish die.

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Originally Posted by Tsin21 View Post
Before euthanizing or taking down your tank due to a suspected illness, try first to optimize the water parameters to suit the specific needs of your fishes.
Thanks for this information (more than quoted, obviously!). I've been raising it by topping up with Primed tap water (our tap is very hard) and you're probably right that their chemistry has probably gotten softer than is ideal for livebearers. Nothing that has presented a problem before, but I've used the RO that I use for other tanks in this one as well. If bringing the DH and KH up slowly means these survive, that would be encouraging. Of course, if not, I'll still be quarantining the plants indefinitely.
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