Fish dying in new tank- need help with diagnosis and treatment! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-07-2020, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Fish dying in new tank- need help with diagnosis and treatment!

After not having a tank for over 10 years, I finally decided to set up a new tank. I got a 55 gallon. The guy at the local “expert” aquarium store told me that I could use this tank starter stuff to immediately cycle my tank. I was dumb and I believed him. My tank is now cycled after 2 weeks but my poor fish are showing signs of a number of diseases. I’m hoping that someone can tell me what the most common ailments are in fish that were exposed to high ammonia and high nitrites so that I can narrow it down and figure out what medication to try first. I did daily water changes as soon as I saw the ammonia spike until the end of the cycle (which I think is the only reason why they are still alive). Im going to try to post pictures but here is what I am seeing: The big orange platy has clamped fins and developed a area of what looked like bleached out scales on her back. Now it’s starting to look a little more like a raised whitish patch but still pretty flat. The guppies fins are looking ragged and I’m seeing spots on the fins (it doesn’t look like ick bc it’s only on the fins and it’s only visible when I look at the fins from the side with the light shining through). One guppy has a whitish patch on his back that just today almost certainly looks like fungus. Ugh. Hoping for help. I ordered a bunch of stuff from amazon but it’s not coming until Friday so I’m hoping to fHire out what this is so that I can go buy a medication to start ASAP.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-08-2020, 04:10 PM
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Made me immediately think of columnaris. https://fishlab.com/columnaris/
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-08-2020, 04:42 PM
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how many fish do you have? do you think you can move them to a 10g quarantine tank so they'll be easier to treat? leave the 55g alone and let it cycle and hopefully the disease will die off on it's own without livestock.

treating the larger tank with stuff is going to cause more issues and keep the tank from getting cycled and established. better to get a qt tank. even an old 10g tupperware tub works.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-10-2020, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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I’m so sorry... I didn’t realize anyone had responded. I didn’t get any notifications! But thank you so much... I hope someone is still reading this! So since my last post, I researched the F out of it and I was so confused that I just bought a bunch of different treatments as I kept reading. I added a small amount of sea salt and some stress coat stuff based on some articles I read. As symptoms progressed, my thought was columnaris as well. And of course, out of 10 treatments I had, there was nothing for columnaris. The only thing I had with one of the right antibiotics was a “super ick” treatment (nitrofurazone plus malachite green). My fish were on death’s door and so I decided to try it. The next day, everyone was still alive and a couple of the fish actually looked a little better! So I figured that it was the nitrofurazone and I bought furan 2. I did a 25% water change and dosed the full dose of nitrofurazone. That was yesterday. Today some of the fish seem a little better but not as much improvement as when I used the super ick treatment! But I don’t see ick on them! Could the malachite green have been treating something else? Another poster mentioned messing up the cycle in the tank.... I am VERY nervous about this. It was only fully cycled for few days before I started this. I tried to buy myself time with the salt and the stress treatment. I was back and forth on the idea of setting up a hospital tank bc ALL the fish were sick and I didn’t understand that I wouldn’t have to be cycling the hospital tank until I read more. So far, the cycle in the 55gal is staying strong. All levels still zero. Should I set up a 10 or 20 gallon hospital tank now? Is it too late? If I follow the directions, I have another big water change coming up soon. I’m so anxious about de-stabilizing the cycle in the 55 gal!
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-10-2020, 06:53 PM
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@KTLady

It sounds like the NH3 attack was fairly severe. The whitish patches you described is typical of NH3 poisoning, where the skin actually starts breaking down. This can often look like disease and, of course, such stress and cell destruction can be complicated by disease taking advantage of the weakening fish. Gills and internal organs (including the brain) are usually damaged as well. Recovery is not guaranteed.

Unless your tank has dormant parasites, such as Ick, I would focus upon minimizing bacterial infections with a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Kanaplex or Sulfaplex, or others. Make sure that you remove any chemical media (such as carbon) from your filter. With Kanaplex or Sulfaplex, you don’t need to worry about your BB, so leave the biomedia in your filter, but I don’t know about other brands of antibiotics without checking their websites.

Make sure your gas exchange is good. The waters’ surface should be rippling without breaking the surface. I assume that you keep temperature within about 5 oF of tank water temps during w/c’s and chlorine/chloramine is addressed as well. If you have a TDS meter (they are cheap), it is a good idea to keep tank water within 10% or 50ppm, whatever is less, of pre-water change levels to minimize stress.

Get that salt out of your water. We did that in the 'olden days' before we knew better. It will send your TDS soaring, which is a great stress inducer. Make daily water changes using the TDS guidelines, above, until your TDS reaches normal (pre-salt) levels.
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Last edited by Deanna; 10-10-2020 at 07:40 PM. Reason: add
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-11-2020, 03:18 PM
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I would go with Deannas advice. Kana plex is great. Columnaris is usually caused by a lack of maintenance and poor water/ammonia but my first thoughts are ammonia burn or some sort of chlorine. Stay on top of water changes but make sure your using something like prime.

In my opinion it is unlikely the tank is fully cycled in two weeks. And the stuff you added is probably throwing off the tests.

Fish-in cycles are a PIA because you're basically fighting to keep Am and Ni at 0 and yet these things are needed for the tank itself to cycle.

You can add some real beneficial bacteria like Dr. Tim/Fritz.

I’d use kannaplex, remove chemical filtration, and treat the tank and water changes as if you’re doing a fish in cycle.

FN33
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-11-2020, 03:42 PM
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Wouldn't some salt be good for livebearers? I always put a little salt from my reeftank in my livebearer tanks, or some calcium based reef tank substrate.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-11-2020, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much Deanna. I responded to your post below and I have a few follow up questions if you have time. I’m adding pictures in the hope that I can get some confirmation of what this is. It’s hard to capture what is going on with the guppy. His sides are covered with little strands of filament. His fins are ragged and his gills are swollen. The other one with a lot of symptoms is the platy. She is better now but has a big sore on her side.

I really agree with your analysis Deanna. The Nitrite was so high that I couldn’t keep up with the water changes! I have not been checking the temp of the water when I do water changes! I didn’t realize that was important. Do you usually put a heater in there or do you use warmer water from the tap and check with a thermometer? I am going to have to read up on TDS meters. I don’t know what that is but I will soon!

Re: the gas exchange. I set up this tank to be a planted tank but I haven’t even connected the DIY CO2 because the fish are so sick! Once I saw that there was something very serious happening, I put in a giant bubbler. Before I dosed the first med, I removed the carbon and got a thick sponge filter just to keep the tank very clean but sans carbon. Help me understand... how do I make sure my gas exchange is adequate? You mentioned water surface rippling... bc of the bubbler and the pump there’s a lot of water movement. I added a picture of the setup to give an idea of the water flow and bubbles.

I moved the sickest fish into a baby breeder bc he was getting stuck to the filter. Everyone is clearly doing better but I’m not totally sure what is helping bc I’ve done a few things. Bc the super ick cure seemed to help more than the antibiotic alone, I switched back to that and then added some Pimafix last night bc I think what I am seeing on the sickest fish is either threads of fungus or anchor worms. And one of the other sick fish also had developed whitish fuzz on an area of ulceration. So I treated the tank for fungus. This morning everyone seems to be feeling better (Swimming about and eating food from the top) but they don’t LOOK any better yet!
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-11-2020, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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A few more pictures...these were from yesterday before the Pimafix. I think the platy seems brighter today. Both of these fish seem to feel better and they are swimming more and eating more since I took these pictures yesterday
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-11-2020, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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@fishnovice33 I’m pretty sure my tank did cycle. I watched the ammonia levels go up, then the nitrite and then nitrate before finally zeroing out. I was getting zero readings on everything for 3-4 days before I started treatment. But it’s entirely possible that I will throw it out of whack with all of the stuff I’m doing. So far, levels remain zero but I am watching closely. I have a bottle of the tetra cycling bacteria stuff that I can add if need be.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-11-2020, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by novato View Post
Wouldn't some salt be good for livebearers? I always put a little salt from my reeftank in my livebearer tanks, or some calcium based reef tank substrate.
It won’t hurt …up to a point, but isn’t necessarily beneficial. Balanced GH is more important. They will be perfectly fine with GH north of about 4-5dGH. I’ve run lower with no issues, but they seem to breed better north of 5-6 dGH. If you keep adding NaCl , you would need to monitor the build-up and using a TDS meter is the way to do it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KTLady View Post
I have not been checking the temp of the water when I do water changes! I didn’t realize that was important. Do you usually put a heater in there or do you use warmer water from the tap and check with a thermometer?
It’s best to not allow the tank water to vary more than about 5 oF after the water change is completed. Many of us use large containers (I have a 15-gal container) to stage the water a day before, with a heater in it. In the past, I’ve used gallon jugs heated in a mw, but you can also control temp at the tap. If not aging your water, make sure that you don’t have chlorine/chloramine in your tap without treating it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KTLady View Post
how do I make sure my gas exchange is adequate? You mentioned water surface rippling... bc of the bubbler and the pump there’s a lot of water movement. I added a picture of the setup to give an idea of the water flow and bubbles.
Circulation is different from surface rippling. Bubblers are not the best way to achieve good gas exchange. Gas exchange is increased by ripples on the surface, which has the effect of creating a larger surface area for gas to exchange. I can’t see your waters’ surface to be able to comment on it. Some of us add pumps (such as Hydo Koralia’s) and some use inexpensive skimmers (I use this) if surface agitation isn’t sufficient with out filters alone.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-11-2020, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Deanna did you see my other post??? One of the issues with that guppy is anchor worm!! Disgusting!! I kept seeing all these little stringy looking things and suddenly I realized what I was looking at! I pulled out 2 adult anchor worms with a tweezer but I have no clue how to handle this!! I’m here at my local petco... they have a product for lice and anchor worms. I’m going to check it out. This sucks!!
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by KTLady View Post
Deanna did you see my other post??? One of the issues with that guppy is anchor worm!! Disgusting!! I kept seeing all these little stringy looking things and suddenly I realized what I was looking at! I pulled out 2 adult anchor worms with a tweezer but I have no clue how to handle this!! Im here at my local petco... they have a product for lice and anchor worms. Im going to check it out. This sucks!!
I usually turn to Hikari for worming, although Anchor worms are actually crustaceans. I've never tried it (never had Anchor worms), but Hikari's CyroPro is supposed to be effective.
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