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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello fish keepers,

I am in dire need of help identifying the disease found on the scales and fins of this large rostratus. It is characterized by a sludgy black growth that covers both scales and fins. The growth has thickened on the fishes fins to the point where it has lost much of the fins mobility. It also accumulates on the scales and as you can see, is maybe a couple millimeters thick in certain areas. I've tried researching this problem countless times without success. The disease that keeps popping up on google is black spot disease but I don't think that's it. Black spot disease seems to be small black spots while this grows in larger, sludge-like spots.

I've had the fish for almost a year now and have been concerned about this problem since I've had it. I wasn't able to come up with any answers to my questions, and LFS staff said it was just discoloration. This caused me to put the problem to the back of my mind, even though I knew it wasn't right. Flash forward to today, I was in my garage looking at the fish and pretty much yelled "F***" when I noticed all of my predator haps are starting to show early spots very similar to what the rostratus pictured has. Right now, my other haps just have small 1 cm large black spots growing on their skins and scales, but I can tell that it is the same problem afflicting the rostratus. I am really hoping someone will help me identify this problem, so that I can stop it in its tracks on my other fish. I have some beautiful fish, including an 8" Buccochromis Rhoadesii Yellow, and I really want to keep them healthy.

Please help me identify this disease! Has anyone seen this on any of their fish before? Any tips are welcome and appreciated!

Thanks so much for your help and time. Please have a look at the images below.

Best,
Sawellem

P.S: Fish lives in a 180g (40g sump) with other predator haps. Large 60-70% percent water changes once per week as they poop like monsters.

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The Buccochromis mentioned. You can actually see the black growth beginning to form 3/4 of the way down on his dorsal fin!
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And my livingstonii.
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The first thing that came to mind was fish lice. Don't know if this is what's going on in your situation, though. I hope you can figure it out. Good luck!!
 

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What are your water parameters ( numbers please): Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate.
Is the fish that has had this condition for awhile lost weight? Is it eating?
have you noticed the fish rubbing on objects, darting, rolling over?

Im thinking this may be an external parasite ( protozoan infection) which is causing excessive mucus, secondary bacterial infection/fungus. The black on the tips of the fins may be necrotic tissue.
Read through the attached article that describes some different external parasite conditions to see if they sound like what fish is experiencing. There is a chart at bottom for treatment/ treatment rate using copper, potassium permanganate or salt.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What are your water parameters ( numbers please): Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate.
Is the fish that has had this condition for awhile lost weight? Is it eating?
have you noticed the fish rubbing on objects, darting, rolling over?

Im thinking this may be an external parasite ( protozoan infection) which is causing excessive mucus, secondary bacterial infection/fungus. The black on the tips of the fins may be necrotic tissue.
Read through the attached article that describes some different external parasite conditions to see if they sound like what fish is experiencing. There is a chart at bottom for treatment/ treatment rate using copper, potassium permanganate or salt.

Thank you, Discusluv for your reply.

My water parameters are clean, no ammonia and no nitrites. 20-40 PPM Nitrates. I've got lots of surface area in my sump and use purigen and chemipure blue. Weekly 50%-70% water changes that I haven't missed in over a year. I will get to your eating question but this part will surprise you—the fish doesn't flash to remove whatever this crap is. In my experience, any fish with external conditions begin flashing sometimes before you can even see the parasite with the eye. Despite the large amounts of growth on this fish's fins and scales, he doesn't flash. I find that very odd.

The resource you shared is amazing. I had a look and none of the conditions immediately stand out but I do think its a protozoan-based infection. It's hard to rule out a Ciliate infection for sure though. Would you recommend a generalized tank treatment with salt and prazipro as a starting point?

And here's some additional information:
I have about ~12 haps in my aquarium. Three months ago, my dominant Rostratus (not pictured) got Swim Bladder disorder and I was unable to cure it with either Epsom Salt or General Cure. Sadly, had to euthanize him (clove oil) after he refused to eat for months and it became clear he was just going to starve away.

Last week, the rostratus (pictured) also got swim bladder disorder and is not responding to treatment. Feeling like I am losing control of the health of my fish is what motivated me to make this post about the spreading black smudge issue. Both of the rostratus with swim bladder disorder had the black smudge and are the only fish to be sick with any kind of problem since having the tank for almost two years.

So to answer your feeding question, yes the fish feeds. Until recently, this problem was only cosmetic. The fish pictured was even trying to breed with the females. That being said two of my rostratus (which have the black smudge) have come down with untreatable cases of Swim Bladder Disorder.

Is it possible that this is something like Epistylus, which has been covered in bba?

So sorry you're having to deal with this.

10.2.4. Epistylis

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Thanks for your reply. I looked into Epistylis and if it was a black disease I think it could be that. But, there is no BBA in my aquarium so I think the black color of the growth on the fish rules out Epistylis.

The first thing that came to mind was fish lice. Don't know if this is what's going on in your situation, though. I hope you can figure it out. Good luck!!
Thanks, I looked into fish lice and although it was a little similar, I don't think that's it as there are no visible organism-shaped structures on the fish's skin. Appreciate the reply and good wishes though!
 

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So....have you ever handled your fish. Like, picked them up with dry hands? I'm going off of a children's fishing book I read 15+ years ago, but I remember it detailing that if you didn't wet your hands, you would rub off and damage the slime coat, and that fish who had been handled like that, would often look like they had handprints on them with something dark (similar to what you have).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So....have you ever handled your fish. Like, picked them up with dry hands? I'm going off of a children's fishing book I read 15+ years ago, but I remember it detailing that if you didn't wet your hands, you would rub off and damage the slime coat, and that fish who had been handled like that, would often look like they had handprints on them with something dark (similar to what you have).
I have not handled them with dry hands but from the research I've done since yesterday, I believe the black build up is some kind of reaction from the fish's slime coat to a parasite. So yes, I believe what we are seeing on the fish is a slime-coat related reaction to ~1 year of exposure to whatever this is.
 

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I have not handled them with dry hands but from the research I've done since yesterday, I believe the black build up is some kind of reaction from the fish's slime coat to a parasite. So yes, I believe what we are seeing on the fish is a slime-coat related reaction to ~1 year of exposure to whatever this is.
The swim bladder issue is common in cichlids as a secondary issue to a primary illness. Many cichlids carry Hexamita (a form of parasitic diplomonads.) in their guts, and the balance between internal parasite and host remains at equilibrium until the fish becomes stressed by another illness or long-term environmental or nutritional issue. The inflammation from this condition, in turn, is what causes the swim-bladder issue.
Yes, I would treat with the praziquantel and salt.

The swim bladder issue is common in cichlids as a secondary issue to a primary illness. Many cichlids carry Hexamita (a form of parasitic diplomonads.) in their guts, and the balance between internal parasite and host remains at equilibrium until the fish becomes stressed by another illness or long-term environmental or nutritional issue. The inflammation from this condition, in turn, is what causes the swim-bladder issue.
Yes, I would treat with the praziquantel and salt.

Edit: Actually, l would treat with the salt treatment as recommended on the attached page. But, also treat with General Cure ( which includes praziquantel and metronidazole) which will take care (hopefully) of the Hexamita and correct the swim bladder. If the fish will eat, General Cure in food with a binder like Seachem Focus or a food-grade binder like Knox gelatin.
 
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