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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had some False Julii Corydora for about 6 months. After a couple months I noticed some mild barbel erosion on a couple of them but it seemed to stop progressing. Recently it started up again and accelerated very rapidly to the point their barbels are mostly gone and one has a severe lesion (developed over a couple days) where his barbels were and seems to have stopped eating with the others.

After doing more research (which I should have been more thorough with earlier), I know I should not have put them in with my Eco-complete substrate. I feel absolutely terrible about that. Also, the fact that it took a while for erosion to appear but then accelerated so rapidly makes me think there may be some infection involved as well. Some of the reading I've been doing supports that possibility as well.

My first question: is this something they can likely recover from and still have happy lives?

Here's what I've done to try to get a little quick relief for them:
  • Started putting food in small glass dish to reduce scraping and keep the substrate cleaner. They seem to like this
  • Frequent and thorough substrate vacuuming to keep it cleaner
  • Increased water change frequency

I still need to change the substrate and try to treat any potential infections, but I need some advice:

In switching the substrate would it be less stressful for the fish to take them out or try to replace it in-place without removing them? I'm worried about stress weakening them if they are already compromised by infections.

For a new substrate I'm debating between sand or extra fine grain Marfied Controsoil (1mm grain size). I've read really good things about the Controsoil including that it doesn't have an initial ammonia spike like ADA Aquasoil does. Has anyone used it with corys?

Finally, how can I tell if they have an infection that is making it worse and if so what it is so I can try to treat it? I've read that people have seen rapid barbel erosion caused by flukes. How would I diagnose and treat that?

Any advice would help. Thanks!
 

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Cap your Eco with CaribSea Peace River. It is a good grain size and the grains are rounded and smooth. Amazon has it. Make sure they don't substitute. I had to return a bag of Zen Garden they sent by mistake. Grain size much too large. Food falls in and is trapped where corys can't get to it.

Not sure about treatment if there is an infection, but Tetra AquaSafe Plus claims to, "Provides a slime coat to help wounds heal and protect fish from abrasions"
 

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Substrate would cause the barbels to deteriorate. When I was more naive, I purchased flourite and eco-complete and my cories barbels suffered greatly and they were not thriving. I replaced it with Fluval Planted substrate (soft, circular granules) and they've grown back in two weeks.

The degredation of the barbels in combination with other factors (slightly unclean water, high nitrates, stressed fish as a result) may have caused a bacterial infection leading to lesions and rot. Can you take a picture of the injured cories?

Ultimately, I would put them in a medi-tank while you add the new substrate. Adding it while they're in the tank will be VERY stressful for them and they may be injured in the process. Use water from your tank to fill the smaller tank, then perhaps treat some of the water you usually add after a WC and fill the rest.

without more visuals I wouldn't feel comfortable diagnosing them. But there are antibiotics and antifungal medications available in chain stores (petco, petsmart).

Tetracycline and Maradin are antibiotics that will treat a wide spectrum of bacterial infections including rot.

API has a "Fungus Cure" that treats fungal infections + some secondary bacterial.

Look up beforehand which medications use copper, as Cories are very sensitive to it and could die if misused.

Googled an article and found this to be pretty helpful:

"Corydoras paleatus are very hardy and disease is not usually a problem in a well maintained aquarium. There is no guarantee that you won't have to deal with health problems or disease, but cory catfish are very resilient.

High nitrate levels can cause Peppered Cory catfish to develop infected barbels; this makes it difficult for them to navigate and eat normally. Maintain nitrate levels below 20 ppm through regular water changes. Because they are a scaleless fish, catfish can be treated with pimafix or melafix but should not be treated with potassium permanganate or copper based medications. Malachite green or formalin can be used at one half to one fourth the recommended dosage. All medications should be used with caution.

The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your fish the proper environment and give them a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. A stressed fish will is more likely to acquire disease. Anything you add to your tank can bring disease with it. Not only other fish but plants, substrate, and decorations can harbor bacteria. Take great care and make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything that you add to an established tank so as not to add new diseases to the tank. For information about fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments."

Link is here: http://animal-world.com/encyclo/fresh/catfish/PepperedCorydoras.php

Hope this helps!
 

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There has always been discussions on substrate-sifting bottom dweller having their barbels erode. Some saying sharp substrate WILL erode the barbels while others say they never have had problems with barbels being torn up by sharp substrates. It's actually the barbels get cut, exposing a open wound for infection to get in and erode the barbels.

In all my experience with bottom dwellers, never have I had barbels errosion because of sharp substrate. No damage at all to the barbels and I have had them live for years on VERY sharp tough rocks (inert rock chips/fragments with sharp edges all around) as well as all sorts of various gravel.

Logically it does make sense to get injured by sharp objects, but I, as well as countless other have kept Corys on sharp substrate and never had a problem. Never a cut or any redness at all, still had very long and perfect barbels. No gill irritation either.

If a fish did get a open wound (from any injury, anywhere on body, even barbels, a fish generally can recover just fin with no further damage (erosion, fungus) unless there is a problem with water quality (and/or general health of fish).

But I have never used nutrient-packed/based substrate so I can't comment as to whether the substrate grows certain organisms that can get in a infect barbel wounds easier.

However I do now keep all my fish on soft rounded sand, just because they are much more happier on it (more sticking face in substrate sifting sand through their gills) and always advise keeping them on sand just for their preference, but experience still tells me sharp substrate is not exactly the culprit to barbel erosion.

For a fix, water changes to keep water cleaner, maybe clean your mechanical filtration more to get the collected gunk out of the water. And as mentioned you can add at least an inch layer of smooth sand over the current substrate just in case the substrate is cutting the barbels.

Do not change the substrate while the fish are in the tank. It can be done, but it's a whole lot safer to remove fish first. But you can still keep the substrate and just add a cap layer (what I would do).

Get some meds to help with the barbel erosion (infection), like the all-natural herbal Kordon Rid Fungus (treats more than fungus). Melafix is safe and should help. There are other meds as well, but I like to stick with the less harmful, natural stuff. Not entirely sure if the erosion is bacterial or fungal though. Haven't heard of flukes being the cause, but I guess it's possible (although I've only heard of them being on the body or gills), I believe those would be "parasites/worms". I do doubt it's flukes though, so I would treat for bacterial or fungal (some meds treat partly both).

I have accidently bought some Corydoras (I believe wild caught as well) that already had barbel erosion. I was worried at first as others have said barbel erosion is contagious, but I put them in with other Corys and no other Corys (or any other fish for that matter) had any barbel deterriation. The ones that had erosion never had a progressed erosion.

There were some with practically NO barbels (just itty bitty stumps) and all of them are still alive and fine (eating very well at that) today. The barbels don't really grow back, if they do it is extremely slow, but even without them, they can live perfectly happy lives, finding food and digging in sand just fine.


EDIT: Just read Rinfish latest comment,
As with humans and any other living creature, a healthy diet does keep immune systems (general fish health) in top shape having them less susceptible to disease and recover that much quicker.
New Life Spectrum food line is usually one of the best you can get. Kensfish brand of food, usually has fairly good ingredients at good prices. Hikari I would advise against based on ingredients and price. The other cheap brands are usually not of quality ingredients.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the advice!

I'm going to go by the local shop after work today to try to get a good smooth sand to cap my current substrate. If I can't find one locally I'll order from Amazon. My substrate is already about 1.5-1.75 inches deep. Will adding another inch on top be ok or will it likely lead to anaerobic conditions?

I wasn't able to get a good picture of the cory with the lesion last night. I'll try again tonight. I'm really hoping that can heal even if barbels won't regrow.

I'm about to order some of the New Life Spectrum Thera+A. Are the 1mm pellets a good size for corys or would the 0.5mm be better? I tried their 1mm floating betta pellets in the past and they were generally bigger than the 1mm said they were.

Unfortunately I have been feeding them Hikari wafers so far. Would Omega One sinking pellets be a good choice to go with the Thera+?

Thanks again!
 

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Your substrate isn't very deep, you can add more.

My corys are still young and eat the 0.5mm without problem since that is what I feed the fish. They would be able to eat the 1mm even if they have to munch at it. So either way will work.
 

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It is usually said you can go 3" inch substrate without developing anaerobic pockets.
Some say anaerobic pockets are potential hazards, while some say they are harmless as the gases instantaneously oxidize rendering them harmless when the pockets are released. And it is said the anaerobic bacteria that develop in the anaerobic substrate denitrify Nitrates into harmless nitrogen gas. Theres always been toss up as to anaerobic substrates are good or bad, but so far, to my knowledge no one has a set in stone answer.

If you are worried about the anaerobic pockets, it's best to go with sand that has uniform graded sizes, so all the sand pieces are the same size so they don't compact as much so they allow more water/oxygen to flow through the substrate to keep it from turning to anaerobic conditions. Just look at the sand pieces to see if they look all graded to the same size. Pool filter sand is known to be graded.

But since you are only using a thin layer, any sand should do (not as much sand so water/oxygen can still flow through the thin layer)

Hikari is not that bad, but ingredient wise, it just equates to the cheaper brands using low quality ingredients, but with a higher price tag.
Omega One has good ingredients, but there is some concern with how they list their ingredients, wet weight instead of dry weight, so the order of ingredients in the list can't be trusted, so it can actually contain only a little of the -wet weight- listed actual good ingredients. I still use Omega One, but I only buy if the price is good.
Repashy gel foods are good too. Paradigm has some good ingredients, but not common to find. New Era is ok, but pricey, making it not worth it IMO. The other brands are rather lower quality ingredients, but most of Kensfish has cheap prices on good food ingredients.

I can't say the cheap foods will make your fish sick or weak, but it's understandable to see how better quality food makes a healthier, stronger, quicker recovering fish.

The 1mm are a bit larger than I like, but if you have full grown adults you could get it. Smaller fish can still pick at it though. I just prefer the .5mm as they can take in the whole pellet and chew it in their mouth for a little while. .5mm is a little buoyant so some might float (which I like for my top feeders), but they will slowly sink shortly or a stronger current can knock the pellets down. If you don't like it to float, you can either throw the pellets into the water (the momentum helps them break the water surface easier) or just release the pinch of food under the water surface or just bump the floating pieces into the water. Either size are fine, I just prefer .5mm.
 

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It's not the substrate per se but the bacteria on it that's the issue. Clean water, gravel vac lightly, and a round of antibiotics should help.

I've never had barbel issues unless I don't change the water periodically.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Update on worst case

I've ordered the new life spectrum thera+ a.

Thanks for the additional information. I was on a weekly water change schedule but I've

I managed to get a picture of the cory with the big lesion. I think it's gotten worse in the last couple days. Anyone recognize this or have suggestions for treatment?

Edit: ! was on a weekly 50% water change schedule, but the last couple weeks I have been doing it every 5 days.
 

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I've ordered the new life spectrum thera+ a.

Thanks for the additional information. I was on a weekly water change schedule but I've

I managed to get a picture of the cory with the big lesion. I think it's gotten worse in the last couple days. Anyone recognize this or have suggestions for treatment?

Edit: ! was on a weekly 50% water change schedule, but the last couple weeks I have been doing it every 5 days.
oh goodness! Doing a bit of investigating, my suspicions are that it is Columnaris, or cotton-mouth. more info here: http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/disease/p/columnaris.htm

without doing much research on medications, I would suggest Maracyn Two, as it is stronger then pimafix and melafix (which i have been reading does nothing to severe infections), and I think you need the strong stuff to reverse what is going on. =/

If you can, put him in a medical tank so you can focus on aiding him without messing up the main tank. a 5g would do nicely in this situation I think.

Good luck with your little guys!

Bump: In addition to everything, I might invest in some dried Catappa leaves or Banana leaves to help stave off infections and give your fish some stress relief. Its supplemental for sure, but it doesn't hurt to add a bit of extra!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Rinfish. I had been under the impression that Columnaris just started at the gills and killed within a day or two but it looks like I was wrong. I guess I should have started the thread with a picture.

It's not as clear in the picture as I hoped but the white lesion/ulcer looks more like dead tissue than the cottony texture I've seen in pictures of columnaris. Is that still consistent with that diagnosis?

If I move him out to a smaller treatment tank what's a good way to go about killing the bacteria in the main tank and to protect the other fish? I haven't seen any of the columnaris white spots I found pictures of.

I'm going to the shop right after work to get some medicine. If they don't have the right medicine I guess I'll have to order it and wait a few days.
 

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Judging by that picture, your not providing a clean healthy environment for your fish. Substrate has nothing to do with it. People who keep spreading this nonsense needs to stop. Its an old myth of the aquarium world and its bogus. Been proven time and time again to be wrong.

The reason most Cory's loose their barbels is due to poor conditions and diet. Your fish is very extreme, I would think that's its a bacterial infection caused by the poor living conditions. You need to do a better job of cleaning your tank and filter. Provide minimum 50% water changes weekly and feed a healthy diet.

I highly doubt throwing meds in the tank at this point is going to do any good, it will likely be to hard on the fish and kill it.

Do any of the fish have Popeye or finrot or cloudy eye? What other tank mates? What size tank, temp?
A full tank shot would really help.
 

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Philip is right; poor water conditions do cause these sorts of issues more than anything. Even if substrate wont directly cause barbels to erode, if they are unpleasant for the fish that may induce stress or unhappiness which may in turn contribute to the formation of diseases caused by other factors, including poor water conditions.

I will say that my Cories are so, so much happier with the softer substrate I provided, with the same care and water changes I did prior.

Either way, perhaps some fish are pickier than others. You sound like you are very concerned for the well being of your fish so I am hoping and sending good thoughts to your little guys in hopes they pull through! If not, it is a lesson to know for next time so you can provide any future fish the best life possible.


Additionally: It may or may not be columnaris (its my educated guess), but the maracyn two would be able to give him a fighting chance, ideally.

To eradicate the bacteria in the main tank, I would add some aquarium salt (dose LESS than directed if your cories have not been exposed to it for a while, they are sensitive to salt), and keep up with the water changes like you are doing. Dose melafix as directed to promote healing and then, once all is said and done, buy some almond/banana leaves and let their antibacterial properties seal the deal (it'll help reduce fish stress as well).

My solution might be a bit pricey...but this is what I would do with my own tank. The water changes might eradicate it, but the melafix would at least help promote healing. If you want to go the cheaper route, do the water changes, add salt, and buy the leaves and see if those do the trick.

http://freshaquarium.about.com/od/termsandtables/g/mouthfungus.htm here is a website where you can buy leaves from. Have had good experiences purchasing products from him in the past.
 

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I won't be as hard on you as others (although the fishes lives are in the keepers hands) as we all make mistakes.

That does look like a severe case of mouth fungus and needs to be treated ASAP. The fish may or may not be too far gone to help, but still try to help him.
I would consider salt treatments, Melafix, Pimafix as well as the Indian almond leaves, as milder treatments which would be sufficient for milder cases. But seeing as this case is severe, a stronger med is needed.
If you tried the milder treatments, they are probably not strong enough at this point and will have little to no effect. So you would need to resort to using a stronger med, but they are more harsh on the fish as well, and the fish may be too weak and die, but it's the only chance the fish has.
Not sure if you can, but maybe half dosages (wouldn't recommend if it's a antibiotic) of the stronger meds can work. There may be some natural potent herbal medicine out there (not sure for gram negative bacteria) that are much less harmful to the fish and still a strong treatment on the bacteria (not as strong as the harsher meds, but stronger than the milder ones)
When using meds, it's advised to provide additional aeration (surface agitation).
Whichever you go with, treatment needs to be done ASAP to save the fish, so don't delay.

Water changes will help keep things cleaner, but won't have the fish recover by itself with the disease progressed as far as it has.

Here is a website on mouth fungus (a form of Columnaris)
http://www.fishchannel.com/fish-health/aquarium-fish-mouth-fungus.aspx

Not an expert on this disease, but I hear kanamycin (active ingredient in med) is effective and usually safer (Don't do half dosages with anitbiotics or they won't be effective at all, do the full strength and course)
Erythromycin is mentioned sometimes, but it does not treat gram negative bacteria, so it won't be effective on columnaris.

With the amount of damage already done, even after treatment the wound will be quite large and still prone to reinfection until it heals more (the fish may forever be disfigured, but can fully recover). So make sure to keep the fish in pristine water conditions to give it the best chance of recovery and less chance of reinfection.

I am not sure if this disease is contagious. If it is, I would treat the whole tank just to make sure all traces are gone. And putting already sick/weak fish into a new environment such as a hospital tank overloads the fish with stress and chances are even slimmer of recovering, but sometimes is necessary if the disease is too risky (dangerous) of having spread to other fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks to everyone who has posted here to help. I noticed what may have been the start of infection on another fish so I decided to treat the whole tank. I'm starting day two of treatment and already my fish are all more active than they had been lately.

I also found a couple things that have been hurting my water conditions but should be easy to fix:
  • I re-mixed my nitrate reference/calibration solutions and it looks like I've been getting artificially low readings and my nitrates were up to 35-45 ppm! (Higher than the 25ppm reference but less than the 50ppm) I did a 70-75% water change before starting treatment.
  • In doing the water change I tried a narrower siphon/vacuum tube and was horrified how much more mulm and plant detritus it pulled out of the substrate than my old one. At least it's out now.

So both those issues were probably big contributors leading to my problems.

I also received the Thera+A from Amazon yesterday and they seem to love it! Hopefully their health will continue to improve.
 
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