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I feel like I'm being dramatic here but the lack of information I'm finding on this subject is causing me to worry. I have a Betta who appears to be succumbing to Graphite Disease this morning. I'm reading this is a type of mycobacterium and is difficult to get rid of in the aquarium. The fish was in a planted 10g with other fish. First of all, what do I do now? Water changes and antibiotics? I also have a planted 20g that could very well have have been exposed through equipment and what not. My biggest concern is having read about Mycobacterium Marinum. I'm worried that I have two tanks harboring potential human disease sitting in my bedroom. I set these tanks up because they relax me but now I'm feeling very stressed out and I want to throw it all away. Can anyone tell me what I'm dealing with here, please?
 

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I remember posting to a thread here a year or two ago on the topic. The subject scared the crap out of me to the point that I now use elbow length gloves when doing maintenance on my tanks for the most part. Here and there I go in bare handed but I am very conscience of washing my arms after maintenance. The biggest threat, is open sores on your hands/arm. This is how the infection gets you. Many will tell you that, aww I have been messing with tanks for 10-20+ years and nothing ever happened to me. Well all it takes is that one day. I can't remember the article I read before but it was not a good thing to hear if one in fact is infected by it. I wouldn't worry myself to death about it though. Just be conscience of what your doing with you tanks and wash up afterwards. If you are 100% positive that your tank has it, for a piece of mind, I would discard it. A 10g tank is easily replaced. I am not sure if bleach soaking, potassium permaganate, boiling hot water, meds or any other methods of threat work for I have not looked that deep into the matter.
 

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You can kill mycobacterium with typical antibiotics its just that the cell cycle is soooooooo long with mycobacteria. This is exaserbated by the fact that they have a waxy, hydrophobic outer layer of mycolic acid. Thats why TB patients take antibiotics for months. The stuff is boring as hell to do research on because you just sit around for a month while your petri dish grows.
 

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If you have any fish showing any signs of Mycobacteria you could take them to a vet that specializes in fish. Take the fish in alive. The vet will kill it and examine the internal organs for signs of the disease.

Here is some info from a year or so ago.
A vet diagnosed MB in some fish.
All the fish in the tank were euthanized.
Everything that would not tolerate the following were thrown out. (plants, filter media, substrate)

1) Thorough cleaning with bleach. I do not remember if this was diluted. Not much, if at all.
Bleach will break apart the bio film that many microorganisms live in. It will kill many of them, but not all, and especially not Mycobacteria.
Rinse clean, air dry (chlorine evaporates)

2) Thorough cleaning with isopropyl alcohol. In USA this is generally sold as Rubbing Alcohol, 70%. Do not dilute this. (If you find stronger alcohol it is OK to dilute to 70%). This kills Mycobacteria, but does not break down the biofilm. The organisms could escape from the alcohol if you do not first use the bleach.
Rinse clean, air dry (alcohol also evaporates).
 

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This is very concerning . I have never heard of this before . Takes a lot of the fun out of the hobby to have to be paranoid of doing tank maintenance . If bleach won't kill it , what good will washing my hands do ? I guess long rubber gloves are on the to buy list . I am still researching , but I haven't found much yet .
 

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I've heard about this years ago, but just under the fish TB name. No one seemed to worry or give a toot about it, though. Immune-compromised people, I assumed, would be at most risk, followed by stressed out people and then healthy people.
There have been tons of posts here and in other forums of fish with bent spines, with fish tb, bog ol nasty lesions, some culled and others 'rescued' them....

Seeing as how you should bleach, alcohol and air dry, I don't think you should buy store fish once you spot one with a weird spine or odd lesion on it.

If you can confirm what your fish has, do so. If not, and you're paranoid about it, then bleach, air dry, alcohol, air dry everything and then start anew. Pretty easy to toss everything into a small tank, dump bleach or alcohol, mix it around and drain. Rinsing out all that bleach will take forever and on a small tank, I'd be worried about the lioness, just out of a little paranoia of gallons of water everywhere while I sleep...
 

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Read about this many years ago and it was a contributor for me to giving up on fish keeping(marine tank) at the time 10 years running. Clearly I care about fish but gloving up, up to my shoulders is not gonna happen. Not having cuts and scrapes on fingers, hands and arms certainly is not gonna happen.

I have never had my arms in tanks more than I have since starting a tank in which I wanted a few plants to grow. Soooo... It is important that people are aware of this regardless of any precautions you may or may not take. Actually, wish I had not read this post. Sorry.
 

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This is why I am against raising foodstuff on water from fish tanks.
In the past when I got panicky I have been known to boil everything in my tank in a pot over the stove.
I say thank god for dishwashers now. Living in SA I'm more scared of getting TB form humans, we have a strain here that does not respond to medication.
And people suffering from it who refuse to stay in hospital.....
 

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I have been keeping both salt and freshwater fish for going on 18 years and I have never encountered "fish tb" or known anyone who has encountered it. I think its one of those things that is way over blown.

FWIW I have never worn a glove and never will wear gloves in my fish tanks and my hands are in there all the time.
 

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I do think risks are getting bigger as more and more people use the same international distributors.
 

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Sheesh. I've been at this for over 50 years now. I've yet to read or come across a case confirmed to be caused by messing around in a fish tank. If someone does know of such a case, I'd really appreciate a link so I can educate myself further.

To the OP, if you have a compromised immune system, are prone to infections, or have a long list of allergies both known and suspected, you may have cause for concern. Otherwise, glove up and enjoy the hobby if you're still concerned.

On the SW side there's a very real issue with palytoxins released by Palythoa and related species. The cases I've both seen and read of seem to be more along the line of allergic reactions to having "messed with" rocks covered with things like brown button polyps that folks were trying to eradicate. The reaction can be REALLY severe in some cases.
 

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Hello,

I am a veterinarian and since joining this hobby, I have become much more interested in fish medicine. As far as mycobacteria goes, you do need to use caution for yourself. Here is a good overview: Mycobacterium marinum infection [eScholarship]

As far as the tank goes, here is an abstract looking at various ways to decontaminate a tank. You have to start from scratch unfortunately:

Abstract
As mycobacteriosis is an important disease of freshwater, brackish, and marine fishes, as well as a potential zoonotic risk to human, significant reduction or elimination of this bacterial pathogen from an aquarium or aquaculture facility is important. Disinfection is the process that eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms from inanimate objects. Disinfection methods available for aquaculture usage include chemical disinfection, UV irradiation and ozonation. The most commonly recommended chemicals for mycobacterial disinfection (phenolics, glutaraldehyde) are toxic to animals, including both fish and humans. In addition, there are only a few chemical disinfectants registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use with foodfish aquaculture, and none of these is specifically labeled for mycobacteria.

Various disinfectants have been evaluated in our laboratory for their ability to disinfect the water, aquatic surfaces and equipment of an aquarium or aquaculture facility. An effective disinfectant is defined as one whose use results in a 3-log reduction of bacterial growth within 10 minutes of contact time. PVP iodine (100 ppm, 50 ppm), ethyl alcohol (70% and 50%), benzyl-4-chlorophenol/phenylphenol (Lysol®) and sodium chlorite (Clidox-S®) were the most effective disinfectants, each reducing the number of detectable M. marinum to zero within one min of contact time. Sodium hypochlorite (Clorox®) was moderately effective, but required at least 10 min of contact time to reduce bacterial counts and 20 min of contact time to eliminate the organism. Formalin (250 ppm), Chloramine-T (15mg/L), potassium peroxymonosulfate/sodium chloride (1%, Virkon-S®), and two formulations of N-alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (1:256, Roccal-D Plus®, 1:256, Micronex®) were not effective against M. marinum.

Additionally, it is recommended that a thorough cleaning and/or longer contact time may be required in actual aquatic situations, since the organic loads commonly present in aquaculture tanks or aquariums, or the ability of Mycobacterium organisms to be incorporated into aquatic biofilms are generally not taken into account.

Best of luck,
Ben
 

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The interwebs are so strange. I cannot open the link you posted....

If anyone is interested, I can copy/paste the pertinent sections of the link I posted.

Ben
 

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I couldn't open the link that benealing posted above, but found this and was easy enough to read.....even for me, but certainly can't vouch for its' accuracy or veracity.

https://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Mycobacteriosis_(Fish_Tuberculosis)
Haha, seems opposite for me. Benealing's link worked for me and is a good read, while your link ended in a wiki page with a "no text on page" result.

If you copy the link Benealing listed and pasted it in a google search, you should be able to find the article.

EDIT: Looks like just the ")" was left out of the url. Just add on the ")" and you can find the page, or click "search for this page title" and it finds it.
https://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Mycobacteriosis_(Fish_Tuberculosis)


@benealing Here is a article on fish TB by Carl Strohmeyer
http://www.aquarium-pond-answers.com/2012/04/tb-in-fish-mycobacterium-tuberculosis.html
Lots of other links/articles within that page as well
Carl does a lot of research on many fish diseases and medications, as well as general aquaria science, so take a look around if you are interested


But anyways on the subject of fish TB, it is reported to be contagious to Humans, although I would consider it very rare, and most fish that you do see with deformed spines are for one of many other different reasons (poor nutrition, old age, birth defect/poor genetics, etc). But still the danger is very real and so caution is advised.
 

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