03-05-2011, 03:40 PM
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Thank you very much for the thorough reply and willingness to help! Scales: More defined when compared to the other, I don’t know if I would say pinecone effect, the edges are more defined, if I sight him from head to tail, I can see what looks like individual rows of scales slightly raised (like with a freshly tilled field). On the bottom right behind the anal fin the scales look as if they might be raised. On the left side of the fish directly behind the gill cover I believe there is something loose attached to the fish The fish is still eating, just not as much as previously, he will eat a flake, then spit it out and eat a few of the pieces, but the amount he actually consumes is about half of that of the smaller fish. The fish are in a 58g (36x18x21) The tank was setup 1/18/2011 Filtration is a trickle filter running through 2 layers of blue filter media, a 12x12x5 section of bio balls, then 3x3x12 bio sponge, ending in an 8g sump. Substrate is 20lb Eco Complete and 20lb Walmart gravel substrate Plants: 2 Java Fern, 3 Corckscrew Vallisneria, 1 unknown dwarf sword (will provide pic), 2 bunches of unknown stemmed plant w/ round leaves (will provide pic) I feed Tetra brand TetraColor flakes once daily (Im trying to kill off the hydra population in the tank). Once a week I feed Tetra brand “Freeze Dried Blood Worms” I believe they are actually freeze dried insect larvae. 10g water change one a week, vacuum substrate every 3rd WC I would say he has been swollen about 2 to 3 days. About 2 days prior to the swelling I noticed he was spending most of his time hidden in caves. The initial swelling seemed very rapid, and I think it has been slowly increasing. He was slightly wider than the other when I brought them home, I figured this was due to him being about ¼” longer. As mentioned, I do not know the params of the breeding source, but I know the water params the LFS maintains in their tanks is a pH of 7.2 and a temp of 78 (outside of that I do not know) I am working on pics now. Maybe 5min. Thanks again, Sean
03-05-2011, 03:58 PM
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Current layout: (I finally got done curing a bunch more rocks so I could setup my final layout, but I think the stress of adding them with a sick fish could be fatal)
Unknown dwarf sword as mentioned:
Unknown stemmed plant as mentioned:
This is the location the ram has been all day other than when I fed them this afternoon. In previous days he has been in the many caves of the rock pile to the right of the tank.
Hope some of this helps
03-05-2011, 04:35 PM
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Thank you for your quick reply with info. I understand you don't yet have all of the info, so please bring it here when you do obtain it. That missing info may help as this progresses.
In seeing your photo there is one thing I notice right away... lack of decor. You mentioned curing the rocks for this tank? Can I ask why and how you are going about that? Rams are very territorial fish, as most cichlids are. Lack of decor can not only cause issues among the fish (especially male/female and differing species) but it can cause much stress if the fish don't feel like they have shelter in all areas they need to move around the tank. That could contribute to the extensive hiding that you mentioned.
After your description of the ailing fish, there leaves 2 big possibilities. The first possibility is the early stages of dropsy, however, without the ability to see this fish in person or to do the lab work that would be required, there is no way to be certain. The other possibility is an intestinal parasite, typically worms... which can offer symptoms very close to that of the early stages of dropsy. Because there is no harm in preventive medication for intestinal parasites, I am going to suggest a treatment of PraziPro (praziquantel) for the entire tank. IF this is intestinal parasites they are contagious to other fish, so the safe way to do this is to treat them all as preventive to be sure. This should not interfere with your biological filtration or harm your plants.
Unfortunately there is no cure for dropsy. If the Prazi doesn't appear to help after 1 treatment, then we need to take steps to avoid possible infection of the other fish in case this is dropsy. This will require a long term quarantine tank unless you choose to euthanize the sick fish. The main method of infection is in consuming the organs of an infected fish.
Before you panic, please know that a fish CAN live for a very long time with dropsy (years) just by treating the symptoms and maintaining very clean water quality, as it appears you are already doing. Mostly this will depend on how strong the specific fish's immune system is, genetics, and how severe & quickly the virus is affecting the fish's organs. (my daughter took in a sick 2 yr old betta with dropsy and severe popeye in both eyes, it lived for almost 3 yrs that way, happily, with no treatment other than healthy diet and clean water.)
At this point I will encourage you to start with the Prazi treatment and add a lot more decor to that tank, not focusing just on the lower 1/3 of the tank, but remembering that these fish need to be able to travel the entire tank, so decor in the upper 2/3 is very important. Drift wood, rocks stacked on each other, tall plants (fake or real no matter, silk works great for this), and floating plants (again, live or real no matter, plastics work well if you pop the little plastic bottom off) will all help to break up the territory in that tank and reduce the stress levels that will cause more problems and can often mask symptoms to larger problems.
In reference to the foods offered, try to get more variety in the diet. Live black worms, frozen brine (soaked in Zoe vitamins for 10 minutes and then strained before feeding), mosquito larvae if you can find them (frozen is fine), frozen mysis shrimp, and formula 1 frozen foods will all help contribute to a much healthier, well rounded diet.
With the blood worms, be careful not to overdo it. Blood worms are midge fly larvae, and while they are high in protein and offer color enhancement, they are also very high in fat content... which is not healthy for any fish if that is used as a staple diet. Blood worms should be restricted more as a treat food than standard daily diet.
I am about to walk out the door here in a few minutes, but when I get home I will come back and talk you through working on your possible pH issue. With the lfs tank reading of 7.2, it wouldn't hurt for you to bring your pH down just slightly, and there is a safe/easy way to do this. What you will need (so you have time to gather supplies) is 2 lengths of airline tubing (to reach from tank to bucket), 2 air flow regulators, and a either 5 - 10 gallons of distilled or RO water... and two 5 - 7 gallon buckets.
The air flow regulators I am referring to are like the ones found at this link (with the little knobs on them)... most lfs's carry them. Lees Aquarium Air Line Control Kit [Air Line Control Kit] - $2.22 : Aqua Terras, Aquarium, Terrarium and Pond Supplies
I will be back as soon as I am able. If you need a reliable source to purchase the Prazipro let me know and I will offer you some links to that as well when I return.
03-05-2011, 08:52 PM
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Sorry for the delay, I just got home.
What I am going to suggest, both because of the sensitivity of this species of fish and because of the amount of stress they have already endured, is a drip system for slowly changing your pH in the tank over the course of days rather than hours. This will take a bit of creativity on your part since the water dripping into the tank will obviously need to be above the tank to work, however, this is the safest method I can offer.
When you set up your drip lines, one in and one out, you will need to find a way to anchor them to the side of the tank so the end of the drip line hangs well below the water's surface. I use duct tape for such things as its easy to remove later, but you may have other ideas. Plant weights typically found on bunched plants at the lfs can also be used to weight down the end of each line that needs to be in the water, but there are many options to do the same thing.
In the first bucket, the water that will be going into the tank, mix your RO water with tap water and bring your pH down to .1 below what it is reading in the tank. The easiest way to do this is to start out with a small amount of tap water, test the pH. Add a small amount of RO water and test again. Be sure to thoroughly mix this water before testing and before starting your drip to avoid fluctuations. If you have an air stone you can drop into the bucket to help with mixing, even better. You will also want to test tap water before using it to see if there is any difference between that and the tank water. If there is, please let me know, as this would be an indicator that something inside the tank is raising pH and we will need to figure out what it is so you can remove it asap.
Once you have the bucket water (5 gallons) ready to go into the tank, start your drip going out of the tank into an empty bucket. Using the control valves, set your drip to 1 drip every 1 - 2 seconds, count it out, this is important. Once the drip out has started, wait 2 - 3 minutes and start the drip in. This will ensure that the water is slowly being replaced at the same rate of removal and will never overflow the tank and will provide a very gradual change in pH. As you complete a 5 gallon bucket of change, which should take approximately 1/2 - 1 day, start again by testing the water in the tank, and repeat the process, each time lowering the pH going into the tank by .1... and stop when you have reached a pH of 7.4 in the tank. This entire process will likely take about a week if your tank pH is registering at 7.9. When you get to 7.4 in the tank, maintain that by using the RO/tap mixture for your weekly water changes, and remember to always test the tank water before each water change. Testing is the only way to track and control fluctuations.
(I know this sounds complicated, but once you set up the first buckets and start the first round of drip, it will simplify and become pretty easy) If you have questions, please ask before doing anything so you are clear about the procedure. Changing the pH any faster than that will put all of your fish at risk, especially under the current circumstances. If you need to leave the tank unattended during the course of the day/night, simply turn the control knob to stop the drip, leaving the lines in place for easy start again later. The most important part of this is to take your time and create very slow/gradual change.
I would suggest completing the Prazi treatment before you begin altering the pH, so you have 5 days to organize and tweak your drip process.
In reference to your curing of the rocks... while this seems like a good idea, its important to know that many rocks contain elements and compounds that can/will react negatively to bleach. This can make for a toxic mess for fish, especially in the confines of a closed aquarium system. If you are concerned about the safety of the rock you are using for the tank, it would be much safer to set yourself up yet another bucket with a simple air stone and some tank water (from a water change) and add a few feeder guppies to the bucket. If there is a problem with the rock (toxins, etc) the guppies will let you know within about 48 hrs in most cases. There is really no need for the lengthy process you are using now, which is less safe than the "guppy check". If you don't wish to use guppies, ghost shrimp or a mystery snail will offer you the same results, but avoid rams horn snails, as their population can be quite difficult to control and you don't want to send rock with snail eggs into your planted tank.
And, lastly, the floating plant dilemma... again there are many ways to accomplish this. If you choose to use fishing line be sure there is no line running through open areas of the water where the fish may run into it, get hung up on it, etc. Also be careful not to block too much light from the plants below, as this will affect their growth/survival. Tall silk plants that lay over the surface of the water work well at breaking up territory at all levels of the tank, however, they can be expensive. Dollar stores often sell silk plants for much cheaper, but these plants need to be rinsed well, thoroughly dried and then checked for any exposed wires. A simple cigarette lighter can be used to carefully melt the plastic stems over exposed areas of wire... but again, do this carefully so as not to burn yourself or start a fire. I have been using dollar store silk plants in my tanks for many yrs and never had a problem, and they tend to last longer than those made for aquarium use. The wider leaved plants can be cleaned easily using a new toothbrush, and as long as you rinse it with only water when finished, the toothbrush should last for future cleanings almost indefinitely. Do not use bleach to clean silk plants, as this will remove all color from the silk portions and can cause issues if coming into contact with exposed wire.
In the past I have used the wide leaf silk plants around the outer edges of the surface of my tanks, using the long thick stem to hold them in place by simply bending it into a hook shape. This can also be done to hold them between filter intake tubes and the side of the tank glass. If you build rock work up in areas of the tank to reach at least mid level, taller silk plants can also be wedged between them so they reach the surface and still remain in place, which gives you complete control over what areas of the tank become shaded and which ones remain empty enough to allow light to penetrate for the lower live plants.
If you should work with live floating plants they will need to be trimmed often enough to not restrict light to the plants below. I have used this method many times as well, and while it is more beneficial to water quality, it can be a lot more work to keep up with.
Water lettuce is another good floating plant that can be used for this purpose, but again, growth rate must be maintained. The roots of water lettuce will provide a lot of shelter in the upper 1/4 of the tank and at the same time soak a lot of nutrients from the water, which helps maintain low nitrate levels. Water lettuce acts like a nitrate sponge. Please check your lighting to be sure the water lettuce can handle it. Light that is too strong will cause the plants to turn yellow and "burn" them, light that is too low will cause them to whither die off quickly.
When working with the vals and sags, you should know that they like to be crowded to have the best chance at optimal growth. Plant the bulbs in groups of 3 - 5 and do so densely, which will help to encourage new growth that is sent out as a runner beneath the substrate. Also be sure to skim any plant debris from the water's surface so that dead plant matter does not pollute your tank water.
I think thats all for now. If I think of anything else I will come back and post again for you.
Best of luck and let me know if you need any further help.
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