Sorry I haven't updated this (or any of my other threads) in such a long time. I kind of got lost in the Christmas rush, and am only just now starting to get back to normal busy from insanely busy!
So, the kindergarten tank is having issues right now, and making me very sad. I've said before that the Platy
who live there were just bad stock to begin with. They developed ich soon after being brought home, and both of the shops that I go to had complained that their last few batches of Platy
had come in with issues, and many of them had been sent back, or entire batches had died. . . of course they didn't mention this fact until AFTER
I brought the fish home, but it probably wouldn't have changed much, anyway. I was on a timeline for getting this tank up and running for the kids in the classroom, so I couldn't put as much time into choosing stock and QT as I usually do with my home tanks. When I took over the kindergarten tank, it was in a state of terrible neglect and the few remaining fish were dying off quickly. I picked the healthiest Platy
I could find between both shops, and that was that. . .
Things were going great after that initial ich outbreak had been taken care of, and I was finally at the point of thinking it *might* actually be smooth sailing from here on out, but then one of the fish got VERY
thin in an extremely
short period of time. I pulled her out and brought her home to my hospital tank, but she didn't make it. I was hoping that it was an isolated event, and that I got her out of the main tank in time to keep it from spreading. Everything seemed okay in there for a while, the fish seemed happy, and all was well.
When the babies were born we put in a small breeder net for the fry, mostly so that the kids could find them more easily. A few days after the net went in, I found one of our prettiest Platy
- the red one - dead, and trapped behind the breeder net. I wasn't sure if he had been sick/weak/dead before he got there, and the current had pushed him behind the net, or if he had somehow gotten trapped back there, and died because he was unable to get free - one of the problems with running a tank that can't really be watched. . . Everyone else seemed okay in the tank, and he looked
healthy enough - aside from being dead - so I just guessed it was a random accident. Everything continued as normal for a while. . .
Over winter break we lost another of our fish - the little white speckled Molly juvie that was the only fish left from the original stock in that tank. I was REALLY
sad to lose that one - he was my favorite, and I was looking forward to bringing him home to my home tank to live with my own Mollies. But it happened over the break while the tank was more or less unattended (both the teacher and I managed to get in a few times, but it was still pretty much on it's own). Again, he didn't look emaciated, just dead. And with what that little fish had gone through in the previous set-up, it really could have just been his time, since most of his life was lived out in terrible conditions. . . I'm glad he was at least able to die in a clean and well-planted tank. . . But still - nothing pointed to an illness. He was just fine one day and gone the next.
Luckily, the children weren't really any the wiser. The original sick girl was a blue MM Platy
, and I had a 'replacement' in my home tank. I switched the sick one for the healthy one, and they never noticed a change. The red Platy
died over the weekend, and I was able to sneak him out of the tank before school started, and the Molly died during winter break, so while one or two of the kids noticed that these fish had gone missing, I was able to talk to them about it one on one without upsetting the entire class.
Classes resumed on Wednesday, the 2nd of January, and everything looked okay. The plan had been to add a dwarf frog and an Apple Snail
or two to the tank after break, but then our sunset Platy
started looking thin. He continued to lose weight startlingly fast, and by Monday morning, the 6th, he seemed to be having trouble eating. He'd try to eat, get a mouthful, and spit it back out again - regardless of what the food was (they get a mix of wet-frozen foods like brine, bloodworm, mysis, etc, along with NLS flakes and pellets, and veggies regularly), though he was still behaving as if nothing was wrong in every other way. His color remained good, breathing normal, and swimming along with the others.
I pulled the class together and explained to them that, just like they had all been spreading nasty cold germs around the classroom, the fish were also
passing around an illness called 'Skinny Disease,' and that we would have give them medicine to help them be healthy again before putting any new critters into the tank. I made it very clear to the students that fish's bodies aren't like people's bodies, and because they're so much tinier than us, they can get very sick very quickly, and sometimes they die even though we do all we can to help them feel better. The kids asked a lot of really good questions, and took the whole thing very well - I'm proud of them! They're sad about it, but considering how many fish deaths they witnessed before I took over, I think they'll be okay if we lose him or any of the others - they seem to understand that sickness and death is, unfortunately, a part of fish-keeping, whether we like it or not.
The symptoms of a fish losing weight while continuing to eat and otherwise behave normally can be indicative of several different things, so I decided to treat the tank with API General Cure, which contains both Metronidazole and Praziquantel. It treats a range of issues, and has helped me in a similar situation in the past.
Unfortunately, I have a very hectic schedule that involves caring for many small children, and I couldn't get to the store for meds as quickly as I wanted to. Luckily, I still had one packet of medication left from before, so last week I fed the tank 2x daily with food that had been soaked in the medication. Many people/books recommend dosing the food instead of the water anyway, as it gets directly to the source of the trouble this way, but the poor little Platy
was having trouble eating, though he was obviously trying to, so I wasn't really sure how much good the meds were doing him. Finally, on Friday, during the second feeding of the day - HE ATE!
I was so happy to see that. . . I'm really hoping that he isn't too far gone to save at this point. . . I got a new box of medication on Friday after school, and the teacher made a special trip into the classroom yesterday (Saturday) to put the first dose of meds into the water. We will put another dose in tomorrow - 48 hours later, and the final dose will go in on Wednesday. I'm hoping that it'll be okay, and even if the little Sunset doesn't make it, the illness will be stopped in its tracks and the rest of his buddies will be okay.
We will be doing several water changes and wait at least 2 weeks before adding the frogs and/or the snails to the tank to be sure that the meds are cleared out from the system. From what I've found, these drugs *shouldn't* harm frogs or snails, but I'd rather be on the safe side. For now the new babies are hanging out in their own tank in my 2 year old's room. . .
Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well with the treatment, and with the new additions when we get there!