Swordtail getting old? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 11-19-2009, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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Swordtail getting old?

So, I have a 16 gallon, bow front aquarium that I have had for about 7-8 months. I originally had 2 swordtails, and 2 silver sailfin mollies, and 2 platies as well as a plecostomus. My two platies died, as well as my plecostomus and one swordtail. I think it was because of over population mainly and I think there was some bad bacteria or fungus in there as my swordtails had some filmy white stuff on their coats. So, during all of this I started putting some antifungal and antibacterial medicine in the tank and took out the carbon in my filter.

So after about 4 days of this and cleaning out my tank with a large water change and scrubbing the algae, I bought three Otocinclus, and my friend gave me another swordtail. One of the Otocinclus died, and another one looks like it's pregnant? The Otocinclus don't look like they're eating too much. From what I've heard about them, they are supposed to be really hard workers with algae. The new swordtail and the two mollies are doing fine. But, my one swordtail who I've had the longest in the tank still has some filmy stuff on his coat and his eyes are humongous? I have never seen a swordtail with huge eyes before. Is he getting old or is it because of the fungus/bacteria? I also wondered if it was because he might not be getting enough food. I feed them once a day and they all eat at least 5-10 flakes of food. Also his back is arching a little bit. I have seen that a lot in my tank with swordtails, their back keeps arching a little bit, and then they die pretty soon after.

So, if anyone has any ideas or help for me, please let me know! Thanks!

Last edited by sammies4787; 11-19-2009 at 12:26 PM.
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post #2 of 5 Old 11-19-2009, 04:38 PM
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It sounds as if your swordtail is suffering from a severe case of pop eye, which is a bacterial and often fungal infection in the eye. If left untreated for too long, or is treated with the wrong medications, these infections are known to spread quickly. The bent spine tells me that the infection has likely spread into the brain by this point, and the kindest thing you could do is to euthanize this fish instead of letting it suffer further. There is no treatment when it is this advanced.

Also, please be forewarned, these infections are contagious to your other fish. The sooner you remove the infected fish the better the chances your other fish won't contract it.

It sounds like you purchased sick fish in the first place. Please be very aware of sick or dead fish in a tank you choose to purchase from. If there is 1 sick or dead fish in a store tank, it should be expected that all fish in the tank have been exposed and are likely infected, even if it is not yet visible due to early stage and lack of symptoms until advanced.

Sorry I can't offer you better news, but removing that sick fish from the tank asap is the safest thing to do. If any of your other fish begin to show symptoms such as you described with the filmy skin/scales, filmy or swollen eyes, etc. please post right away so we can get the proper medication in there to help them.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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post #3 of 5 Old 11-21-2009, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help. I will let you know if I see any more signs! Thanks.
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post #4 of 5 Old 12-06-2009, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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So, I think that my silver sailfin molly has popeye now. What do I do in that case? He seems to be pretty healthy except for his eyes. So, now I only have three fish; one swordtail, one silver sailfin and one otocinclus. The swordtail and the otocinclus seem to be doing fine. I did add some medication to the tank called coppersafe. And, I heard from a fellow coworker that I should give them some garlic flakes for fish because it keeps the ich off. So, I have been giving them a few garlic flakes a day. Is there anything else I can do?
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post #5 of 5 Old 12-07-2009, 12:20 AM
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The first thing I can tell you is that Coppersafe will not treat popeye. Coppersafe is used to treat parasites. Popeye is a bacterial and sometimes also fungal infection, which I mentioned in my last post.

The next thing I can tell you is that copper is a very harsh medication that I avoid as often as possible. There are disadvantages of using copper. Please know that copper is not easily removed from the tank, and is highly toxic to any type of invertebrate life. This means you will no longer be able to put things like shrimp and other inverts into that tank, and should you wish to use it for saltwater some day, the same thing applies. Even with the use of bleach, once a tank has had copper introduced by way of medication, it is forever considered unsafe for invert life. You may also find many species of live plants that will not grow in that tank, now, either.

The medication I would have suggested would have been Jungle's Fungus Eliminator. Because of the copper treatment, I am not sure this is going to be a safe option now either. Do you have a copper test kit? At the end of medicating you will be doing water changes and adding carbon back into the filter... but it is very possible that this is not going to be enough to remove the copper. Testing the water for copper is the only way to know...

Do you have a quarantine tank set up? If so, you have the option of moving the sick fish to a quarantine tank, waiting a day or 2 so the fish can recover from the effects of the copper a bit... and then start a full treatment of Fungus Eliminator. Please understand, Fugus Clear and Fungus Eliminator are different medications, and one is not a good substitute for the other. At the same time as treating with the Fungus Eliminator, you can also coat a bit of the flake food with a very small amount of metronidazole and feed that to the sick fish for 3 - 5 days. (If you put a bit of flake food into a zip lock baggie, add a very tiny amount of metronidazole, zip shut and shake until the medication is no longer loose in the bag under the flakes)

Depending on how advanced and aggressive the bacteria you're dealing with, you may see good results as soon as a week after treatment begins... or you may notice that in spite of the meds the symptoms continue to worsen, in which case there is no other treatment I can suggest to battle such a thing, such as what happened to the swordtail in the first post.

In regards to the garlic... garlic will help to strengthen the immune system, so the fish can fight illness more effectively, and is also an appetite stimulant to help keep the fish eating, which will keep its physical strength up. Its not a bad thing to offer the fish, especially in times of high stress or illness, just don't want to over do it. Adding some frozen brine to the diet would also help to increase/stengthen the immune system. The easiest way is to rotate between the variety of foods, one food in a day, and be sure the fish can finish it completely within 1 - 2 minutes.

I wish you luck. If you have more questions, let me know and I'll do my best to keep up with you here and get them all answered.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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