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RackinRocky 07-20-2012 03:02 PM

Please help! Horrible case of Columnaris
I am a newbie with a 55 gallon tank that has been cycled for maybe 6 weeks. Ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates average 10-20. I have unfortunately learned the hard way--QUARANTINE! I didn't heed the advice I had read over and over, and am now paying for it, big time. I have been adding fish gradually (3-4 every 2 weeks). No problems except ich at the beginning that elevated temperature and salt took care of. The last two fish I got, about 18 days ago, died within two days of each other. This was 3 days ago. One was puny looking and ragged fins with reduced appetite the last two days before death, but no other symptoms. She was dead within a day. That was a platy. My balloon Platy was next, and she died even quicker. I did see a "film" from her waist on back to her tail. I watch my fish closely, so it couldn't have been there for long before she became ill. They were both put into the hospital tank with aquarium salt and 80 degree temp. after they'd shown symptoms for no more than two days.

In the last 4 days, I have lost 6 fish. After the first two died, it started spreading like wildfire. My dearly beloved female betta had a spot that was tannish on her side last night (only symptom) but I wasn't sure if it was her color changing or not, since she was marbling. She was FINE yesterday, eating and active as usual. I put her in my 10 gallon hospital tank last night when I saw the spot on her side and she became listless quickly. She was in the last stages of death this morning, so I euthanized her. Never thought I'd cry over a fish. . . meanwhile another platy I noticed had a spot of white on her mouth last night. No other symptoms with her either. So I put her in the hospital tank was well. Not long after, I saw yet another platy with a white mouth. In the hospital tank she went. Went to a vet supply store (after furiously researching online as to what they might have, and the best meds to use).

My head was swimming after all that reading, and knew I had to move fast, but finally concluded it must be columnaris, considering the symptoms and how fast and furious it was moving The people I read about who had had the most success used Maracyn Two or Kanamycin and Furan. Some used both Maracyn and Maracyn Two concurrently. The vet store had the Maracyn Two, so I got it, and, after a big water change, added the first day's two packets. As I mentioned, the first platy was dead this morning. (After less than 12 hours of noticing the white spot!) and of course, the betta was upside down, on the bottom, gasping, and I ended her suffering. This morning another platy was listless and did not eat and was staying right at the top (although no spots or anything on her) so she's now also in the hospital tank. I am stunned.

Now I still have the other platy with the white mouth, but she's on the bottom, breathing hard, so I suspect it won't be long for her. Managed to lower the temp last night to 75 (can't get it much lower than that with the hot weather right now), added 2 teaspoons of aquarium salt to start (will add more tomorrow) and the second dose of the Maracyn Two. Should I also get Maracyn? I know Columnaris is gram negative, but do I also need to be using Maracyn (because its gram positive) in case of a secondary infection?

I'm beside myself, and from what I read, it sounds like a severe case that is going to wipe out my entire tank, considering how fast they are dying. I still have one platy, 3 balloon mollies, four female bettas and a Bolivian Ram in the 55 gallon without symptoms. I will be devastated if I lose them all. Does this sound hopeless, considering how fast I lost two of them? And is there anything else (or betterthan I'm doing for them?) I'm going to order more Maracyn Two and Maracyn online today and should get it before I run out of my current Maracyn Two.

Chesh 07-20-2012 09:48 PM

Oh no. . . I'm SO sorry for your losses. *HUGS* It sounds like you're doing everything you can. I don't know anything about disease and treatment, but my heart suck when I saw this thread with your name on it. . .

Here's a *BUMP* to get your post to the top of the page - hopefully someone who can help you will see it and give you some advice.

Good luck, dear. . . I'm so sorry!

RackinRocky 07-20-2012 10:22 PM

Thanks so much, Ches. I've come to the conclusion, thru my readings that its a very virulent strain, or else the fish wouldn't be dying this quickly. I get the feeling from what I've read that if this is the case, there isn't much hope and that its probably not treatable. Its apparently the type that starts inside, ruining organs, and you don't see any symptoms until its already too late. I can't believe how much I've been crying over losing these fish. Two more female bettas are now hiding most of the time, so I suspect they will be next. Pretty soon my 10 gallon hospital tank will be way overstocked with sick fish. Well, that is, if I don't lose a few more tonight, which I'm afraid is going to happen as they all seem on a fast downward spiral. Someone please give me some input!

LyzzaRyzz 07-21-2012 12:20 AM

Oh no!
I really hope its not as bad as that!
I wish i knew more, but have you done a water change and good gravel cleaning since you started having dying fish?

Chesh 07-21-2012 06:17 AM

GAH!. . . and it's the weekend, not as many people are active on the weekend. From the (very litte) I know about the disease, I think lowering the temp and salt was the way to go - you're doing your best, I'm so very very SAD for you! Not that it would make you feel any better, but I cry when I lose fish, too.

Snappyarcher 07-21-2012 09:39 AM

To be honest you are doing as much as you can... Columnaris is a nasty disease and is often a tank wiper.... however try getting your tank up to 1% salinity, with the fish you have you are safe to do this and it may help the medications.... you have been given good advice on the medications and i would go with those. If I can help in any other way please do message me ok?

Chesh 07-21-2012 10:40 AM

Thanks, Snappy! I really appreciate your advice *hugs*

Any word on how it's going over there, Rocky? I hope things are looking up!

RackinRocky 07-21-2012 09:42 PM

Thanks so much to you guys for your support and sympathy! I am grieving, and have lost 2 more fish as of this morning. Again, no signs except for a spot of white on the mouth the day before.

I got the Maracyn from my local vet supply store, as Petsmart was charging $21.99 for it! And for the Maracyn Two they were charging $14.99! The vet supply store only charged $9.99 for each. This is fo r8 packets of meds. Talk about price gouging! I will not ever get anything from Petsmart again unless I just cannot find it elsewhere. I know I got the Columnaris from them, as it was the two fish I got from them that died first. Before that I had no problems. They only offer a 7 day guarantee, and these fish didn't manifest signs of the disease until after that. I realize its difficult for them to keep such a large number of fish healthy, but they HAD to have known about this Columnaris (or at least they should know by now).

Thanks so much Snappy, for offering for me to message you. I will if I have any further questions. The Maracyn and Maracyn Two can be used concurrently, as it says on the box, but it doesn't say anywhere if the full dose of each med should be used. I read the whole package insert, and it said nothing about that, so I went ahead and gave the full dose of Maracyn. I was so afraid of overdosing! But the fish seem fine. I also added a little over a teaspoon more salt this morning, for a total of about 6. I want to get it up to 1 teaspoon per gallon in the next few days. I added two more bettas to the tank this morning as they were not interested in eating. I know now how fast this disease can move,, so I didn't want to take any chances. I went back and forth, then decided I'd rather expose them to these possibly toxic meds than lose them for sure.

Ches, thank you for sticking by me. I knew you would.This is a nightmare that I just want to go away!

The fish in the hospital tank are looking good, and I did get them to eat some bloodworms this afternoon (their favorite, lol). So I felt that at least they have some nutrition in them. I'll give them bloodworms daily if that's the only thing I can get them to eat. The remaining fish in the 55 gallon are all looking good too. Even if I can only save a few, it would be so much better than losing ALL my little friends!

Yes, I do regular water changes, and check my water parameters and vac the gravel on a weekly basis. Actually, I check my nitrates 2-3 times a week as I tend to overfeed, trying to be sure everyone gets their share. I check Ammonia and Nitrites weekly. If the nitrates are higher than 20, I will do a water change more often than weekly. I am very particular about those things. And yes, I did a water change within a couple of days before the deaths started.

After the 5 days of treatment I will change 25% of the water as directed, then start the second round, as I feel its probably necessary. That is, if I have any fish left by then. . . I will keep you guys posted. I never knew fish could mean so much to a person, and how painful it is to watch them get sick and know you're probably going to lose them.

Chesh 07-21-2012 10:01 PM

Mixed news. . . but at least some of it is good!

. . . one thing I can suggest is to stop overfeeding (forever), and feed them lightly as they're getting through this ordeal. Keeping them eating is important, but you also want to keep the water as clean as possible - especially if you'll be skipping water changes while treating the tank. It might be a good idea to keep your hood lights off as much as possible, as this will keep the fish calmer, and lower their stress level a bit. Hopefully these things will help them fight off this awful disease!

Snappy is wonderful, and he knows his stuff. Listen to what he tells you - he's never steered me wrong (and he's steered me through quite a few murky patches since I started keeping fish!).

Again. . . I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. I know how excited you've been about your tank. Hang in there, and keep us posted, k? *hugs*

Pearl2011 07-21-2012 11:00 PM

So that what my betta had . . . I got her for my sisters birthday and half her body had a coating on it the day after.
I tried Melafix but she didn't even try to eat and passed away. I'm so so sorry about your fish, I had a betta pas on the 13th (last Friday, figure that) and I cried, a lot.
To get rid of it you could boil the decorations and bleach them and when your done the the treatment you could do very small daily water changes to get the bug out of there. And (if possible) separate the healthy fish so they might not get sick.
Hope all goes well

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