Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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LyzzaRyzz 07-27-2012 02:43 PM

Big tank problems....*sigh*
1. Size of tank? 45 gallons, 36x24x12

2. Water parameters
a. Ammonia? 0
b. Nitrite? 0
c. Nitrate? 2-3ppm
d. pH, KH and GH? 6.4, 2 drops, 1-2 drops
e. Test kit? API Master Kit

3. Temperature? 77-78

4. FW (fresh water) or BW (brackish)? Freshwater

5. How long the aquarium has been set up? About three months

6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?
Currently in my tank are nine guppies, five cherry barbs, a bn pleco and a rn pleco, and 20-30 guppy fry. Ive had the gups for about four months, the barbs about two and the plecos four months.

7. Were the fish placed under quarantine period (minus the first batch from the point wherein the tank is ready to accommodate the inhabitants)? Yes, both groups of fish were QT'd and the tank has been healthy until now.

8. a. Any live plants? Fake plants? Plastic plants, floating water sprite, and parrots feathers and a marimo ball
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom? shallow gravel bed

c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors? single branch of driftwood, boiled and soaked, unknown type, has been in my house for years, shows no signs of deterioration or fungus.

9. a. Filtration? Aquatech 30-60
b. Heater? 300 watts

10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used? lights are turned on between 11am and 1pm and turned off between 1am and 3am. the light is a single 3ft bulb 6500k t8

b. Any sunlight exposure? How long? no, or minimal, window is on the other side of room.

11. a. Water change schedule? every 5-6 days,
b. Volume of water changed? 30%-40%
c. Well water, tap water, RO water? tap water
d. Water conditioner used? APT stress coat, or APT extra strength decholr
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed? with every other w/c

12. Foods? was feeding terta min tropical granules, now feeding NLS .5 and 1mm Also hakari wafers for plecos and pond snails
How often are they fed? twice a day, a small pinch of each

13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms? My barbs are very stressed, one of them had little white threads coming from her fins, so she is in a small QT, and today i found another female whose left gill looked eaten away, and had thick white 'cloud' between her bottom fins and her tail. She was practically dead, and died within minutes. I have a few videos of her, though they arent very good. Ill post em anyways.
b. Appearance of poop? unknown, i never see any of them poop
c. Appearance of gills? see above, the other barbs seem to have a bit of red on thier gills, but its hard to see, since they are constantly moving..=/

14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? One of the barbs, is in a small qt with a bit of AQ salt, but no medications. I have no treated an other fish.
b. What meds were used?

15. Insert photos of fish in question and full tank shot if necessary.
sick barb vid 1 - YouTube

What happened was this:
I recently got a job, so my boyfriend started doing my water changes for me, in my 45 gal, my frogs, my cray, and my QT. Only...he was using the same gravel vac for ALL the tanks. All of my tanks have different tubes, only i neglected to tell him this. =[
My cray tank has feeder fish in it for godsake!!
So, i have no idea what is in my tank, or from which tank.
My guppies dont seem to be showing any signs of stress, [i got them before i knew about my water being soft, and they havent showed any signs of failing health. I tried to return them, though short of petco/petsmart, my lps's wont take them, and they would be better off in my tank.]
The plecos arent showing any signs that i can see.

My plan as of now is to remove the guppies to a 15 gal with their fry and the plecos, the barbs to a ten gal, remove all the plants to a tank outside, the plastic plants and decorations to dry completely and then be washed in a vinegar bath. the gravel will be removed as well.

If i leave the tank empty, with the filter running, after two or three weeks wil whatever is in there be dead?
I honestly do not have the money to treat the tank, nor the ability to go get more filter cartridges [walmart is the only place that carries my cartrages, and as is is, i only have one, and am using two smaller ones in the other side].
I am really loathe to empty the tank and let it dry, as im scared to accidentally break the tank[ i am VERY accident bad luck prone, as you can see]

Im really worn out, and stressed, and the easiest way possible to do this will be appreciated. Water changes are not a problem, i was planning on a three day cycle, no matter the params, to keep the water pristine.

I would rather to a clean sweep of the tank than wait for the next cyle of baddies to affect my fish...

LyzzaRyzz 07-27-2012 02:52 PM

Also, since i only have one cartridge that fits my filter, i really dont want to throw it there a way that if i have to sterilize everything, that i can save the cartridge? let it dry? soak it in vinegar water?


Ive sent PMs to a bunch of people on the forum, people that have helped me before with other issues, im sorry if im not supposed to sent out links to my thread, im just super worried, and honestly have no clue what step to take...

I have work tonight, though i have wifi at work. Its fish and chips night, so itll be busy, but i will be checking and responding as often as i can...feel free to offer any suggetions/experiences/advice you have!

Also, heres the other video of the sick/dead cherry barb...
It isnt so good, but in both of the vids, you can see the gills, and parts of the white cloud thing i was talking about...

I have a qt tank with nine pristella tetras in it, a 15 gal that is outside with water sprite i can bring in and clean, for the gups fry and pleco, since they are the ones not showing signs, i can put the feeder fish from the cray tank [crayfish escaped and died..YESTERDAY] into a bin, and put the barbs in there, and i have bins i can empty and wash if i need them...I dont care than my other room will be all fill of bins/tanks, i want my fishums to be safe, and my big tank CLEAN.

Also, i just found two more barbs dead.....their gills are red, but nothing else seems to be wrong..i think it might be internal!

Me andmy boyfriend are both so distraught, this is so horrible....

Chesh 07-27-2012 05:11 PM

Lyzza. . . oh no. You know I'm just not experienced enough to help with issues like this - I don't know what to tell you!

DO NOT TAKE MY WORD ON ANYTHING, but it sounds very similar to columnaris. (I really don't have any experience here, though) I can't really tell anything from your videos. . .

I'll see if I can find anyone to help. . . but for now drop the temperature in the tank, as if it IS that disease, this will slow it's progress. . .

Byron 07-27-2012 06:24 PM

My first suggestion is to leave the fish in the affected tank, don't go moving them around. It is better to keep this confined to one tank, even if it means losing the fish, that spreading it to others.

As fior what it is, I've no idea. Something may well have come with the feeder fish in that other tank and been transferred. I would suspect some type of internal protozoan or parasite. But it needs someone more experienced that me to suggest what, and how to treat. The damage on dead fish might be due to post-death picking by other fish, and the white might be fungus on a wound.

I hope one of the knowledgeable members will be online to help.


kitten_penang 07-27-2012 11:51 PM

the water is fine if the readings are correct.

the temp is just nice for them.

in 3 months it should be cycled by now.though the constant vacuming could be a problem coz your stirring up bacteria and a lot of other things including toxins.

most of the time guppies are more susceptible to fungus then any other fish.this is in my experience but i could be wrong.

bacteria are mostly concentrated in 2 areas the filter and gravel but not all are bad some are essential to the health of the tank.

the strings could be the loss of it's slime coat which will lead to death if this is the case there are toxins in the water.a huge wc will be needed.keep in mind not all fish will show this sign.the more sensitive ones will be the first to show lumps of slime balls that look like cotton wool all over the body.

if this is not the case an just as bryon has told you it could be either of of these two possibilities which i suspect are Tetrahymena corlissi (protozoan) as well as Flexibacter Columnaris (bacterium, commonly mistaken for fungus). clout tablets can be used to treat the Tetrahymena but you need a different medication if Columnaris is involved. Here is more information about columnaris and how to treat it;

Best Friends Network...

bryon is right in telling you not to move them to other tank and risk spreading not up the heat or add salt this will cause more stress and weaken the immune systems of both the sick and healthy fish.only add medication

if you cannot afford would make sense to re-start the tank coz without meds the bacteria will most probably either wipe out all the barbs and leave the rest of the fish alone ( they could be more immune) or wipe out the whole tank if something goes wrong like missing a water change or if you do anything to further stress the fish.

if you do re-start re-move all the stuff put the fishes in qt for the time for the tank use hot water make sure it's not too hot depending on the thickness of the aquarium and a little vinegar after giving it a good scrub suck out the water let it cool for a while before rinsing it make sure to rinse it till it's clean and has no trace of the for the filter cartridge you can dip it in the hot vinegar solution of your tank for a while and then just as the tank rinse it clean and leave to dry out.this will kill all the bacteria in the filter cartridge.
as for the gravel you could rinse them out with plain pipe water and let them thoroughly dry ( bake them in the sun ) before rinsing again then only adding it back into the tank.

easiest way is to medicate the tank after getting a correct diagnosis on what's wrong.
second is doing large wc changes ( which will keep the free swimming bacteria population low ) but could further stress the fish and you.i'm crossing my finger and hope it doesn't if you do go with this.
third is to re-start the tank.100% bacteria free minus the bacteria already in the fish ( qt without meds could wipe out the un-healthy ones but it could harbour in the healthy ones) thus creating a chance of contaminating the tank again.

this is all i can think of.i do hope it helps and i wish you all the best.if you have made up your mind on the course of action your taking i will be more then happy to help you get through this

LyzzaRyzz 07-28-2012 12:03 AM

I acted before I left for work, before i got any advice, and set up the 15 gal for the guppies and fry, put all the floating plants in, then while i was at work, my boyfriend moved all the gups.
He removed all the decor, and the gravel, but left the barbs and plecos in the 45 gal. Ill be moving the plecos tomorrow to the gup tank.

They are pineconed a bit, and hanging near the surface, thier gills red, but not puffy. They all seem so sick, and i dont believe they will last the night.

Which, to be honest, is for the best, since NOWHERE near me has maracyn 1 or 2. Petsmart is out, petco doesnt carry it, and i cant order online, as i dont have a credit card!

My lfs is going to see if they can get ahold of some for me, though it seems like im medicine-less, except for betta revive. =/

None of my gups are showing signs, though im keeping a close eye on them.

I feel so horrible, this happened so fast!
Chesh, i know you said disease affects the weakest fish first, which makes sense, though the barbs are the ones meant for soft water, and the gups are not, yet this seems to be only affecting the barbs!

Ive given up on the thought of trying to sterilize the filter media, it just seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

The safest route that i can see is emptying the tank, letting it dry out, washing it with a vinegar solution, and rinsing and letting it dry again. the same with the filter. And everything else in the tank, fish excluded, though itd be nice if that would work!

I guess this means i can put sand in, like i planned..=/

I have the day off tomorrow [though tomorrow is the day that the new puppy arrives] so i should be doing all this tomorrow...

I cant believe i have to cycle this monster all over again...Though, with all my floating plants, it should be quicker, correct? Or would i bypass the cycle, and when the pristellas are out of QT, add them? Itll still be about two weeks.

What should i do if the guppies start showing signs?
If i cannot get maracyn 1 and 2, what treatment should i follow?
I know the hope isnt much, since how fast the cherries are dying, but with the gups, since they seem more resilient, maybe something will work?

Im too depressed about it to even take pictures of the barbs, since i know im going to lose them.
Damned feeder fish, i know they are the culprits.

I definitely need a hug today, since at work i was called some awful names by a customer. and came home to more stress and dying fish.

I worked SO HARD on making my tank healthy, and making sure i did everything right, and by assuming, i have probably killed all of my fish. =[

Thank you everyone for writing back to my PM's and trying to help me, even though it seems like the end is inevitable. I really appreciate it!

In case i need to, though im hoping i dont have to, what is the easiest way to euthanize a fish? Ive heard of adding ice cubes to their water, or even putting them in the freezer...

kitten_penang 07-28-2012 12:31 AM

pineconed ??? as in raised scales and red gills.i think i know what's wrong they have dropsy.
the water isn't as clean as you think if they are having dropsy.the constant vacuum-ing is the culprit!!! the dirt and toxins that were stuck in the gravel were released and never got enough time to settle in thus causing havoc in the water column every time you did vacuum.the fish were suffering from continuous exposure to the bad stuff in the water column.
this is so easy not vacuum.but instead suck out all the water or as much as you can without disturbing the gravel.fill the tank back up add the water conditioners.clean out the filter with normal pipe water.let it run for a few days.check the water readings it should be stable as there is bacteria still in the gravel.

LyzzaRyzz 07-28-2012 02:36 AM

I'm confused.
I vacuum about every ten days or so. I understand it stirs up debris and poo, but isn't that what your supposed to do??
How're you supposed to do a gravel cleaning? How often?
How else do you get rid of the toxins and debris?

As of right now, the tank is bare, with only a decoration log in it, and the remaining three barbs.

I think my plan is to empty and wash with vinegar water...

I thought dropsy was a symptom of kidney failure or other organ failure rather than its own disease?

I'm really wary about all of this, since I don't want to get the tank all set up again, then have this happen again!!

What should be my course of action as of now, with the bare tank? The filter is still running?

bettababy 07-28-2012 02:21 PM

Lyzza, Byron asked me to stop in and offer some input here so I will do my best to help. It has taken me a while to read through this entire thread and I need to clear up some misinformation that has been contributed here while I am trying to help you.

First and foremost I need to say there is no way to determine exactly what disease/illness your fish are suffering from because the videos are not clear enough to show the many things you describe. Yes, I have watched both videos repeatedly. There are no clear still photos to see here either, and no photos of the entire tank before it was broken down the way Byron suggested. So, all of these guesses as to what is actually wrong are just that... guesses, and from what I have read I can't even call them educated guesses since some of the information, such as that about dropsy and the gravel vacs, is way off.

You are actually correct about dropsy, it is a symptom of a disease and there are a number of different diseases that can cause it. Dropsy tends to be caused by a bacterial and viral illness, sometimes one or the other, most often it is a combination of both. Bacteria illness can be treated, however, viral illness cannot. Here again, I am not hearing any clear indications that the pineconing you mentioned is even dropsy, and without clear photos, there is no way to say one way or the other.

The other big thing I'd like to clear up is about the vinegar. While vinegar is a great cleaning solution it will NOT sterilize the tank or any of the equipment. There are fungus's & bacteria that grow in the the presence of vinegar. The only effective way to really sterilize a tank and equipment is with the use of bleach. If your main tank is empty I would suggest removing the wood that remains in there, remove the cartridge from the filter but do not turn off the filter, and add a 1/2 cup of bleach directly to the tank water and let it run for 2 - 3 days. At the end of this cleaning treatment empty the tank, rinse good until all odor of bleach is gone, and then air dry it for another few days. Be sure that everything is completely air dry before you attempt to set this tank back up, as that is the only way to be sure all traces of bleach are gone. Bleach evaporates without leaving any kind of residue behind. You can also run bleach water through your gravel vac hose and the gravel vac end pieces can be soaked in the tank of bleach water to sterilize those as well. Anything that comes into contact with the bleach water needs to be allowed to completely air dry in order to be sure the bleach is completely gone. If you have a long hose such as python you will need to stretch it out and let it sit for a number of days for it to dry inside. Coiling it up will trap moisture and prevent it from drying all the way through.

Whatever the illness problem is that you are dealing with it sounds to me as if it is exclusively attacking the cherry barbs. That gives us one clue and suggests it could possibly be protozoan in nature as there are a number of protozoan that will target specific species of fish and not bother others.

I noticed the mention of "Tetrahymena corlissi" in an earlier post. I want to clear this up as well. Tetrahymena corlissi is an infusoria that is commonly found in aquaria. In an overpopulated aquarium it has the ability to become parasitic in nature, but in general is not usually a problem for most situations. I am not seeing any evidence in your information to indicate such a thing going on in your tank.

In regards to a treatment, I have to admit I am at a loss to help with this due to your situation. You state you cannot order medications online and that your local pet stores don't appear to have any medications available, nor do you have the funding for such a thing. If I were to suggest anything at all it would be to treat the food for the cherry barbs with metronidazole and to use methylene blue in the water. This would cover both protozoan and fungal infections in a safe way, though from your description of how quickly this illness is killing the fish, the treatment may or may not work due to how long this has been going on and how advanced the problem appears to be. Please be aware that methylene blue will likely stain all silicone seals in the tank you use it in, so a quarantine tank is suggested for such a thing. It will also stain anything else it comes into contact with except the glass... so fingers, carpeting, counter tops, etc. are all prone to permanent staining if it comes into contact with them. On skin it can take up to a week for the staining to subside, so you may want to use a pair of rubber surgical gloves when handling it. Be sure the rubber surgical gloves are powder free so as not to contaminate the tank with the powder coating that is used on some types of these gloves.

The wood in your aquarium can be dried out in the sun which will help to sterilize it, but do not let it come into contact with the bleach water. Bleach will quickly rot the wood. Setting wood to dry in the sun can take weeks as you want it to be dried completely through the wood. You also have the option of baking it if the piece will fit into your oven, however, be aware that not only can this cause a fire hazard if not done properly, this method will also lack the UV benefits of the sun rays in regards to sterilization so you may not kill off all of the things you desire by baking alone. The other problem with sterilizing wood is that some things, such as some algae species can not always be destroyed within the wood. So even after drying in the sun, there is still the potential that the wood may harbor some traces of undesirable organisms. There is no way to guarantee the complete sterilization of any piece of wood.

Lastly I want to make quick mention of those pristella tetras. These are sensitive fish in regards to illness and treatments. They can tolerate the metronidazole laced foods and methylene blue, however, they will be prone to contracting many forms of illness... so be sure to properly sterilize this tank before putting them into it, especially because we have no way to be sure of exactly what kind of illness you are battling.

You mentioned methods of euthanization for the fish... my preferred choice is to put the fish into a zip lock baggie of their tank water and set them into the freezer for 24 hrs. As the water cools they will "go to sleep" as their metabolisms begin to shut down and then the freezing of the water will stop their organs resulting in death. This is the most humane way to euthanize a fish. Adding ice cubes to their water will only cause suffering as it would have to reach freezing temps quickly in order to accomplish the same thing as putting them into the freezer. That can take a lot of ice and cause them a lot of stress in the mean time. The freezer has the added benefit of being dark which will help to keep them calm until they are unconscious. This is the only method I use when it is needed. Please avoid the use of clove oil for euthanizing fish as this tends to be a cruel way for them to go because dosing of it can be very tricky, and if not enough is used or they are not in it long enough they simply wake back up. Clove oil is something we use as anesthesia for surgery in fish and dosing it correctly is very touchy and takes a lot of practice/experience to master. Clove oil is also near impossible to remove from whatever container it is put into, leaving that container unsafe for fish once the oil has been used. The clove oil leaves a heavy residue and has a heavy odor and even bleach doesn't cut through it. The remaining residue can cause harm to fish in the future.

I hope all of this has helped you and I wish you luck. If you need more information or have further questions for me please feel free to ask. I can be notified via pm and asked to come back to the thread, and Byron knows now to contact me outside of the forum if for some reason I don't respond, so feel free to ask him to do so.

LyzzaRyzz 07-28-2012 06:13 PM

Oh wow! What an in depth answer! You cleared up a lot for me!
I'm not at home right now, my tank is still empty, but full of water.
I lost the last of the barbs this morning. =[ guppies are still doing well, though I haven't been able to monitor them as fully as I'd like, since today my puppy showed up from Tennessee, with his sister!
Is a half cup of bleach enough for 45 gallons? Should I leave the filteredia in there or not?
As for the pristellas, I thought they were hardier fish? I'll be following your directions, adding a day to all the times.
I'll be throwing the wood away, I honestly don't want to risk it.
I'll be re reading your post again and again, so I'll probably have more questions!

Thank you!!

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