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RackinRocky 11-11-2012 08:33 PM

The heartbreak of Columnaris
Its back again, and I can hardly believe it. This is the third time its hit. I guess this means I have to break down my 55 gallon tank. I am so depressed right now...

The first time I had it, I lost 11 fish out of 19. I removed them and treated them in a hospital tank as soon as they showed signs. I did manage to save a few with treatment. The second time around was about 3 weeks after the last death. I lost one more--all the classic signs. Its a very virulent form, as most of the fish that died were dead within 12 hours of the first symptoms. It was a nightmare.

Now, its been at least 8 weeks since the last death, and two days ago I found a dead betta. Now. . . two days later I have two additional very sick bettas. So my worst fears are now reality. I have put them in the 10 gallon hospital tank along with Seachem Kanaplex. Thank goodness I'd ordered it just "in case." I also added 3 tablespoons of aquarium salt. I will add more salt tomorrow. I read I can go up to about a tablespoon per gallon? Sounds like an awful lot to me. I did a water change before adding the Kanaplex.

So now I guess its just a waiting game. The two sick bettas are lying on the gravel, and only go to the top to get a gulp of air, then back down again. They don't have fast or labored breathing, but one is losing color in the abdomen area (I know that's a very bad sign) and is a little bloated. The other has a gray film over her eyes. Otherwise, no color loss as of yet. Neither one is eating, of course.

In all my research this morning, I read that columnaris is in every tank (or at least a lot of them) and that it'll keep coming back over and over. That its almost impossible to get rid of, even if the tank is broken down, because the spores can come back to life after the tank has been disinfected and dried out. So what good does it do to break it down then? And where would I put all my fish if I did that? I have 24 fish in that tank, and only two other tanks. One has a male betta, and the other is the 10 gallon hospital tank. I know fish aren't that expensive--its the emotional attachment I have to them. And if I treat the 55 gallon tank, I know it'll cost a LOT of money, and I really can't afford it. But if I DON'T treat the big tank, won't it keep coming back?

DiesesMadchen 11-13-2012 07:41 PM

What is columnaris exactly? I have never heard of this.

Pearl2011 11-13-2012 08:15 PM


Originally Posted by DiesesMadchen (Post 1309660)
What is columnaris exactly? I have never heard of this.

I nasty (viral, i believe) infection that kills fish extremely quickly. Almost like dropsy but can actually treatable. Google it.

You could try bleaching the tank, do you already do that?? Then rinse with hot water, rinse more, rinse again, bleach, and then rinse like ten times. You could try medicating it but if there is no disease there then would it be worth it?? Because the disease would become stronger, right?? I would wait a day to see how the fish are doing.

Tolak 11-13-2012 08:25 PM

What meds have you used before, at what dosing rate & for how long? If the kanamycin doesn't work look for a sulfa based drug. BTW columnaris is a gram negative bacteria, not viral, and I've never in my life heard of it having anything to do with spores. I have heard there are some pretty virulent strains out though, similar to the resistant strain of ich, which requires quinine sulfate.

RackinRocky 11-13-2012 10:24 PM

The last two times I used Maracyn and Maracyn II at the same time. Still lost half my fish, but this is obviously a very virulent strain. Yes, I've read its a gram negative bacteria. I've read so much on it, my eyes are crossed! This is my first time trying the Seachem Kanaplex. I keep seeing online that its worked well for others. The problem is so many fish die before they even show symptoms, or within hours of refusing to eat. The two I have in the hospital tank now are lying on the substrate all the time, but are still alive. This is day three of treatment.

I've heard its extremely difficult to get all the bleach rinsed out, so I'd be afraid to do that. So I've decided not to treat the big tank or break it down. I also don't want to expose the healthy fish to the meds if I can avoid it. I have six balloon molly babies that were in the hospital tank, and they had to be put into the 55 gallon--I had no choice, and it was a hard decision. Either expose the babies, or just watch the two sick ones die, and I just couldn't do that.

The two sickies are still hanging in there, and I'm hoping the Kanaplex will do the trick for them. How much salt would you recommend I use in the hospital tank? (I hear columnaris hates salt). Right now there is approx. 4 tablespoons in the 10 gallon tank. One cory is in there, so don't want to overdo it for his sake.

Tolak 11-13-2012 11:18 PM

Treat for 10-14 days, 50% water change daily & remed, the same should be done for the Mardell antibiotics. Skip the salt, it will increase hardness, something you don't want with columnaris. Drop the temperature as low as is reasonable for the stock in the tank, feed once daily with the kanamycin mixed in the food if they are still eating.

Bleach is a fishroom consumable for me, I dilute it 1 part bleach to 10-20 parts water. A good rinse, double up on dechlorinator & it's all good.

RackinRocky 11-15-2012 08:51 PM

I've lost both sick fish. I'm no longer adding salt (thank you Tolak). I've been doing the 50% water changes daily, and siphoning the substrate every 2-3 days. Now I have another sick one, and she's now in the hospital tank. She's not eating, so I'm adding the Kanaplex to the water.

RackinRocky 11-17-2012 05:42 PM

Just lost another fish this morning. Well... she wasn't dead yet but I put her in the freezer because she was clearly suffering. Bloated and pine-coning, not eating and gasping and floating on the top. Obviously wasn't going to make it. Bad fin rot too, almost overnight. Now have another betta in hospital tank as of day before yesterday. Lying on the bottom, but not looking bloated yet. Am still doing the daily water changes and Kanamycin. Just ordered API Furan-2 from Marine Depot. Hopefully I'll get it no later than Monday or Tuesday, as its in my own state--California. I'm hoping that with both meds, my future sick fish will have a better shot at getting better. This is so rough.

Kim 11-18-2012 07:43 AM

What are you using to clean the tanks? My personal opinion is that if you wouldn't feel safe in a hospital that disinfected their instruments/facilities with a certain cleaner, then use something stronger. Glass will not absorb chemicals, so in this case I would have cleaned with a very strong bleach solution, rinsed many times, then left everything out to dry (bleach evaporates).

I hope your meds come in and things start working out better for you. I'm really sorry for your losses :(

RackinRocky 11-18-2012 04:17 PM

I haven't cleaned the 55 gallon tank, as all my fish are in there. I have nowhere else to put them. (The ones who haven't gotten sick yet). I just lost another betta again this morning in the hospital tank. Its killing them even faster than the last time. Obviously, the Kanamycin never even has time to work, as they die only a day or two after I notice symptoms.

I'm stuck, since I have all these fish that aren't yet sick. I'll just have to wait until I have no more than a few fish left, so I can go ahead and break down the big tank and clean it, while keeping them in the 10 gallon hospital tank. I have no other choice.

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