Parasites? Or normal behavior?
Hey guys I'm new to the hobby, with only a less than a year experience. Right now I have a 20 gallon tank with 2 two inch sun catfish, 1 three inch channel catfish, 1 three inch synodontis multipunctatus (or maybe a hybrid synodontis, thats what the tag said at the store but i think otherwise), and 2 less than an inch albino cory catfish. They all live happily together under the driftwood and frequently come out and play even during the day. Just switched to sand from gravel and got the water crystal clear. It was a hard choice but the end results were fantastic when my fish were alot happier. I am aware of my fish' adult sizes and overstocking. I am in the process of setting up a way bigger upgrade in their stages of evolution. My ph balance is at 7, and I keep the temperature at 78ºF. And I dechlorinate the water with Prime and use stability. The problem I seem to be having is a parasite? Two weeks ago my channel catfish started scratching against the sand. I checked for ich thoroughly throughout the next few days. There was nothing, so I went to my LFS and asked the guy, and he claims its just a normal behavior. So I went back home and looked it up and couldnt find anything about it except for diseases and parasites. So I raised the temperature slowly throughout the week to 84ºF. I reduced it back down to 78 again later on the week and added Mardel's Quick Cure, not directly of course. And I've taken out the carbon, then replaced it after 24 hours to absorb the last treatment. So far this is my 2nd day of treatment and I still notice my channel scratching. Rarely I will see one of my sun catfish doing it too. I am beginning to worry now, because I am running out of options. I've had ich problems before and i've treated and got rid of them easily. But this doesn't look like ich, theres none anywhere. Its got to be something, unless they just have an itch too sometimes. Or maybe its the sand? I used aqua terra sand, rinsed it as best as I could. I don't know, any advice is very much appreciated and thank you for taking your time to assist. I want my fish to live in peace. Not rest in peace.
Firs, allow me to welcome you to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.:wave:
"Flashing" is the term for what you have described, and it can occur as the result of several things. This is why it is very important to carefully observe the fish in the aquarium, looking for other signs as well as flashing.
Ammonia and nitrite poisoning can also cause flashing, but we can probably eliminate these (even though you haven't mentioned test numbers...?) as this seems to be a tank that has been running for a while.
Getting food caught in the gills is a possibility, but this is usually a one-time thing and not likely the case here.
Which leaves some sort of parasite. Ich is one, and this always fist shows up in the gills where we can't seed it, but the flashing is the observable symptom. And as ich is always present in freshwater, it only takes stress on the fish to bring it to the fore.
Gill flukes is another parasitic cause, but if this is the issue, you will probably see the gill area very red, with the operculum (gill cover) extended, and faster respiration than normal.
Assuming this may be ich, if the only thing you have seen is flashing in one or two fish, I would tend to leave things alone. Fish free of stress will be in better health, and thus better able to fight this off.
And that brings me to some other questions. How often are water changes done, and how much volume? Do you do a good cleaning of the substrate at each water change? Having so many substrate fish, this is very important.
Have you tested for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? If yes, what are the numbers?
The pH you say is 7; is this just natural, or are you doing anything to "balance" the pH? What is the tap water pH for comparison [remember to shake tap water briskly for a few minutes before testing pH to outgass the CO2]?
Hey Byron, let me start by saying thank you, im glad to finally be a member. Always googled my problems and its always led me here. I totally forgot about ammonia testing. I will test my water tomorrow at the LFS as I dont own a test kit. But ill get that info for you as soon as possible. On the other hand, I use Neutral Regulator. Recommended by the shop employees to adjust high or low PH to 7. Im still kind of new to managing ph. I started the hobbyvwith the influence of my aquatic turtles. Unfortunately I had to release them back recently because they were too big. I bought feeder guppies as live bait for them and then i saw a baby channel catfish and now i have this obsession. I used to clean the tank by just taking all the inhabitants out and thoroughly clean. Then i found out its not wise to do that atleast not every 3 weeks like i was. I learned my lesson, after i let the turtles go, i basically started over. But i waited until my tank and decorations all dried out. And try to have everything i would need for my new fish before i got em. I do 25% water changes a week and before doing so i scrub the inside walls with a brush. I also clean the filter but every other week and i use a simple grav vac. I looked into what you said about gil flukes, when you mentioned what it looks like. I took a closer look at my sun catfish and i think it fits the description but im not sure. I will get some pictures for you as soon as possible. For now i have done nothing but observe. The channel flashes, but not alot. Enough for me to catch him doing so all the time. The sun catfish just started flashing which is when i started to worry. Its rare for them to do it though but ive had these guys for a month now and ive grown attached before i bought them. Ill update again tomorrow, sorry about the wait. And again thank you so much.
Before treating with medications one must be fairly certain of the issue, because most fish are sensitive to chemicals and medications, and some of these can be deadly to this or that fish. So we need to determine exactly what is likely here.
Are these wild fish? Meaning, not true "tropicals" but fish from your area (Virginia)?
You regular maintenance on an aquarium with fish should be weekly water changes of 1/3 to 1/2 the tank. In your case with larger fish and so many substrate dwellers, I would do no less than half the tank volume once a week. Use a good conditioner according to what is in your tap water. Clean the inside of the glass, and siphon the bottom at each. But do not remove the fish, nor disturb things. Rinse the filter media as needed; you want the water to continue to flow through the media, so don't let it get clogged.
Update* So I went back to the LFS. Got my water tested, came up normal. 6.8 ph and 0.2 ammonia/nitrite. I talked with one of the guys, and he asked me what filter i was using. So i showed him. I was still using my turtle filter, ovation 150 i believe. Ive only had these fish for a month so i was still working on upgrading because Im trying to get a bigger aquarium as well so I thought Id wait. So long story short, made another noob mistake. So I bought a new filter, one that hangs in the back and flows water in through bio bags. I also learned that bubbles dont create oxygen, the ripples do so thats another plus. Its day 2 with this new filter and so far none of my fish has flashed once, even the channel catfish! Also the water clarity is much nicer. My fish come out even more frequently now even during the day. For now it seems the case has been closed, im relieved it was just that and nothing else. Once again i appreciate your efforts and time Byron, even though it was just the filter, i still learned many causes and effects and great advice because of you so i appreciate it. :)
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