Serious Tank Disease Issues
Hi there. Recently I set up a 20 gallon tank, let it cycle for a couple weeks and then added some gourami (3 regular size, 2 dwarf), let them be for a while longer (another 2 weeks) Then I got a small school of tetras and a rainbow shark.
Well, last week sometime I started noticing what looked to be ich on some of the tetras so I began treatment for it. About 3 days into treatment for that (it still wasn't going away) I started noticing some fungus looking haze over one of my gourami's eyes. So I started treating for fungus as well as the ich.
Then I started noticing that the fish were rubbing against decorations in the tank, but barely moving most of the time.
So I started treating for other parasites.
So far I've lost every fish but the 3 regular size gourami and the fungus appears to have spread to one of the other gourami's eyes. They're just hazy and white-ish.
I have no idea what to do or if I should have even used all the treatments at once, but everyone says that you need to nip it in the bud as soon as you notice a disease or ailment so I didn't want to let one go while treating what I thought was the other.
So far it doesn't appear that either of the 3 gourami have ich but I know there's something wrong with them because of their eyes.
At this point I'm not holding out much hope that they're going to live, though it would be nice if they did. But if they do all die, what should I do to the tank before adding new fish, and is there anything that I can do now?
I have other tanks and I've never had a problem like this that didn't go away after the first or second treatment, so I'm like, lost. :???:
I'll be grateful for any ideas or suggestions.
I'm sure that this isn't what you want to hear, but there are two extremely common errors you made that have led you down this path. First and foremost, is the cycling of the tank. I know you mentioned cycling it for a week or two - people often think that they've cycled their tank when they haven't. Unless you are transferring bacteria via media or bottle, it takes about 4-5 weeks to complete. Sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more. But 2 weeks is extremely unlikely.
The fish are most likely suffering from poor water quality and that is why they are getting sick and dying.
The second mistake was the stock. The employee really should have not sold you 5 gouramis and a shark for a 20 gallon tank. Unfortunately many just dot know any better. It's really a terrible stock for that tank. They should have only sent you home with one dwarf gourami. The shark needs at least a 55 gallon tank, since it gets really territorial and aggressive when it matures. When they are small there's generally no problem, but it is most definitely a ticking time bomb in such a small tank. 3 spot gouramis are the regular ones, I assume. They too get pretty aggressive, but usually only with themselves - which is why a much larger tank is needed to keep more than one, and a larger tank for just one. They are known to get aggressive with other fish, but it shouldn't be expected. Unless it's kept in too small of a tank. Same goes for the dwarf gourami, except that a 20 is a good size for one. To attempt more than one would require a larger tank. Too, to keep multiple species of gouramis together one would need a much larger tank - smallest I would try is a 4 foot (55).
Stress is a killer. Keeping your fish in a high stress environment is not going to provide much success in the hobby. At this point my advice is to really learn the nitrogen cycle and what it means for your fish. That's the single most important thing to understand when it comes to keeping fish. Close on its tail is stocking limits, including compatibility. Keeping incompatible fish together makes this hobby so much harder than it really is. Taking the time to research the fish you are interested in, including asking questions of people who have experience keeping those fish, will save you a considerable amount of time and frustration, and money too.
As for what to do with your tank - I would treat it for ich by raising the temp to at least 86 degrees for 2 weeks. Other than that, I would not do anything else. As I said stress is a killer. It lowers the fishs immune system making it susceptible to pathogens that are ALWAYS in the water. Just like how our homes are far from free of pathogens, we aren't sick all the time because our immune system can usually take care of things before they become a problem. It is so for the fish as well. The best way to protect new fish is to provide a low stress environment and let the fish protect itself.
I had a feeling that was going to be what at least part of the problem was, that I had too many/incompatible fish. Well the shark has died, all of the tetras are dead, and the dwarf gourami are both dead leaving me with the 3 (blue spot, gold spot, opaline) gourami.
So I'll raise the temp to 86 and keep treating for ich.
What would you recommend about the hazy eyes on the 2 gourami? The "Fungus Guard" that I'm using says that it treats fungal as well as bacterial infections and I've used it twice now and they just seem to be getting worse.
The gourami don't really go after each other, but that, obviously, could change. Should I just keep them in there till they die or what should I do? I don't have any options as far as putting them in another tank because my other two tanks are small (2.5 and 5 gallon) and full of guppies anyway.
I feel really bad about this.
Regarding the cycling of the tank, I did use some Start Zyme that claims to jumpstart the cycling process but perhaps I still didn't wait long enough then?
Hello and welcome to the forum :wave:
Sorry that you were sold that stock for such a small tank :( Grrrrr!!!! to the person who sold them to you but like stated by Jaysee, store employees might or might not know about actual fishkeeping.
Do you have a good water test kit like API freshwater master kit? It's really important to know your levels throughout the nitrogen cycle and to monitor water quality on a fairly regular basis.
How often do you do water changes and how much do you change out when you do?
The only thing I would add for right now is that if you don't have a live planted tank, add an airstone to help oxygenate the water while you have the heat turned up to battle the Ich. I wouldn't throw any other meds. in there while you have the heat up that high. See what happens with the heat treatment and I would also suggest large and frequent water changes while you're at it.
Good luck and I hope that you're able to save the remaining fish.
The gourami not going after each other is probably due in large part to being poisoned by the water. Stress can do one of two things to a fish - make a peaceful fish aggressive or make an aggressive fish "peaceful". Too, they are probably still quite young - the dynamics of a tank can rapidly change once fish start to grow and mature.
I think you should try to treat and save them. It will be good practice. That being said, they really aren't appropriate for your tank, so I think the best case scenario is to try to heal them and then turn them over to the local fish store. If you take them sick fish they will probably just destroy them once you leave.
The eye problem may be bacterial rather than fungal. I would try a broad spectrum antibiotic. However, the first and most important step to recovery is clearing up any water quality issues. Many issues can be cured with simply clean water.
Unfortunately, you are in a really difficult situation having to treat multiple issues AND potentially water quality issues. The odds are certainly against you, but this is only a failure if you don't learn from it and make the same mistakes again. You have a good attitude so I am confident you'll have a better outcome the second time around. People don't always take it well when they are told that the fish are dying because they screwed up, and I'm not one to waste time dancing around the issue. It's cliche but the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have a problem.
I started out changing 4 gallons a week but then once I started treating them I was doing that amount every day because the ich treatment said to change it every day before you add the next treatment. Then I started adding half the amount of ich and changing the water every 4 days like the fungus treatment stated. (I didn't want to OD them on ich treatment so I cut to half while I wasn't changing the water every day).
The parasite guard said to change 25% after 2 days and repeat treatment or if you had lice or worms on them to do it every week for 3 weeks. But I went ahead with the fungus directions and just went with the every 4 days.
Is the 4 gallons a large enough water change? And how often would you recommend that I do it? And I've been using a gravel vacuum to do the water changes, and I worried that I would be sucking out all the beneficial bacteria by doing that so I started leaving it in on spot instead of vacuuming the gravel every time.
I'll look into the antibiotics and see if that clears up the eye issues, though I don't know why the treatment that I have doesn't seem to be doing anything for it when it clearly states that it treats bacterial infections too. I'll be writing the tetra company a strongly worded letter about that, because they definitely misled me there if it's not going to do anything. But that's beside the point.
Regarding taking the fish back to the store - I just take them there and tell them I can't keep them anymore? Should I probably call them and PetCo (about the only fish suppliers in the area) and see if they do that sort of thing? Once they're healed up of course.
And after I have them gone by either giving them to the pet store or they're deaths (could I keep one of them or just get rid of the lot?), is there anything I should do to the tank before introducing new fish? Other than water changes?
I really liked the tetras I had so I would want to get some more of those, a small school of about 6 maybe. What else would go good with those. I had gotten that shark because I wanted a bottom feeder to kind of keep things a little cleaner (also had bottom feeder pellets for him), but if he's not recommended what should I get as a bottom feeder?
And just to be clear, I don't plan on jumping the gun this time, I'm just asking for future reference, when it does come time to restock.
See, I tried to research some things on my own but I guess I didn't do a good enough job. Like, I went to the store not knowing what fish I was going to buy and then settled on the gourami. After that I looked up good tankmates for them and I came up with sharks and tetras being okay.
I feel like a nincompoop. ><
Welcome to the forum!
Sorry about all the trouble you've been going through, and the bad pet shop advice you're having to combat.
I'm not sure about the whole tap water chloramine/ammonia thing, but I'm pretty positive you need a more potent/more abundant ammonia source, such as pure bottled ammonia or fish waste. I'm not 100% on that though, just that I've never heard of someone able to create a cycle using that alone.
Test kits are a great tool to have in situations like this, so you can test at any hour of the day without having to rely on a fish store employee (who may or may not use test strips which many people consider to be inaccurate). The test kit that most of us use is the API Liquid Master Test Kit. It's available on Amazon for $20. It comes with a test for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and PH.
Call ahead and ask if they do returns, most stores should. Just say you have so and so fish and want to return it as it isn't a good fit for your tank.
After the tank is clear of fish (all three gourami, as none of those are suitable for a 20), I'd recommend upping the temperature to 86 for two weeks and doing some thorough gravel vacuuming (I think you mentioned you have sand, so just hover the hose over the sand) and cleaning. Then you should look into properly cycling your tank.
Water changes should be done at around half the volume of the tank per week. So 10 gallons of water for your tank.
Before you stock, you should find out the gh/kh/ph of your water so that we can recommend proper fish for your water type. You can find this information on your water supply website if you are on tap. If you're on well water, API sells a Gh/Kh test kit, it's available on Amazon for around $5.
What kind of tetras were they? There are many species with many different requirements.
When you research fish, make sure to research the tank size they need and the type of water they're native to (soft, hard, most good online profiles will list these requirements.)
Unfortunately there is also a lot of conflicting information out there. So it can take a lot of research to find the best sources and to find common ground between the information. It's also good to look at grown sizes. With a 20 gallon, I wouldn't get anything that can reach more than 3", preferably around 2"-2.5". I'd stick with small schooling fish.
For a bottom feeder...do you feel you NEED one, or do you just want one? I say this because many people are of the opinion that they NEED something on the bottom to clean left over food, algae, etc, which isn't true. These are problems people make for themselves. If you feed properly (small pinches) no food should make it to the bottom, thus, no need for a bottom feeder.
Any possibility you could post a pic of the tank for us? :D
Well, I'm not really sure about the chloramine/ammonia connection either, I just thought I read that somewhere once upon a time. But it's moot now anyway. XD
I still don't have a test kit but I'm going today to get one. Petsmart's website claims to sell API mini test kits for $6 so I think I'm gonna go that route right now. It says it comes with a GH&KH test so that should be sufficient since I checked online for my area's water specs but couldn't find them. They send it out in the newsletter along with all the contaminants that are in our water, whenever they do the testing, but I don't recall which month that took place in and probably don't have that on hand anymore anyway.
EDIT - Actually after reading the site again I believe I made a mistake and all the tests I thought were included in 1 are actually all separate products. Whoops. Well I'm still going there anyway so we'll see what I come up with.
I'm waiting to return the gourami until their illness clears which it's looking pretty good right now. I've been giving them Melafix and changing 4 gallons of water every day since someone recommended *lots* of clean, fresh water. I wasn't sure if that was too much but they seem to be taking it alright and their eyes look MUCH better. The clouding is going away and the blood streaks that were starting to show behind their eyes are starting to go away as well.
I do actually have gravel, I just wasn't sure if I was rinsing away the beneficial bacteria by vacuuming it too often. I decided to just do it and get any waste from the bottom that might be there.
Here's a question regarding water changes though - Whenever I change the water it gets cloudy for the better part of a day and then it clears back up for the most part. Is that normal? Or is it because I've been changing too much water?
I don't *need* a bottom feeder but I do want one. I bought little pellets just for that shark and now I have a nearly full container of them and I don't just want to waste them, plus I like to have at least a fish or two swimming near the bottom and some fish swimming in the middle of the tank.
The tetras I had were, I believe, white fin rosy tetras.
About the picture of the tank, I'll see if I remember to next time I get online but I'm not home and I don't get on very often. It's pretty cool though, if I do say so my self. Decorated in an Asian theme.
Welcome! Don't feel too badly about jumping the gun. I lost almost all of my original fish because i stocked becore my cycle was far enough along. Anyways, depending on what all you plan on stocking, corydoras catfish are fun little bottom dwellers. They need to be in groups though, like 4 or more. So make sure if you go that route there doesn't end up being an over stock problem. But a small school of Cory cats and a school of tetras should work in your 20g. Good luck!
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