Problems with Pictus Catfish
Hi, I am new here. I really would appreciate some help with my one remaining Pictus Catfish. I had 4, but 3 of them have died, with very generic symptoms. I have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 5 nitrate. The pH is high, not sure what, but I have been working on bringing it down gradually with the regular water changes, using an increasing percentage of RO water. Anyway, I originally bought 3 pictus. These fish did fine for about 3 weeks, I believe. At that time, I bought a 4th pictus and kept him quarantined. He had a net caught on his fin from a local store (we don't have any good fish stores in this town). The other three fish were in their regular tank. One evening, they stopped eating and they were breathing heavy. This was the first clue anything was wrong. The next morning, I noticed that there coloring was off. Almost like the dark spots had faded. At this point, they were very clearly sick. But with virtually no symptoms to go on, I had no idea what to do. I went to the one store that caries actual antibiotics and bought Furan 2, because it seemed like the most likely option at the time. After a little more research, the closest thing I could come up with was gill flukes. I bought the API General Cure, with metronidazole and some praziquantel in it. I wasn't sure what else to do because the symptoms were so vague. After adding the second medicine, the fish seemed almost immediately better, they even resumed eating. The following morning, the 4th pictus had ich. I was very concerned about over-medicating in his small tank, so I medicated the large tank for ich, and added the 4th pictus. I followed the directions for the medicines. All fish appeared to be doing better. Then I finished the dosage. At that time I increased the aquarium salt (I found out I didn't have enough in there to treat ich), as the 4th pictus still had some ich spots on him, and the other fish each had about 5-7 ich spots as well. (How they got ich with medication in the water is beyond me). At this time, all 4 fish stopped eating again. I tested the water. No ammonia, and no nitrite. I did a water change. The next day all four fish looked worse. Their barbels had gotten very weak, instead of almost straight out like they were. The pictus with ich died that day. I did another water change, and did not add salt for the water that I removed, because I had no idea what else to do. The following day, the smallest pictus got very weak, and died. Then, the day after that, the largest pictus became very weak and died. The final pictus is still not eating. (He may have taken a couple of bites the last 2 days, but I don't think he ate anything today). I have remedicated the tank, this time with prazi-pro, and another dose of the furan-2. I didn't want to use the metronidazole again, because I read that it builds up in the fish, and eventually poisons them. And really, I don't know how much remedicating will help anyway, I just am at a complete loss as to what else to do. I'm beginning to think that there is no hope. So to sum it up, the only symptoms I have seen is a loss of appetite, loss of color, heavy breathing, lethargy and soon afterwards, death. I'm sorry for my novel, I just want to help this fish. I don't know what else to do.
What is the salt content of the tank currently? Pictus, being scaleless, are very sensitive to salt and meds. It is usually advised to use one half the recommended dosage of meds when treating a tank with catfish and/or loaches. I had to treat my tank for ich and I keep cats & loaches. I first tried using the heat & salt method but after two weeks I was still seeing evidence of ich. I then did a water change to remove the salt and resorted to meds at half strenth. My poor pictus had barbels that curled up like a crazy looking mustache by the time the treatment was over. He recovered and is very strong & healthy to this day.
IMHO, loss of appetite, loss of color, heavy breathing & lethargy in a pictus can all be symptoms of too much salt, an overdose of meds or both. What other fish are in this tank?? At what temp are you maintaining the tank??
PS. I forgot to add: Welcome to the forum!
The tank currently has about 1.5 tsp of salt per gallon. I had it at slightly less than 2.5 tsp per gallon. I based that figure on information found on Wet Web Media, and it was advice given to owners of Pictus. (2-3 tsp per gallon, just to treat ich). The temp is currently at about 82F. It was higher for the ich, but when they started dying, I started messing with things, trying to find something that made a difference. The tank just had the pictus in it. Now there is just the one fish, and he is a fairly retiring pictus anyway. He scares easily and does MUCH better with friends, but not unless I can get him healthy. I did use only a half dose of the ich med (it has malachite green in it). I also used the Prazi-Pro at half dose, as it says to on the package. The others did not say anything about using less for scaleless fish, and I searched online, and didn't find anything either. So I did add the others at the full dose.
Aunt Kymmie is right about the salt. It will burn their skin. Also 1.5-2.5 tsp per gallon is too much in my opinion. Those amounts can screw up your fish, most people use 1 tsp per gallon. Also i've heard you can use salt on scaleless fish, however, you need to dissolve the salt first before you place it in the aquarium.
I did dissolve the salt in a gallon of the water separate from the tank before I added. I added it a little at a time over a period of a couple of days. I guess I will try doing another water change, and remove more of the salt. It just seems odd to me that 2 of the fish died after I removed part of the salt. They got worse after it was already removed. Maybe the damage was already done, but it seems like it should have atleast slowed it down.
If it was me (and it's not!) I'd do a 50% water change, add carbon to the filter to remove any medication residue and back down the temp to 78-80 and continue to closely observe your cat. He needs a chance to recover from the combination of heat, salt and medications on his own. For right now it's good that he's the only fish in the tank. (BTW, what size tank is this??)
Should you see ich spots crop up again I would then use either Kordons Rid-Ich or Aquarisol at half the recommended strength. HTH
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