Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources (
-   Tropical Fish Diseases (
-   -   Fish tuberculosis? Massive sickness! Help! (

kcurtis 05-12-2014 01:42 AM

Fish tuberculosis? Massive sickness! Help!
Sorry accidentally posted in "massive die out" thread first. First time posting here.

My sordid tale:

Very well established tank. Orginally for brackish (Discus) and plecos set up in 1997 or so. Discus all died over time (unexplained). Converted to more "traditional" tropical fish with no particular problems. From 2011-2013, tank was somewhat neglected cleaning schedule due to my travel schedule and ill relative. Fish generally healthy and no concerns despite infrequent cleanings. Now that things settled down, decided to take better care of tank and perhaps add more fish for interest (at that time, 2 tetras, 1 pleco, 1 spotted raphael and 2 zebra danios. Larger tetra always been a bully, but otherwise everyone happy).

Jan 2014 - added 3 zebra danios. Feb 2014 - added 2 dwarf gourami and 2 mollies. I think I took too long adding the gouramis and mollies to my actual tank after arriving home. Quickly lost 1 mollie and 1 dwarf gourami. Otherwise, all new tank members settled in well.

March 2014 - noting tetras looking stressed. Tested water, found high nitrates. Changed 40% water, added salt, Quick Cure treatment (with filters still in place). After about 3 days, tetras looking better and realized they were being bullied by Gourami. Shortly after treatment, all stable. All fish active, eating, cooperatively living. Noted 1 instance of Gourami abdomen looking fat, but had just eaten huge blood worm attributed to that. Maybe?

April 2014 - all tank parameters looking good on test kit. Water changes every 3-4 weeks. Added 2 sword tails. Good acclimation. No problems. Added air stone for oxygenation.

2 weeks later, added 1 dwarf gourami. This new addition seemed stressed from the start. Established gourami bullied for 2 days, then new gourami found lying on his side. Removed from tank and destroyed.

The next day, established gourami looking stressed, hiding.

Found nitrates VERY high again. 50% water change, added salt/stress coat. This seemed to help for a day or so for gourami, but
over the last week has developed the following:
bloated abdomen, jerky movements when swimming, frequently seen resting at a 45 degree angle with fast respiration. Still eating despite all of this. As of today, all symptoms present and growing worse.

Last 3 days, noting smaller tetra to have ragged fins and exhibiting jerky swimming movement in last 2 days. And today, thinking I see the larger tetra doing this as well.

Maybe I'm imagining things now, but tonite noting 1 tetra and now 1 swordtail to be bumping into side of tank with nose. Mollie hiding at top of tank tonite. Most of the fish hiding. Swordrtail Eyes more prominent?

Started treatment with Quick Cure again 2 days ago and removed filter with 2nd treatment. Fish growing worse despite. Using 1 drop per every 2 gallons as is dose recommended with tetras in tank.

No hospital tank available.

In 5 gallon tank with all perfect parramters,weekly water changes with gravel vacuum since fish added, feeding once daily with flake - VERY light feeds. live plants, spider wood, carbon filter - Tetra brand, temp 77 degrees fish-less cycle over about 8 weeks. Has had fish in it for only about 3 weeks.

First had 2 glo fish danios. Despite appearing healthy and aggressive eaters, 1 died inexplicably after 3 days or so. Other danio lived well for another 10 days with no issues, so added 2 guppies (male/female) about 4 days ago. After 2nd day, guppies getting bullies by danio. By 3rd day, male guppy looking ragged. Added Quick Cure - 1 drop Saturday (5/10). On 5/11 - male guppy dead.


When we went back to buy the guppies from the mom and pop store, they admitted to having seen a "suspicious fish" and were doing thorough tank cleanings (not in the tanks I bought from, but.....). Also 2 of the tanks had lights out "due to stress/illness".

1. Size of tank? -- 55 gallon freshwater (and 5 gallon mentioned above as well)

2. Water parameters
a. Ammonia? - 0
b. Nitrite? - 0
c. Nitrate? - has been as high as 180ppm, but currently 0 (more info above)
d. pH, KH and GH? - 7.6ph, not sure of others
e. Test kit?

3. Temperature? 74.6

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

5. How long the aquarium has been set up? - 15 years

6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?
1 plecostomus, 1 spotted raphael - both 6 inches, 10+ years old, 5 zebra danios (3 about 4 months in tank, 2 at 3+ years), 2 tetras - 3+ years - both 4-5inches, 2 swordtails had 3-4 weeks, both about 2 inches, 1 dwarf gourami (about 4 months in tank) 2-3 inches, 1 mollie - been in tank about 3-4 months. about 2-3 inches long

7. Were the fish placed under quarantine period (minus the first batch from the point wherein the tank is ready to accommodate the inhabitants)? NO quarantine at home. Fish store claims they quarantine

8. a. Any live plants? Fake plants? yes, yes
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom? - gravel
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors? yes rocks and driftwood

9. a. Filtration? - Biowheel type filtration, type C filters
b. Heater? yes

10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used? - strip lights, 12 hours per day currently
b. Any sunlight exposure? How long? - no

11. a. Water change schedule? every 3 weeks usually, but diff since this problem
b. Volume of water changed? - usually 25%
c. Well water, tap water, RO water? = tap water
d. Water conditioner used? - Stress Coat
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed? - vacuum gravel with every change

12. Foods? - flake and frozen, sinking algae disc
How often are they fed? = flake daily, frozen 1x per week (brine shrimp or blood worms), algae disk weekly

13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms?
b. Appearance of poop? - normal?
c. Appearance of gills? = normal?

14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? yes
b. What meds were used? Quick cure - formalin product, aquarium salt

Read more:

keepsmiling 05-13-2014 07:33 AM

I am giving this a bump, as I have run out of time to answer questions this morning. I can return later and read it and reply if no one else has.
I must say though it is quite disturbing that you removed and "destroyed" a fish, instead of trying to treat him for mechanical injuries due to your mistake.:-(

kcurtis 05-13-2014 11:14 PM

What mistake have I made? The fish was lying on its side, barely breathing and was humanely euthanized. You advocate being allowed to lie and suffer while slowly being picked apart by tank mates as a more humane route to death? I don't believe humanely euthanizing a fish is disturbing.

Still hoping for some advice, though.........

corina savin 05-14-2014 01:22 PM

I am sorry, I will give it a bump as well and I read only the first few paragraphs....Discus in a brackish water is beyond my knowledge, I'll have to do some research.

keepsmiling 05-14-2014 03:24 PM

Ok I am going to answer this slowly, as your original post has many questions, and so do I.
Just to start, a 55 was never going to be big enough for discus. What most likely killed them off is they need pristine water, constant water changes, and did I mention clean water? They can be quite difficult.
Next, it seems to me that your care of your tanks is sporadic, your water changes are too small and infrequent, and you are not monitoring parameters as closely as you should be.
If your nitrates are now at 0, you have killed off all of your beneficial bacteria with meds. That is why we use qt tanks to medicate. Even a rubbermaid or sterilite container will suffice, with an airstone or sponge filter and air pump.
What test kits are you using? Are they liquid test kits? If not I recommend API test kits, the titration kind{liquid}
You need to stay on top of the tank right now, monitoring it daily for a rise in ammonia, then nitrite as you should know. Keep ammonia at or below 50PPM, and do not let nitrite get over 1 PPM until it cycles.
Do you clean the substrate?
Do you clean out the filter?
I recommend that you consider replacing the biowheel filter with an oversized Aquaclear. Now is the time to do it.
I also recommend that you switch from flake to a quality pellet. And only feed frozen just before a water change, or very little when you do. The flake mostly gets away from the fish and just causes excess nutrients in your filter.

keepsmiling 05-14-2014 03:28 PM

No offense about the fish you 'destroyed'. It's just that mechanical injuries such as those caused by bullying are usually an easy fix. 7-10 days in a quarantine tank with triple sulfa might have saved him. Be careful with your additions. Do research on compatibility. Tetras should be in larger groups. What kind of pleco is in the 55? If he is a common, he needs a bigger home. He should top out at 16-20" or more.

corina savin 05-14-2014 04:48 PM

I'm back. Couldn't find any discus in brackish water, I assume you meant black through you post and "fish at 45 degree and bumping into glass" struck me....I remember something like that in a very old post, possibly on another forum. It was about dis-orientation...Since fish are adapted to light coming from above the tank, the problem was a light source (that the fish took as reference) coming from the side of the tank, confusing the fish as to where is up or down. I thought it was funny since the poster was saying the angle change when fish swim from left to right or from right to left.
Just an idea

kcurtis 05-14-2014 06:54 PM

Hi everyone. You would have to read the whole post. My discus were in the tank over 10 years ago. I just told the whole history of the tank. My question is about a sick gourami. Let me know what other clarifications you need.

(VERY BRIEF version of the whole narrative with updates:
new gourami added and quickly stressed/apparently dying. removed/euthanized. resident gourami started hiding and swimming at weird angles, kind of drifting and curving into c shape sometimes, hiding and bloated over subsequent few days. then tetra started looking frayed and weak/hiding. treated whole tank with quick cure minus the carbon filter x 5 days or so. everyone now looks better - including the gourami. He's not hiding as much, but still milder version of all symptoms above.

i have done a quick cycle in a hospital tank --- never had a hospital tank before ---- so i am prepared to move the gourami if it will help. i have erythromycin to treat with.)

And thanks for any help you can provide.

kcurtis 05-14-2014 07:20 PM

Hi everyone. Having trouble figuring out how to use this forum. The reply above was supposed to have been edited to what's below. Sorry. Ugh.

You would have to read the whole post. My discus were in the tank over 10 years ago.When I had the discus, I cleaned and monitored the tank weekly and followed all instruction I was given. I think my water was too hard, but never knew for sure. But that was over 10 years ago. I just told the whole history of the tank since its been going for so long. My question is about a sick gourami. Shorter version of details below. Let me know what other clarifications you need.

VERY BRIEF version of the whole narrative with updates:
Tank cleanings 2011-2013 were every 5-6 weeks or so. I was caring for a dying relative and just couldn't do more.
Since I started trying to add stock to the tank in Jan 2014, I have started cleaning every 3 weeks as suggested by the LFS I have been using. 25% water changes with filter vacuumings every time.
When I clean, I do not clean the filter. I change the cartridges, but do not clean anything else except the outside as I was told it would damage the bacteria on the biowheel.

new gourami added about 2 weeks ago and seemed stressed even before releasing him. within 2 days, I found fish stressed/apparently dying. removed/euthanized. the next day, the resident gourami started hiding, breathing fast and swimming at weird angles, kind of drifting and curving into c shape sometimes, hiding and bloated. progressed over subsequent few days. then tetra started looking frayed and weak/hiding. treated whole tank with quick cure minus the carbon filter x 5 days or so. everyone now looks better - including the gourami. He's not hiding as much, but still milder version of all symptoms above.

i have done a quick cycle in a hospital tank --- never had a hospital tank before a few days ago ---- so i am prepared to move the gourami if it will help. i have erythromycin to treat with.
Hospital tank is small - 5 gallons. Has a filter running, but I do have a small airstone and pump if that's preferable. Temp is about 80 right now.

Trying to answer your questions keepsmiling:
I use API liquid test kits to test water quality.
I treated with Quick Cure once back in probably Feb 2014. And again recently as above due to current sick gourami. I monitored my parameters occasionally from Feb - April 2014 and everything was fine (nitrites/nitrates/ammonia at or near zero). When the spike in nitrates occured in May, I wondered if it was due to excess food in the tank. I started feeding more and more often, also more frozen food than before. Once I did a large water change, all the levels were at or near 0 again.....which I thought was desireable in an established tank. It was only a week or so AFTER this large water change that I treated with Quick Cure.

Why replace the BIOWHEEL filter? Is there some issue with that type of filter?

keepsmiling 05-14-2014 08:34 PM

Biowheel filters are a known contributor to high nitrates and it's just not an efficient method. There's no such thing as 0 nitrates in a freshwater tank unless it's not cycled. Low yes, 0 no. 0 nitrates for saltwater tanks, yes.
In a freshwater tank 10-15 is good. Even 20, but no higher than that. If in a week's time your tank reaches 20PPm in nitrates, do a 50% water change each week. And go from there..if it takes two weeks or whatever. When cleaning substrate do a portion at a time.

New additions should always be qt'd for the sake of observing them before being introduced into an established tank. That way you can treat them without harming or stressing your other fish who are not showing signs and have not been exposed. Fish that have no scales such as your catfish are sensitive to certain treatments and salt.
It is possible you are dealing with an internal parasite, not an external one. What other signs are you seeing? Does their waste look normal?

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:15 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome