Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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shmish 01-03-2011 12:08 PM

red eye tetra body colouration
I have some red eye tetras and I've noticed that the largest of them has quite a bit of red colouration on its body. I'm not sure if this is normal, abnormal, a sign of stress or sickness, etc.

My aquarium details are:
20G tank
water pH = 7~7.2, NH3=0
8 cherry barbs
8 red eye tetras
2 small catfish
1 placonomus
the aquarium is about 2 months old
water temp = 78F
a couple of Java ferns and two other similar looking plants
water changes every 2 weeks with vacuuming the gravel
a bit of natural light but not direct
about 8hrs of artificial light
feed Nutrafin flake food 1~2 times a day

All of the fish seem to behave normally, as far as I know. They stay in their schools, I don't see much aggression, the tetras stay up at the top quite a bit and the barbs are more in the middle. The discoloured tetra seems to act the same as the others.

Any thoughts on this?

Byron 01-03-2011 01:07 PM

Could you post a photo of the "red" fish?

shmish 01-03-2011 01:31 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Here you go. I didn't realize that my photo would work out this well.

Byron 01-03-2011 02:02 PM

I'm hoping someone with experience in disease issues sees this and can suggest something. It is certainly not natural.

One suggestion on the food/feeding. Once a day is more than adequate for all but growing fry. I never feed mine on water changing days (once a week), and this is not a bad idea either. Also, vary the foods. Three or four brands alternated is better for ensuring more complete nutrition; and use a good pellet food rather than flake for at least one, I find my fish love the Hakari micro pellet food. A steady flake food diet can cause bloating. I assume you have a sinking food for the pleco? They cannot manage with fallen flakes. One of the good algae or spirulina-based sinking foods works well for pleco, and a "meaty" one too, like Nutrafin's tablets or the shrimp pellets.

Just noticed you are in Vancouver, like me. Small world.:-)

willow 01-03-2011 02:43 PM

gosh,i just went and checked mine:shock: incase they had anything similar,
but they don't.
wonder is it septicemia.?

bettababy 01-03-2011 02:50 PM

Byron asked me to stop in here to consult, I'm wondering if you can offer anymore information please?
I noticed you listed your pH and ammonia numbers but what about nitrite and nitrate? Those are equally important.
Can you also tell us how big each of your fish is? When did you notice this problem? Was it a gradual change to the red/pink body area or was it bright and vivid like that right away? Have you noticed any swelling or bloating in this fish? Any other unusual behavior? How long have you had the fish? How long in between additions of each species? Did you use a quarantine tank for any of the new fish as you got them?

Sorry if this seems like a lot but the more information you can provide the faster I can offer you some answers/suggestions.

shmish 01-03-2011 04:17 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Thanks for the responses so far! I'll do my best to add in more information.

I haven't tested the nitrates or nitrites yet, I'll probably get some tests later today. The tetras and barbs were bought at the same time, and were introduced into the new tank. Prior to introducing the fish, the water was tested for nitrates, nitrites, and pH. A week later the catfish were added, no quarantine. About 3 weeks ago I added the pleco, again without quarantine. I hadn't heard of quarantining prior to finding this site.

So the tetras and barbs are about 2 months old, maybe 10 weeks. I hadn't noticed a sudden change in colour, but perhaps I just wasn't observant enough. We had a tetra die 2 weeks ago, so I started watching their behaviour more closely since then. I have no idea why the tetra died and didn't notice any red on it.

Okay, I just watched and studied the fish more and it looks like the red is much more prevalent than I previously thought. I think in the back of my head I thought some read was normal so I sort of tuned it out. Not that my awareness has increased...

Some of the smaller tetra have red around the bottom of the gill, and red by their pelvic fin (? the bottom/front fin). The largest tetra with the most red seems a bit bloated to me. The tetras don't seem to be eating as much the past couple of days as they normally do.

shmish 01-03-2011 06:57 PM

BTW, just in case this is a case of septicemia or something else that requires medicine and quaraninte.... I don't have a quarantine tank. Even if I went out to get a 10g tank, another light, another heater and another filter, wouldn't it take a few days before I could use it anyways? Following on this, where would a person typically keep a quarantine tank, and does the filter and heater need to run on it constantly?


bettababy 01-03-2011 08:45 PM

That does indeed look to be a bacterial infection, however... until we know what the nitrites and nitrates reading is, there is no way to suggest a safe medication.

The best suggestion I can offer until then is to get a quarantine tank set up asap. A proper sized quarantine tank for those type and that number of fish should be about 20 gallons.

That brings me to my next observation... your tank is quite crowded, especially being a new set up with still young fish and considering it is only getting 1 water change every 2 wks. Poor water quality can cause infections like this to set in.

The best approach I can offer if you really desire to keep all of the current fish is to get an appropriate size tank for the fish you currently have and keep the 20 gallon to use for quarantine. Appropriate tank for what is currently in your 20 gallon would be closer to 30 - 40 gallons... depending on what type of pleco you have. If its a standard pleco then you will either need to rehome it once it gets beyond about 4 - 5 inches or you will need to move it into a much larger tank. Standard plecos grow quite fast (when they're healthy) and can get 18+ inches long full grown. Minimum tank size for a standard pleco beyond 4 - 5 inches would be 75 or more gallons. By the time the pleco reaches 10 inches it will need at least 90 gallons or more, and so on until it is full grown. An adult, full grown standard pleco should not be kept in anything smaller than 125 gallons, and should be fed regularly to avoid predation of tank mates.

If this is a smaller species of pleco, say a bristlenose... then 40 gallons would be large enough for the 1 pleco and the rest of your current fish. This is something you will need to sort out based on species and if you wish to continue adding more fish to your tank in the future. For the time being, though... your tank is over stocked and not receiving nearly enough water changes to keep it healthy.

Increase water changes to 30% once/wk, that will help some... and as soon as you post those other test results I can offer you some suggestions for treatment of the sick fish.

Please don't do anything drastic such as emptying the tank and starting over or massive cleaning (more than 30% water change at a time), and please don't just start dumping medications into the tank in hopes it will help... that would be an easy way to wipe out your entire population.

What foods are you currently offering the fish? How often and how much each time?

Once again, the more info you can provide the faster I can help.

shmish 01-03-2011 09:37 PM

I just finished some more water testing. Nitrites were about 0ppm while nitrates are 20ppm.

I went to the LFS (Byron - I've bought all my fish and supplies from Fraser Aquarium) where I bought the fish and showed them the pictures. The guy there seemed pretty sure the tetra has dropsy. I guess that's based on what he experiences at his shop. This seems possible from what I've read, as it looks like the scales are popping out a bit. I'm not sure that really explains the redness though. Furthermore, I'm obviously just taking stabs in the dark.

I've been feeding the fish Nutrafin max complete flake food (fish meal, wheat flour, soy protein...). Today I bought a different colour enhancing flake (Krill, fish meal, ....) and some freeze dried bloodworms. It looks like the recommendation is to mix up the food a bit. Maybe I'll look to get some of the pellet food too.

I hear you about the tank size. I thought I was doing alright with 18 of the barbs and tetras (by several people's recommendation) and with the 2 small catfish. Then came some algae and the recommendation to get the pleco. I'm not sure what I will do, but I may have to find a new home for the pleco.


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