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davikan 03-27-2011 03:36 AM

German Blue Ram - Hole In The Head? ARGH!
Hello everyone - I'm worried about one of my favorite fish and need your advice. I first noticed 2 to 4 small white spots on my male German Blue Ram a few days ago.

I'm not an experienced fish keeper, but I immediately thought it was Ich. But, within a couple of days, the spots were gone. In place of the largest of the spots, there was a hole (PLEASE SEE PHOTOS BELOW.) I occasionally see a fish scratch itself on my substrate or on a decoration, but not very often. Does this mean that whatever is attacking my male GBR is trying to attack other fish too? Is there really a parasite/pathogen, or is this a different problem entirely?

Here are my tank particulars:

1. SIZE OF TANK: 20 Gallons

a. AMMONIA - Seems to be SLIGHTLY above zero - almost undetectable.
b. NITRITE - Zero
c. NITRATE - Zero
d. pH, KH and GH - pH is about 8.0 (yes, very high - but it comes out of Las Vegas faucets at about 8.2!) I have no idea about KH and GH
e. TEST KIT - API Freshwater Master Test Kit

3. Temperature? - Fluctuates between about 79.9 and 81.5
4. FW (fresh water) or BW (brackish)? - FW
5. How long the aquarium has been set up? - I've had fish in it since January 8th, 2011

6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank?
5 Lamp-Eye Tetras
2 Kuhli Loaches
3 Otocinclus Catfish
2 Ghost Shrimp
1 Bamboo Shrimp
2 German Blue Rams (Male-Female Pair)

How big are they? How long have you had them?
Tetras are about 1 inch or smaller - I've had 3 of them since January, other two for about 2 months.
Kuhli Loaches are 3-4 inches - I've had them since 3-2-11
Oto Catfish are about 1 inch - I've had them since 2-28-11
Ghost Shrimp are about .75 inch - I've had them since 2-28-11
Bamboo Shrimp is about 2.5 inches - I've had it since late February
GBRs are about 2 inches - I've had the male since 2-26-11, and the female since 3-12-11

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

8. a. Any live plants? Fake plants? Both
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom? Sand
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors? African Root. A couple of small holes to hide in, but mostly small, arched swim throughs.

9. a. Filtration? I'm running 2 Aqueon QuietFlow 10 filters and one Lustar II Sponge Filter
b. Heater? Aqueon 100w Submersible

10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used? On as early as 6am, off around midnight (I keep crazy work hours.
b. Any sunlight exposure? How long? Not really

11. a. Water change schedule? Every 7-9 days
b. Volume of water changed? 5 Gallons
c. Well water, tap water, RO water? Tap Water
d. Water conditioner used? Tetra Aqua Safe Plus, AmQuel Plus, (Occasional: StressCoat and Prime)
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed? Every 7-9 days

12. Foods? Flake, shrimp pellets, algae flakes, occasional fresh cucumber
How often are they fed? LIGHT feeding earlier in the day, main feeding in the evening

13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms? I *THINK* everyone is acting "normally", but I haven't been tending an aquarium long enough to be sure I'd recognize "abnormal" if I saw it.
b. Appearance of poop? The GBRs make A LOT of it!
c. Appearance of gills? Nothing abnormal that I can see.

14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? I added 10 drops of Prime a few minutes ago when I saw a slight (slight!) green tint to my ammonia test result.
b. What meds were used? None

15. Insert photos of fish in question and full tank shot if necessary.

lindsayletcher 03-29-2011 08:47 PM

Hexamita parasite. The prime medication used to treat it is metronidazole (aka Flagyl).

Treat ASAP

lindsayletcher 03-29-2011 10:09 PM


Originally Posted by lindsayletcher (Post 633367)
Hexamita parasite. The prime medication used to treat it is metronidazole (aka Flagyl).

Treat ASAP

Thinking on it, if it's hexamita there will be whiteish feces and loss of appetite.

If not, HLLD.

aunt kymmie 03-29-2011 10:57 PM

Also, your lighting schedule is way too many hours and most likely puts much added stress on your fish. Fish require and need 12 hours of complete darkness, in order to get the rest they need. Just as it is in nature is as it should be in your tank.

davikan 03-30-2011 01:46 AM

Thanks for the advice, everyone.

I've started using API "General Cure" (Metronidazole & Praziquantel). Reading the package and poking around aquarium websites leads me to believe that it won't harm my live plants or my shrimp.

Does anyone have any experience to the contrary? Any experience with "General Cure" at all?

The package says "Two doses required for full course of treatment." I just administered my 2nd dose a few hours ago (48 hours after initial dose, per instructions.)

If the antibiotics take hold, should I expect to see the hole on my little guy's head to fill in, or merely to stop growing?

How do I know if the drug has been effective?

THANKS for your help, everyone.

aunt kymmie 03-30-2011 01:55 PM

I don't have any experience with that particular brand of medication but I have used straight Metronidazole to treat HITH. After a few short weeks the holes in my Cobalt Blue's head slowly healed up. To look at her now you'd never know she had suffered from it. My Cobalt had many more holes in her head than your GBR does. Good luck!

LisaC144 03-31-2011 11:13 AM

A word of advice on the lighting. You can go to your local hardware store and purchase a timer for less than $10. This will give you consistency on your lighting, and thus making the fish ahappier and healthier. Good luck. I hope your fish pull through okay.

davikan 03-31-2011 05:59 PM


Originally Posted by LisaC144 (Post 634807)
A word of advice on the lighting. You can go to your local hardware store and purchase a timer for less than $10. This will give you consistency on your lighting, and thus making the fish ahappier and healthier. Good luck. I hope your fish pull through okay.

Good advice - I had contemplated doing that.

Question: although my aquarium is set up on the opposite side of the room from a window, and although I keep the blinds closed at night and into the morning, it obviously still gets brighter in the room once the sun comes up. If there's light in the room, but the timer hasn't yet turned on the aquarium light, should I take extra steps (like a towel over the aquarium) to ensure total darkness for 12 full hours?

I have a "Broad Leaf Ludwigia" (Ludwigia repens) plant (among others) in my aquarium that until recently, has been very healthy. In fact, it's been growing like a leaf.

Recently however, new leaf growth has been marked by a less-than-healthy-green color. Most of the new leaves are red, especially on bottom, with some drifting towards a more pale pink or even yellow color. A couple have fallen off. Older leaves are (mostly) still green.

I'm not sure, but I believe this problem developed around the time I first saw spots on my GBR.

Are these problems related. or is the timing just a coincidence? Can Hexamita affect plants?

aunt kymmie 03-31-2011 07:51 PM

Hex doesn't affect plants, it's just a mere coincidence. Too long of light periods will also have a negative impact on plants, just as it does on fish.
Having a little ambient light in the room (from when the sun is coming up) should be just fine. It actually is better than having a tank in total darkness and then "BAM", lights on. All my tanks have the morning ambient light before the timers all kick on. As in nature, the sun slowly comes up, then slowly goes down.

davikan 04-01-2011 08:39 AM

So - here's a timeline on my treatment regimine so far...

Per the instructions on the General Cure box:
- On Sunday night, I cut open my filter packs and shook out all the charcoal. I then reinstalled the empty filter packs.
- I sprinkled in 2 packets (1 for every 10 gallons of aquarium capacity). On Tuesday night (about 48 hours later) I sprinkled in another two packets.
- Last night (Thursday - about 48 hours after the 2nd dose of General Cure) I relocated all my critters to temporary containters, agitated all my substrate, and changed out 5 gallons of water. I used AmQuel Plus and Tetra AquaSafe Plus on the tap water. I reinstalled new charcoal cartridges. After reintroducing the critters, I squirted in a refrigerated 2 oz. bottle of "Dr. Tim's Aquatics One and Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria" to hedge my bets against any bio filter killed by the antibiotics.

Last night, I notcied my male GBR scratch himself once on a piece of wood, but other than that, eveyone seemed fine. It's 6:30 am, I have to leave for work - but it's dark in the aquarium (you guys advised not turning on the light so early!) so I'll check on them again a bit later.

Well see...

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