Dwarf Gouramis Dead/Dying
A few days ago I noticed our cobalt blue dwarf gourami was not looking his best. He didn't come up to eat his food (which is not normal behaviour) and was swimming around near the bottom of the tank. The next morning he was lying on the bottom of the tank, not dead, but not too good either. At the time our flame dwarf was looking fine and swimming around normally. I took out the cobalt and put him in the hospital tank, where he unfortunately died a couple of hours later.
The next day I noticed the flame wasn't looking healthy either!! He'd gone from eating normally, to swimming around listlessly like the cobalt. He's now lying on the bottom of the tank, and I'm about to move him to the hospital tank too... but I fear it's probably too late.
I did worry about water quality initially. It hasn't been a long time since a major water change, and all the other fish are healthy, but I checked and I found the water hardness is quite high and the nitrates were bordering on too high. I gave the water another change, cleaned the filter and added new nitrate reducing filter pads etc.) I went to the fish shop today to see if I could find something to reduce the hardness (the general hardness is quite high, but the KH is fine) and they told me to try to replace the tank water with rainwater (although I have seen something you can put in the filter to soften the water).
I do have a rainwater tank, but the water is a bit yellowish looking and had some sort of larvae in it (maybe not a problem?!) I tested the tank water and the hardness is extremely low... but am a bit worried about the colour, and whether there may be some contaminants in it (mind you, the dog drinks it and seems perfectly healthy).
However, ultimately I think it's probably not a water quality issue since both gouramis behaved similarly to each other, and the other fish don't appear affected at all. I haven't had a lot of luck with dwarf gouramis, as I lost my beautiful neon blue dwarf gourami earlier this year also mysteriously (as he didn't appear sick at all... and suddenly he was gone). I've had some fungal issues with neon tetras, but most of the other fish seem fine, even ones that would appear to be more delicate (such as glass fish).
I really don't want to give up on dwarf gourami as they're absolutely my favourite fish!! I have read about this Dwarf Gourami Iridivirus (sp??) and am concerned it's that. Perhaps the cobalt actually came to us with the virus and passed it to the flame? (We had the flame a few weeks longer).
Now the fish didn't really look all that sick until displaying symptoms. The flame does appear a bit more swollen than usual, although I couldn't have said the same for the cobalt who looked okay until the last day or so.
I need a bit of advice here! I really don't think Flame is going to make it, which is really sad (yeah, his name is Flame!) especially after the death of the other one a couple of days ago... I am a bit worried about purchasing more, given this history of losing the poor little guys! But I don't want to give up on them either.
In my opinion, worms. I have a bunch of these I got as rescue fish where they were dieing at a rate of two per day at a box store. I got them right after new years. I got 11, and I still have 8 left. Two died early on and one did as you described where it stopped eating for a couple of days, then I moved it to hospital and it died overnight without any visible symptoms. It died three or four weeks into my ownership of them.
I treated these fish for everything and treatment for internal parasites is the thing that seemed to help the most. I used parasite guard and a bunch of the fish pooped allot of white turds. This seemed to be due to worms. The fish have done pretty well, but still didn't act 100% so I fed them Jungle anti-parasite food with praziquantel and they proceeded to poop some more white.
Meanwhile I bought a microscope and verified that the fish were passing dead roundworms as well as living larvae. I couldn't believe it that the larvae were still alive. I treated the fish with fenbendazole and almost killed them all, but they passed an incredible amount of worms over the next few days. Keep in mind that these fish had been treated multiple times for internal parasites. The fenbendazole killed so many worms in some of the fish that they developed large internal lumps like dropsy. It took days for the bumps to dissipate as the fish constantly extruded a stream of poop during those days. I thought I wold lose a couple of them to intestinal impaction, but everyone recovered and is now allot more active. It will be interesting to see what happens when they get their follow up dewormer next week.
I'm going to be rescuing random DGs from various stores and treating them with powerful dewormers to see if all the stores are infected around here. I'm starting to form the opinion that the true DGD of today is nematodes.
From the time a fish ingests a worm, it takes several weeks for the worm to develop. Thus the fish will not show symptoms for quite some time.
Here is where the DG really hurts itself. They go around and put every piece of detritus that they can find into their mouths. Hardly a turd can fall from a fish and hit the tank floor that two or three DGs don't nibble on it. This is why they are so prone to worms.
I feel that DGs are also prone to gill parasites since the operculum shrouds the gills so tightly. This just makes it all the easier for the fish to pick up flukes or other parasites and all the harder for the fish owner to see that anything is actually wrong.
Finally, DGs are genetically week from inbreeding to develop the solid colorations. Combine that with fish farms that feed the DGs antibiotics from birth until shipment and it's easy to see why these things get sick and die so easily.
Thanks for your detailed response! I wonder if it was parasites? Unfortunately, we lost Flame today. However, I will certainly keep that in mind if I get any more dwarf gouramis (which I would like to do). I will probably put them in isolation in the hospital tank first, and then try treating them for parasites and giving it some weeks before I put them in with the other fish.
I'm also considering another source for my fish, as well. I've lost all three DGs from the shop I usually go to. I've been on the lookout for another neon blue, but would hate to get another only to lose it in the same way, so I'll be really, really careful and treat right away next time!
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