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How can I save my butterfly fish from ich?

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How can I save my butterfly fish from ich?
Old 10-15-2007, 08:03 PM   #11
 
Mike's Avatar
 
Thanks, Dawn. We'd had Snowflake for about a year or so. He had definitely settled in and was a good eater before he got sick. He ate a lot of mysis shrimp. I never saw the lemon peel angel giving him a hard time.

The tank now contains

1) a stars and stripes puffer
2) a yellow box fish
3) a small yellow box fish
4) a majestic angel
5) a small bicolor angel
6) a small coral beauty
7) a small yellow fish

The tank is 55 gallons, and looking at the list it seems overstocked, but the small yellow box fish and the small bicolor angel are each the size of a quarter, the small yellow fish is the size of two quarters, and the small coral beauty is the size of a tangerine.

We don't have a UV sterilizer on it. I heard you aren't supposed to get one when they already have ich, and that they are varying opinions of their efficacy. I am trying to determine whether we should add one and when.

We were instructed to turn off the protein skimmer when we began treating the tank with Cupramine, and it has probably been off for about a month now.

Thanks again,
Mike
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Old 10-15-2007, 11:43 PM   #12
 
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If it were my tank the UV would be going on there now... as for the treatment, have you seen any signs of ick on any of the remaining fish? If so which ones, if not, how long since you have seen it?

I have to ask, what are your water params looking like right now? (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, calcium, and GH and KH) Are you shopping for a larger tank yet? or given thought to what you plan to do with these fish as they grow? Some species grow faster than others, but a healthy fish can easily go from the size of a quarter to the size of a baseball inside of 8 - 10 months. How long have each of these fish been in the tank?

I would highly suggest no more fish for this tank, and investing in a quarantine tank as well. You are talking about fish that may eat each other later on, also, so maybe adding a 2nd tank as some of them get too big...
let me make a list for you of what to expect:
Stars/stripes puffer = 14 inches
Yellow boxfish = 18 inches
Majestic angelfish = 10 inches
Bicolor angelfish = 6 inches
Coral beauty = 4 5 inches
These are the adult sizes of the fish you have. If you can get a picture of the other 2 yellow fish, maybe we can get them identified so you'll know where they best fit in later.
Stars & stripes puffers are also known for their aggression level as they mature. They are one of the more aggressive puffers out there, and the worst is a toss up between feeding time and lights out. I have as of yet to see one that stays peaceful when its full grown. Boxfish can be aggressive towards each other if one outsizes the other at any point, or if feeling crowded. You could get lucky and get a male/female combo, but I'll have to do some research to remember how to tell them apart. It has been a while.

Besides watching water quality, also watch oxygen content. With this mixture of fish in a 55, even if they're all small right now, as growth happens, oxygen levels will deplete much quicker, and to dangerous levels. You may find the need to run an air stone at some point to help, but ultimately, a really really large tank is what you're going to need. For just 1 boxfish to be comfy and stable you're talking about 150 - 200 gallon minimum. I wouldn't put a grown stars/stripes puffer in anything less than 125 - 150, by itself or with 1 other fish equally as aggressive and of comparable size, and for the majestic angel... again, at least 150 - 200 gallons. The bicolor angelfish and coral beauty could stay in a 55 with a couple of other small fish or specific types of inverts. Maybe your other 2 yellow fish will turn out to be something that could stay with those in the 55?
I'm not sure what to say if you're that attached to all of these fish already, cuz they could end up costing you a small fortune to keep healthy and well fed in the end. If you're not real attached to all of them yet, this would be the time to do whatever thinning out you may need to do.

I'll watch for water params and answers to these questions before I ask anymore... one step at a time works best for sorting something like this out. After hearing of the mixture of fish, even considering the sizes, I guess I'm not as surprised about the loss of the butterfly fish or the ick problems. Again, I would be adding UV now... it won't be a cure-all, but it will surely help a lot!!!
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Old 10-16-2007, 06:18 AM   #13
 
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Hi, our smaller box fish has had salt-like white spots on his side for the longest time that just never went away. They were there even when none of his tank mates appeared to have ich. We tried a freshwater dip, added garlic to his food, etc...

I have been working like a mad man and haven't been able to see them lately, but when I last saw them, the stars and stripes puffer fish had a few large white chunks on his side fins. They looked much larger than grains of salt, so I don't know if ich grows proportionate to the size of the fish or if it was something else.

So you would add a UV sterilizer to the tank right now? Even while they still have ich? Why? What does it do, exactly? Would you turn the protein skimmer back on despite the copper treatment?

The plan is to upgrade to a larger tank when these fish grow. We've had most of these fish 8 - 10 months already and noticed very little in the way of growth, certainly nothing like growth from the size of a quarter to a baseball. Could their growth be stunted by conditions in the aquarium?

Speaking of which, I am not able to test the tank myself because work has kept me away from my fish and everything else lately, but I will ask my girlfriend to run some tests. The last time I tested, the PH was low and the nitrate was high. I did a water change and added some ph buffer.

I really want to be more disciplined about testing. Do those testing strips work at all? Even if they aren't as accurate, it would be nice to be able to use them a few times a week to get some kind of an idea about the state of the union in between full fledged liquid tests... Please let me know if the strips you simply dip into the aquarium are helpful at all. I remember being advised to avoid them, but I can't imagine they'd be on the market if they were completely worthless...

I definitely won't be adding any fish to an aquarium in the future without a quarantine tank. For that I just set up a separate aquarium and let the fish live in it for a few weeks before adding it to the main tank, right? If I understand it correctly, though, ich may not manifest until a fish is stressed. Won't the transfer from the quarantine tank to the main tank stress the fish and potentially cause it to be susceptible to any dormant ich? Or would the time in the quarantine tank eliminate the ich? Maybe I need to have another look at that ich life cycle chart. I remember hearing that fish always had ich or something, but that they were only susceptible to it when stressed or otherwise ill.

Yellow boxfish can grow to be 18 inches? Wow. At the rate these guys are growing, though, it seems it will take years to grow to even three. In any event, the plan is to upgrade to a 200 or so gallon tank when it becomes necessary. Aside from the puffer and the majestic angel, the rest of the fish are still very small.

I am very attached to these fish and would rather do whatever I have to to keep them then then them out...

Thank Dawn!

Mike
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Old 10-16-2007, 01:33 PM   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Administrator
Hi, our smaller box fish has had salt-like white spots on his side for the longest time that just never went away. They were there even when none of his tank mates appeared to have ich. We tried a freshwater dip, added garlic to his food, etc...

I have been working like a mad man and haven't been able to see them lately, but when I last saw them, the stars and stripes puffer fish had a few large white chunks on his side fins. They looked much larger than grains of salt, so I don't know if ich grows proportionate to the size of the fish or if it was something else.

It sounds to me like it is something other than ich. I'd have to see pictures of the boxfish to be more certain what we're dealing with, there are a number of dieseases, parasites, etc that it could be. With the puffer it sounds like something called lymphocystis... which is a viral infection and there is no medication to treat it. It looks awful, like big chunks of white to off white cottage cheese stuck to the fins and even parts of the body (tends to show up mostly on fins and mouth areas).

So you would add a UV sterilizer to the tank right now? Even while they still have ich? Why? What does it do, exactly? Would you turn the protein skimmer back on despite the copper treatment?

Yes, I would add the UV now... the UV will help to rid the tank of the ich. I will write a seperate post to explain how it all works for you. If the only 2 fish showing any symptoms are the boxfish and puffer, I guess I would be turning the skimmer back on, too. It doesn't sound like an ich issue at this point...

The plan is to upgrade to a larger tank when these fish grow. We've had most of these fish 8 - 10 months already and noticed very little in the way of growth, certainly nothing like growth from the size of a quarter to a baseball. Could their growth be stunted by conditions in the aquarium?

Speaking of which, I am not able to test the tank myself because work has kept me away from my fish and everything else lately, but I will ask my girlfriend to run some tests. The last time I tested, the PH was low and the nitrate was high. I did a water change and added some ph buffer.

A high nitrate level can and will stunt the growth of any fish, and can also cause severe internal damage, make fish susceptible to other diseases and illnesses, and eventually lead to the death of the fish. Nitrate levels could have caused the cloudy eyes and other symptoms mentioned about the butterfly fish, too. The one thing I would change with what you did here was not to add the pH buffer quite so soon. Adding the buffer will bring the pH up or down when the water quality is good and healthy... however, the drop in pH is likely to have been caused by the elevated nitrate levels, and if adding a buffer before things have stabalized with water changes and such... there will be no way to determine what the pH will jump to as the tank regains its health. The other danger is using a buffer at this point is in elevating the pH too quickly. If nitrates caused the drop in pH (which is what it sounds like) then it took time to drop the pH. Just as in freshwater, a shift too great too fast can be deadly to any fish and/or invert. If the pH is brought back up gradually through water changes while at the same time reducing the nitrate level, it would be much much safer for the fish. I would stop using the buffer until the tank is healthy again and you know if a buffer is truly needed.


I really want to be more disciplined about testing. Do those testing strips work at all? Even if they aren't as accurate, it would be nice to be able to use them a few times a week to get some kind of an idea about the state of the union in between full fledged liquid tests... Please let me know if the strips you simply dip into the aquarium are helpful at all. I remember being advised to avoid them, but I can't imagine they'd be on the market if they were completely worthless...

I know of a lot of items on the market that are simply worthless... so long as someone buys them to "try them" then to the company producing them... they aren't viewed as "worthless". Yes, the strips are worthless, and I have tested them alongside of a lot of other test kits over the years to check accuracy levels. Most of the time the strips read zero for ammonia, but every other test picked up a high ammonia level, in some cases, very high. Nitrite and nitrate have shown me the same things. The pH dip test... again, I have had readings that are so far off from the strips that it could be considered lethal. I consider the test strips to be a true waste of money.

I definitely won't be adding any fish to an aquarium in the future without a quarantine tank. For that I just set up a separate aquarium and let the fish live in it for a few weeks before adding it to the main tank, right? If I understand it correctly, though, ich may not manifest until a fish is stressed. Won't the transfer from the quarantine tank to the main tank stress the fish and potentially cause it to be susceptible to any dormant ich? Or would the time in the quarantine tank eliminate the ich? Maybe I need to have another look at that ich life cycle chart. I remember hearing that fish always had ich or something, but that they were only susceptible to it when stressed or otherwise ill.

The quarantine tank is a bit less work and set up than the main tank. In a quarantine tank the bottom is typically bare, though I like to add a small amount of live sand to keep the biological filtration in check at all times. Rock is minimal to not at all in a quarantine system. Plastic and/or silk plants and pieces of pvc pipe suitable for hiding in and around are better for quarantine. A sponge filter is also enough for filtration in a quarantine tank. Of course, a heater and salt will still be needed, and the water will need to be tested from time to time for water params and specificgravity/salinity. The rest of this is a long explaination, and I will cover this in the other post I will put up about the ich.


Yellow boxfish can grow to be 18 inches? Yes
Wow. At the rate these guys are growing, though, it seems it will take years to grow to even three. In any event, the plan is to upgrade to a 200 or so gallon tank when it becomes necessary. Aside from the puffer and the majestic angel, the rest of the fish are still very small.
Remember that all fish don't grow at the same rate due to metabolism, genetics, food sources, and many other factors. As things like the puffer outgrow the others by too much, the other fish become food quick enough. Puffer's don't swallow their prey whole. Instead, they chew it to pieces, shredding it with their beaks. When that puffer is feeling territorial, or just simply in a bad mood, he has the potential to shred any of the fish in the tank with him. The smaller the other fish, the closer it will resemble "food" to the puffer. The less aggressive the other fish, the less opportunity to fight back. I fear that once your water quality is stable and healthy, your growth rates on your fish will suddenly "take off". A 200 gallon tank is still only going to hold 1 or 2 of these fish when they are full grown, and some of them have life spans of more than 20 yrs.

I am very attached to these fish and would rather do whatever I have to to keep them then then them out...

I will coach and do what I can to help you, but there is ultimately going to be some expense and sacrafice on your part, especially if you choose to remain with all of these fish in the 55 for much longer. What just happened with the butterfly fishes and the lemon peel is going to continue to happen with the others... while we may be able to clean it up initially, you're talking about almost daily water changes, a lot of water testing, and waiting to see who tears who apart first. Your situation is a ticking bomb, and I say this with the utmost and genuine concern for your fish and your pocketbook, as well as your sanity. The person who sold you these fish and told you they could live together in a 55 obviously does not have yours or the fish's best interests at heart... sounds like someone who only sees a good money source for their business. Part of what is taught in many "sales meetings" in retail places like pet stores is that if you spend your money to buy it all, you'll be back to spend a lot more money to take care of it all. This is something I used to work to fight against when I was at the store. I taught then as I still do now about keeping as natural an environment as possible to eliminate extra expenses that are not needed and to provide the best environment for the animal. I wonder, did the person who sold you the puffer also warn you about providing foods that will help to keep the beak trimmed? A puffer's beak grows as the fish grows, and unless he has something hard in his diet to keep it ground down naturally, the beak can become overgrown to a point where the fish can no longer eat or close it's mouth properly.
Maybe we should go through a list of your fish for everyone's benefit here? We can take one species at a time and post some basic and important information about each species? It would take some time to do a full profile about each one, but something is better than nothing, and this could give a chance for others who have kept or are keeping these fish to add in things they've observed in the time they've had them.

I hope all of this has been of some help to you thus far. I will post here again tonight when I have time and cover the other questions you had about ich and other parasites/illnesses that can resemble ich.


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Old 10-16-2007, 04:46 PM   #15
 
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Thanks, Dawn. I don't have time to write a full reply at the moment, but I am very surprised to hear that stocking a 55 gallon tank with a fish the size of an orange, a fish the size of a silver dollar pancake, and four fish the sizes of a quarter or two is such a recipe for disaster.

Are people supposed to limit themselves to two or three small fish in a tank of that size?
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:03 AM   #16
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Administrator
Thanks, Dawn. I don't have time to write a full reply at the moment, but I am very surprised to hear that stocking a 55 gallon tank with a fish the size of an orange, a fish the size of a silver dollar pancake, and four fish the sizes of a quarter or two is such a recipe for disaster.

Are people supposed to limit themselves to two or three small fish in a tank of that size?
That is a trick question, lol. The number of fish or animals able to survive long term in a 55 gallon tank greatly depends on the species of animals and the way the tank is set up.
If this were a 55 gallon tank full of live rock, live sand, sump filtration, refugium with caulerpa growing abundantly... and the fish were all things that stay small like the red head goby, yellow watchman goby, clown goby, firefish, seahorses, pipefish, etc... then there would be enough room for more fish in the end. In your specific situation we are dealing mostly with fish that get very large, are known to be very messy eaters with messy habits and aggressive behavior... then there is a lot less room. It is also a matter of territory, oxygen levels, food supply, water quality, and overall space for swimming, etc.

This is the reason I suggest people plan a saltwater aquarium long before getting a tank set up. Research animals you wish to keep first, find out what they need and can live with, then plan for it, prepare for it, provide it, and everyone is happy. With most staff's at pet stores being terribly uneducated about fish in general, I always advise research online and in print/book form as well as people who currently have healthy specimens at home. Be sure you know what you're getting into before you get attached to the animals, because they are full of personality and they quickly become family as much as any dog or cat could. Had you emailed me and said hey, do you know anything about such and such a fish... ? I could have warned you ahead of time what they quickly grow into, and what to expect. I could have sent you to a number of websites for accurate information about these animals, also.


Ok, to deal with the prior post, I promised to answer your other questions. I will try to cover them all. In answer to your worry about the UV being installed during an ich outbreak... The UV, as I said, is not a cure-all. What WILL happen, however, is that as the cycle of ich progresses and becomes free swimming, it is circulated in the water. As the water is filtered through the UV, it is able to kill the ich and other parasites in the water before sending it back into the tank. Provided your turnover rate in the tank is sufficient, filtration is good, water flow is properly adjusted to fully circulate the water, the UV will greatly reduce the number of parasites left. Once your tank is in a healthy state, any parasite in the water will be assumed to filter through the UV, thus killing it and avoiding an outbreak in the tank in the future. No method is 100% foolproof, but from personal experience, I can say that having UV on your system as soon as possible right now is one of the best things you can do.

I did some checking about the copper treatment, and discovered that a skimmer will not remove copper from your system. There is no need to worry about keeping that off, so again, get that running asap. Every little bit helps right now.

Ok, the other thing I think you were wondering about was transfer of the fish from quarantine to main tank. The best way to say it is this: If both systems are healthy and stable, and the transfer is done easily without excess stress, most fish will not get sick from a quick transfer such as this. If we consider what these fish have already been through in catching, shipping, pet stores, etc... this isn't a very stressful move at all. If the main tank is set up to accomidate the fish coming in, the fish should be able to settle in very quickly, find enough places to hide and good food, clean water to promote good health... you get the idea. Quarantine should have enough decoration in it for the fish to hide and feel secure, but easy to remove and easy to clean. So far, silk plants are my favorites. Easy to clean, easy to remove when its time to move the fish out. I remove all of the plants and I work from a bare tank to catch the fish. This prevents me from having to chase it. A water change in the quarantine tank using water from the main system works well for acclimation, so then once the fish is caught it goes directly into the main system, no buckets or bowls, etc.
There is a lot of arguement of whether ich is always present in a home aquarium. Considering the wild conditions the fish are coming from and what we can provide for them artificially in our homes, I guess it depends on what you're keeping and how you're keeping it. Without UV to help kill free swimming parasites, then I would say yes, it and a zillion others are probably always present in some state in a tank. Knowing that some parasites can remain in a dormant stage until a situation is ripe for it, or until it has a proper host to continue its life cycle, and knowing that many of the saltwater fish are wild caught still... I guess I'd believe that there is always something in a tank such as I described. Now, on the other hand, if a UV is running, proper quarantine provided, and fish are tank raised... then I would have to say it is perfectly possible to have a system where no parasite exists. Fish such as clown fish, cardinal fish, and a number of others that are being raised more and more in captivity, filled with a tank of aquacultured corals... you could easily create a parasite free environment if you tried.

As for your specific situation, what I can say about your boxfish with the bumps... if it is ich, it would be impossible to treat with copper. The amount of copper needed to cure it is more than a boxfish can handle. This is yet another reason I am urging you to get a UV on this tank. If what the boxfish is suffering from is ich, at some point it will become free swimming again. To avoid another nasty outbreak in the tank, hooking that up now would help greatly. There is a product I am in the process of finding out if its safe for you to use. It is put out by Kent Marine, so I have asked Rob to find the info on it for me tomorrow while he's at work. It is called RXP. There are some fish it is not safe to treat, so I need to check to see what it says about boxfish and the others in your tank. The job of this "med" is to increase the amount of slime coat your fish produces. Then, when the parasite becomes free swimming and attempts to reattach, the slime coat is too thick for it to grab ahold of the host fish, and when the slime coat is shed, the parasite is shed with it... thus it dies from not having a host at the proper stage of its life cycle. UV also would help here, because as that slime coat breaks down and passes through the UV with the filtration, the parasites left are then destroyed. I should know tomorrow night if its a safe product for you to consider.

In the future, a good reference for stocking a saltwater tank... allow 1 inch of adult fish per 5 gallons of tank water. I say not to rely too heavily on this until after making sure the chosen fish are compatible. As with freshwater, many fish cannot be mixed for various reasons. You cannot stock a saltwater tank the way you do a freshwater tank. Oxygen content in saltwater is very different, as is the overall environment and the fact that many are coming from a wild environment. The majority of saltwater fish that are readily available in the pet trade also grow very large. Even a damsel... a domino damsel can get to 5 - 6 inches within the first 2 yrs. or the Garibaldi damsel who grows to over a foot long and is known to be about as nasty as they get. Knowing the species of fish is important, knowing how big it gets, where it comes from, feed on in the wild, and type of environment where it is known to thrive... all important information, especially in saltwater.

So, as much as I hate to end with this, I still suggest you consider thinning out the remaining animals in your tank, and I will eagerly await your water params. I'd like to help you get this sorted as soon as possible. I would say lay off the buffer (find out the pH of the water you are using for water changes) and do a lot of water changes, small ones... 10 - 20% at most at a time, every other day for the next wk or 2. If we want to save what's left, then we want to bring that pH up slowly while bringing nitrate levels down at same time. When you said your pH was low at last reading, how low are we talking? Do you remember the numbers? or approximate numbers? Keep the fish well fed (another reason for the demand in water changes) which will help in 2 ways... it will boost the immune system and it will help avoid any excess aggression that may start once they are feeing better. If you can get those pics of the 2 ufo fish left in there (the 2 yellow ones) then we will know what else is safe to do. When feeding, try soaking the food in a product called Zoe. It's a vitamin supplement and good for all your fish. If using live brine to feed the fish, strain them and put them into a small cup with the Zoe in there. The brine will drink/absorb the vitamin supplement and it will help to get it into the fish. Frozen foods such as shrimp and raw squid are good for the puffer, and that also can be soaked in the Zoe as it thaws out. Cut squic into bite size pieces or the puffer may not eat it. The angel may also eat the squid. Frozen Formula 1 cubes can also be soaked in Zoe as they thaw, then crumbled into the tank. If a gravel vac is added to the water changes it will help to get any waste from the food that the fish don't eat right away, just don't make the water change too large at a time. Stop when you get to that 20% and get the rest the next time.

If you have more questions, ask away...
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Old 10-17-2007, 04:32 AM   #17
 
The advice Bettababy has been offering has been exellent.Anyhow I would keep things simple and read about ich as much as possible.FIRST OFF ICH IS ALWAYS PRESENT .its just a sign the the fishes immune system is weak .You need to find out why. Temperture as you stated before may be one factor.but the intial Aclimation to the tank might have cause the problem from the begining. 1. a small 10 gallon Hospital Tank is useful before introducing new members into the tank.This will insure you that the new fish will not infect you existing tank members. I find that low temps encourage fin rot.Sometimes injuries are sustained at the pet store during capture.fish nets tear fins up .A clear glass or plastic cup is a better way of capturing fish without harm. Let me note that some fish are sensitive to disease thaqn others. Sometimes its diet also.If a fish isnt getting the proper foods he might get ill. Just something found out the hard way.Sometime the answer is very simple
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Old 10-17-2007, 07:23 AM   #18
 
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Thanks for the additional information. I am not going to get rid of any of my remaining fish now because they will be transferred to a much larger tank long before they make any substantial growth. Other than the puffer, they've barely grown in the year or so since I've had them. I can't speak for the rest of the fish in the world, but the occupants in my tank pose no threat of growing in leaps and bounds in the coming months. I know you said improved water conditions may result in a rapid acceleration in growth. If that changes I will get a larger tank right away.

I think I already know the answer to this question, but ich cannot become "immune" to UV like bacteria can become immune to antibiotics, can it? As I mentioned, I have heard it suggested that a UV sterilizer is added after ich has run its course. The potential for ich to somehow become "immune" to the light is the only reason I can think of that would justify this, but as it is light and not any kind of medicine I can't imagine how that would be possible. Nevertheless, I've learned some pretty crazy things about aquatic organisms before so I figured I'd ask no matter how ridiculous the question. I can wear a silly hat and sit in the corner for it, but I wanted to get it out there :)

I am going to post the water parameters here as soon as I can. The PH was nowhere near 8.2 where it should be. I'd say it was the lowest range of the test kit or lower.

As for getting rid of debris from the bottom of the tank, that has always been a challenge and I am sure it has a lot to do with the nitrate issue. The back part of the tank has a grayish matter on the sand and attempts to get it out either scatter it or take a lot of sand with it. Other than a python which requires hook up to a sink for pressure, etc., is there any device other than a net that make it easier to remove this matter?

I am interested in this treatment that will enhance the fish's protective slime coating.

We are definitely going to get a UV sterilizer and use a quarantine tank before adding fish to any aquarium in the future.

Thanks again to everyone for all your help,
Mike
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Old 10-17-2007, 08:51 AM   #19
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Administrator
Thanks for the additional information. I am not going to get rid of any of my remaining fish now because they will be transferred to a much larger tank long before they make any substantial growth. Other than the puffer, they've barely grown in the year or so since I've had them. I can't speak for the rest of the fish in the world, but the occupants in my tank pose no threat of growing in leaps and bounds in the coming months. I know you said improved water conditions may result in a rapid acceleration in growth. If that changes I will get a larger tank right away.

Considering the expense involved and types of fish you have, you may want to start planning for 2 larger tanks...

I think I already know the answer to this question, but ich cannot become "immune" to UV like bacteria can become immune to antibiotics, can it? As I mentioned, I have heard it suggested that a UV sterilizer is added after ich has run its course. The potential for ich to somehow become "immune" to the light is the only reason I can think of that would justify this, but as it is light and not any kind of medicine I can't imagine how that would be possible. Nevertheless, I've learned some pretty crazy things about aquatic organisms before so I figured I'd ask no matter how ridiculous the question. I can wear a silly hat and sit in the corner for it, but I wanted to get it out there :)

No, the ich can't/won't become immune to the UV. Something to make note of, so this isn't overlooked... ich is not the only parasite that can cause potential problems, and the UV is effective on the other parasites as well. Also, the only ridiculous question I know of is the one that isn't asked... so no silly hat needed.


I am going to post the water parameters here as soon as I can. The PH was nowhere near 8.2 where it should be. I'd say it was the lowest range of the test kit or lower.

Without some idea of the numbers and how low your test kit goes, that isn't much help for information other than to tell me it will be that much more important to bring the pH back up gradually with the water changes so the fish are not shocked by such an extreme change in water quality all at once.

As for getting rid of debris from the bottom of the tank, that has always been a challenge and I am sure it has a lot to do with the nitrate issue. The back part of the tank has a grayish matter on the sand and attempts to get it out either scatter it or take a lot of sand with it. Other than a python which requires hook up to a sink for pressure, etc., is there any device other than a net that make it easier to remove this matter?

Yes, there is an easier way, though it may require you to rearrange some of your rockwork to better allow for it. The python can be used, but I prefer to put the gravel vac end onto a regular hose of tubing, not attached to the sink. Start the syphon manually by folding a lower part of the hose to stop water flow. Dip the python end into the water and fill it up, then lift this enough to fill the hose with water as well. When all of the air has been replaced by water from the pinched off section to the vac end, submerge the vac end into the water and slowly unpinch the end of the hose and let hang into a bucket. It will be important to use a hose long enough so that you can continue to grip it while doing the gravel vac for control purposes. As you gradually unpinch the hose the suction should start. Once the water has begun to flow, stick the syphon only about 1/4 inch into the sand, again pinching off the hose while you push down into the sand. Once in, unpinch the hose slowly, and as sand rises into the vac section, again pinch the hose so the sand drops back into the tank. Then lift the hose from the sand, and place it where you wish to vac next, and repeat. This will make sure that minimal sand is being sucked out and the waste/debris will come out with the water. I know this sounds complicated, but if you actually do it while reading how I explained it, you will catch on quickly. It took me 3 tries when I first learned how and after that I was known as a "pro". Don't let the equipment scare you or intimidate you, and as I said before, please expect to invest time and work into getting this tank healthy. Considering what is in the tank and the current issues, I would say expect to vac the sandbed at least once/wk from the get go, and then increasing as the fish grow and mess increases. Oh, and to make things a little easier still, figure out where 20% makes the water line fall to, use a Sharpie marker, and just put a small line in the corner of the glass at that level. This will allow you to concentrate more on the vac process and not so much about how much water you are removing at a time. When you drain as far as the line, you know its time to stop. If there is a lot of mess, let the muck settle at the bottom of the bucket, pour off the top water back into the tank, and repeat the process until you get to that 20% mark before filling the tank up with clean water. If you have further questions about it, let me know and I'll try to break it down even further for you.

I am interested in this treatment that will enhance the fish's protective slime coating.

I should know sometime today if it is safe or not, I'll post after I get word from Rob.

We are definitely going to get a UV sterilizer and use a quarantine tank before adding fish to any aquarium in the future.

A good size quarantine tank is 30-40 gallons, 40 breeder being about the best. This will ensure there is enough space to handle the animals as they grow or to add more than one at a time if needed. Remember that quarantine is not just for new fish but also for sick and/or injured fish from a main tank, too. When setting up quarantine we must always remember to take into account the types and sizes of fish that may pass through it so that we don't have to spend the extra money in upgrading a quarantine tank later, which could get quite expensive.

As for the UV, I would still encourage you to add that asap!!


Thanks again to everyone for all your help,
Mike
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:59 AM   #20
 
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Is there a particular brand/size/specification of UV sterilizer I should look for, or is a UV a UV?

Thanks,
Mike
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