Growths on my bichirs - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 04-05-2009, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Growths on my bichirs

OK so this is my first post on this forum. I am in need of some advise on a problem I have been having with my albino senegal bichirs (Polypterus senegalus). I have 1 gold sevrum (about 13 inches), 1 red shouldered sevrum (4 inches), and a common plecostamus (7.5 inches), and 2 albino senegal bichirs (8 inches). Also it is a 45 gallon freshwater tank, running a fluval canister filter. PH is just below 7 (even after you treat the tap water here its normal PH is about 8.3.......), in the filter i run Chemie pure, Purigen, and biomax. The tank is planted (was) I usually buy about 12-15 plants during september, and the sevrums eat them by february. I have no CO2 system, I use a floraglo light with Flourish Excell liquid fertilizer. The conditioners I use are Aqua Plus, and Cycle, and a some aquarium salt. The tank is fairly densly planted (live and fake), with a full backside bubble wall. Also before I forget I use a 10 gallon's undergravel filter on the sevrum's nesting side (big ones a girl). I feed Sinking carnivor pellets, and frozen Krill to the bichirs (they also take all the stuff the sevrums miss. The sevrums normally get some of the sinking carnivor pellets, with HBH super soft sinking veggie pellets, and some frozen brine shrimp, and frozen glassworms (all fed on different days), and about once or maybe twice a month the sevrums and the Pleco got some cut up zuccini (i can't spell it), and also i guess the sevrums and pleco eat the plants (which mostly consist of ocelot swords, java fern, and hairgrass (small and giant)). I do a 25%-30% water change every month, also I change or rinse filters (in tank water) every month. My water test show that my ammonia is at like 0.5-0.8 ppm, my nitrite is at 0ppm, and my nitrates sit at about 18ppm. So I think that is all the required information as per the "everyone muse read before posting" post. So on to my issue. I had 6 albino senegal bichirs in the beginning, but then one developped a large fleshy lump along his right side. I just thought he had comsumed a pebble (If you have seen a Bichir eat, you know what im talking about), and there realy wasn't much i could do about it but watch. Then he developed another lump on the left side of his anal fin, he then died 3 days later, he remained eating and swimming vigorously until about 8 hours before death were he just shut himself away and died. Thus all but 2 remaining Bichirs have succumb to these growths in generally the same fashion, except there is no pattern to were the growths occur. Currently of the 2 I have left, one has a lump bigger than his head on his left pectoral fin, and the other one (only about 3 inches) is unflawed.
Also this prcces between the visible lump, and death normally took about 2 months. So I am very worried, I love my Bichirs, but I am ata loss of what to do. I went on a limb and tried tetracycline for the full dose and duration, but it had no effect. I realy would like some input, because I realy dont want to have to get rid of the remainder of my Bichirs for something I can stop.

Thanks: Justin
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post #2 of 5 Old 04-08-2009, 10:24 AM
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Hi Justin, and welcome to the forum. I am not much at diagnosing diseases, but I do have a couple of comments in general that I think need attention.

Ammonia in an established tank should be 0, and nitrite 0. Nitrate at 18 is no problem, there will always be a nitrate reading and most agree as long as its below 40ppm (usually it will be well below) you're OK. But the ammonia reading is not OK.

Partial water changes are needed more often than once a month, particularly on a tank with such larger (relatively) fish. Weekly is much better and recommended by almost every aquarist. Change 25-35% weekly, and you will have happier and therefore healthier fish, believe me.

Second, the filter media should not be changed until it literally falls apart (I'm referring to the foam-type pad) or has lost its effectiveness. Filters trap particulate matter, and that can be rinsed out in tank water as you do (very good). But the reason for using tank water is to preserve as much of the good bacteria (nitrosomonas and nitrobacter) in the media as possible, since the chlorine in the tap water will kill bacteria (that's why its there). You want as much of the good bacteria to remain in the media to continue to consume ammonia and nitrite; replacing the media removes all the bacteria and the filter has to literally start all over again, and in this situation the fish will be stressed because the ammonia and then the nitrite will probably rise even slightly. Bacteria colonize every surface in the tank, including the substrate, so some will remain but you want to preserve as much as possible. And never rinse/change the filter when you do a water change, and don't add new fish for a few days afterwards; same reason, not to overload the bioload when the bacteria has been reduced.

I'm not personally familiar with Polypterus senegalus (or any of the genus) so I looked them up in Baensch/Riehl (Aquarium Atlas, 2) and on Fishbase; there is no mention of salt being added to their water, they are freshwater fish, and the other fish you mention don't need it, so is there a reason you're adding salt to the aquarium? Except to treat specific disease, I would recommend never adding salt to freshwater fish aquaria. Fish have to internally balance salinity and pH to equal their environment, and this takes energy and effort for the fish that would be better avoided. The sources mention that P. senegalus are predatory which makes me wonder about their tankmates, but I doubt that has anything to do with the disease.

Hopefully someone with more experience at disease than I have can respond on that question.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 5 Old 04-08-2009, 11:06 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your input, I used the aquarium salt to help me control a parasite on the bigger sevrum. And what I meant by the rinsing/ changing, was that I rinse the foam and biomax, and change the Carbon,chemi- pure, whatever other chemical filter media I have in at that time. Thanks for the input on the ammonia though. I have always viewed the fabled 0ppm ammonia as an unrealistic ideal (Never seen it in any tests over the last few years in established aquarium testing the water for others at the pet store). But I will take your suggestion by doing water changes a bit more frequently, and by replacing my carbon with some zoe-carb (yay empty nylon baggies :).).

Thanks: Justin
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post #4 of 5 Old 04-08-2009, 11:42 AM
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I am no expert but over the years have tried just about every product there is in regards to fish keeping in an effort to make things easier. It is my belief that the use of chemipure and the purigen ,is the only thing keeping your ammonia from skyrocketing to lethal levels for both ,,address ammonia. The water conditioner aqua plus adresses chlorine and chloramines but does not adress ammonia. Some of these products(water conditioners) break the bond of chlorine and ammonia(chloramines) but leave the ammonia for the biological filter to consume(good bacteria) The ammonia may be reduced to ammonium which is less toxic ,but the ammonia is still there until biological process renders it into less harmless nitrates. In a planted tank, I would hesitate to use chemipure for on the tub that it comes in,, it clearly states what it removes, or binds to ,,with Co2 being one of them.Probably not what I would want while trying to grow plants without Co2 injection to replace that which the product claims to remove.
Purigen is a good product but must be rejuvenated regularly after it turns brown ,which may be a month or every two weeks depending on numbers of fish and waste being produced. Many people use these products in an effort to reduce the needed water changes for healthy fish ,but fail to realize that water changes not only remove toxins and waste but also replace trace minerals needed by all fish. Water changes WEEKLY will keep healthy fish healthy and are far less expensive to perform than the products are to purchase. AMMONIA and Nitrite should read zero all day every day,in a mature or established aquarium. Many folks are able to achieve this through regular weekly water changes,not overfeeding,and not overstocking.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #5 of 5 Old 04-08-2009, 12:01 PM
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Coudn't edit original post in time.. In regards to the birchirs,,If you have offered them live foods ,it is possible that they picked up bacterial infection from the live food or It is possible that due to elevated ammonia levels over time,, that the fishes were stressed which in turn, weakened their immune system thus making it easier for parasites or bacterial pathogens to get a hold .In any event,, clean water will not hurt them. I might also look to replace my water conditioner with one that was more effective in adressing AMMONIA, CHLORINE,and CHLORAMINES.Good Luck!

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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