Hi all, this is my first post on the aquarium forums. My girlfriend and I currently have three freshwater tropical fish tanks--two 10 gallon tanks and a 55 gallon community tank. The problem we are facing is only in the 55 gallon tank though. We have quite a few fish in there (listed below) which, until yesterday, included one male betta fish. Last night we noticed that he was swimming very slowly, only hanging out at the bottom, and his lips and gills looked swollen and white. He also looked very pale compared to his very deep red color. Concerned about his deteriorating condition, we added a bit of aquarium salt and tea tree extract (supposedly good for treating the flexibacter bacteria). I also added an airstone to the water, after reading that the bacteria hates aeration and oxygen.
We both worked this morning so we had no time to check the tank after waking up other than taking a quick glance at it with the lights off. Didn't see the male betta but we hoped he was just hiding. Came home today after work and noticed that my large pleco was munching on the body of the male betta who had obviously been picked apart by all the other fish beforehand. Of course, the pleco is the one fish out of all of them that we have in the tank that my girlfriend has become extremely attached to and it would break her heart for it to die after growing so large... the other fish are relatively tiny in comparison to him.
I have read from numerous sources on the internet that Flexibacter bacteria is extremely contagious for fish, and that once one fish has caught the disease, often all the other fish are infected as well and possibly die before a diagnosis can even be made. After seeing the pleco practically swallowing the carcass of the betta whole, I assumed that there is almost 100% chance of him being infected. However, I wanted a second opinion.
Here's the Q&A from the sticked thread at the top:
1. 55 gallon (48" x 13")
2. The reading I took with Tetra test strips today before doing 10% water change:
nitrite: 10 ppm
hardness: 180 ppm
alkalinity: 270 ppm
4. Tank has been set up almost 4 months
5. Fish in the tank are as follows:
(4) zebra danios
(3) feeder guppies
(1) ghost shrimp
(3) black mollies
(4) bala sharks
(6) neon tetras
(4) albino cory catfish
(2) rainbow sharks (aka red-tailed sharks)
(2) dwarf guaramis
(3) female bettas
All of the fish are relatively small (1 inch or less) except for one of the bala sharks, the gouramis and the pleco.
6. No quaratine
7. 78 degrees F
8. Yes, lots of live plants. Mostly anarachnis, but also anubias, hornwort, crypts and banana plants.
9. Topfin filter or some sort. It's not an under-gravel filter, but that's about as much as I know. We bought the tank and all the parts used.
10. Marineland 200W heater, DIY CO2 injection system, airstone with electric air pump that has been taken out and put back in numerous times (still debating on whether we want it in there or not)
11. Tank only recieves a small bit of indirect sunlight every day. Our lights are kept on a 2a.m. off till 2p.m. on 12 hour schedule.
12. Weekly 10% water changes, every other week a gravel vacuuming. The last water change was Wednesday of last week (March 17)
13. Fish eat all different types of flakes (mostly labeled as tropical or goldfish flakes), betta pellets, chiclids pellets, dried bloodworms, and frozen brine shrimp. Occasionally I will buy live crickets and give them to the sharks and betta fish. We usually feed them only once per day, not necessarily at the same time every day, and occasionally we skip a day of feeding.
14. The only unusually thing that has happened is the male betta unexpectedly dying. One of our mollies actually looked like it had a white patch of cotton attached to the side of its body a long time ago, but we have since moved that fish to another tank, and the white patch is now gone.
15. The only action that has been taken so far has been the addition of aquarium salt, an airstone and 2 tsp. of tea tree extract (labeled as "ALL NATURAL MELAFIX" antibacterial remedy). I am about to do a 20% water change after I finish this post.
Thank you for reading my post if you've managed to make it this far! Any advice/tips/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!