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 Uh Oh... disease in tank

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DL Lawrence
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PostSubject: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:17 am

Looks like one of my Oto's has a white spot on his back- around 2mm in diameter (which looks big on him, because he's only about 2.5cm long or so- he's not hanging out with his other three buddies, and acting a bit peculiar.  I also see some white stuff around the mouth of one of my Serpeas- both these fish were in a group of the newest stock added to the tank- is this a fungus?  Or Ich?  Thoughts and suggestions welcome...thanks!
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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:44 am

That sounds like columnaris, which is a bacteria that looks similar to a fungus. You'll need some good water changes and be sure there is not too much uneaten food/debris collecting in your tank. Water quality and stress are what generally will cause it.

You can often combat this with large water changes and salt (not sure if the oto can handle salt - Deb?) or Melafix/Pimafix. You can use antibiotics also but I'd try the other methods first- it can often be cured that way, though in my own tank I'd remove the obviously infected fish to hospital tank. It is very contagious.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:43 am

A couple of things to check are the nitrate count and your dissolved oxygen level. Nitrates should be fairly low in a planted tank because the plants use them as food. Otocinclus are a bit sensitive to high nitrates, so establish a count of < 10 ppm. Water changes will help accomplish this.

Dissolved oxygen is important for Otocinclus and LOW oxygen is conducive to columnaris, so an adjustment to the filter to increase the waterflow will help. Or add a small airstone. Even if columnaris is not the problem, taking care of the above will be good for the life of the tank and will help stabilize things.

In my experience, Otos can a handle a mild salt solution which IMO is one teaspoon of dissolved salt per one gallon of aquarium water.

Just FYI, a few years ago I read that if one member of a species comes down with columnaris, then it's likely that all the other members of that species in the same tank will succumb, also. This might apply in DL's situation.

Keep us posted, DL.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:01 pm

Oh boy, I hope you are not headed down the path I recently took. If it is columnaris, I would be inclined to dose with Kanaplex or even Maracyn Plus. Melafix/Pimafix are not considered effective treatments for this disease. I know the Kanaplex (Kanamycin) by Seachem was safe to use with my plants, scaleless fish and good bacteria. I can't vouch for Maracyn Plus although the manufacturer claims it is safe.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:49 pm

30 or 35 % water change today, nitrates after change read 10-20. It's hard to tell exactly where the NO3 is on the API test kit. I can definitely tell it's not higher than 20, though. I'll do another WC tomorrow evening to try to keep them down. Am and NO2 are both at 0. Ph is about 7.2-7.4. Temperature in the tank is 75.6 degrees. I had done my last WC a week ago. I now do see another Serpea with some white stuff on his mouth. Bummer. I do have a bottle of Melafix, maybe I'll start that this evening, after removing the charcoal from the filters (2 AQ 70's). I'm glad to hear about increasing the filter flow, because I did rinse my filter sponges today (and pre sponges) in a bucket of tank water, and discovered when replacing them that I did not have the two filters at maximum setting. They are moving much more water now. I'll cut back on food also, but I don't feel as if I've been over feeding, although I may have been. Can I get Kanaplex at the LFS? My Otos are pretty small, I don't know if I want to try the salt. There are two air stones running in the tank- I turned them up, they were on an adjustable "switch" (what are those things called?). None of the other species (and none of the other three Oto's) are showing any symptoms. Unfortunately, I don't have another tank to use as a hospital tank. Thanks for the help, everyone.
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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:56 pm

How long have you had the otto's and where did you get your stock from? I have always had issues keeping ottos for more than 6 months even with weekly water changes. Although i have never gotten any from a local breeder and have always gotten them from big box stores.

I plan on getting some ottos soon as my planted tanks are starting to show alot of brown algea, plus they are awesome lil fish. Hope your stock stays healthy.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:50 am

All the Otos came from Azalea- the original three are going great- they've been in the tank about 6 weeks. Also, Deb mentioned dissolved O2 level- how do I test for this?

Thanks!

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:03 pm

If you have 2 AC 70s and 2 air stones going, I'm guessing there is plenty of dissolved O2. What size is your aquarium?

Hope you can keep the otos going. I've done poorly with them. Never enough green algae for them to munch on.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:10 pm

to test DO you would need a probe there really isnt any hobby style tests for DO. you can get small DO probes for probably around 100bucks from USAbluebook.com.

I agree with Donald that with 2 HOB's running and an airstone you would not have any DO problems. Those 2 AC70's create a good current in a 55g.
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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:11 pm

OK, thanks. I will test again when I get home tonight, and do another water change. After that, I think I'll go ahead and pull the activated charcoal (it's pretty new, was changed 2 weeks ago) out of the AC70's, and treat with Melafix for a week before my next WC. Hopefully, all this will improve things. I think my Otos's have plenty of Algae to eat, I'm getting algae spots on the glass, and it's also growing on some of my plants.
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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:18 pm

How are the otos and serpaes doing?

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:37 pm

It seems they are doing OK, I started the Melafix, and have increased filtration, aeration, and WC frequency. I'll keep a close eye on them- not sure how long, if it all, it will take to clear up with these measures. If it doesn't, I guess I'll have to remove them from the tank for the sake of everyone else.
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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:08 pm

I don't think you should do a WC until after you are done dosing the Melafix.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:04 pm

Donald wrote:
I don't think you should do a WC until after you are done dosing the Melafix.
This is true; those are the instructions on the label. However, if you feel like a pwc is necessary, just to refresh the water, then a small one of a few gallons just before redosing would be fine.

Did you decide on the Melafix because it seemed to be the mildest of the treatments (and therefore the safest for the tank)? I don't think you can go wrong with the Melafix. Either things will improve, or other symptoms will appear which may make diagnosis easier and suggest a new treatment.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:33 pm

Deb and Don- you are correct- I have begun Melafix, so no more WC's until the week is up. I did a last WC just before I began Melafix, but not since; four days of treatment to go. My previous post was not very clear. Instructions call for no WC's while dosing, then 25% after the last day. I've cut back on feeding as well, so we'll see what happens. No other critters are showing any signs. Moving forward after the treatment, I will be increasing the frequency of my water changes to twice per week. I also have some concerns on the hardness of my water- I did test the PH right out of the tap (7.2) but my understanding is that while Ph level can indicate hardness, they are not necessarily the same thing. Gotta get a test for that- any suggestions on a good hardness test you all are using? I did try Melafix thinking it would be the least traumatic of any of the treatments suggested. If nothing changes, do you think I should try another round of Melafix, or go to the salt treatment? Thanks in advance for advice and suggestions...
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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:23 pm

DL, a stable pH of over 7.0 may indicate that the carbonate hardness of your water is fairly high, but you are right to say that pH and hardness are NOT the same thing.

API makes a good test kit to measure water hardness for your purposes. The kit I have measures both general hardness, or GH (basically, the amount of calcium and magnesium ions in the water) and the carbonate hardness, or KH, which is basically the buffering capacity of your water. Buffered water has the ability to hold a stable pH. Most freshwater environments have some fluctuation in pH, but in the aquarium we don't want this reading to fluctuate wildly. A good KH reading is a good indicator that your pH will remain stable with regular water changes.

In addition to the kit, you may want to contact your water authority and ask for a report. I believe they will send this without question or comment if you ask for it.

I think it's a good idea for all "new" hobbyists to test the pH and hardness of their water - both aquarium and tap - so that they can get some baseline readings and some sense of seasonal fluctuations, if any. The API range of test kits are fairly accurate for freshwater and do not cost much. They are fine for the tests you want to do.

Before replying to the treatment question, I'd prefer to wait until the end of this round and assess the fish for further symptoms. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:58 pm

Thanks, Deb- I live out in the country with a well, so I guess I'm my own water authority....Wink I did test the PH right from the tap, it's about 7.2 We do have an air trap and a sediment filter on our system, but I still believe that the water is pretty hard with minerals (iron mostly), as we do not have a softener. I did pick up the API test system, and am still trying to decipher the instructions (!). It seems like a non-exact science at best, unlike the other tests in the Freshwater test system. I'll get back it tonight, and see what I can find out for GH/KH. I was out of town Wed/Thurs (wife was dosing Melafix and feeding) and a quick look last night shows that all 10 neons look fine, 5 serpeas look fine (two with mouth funk), all 5 Corys look fine, but one of the zebra Danios now appears to have a white area developing on his back. The serpea on who I first noticed the spot seems to clearing up a bit (although it may be my imaginaition). The bad news is the Oto with the spot is nowhere to be found....I looked and looked and poked around the plants and substrate with my "aqua gardener tool thing" and didn't find him. I fear the worst. Bummer.
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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:59 pm

Here is an analysis of the well water
in your area. Yes, I have way too much time on my hands.

Hopefully you will find your missing oto.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:47 pm

Wow, dude- THANKS!

It looks as if my water is hard, but not too hard, no? Does anybody see anything alarming in those results? I didn't, but I'm certainly no expert....

Using the API test kit, after some practice, the KH was 71.6 (4 drops), and the GH was 89.5 (5 drops). Does not seem to be an exact science, but I'm comfortable with those results insofar as the parameters of the test kit. It tests only slightly harder right out of the tap. (about 5 drops for KH and 7 drops for GH).

All other tests today were at follows:

Ammonia 0
NO2 0
NO3 0-5
Ph 7.2-7.4 best guess, based on test results.

I'm thinking at this point, my water is OK. What I've been doing for water changes is using about 8 gallons distilled, and the rest out of my tap. Total of about 15 gallons weekly.

Didn't find the Oto- I guess I lost him. I'm continuing Melafix through Sunday, then Monday going a substantial water change. All other fish appear normal, and unchanged from the past couple of days.

Oh- tank temp is 73.5. Is that OK?

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:58 pm

Adding distilled water to your set up will lower your hardness values.

If you have iron greater than 0.5 mg/L, Seachem will tell you some fish are sensitive to it. Of course they won't tell you which ones but they are more than happy to sell you a test kit that is tedious to use and the results are considered questionable by many. LOL Under most circumstances I wouldn't worry about it especially if you have plants. They soak up iron from the water column...if it's the ferrous state as I remember.

All the fish are doing well? Did those serpaes lose the cottony material around their mouths. Is everybody eating?

I would raise the water temp up to 77-78 F.

I'm sure Deb will be along soon to go over your post. She's smarter than me.



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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:25 am

Thanks, Donald-

I have used half distilled since I set up the tank about 3 months ago, for that very reason- I always suspected my well water was pretty hard. I'll continue to do so, and raise the temp.

The fish are eating like crazy, when I feed them (once a day, in the AM, no more than they can wipe out in a minute or two)- it's a feeding frenzy- I don't notice any not eating, even the Serpeas with the mouth funk. It does appear, albeit slightly, that the symptoms are improving.
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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Sun Oct 07, 2012 12:22 pm

Quote :
I'm sure Deb will be along soon to go over your post. She's smarter than me.
This is 'way too much pressure! *lol* I am NOT smarter than Donald, but I am older! *lol*

At this point, none of us know the exact ailment going on in your tank so raising the temp is probably a good idea and I concur with Donald on that. Many of our popular aquarium parasites, bacteria, and pests do not do well at the higher temps. Higher temps usually means lowered oxygen for one thing. Higher temps also accelerates the life cycle of some of these creatures so that they die quicker under treatment. The one exception is columnaris, which seems to like the reduced oxygen, but I have no idea if columnaris is what you have. Even photos would not help because, except for Ich, many aquarium ailments of fish look the same once they reach a fuzzy/furry stage. Treating symptoms is usually the safest thing to do overall.
Very Happy

I wouldn't call readings of 5 KH and 7 GH right out of the tap particularly hard, but readings of 4 KH and 5 GH are pretty much ideal for many fish and plants so adding the distilled water is a good call if you are able to do it. Also, unless you are aiming for a very specific hardness value, just having some numbers to go forward with will be helpful. Exact or not, this baseline reading will be useful to compare to future readings.

OT, and I apologize: if I ever get a chance to keep licorice gouramis I'm going to go distilled. :geek

Also, one more thing - Otos can stay hidden for quite some time. I forget the exact look of your tank but if you have many things for them to hide behind it's possible this one is hiding and will come out when things improve.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:43 pm

Update! One week into Melafix. 30% WC this afternoon, 8 gallons distilled, and 8 tap (well). Numbers this evening (2 hours post WC) are as follows:

Am 0
NO2 0
NO3 0
Ph 7.0-7.2 (somewhere in there)
KH 71.6 ppm (4 drops)
GH 107.4 ppm (6 drops)

The Zebra Danio with the white blotch forming on his back looks considerably better- this is good news. The two Serpeas with the mouth funk also look better, but not as dramatic a change as the Danio. So- the treatment appears to be working. I ran out of Melafix last night, so I stopped by Petco at lunch today (yeah, yeah, I know...) and picked up another bottle. I actually was asked about what was going on with my tank by an associate who seemed to be rather knowledgeable. He told me that it usually takes 2 weeks to clear out this type problem. Opinions on that?

Anyway, everything looks better tonight- symptoms are improving, the fish appear happy, the numbers are OK, and everyone is eating to beat the band. I'm going to go another week with the Melafix, and see where we are. None of the livestock seem to be showing any adverse effects from the treatment, so I guess that's a good thing.

The bad news is that my lost Oto has not shown up yet....Sad The other three look great.

Many thanks, everyone, for your guidance and help- further updates to come. As always, suggestions, comments, opinions and observations are welcome.

If I can get this cleared up, my next task will be getting rid of the furry stuff on some of my plants. I'm not down with furry stuff.

DL
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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:00 pm



Here's a look at the tank this evening. The plants have really grown since I posted a pic in the Introductions section.
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PostSubject: Re: Uh Oh... disease in tank   Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:44 pm

DL, it sounds like things are better and certainly no worse! Thanks for the pic update. Very Happy
IMO it's probably fine to go the second week since the residents are tolerating it well. It will be obvious if you need to stop the treatment (i.e., fish gasping at the top, or spiraling as if they are drugged.)

As for your MIA Oto, sight down the back of the tank by looking in at the end. Do this on both sides and try to see if he is clinging to the back glass behind something. I am VERY curious about this guy.

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