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Author Topic: Sick fish, I need some help  (Read 5513 times)
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Tanks: 20- from 5.5 to 150 gals.
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« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2016, 09:16:27 AM »

A few thoughts I would like to interject. I apologize for the length in advance.

It is indeed possible to have a cycled tank or even one being cycled that has 0 nitrate. It has to do with live plants.

The plants love ammonia and will readily use it. The only issue in this respect occurs when the ammonia levels created/added are high enough that they start to kill the plants. But there is another factor at work with live plants. They naturally host the nitrifying microorganisms that we want in out tanks. In fact some aquatic plants will actually transport oxygen they take in via their leaves and transport it to their roots and release it into the substrate. This converts the area around the roots from being anaerobic to being aerobic and that support organisms that break down organics and create ammonia. That same process supports the establishment of the nitrifiers as well. These in turn create nitrate which the plants will also use even though it is a less preferred food than ammonia.

What this means is when one starts a tank with enough plants, it is possible to have the "cycle" become what is called a "silent cycle." And the net result is most of the ammonia taken directly by the plants never turns to nitrite and thus not to nitrate either. Because a lot of the ammonia control is done by the plants, the work left to the bacteria is minimal. So the small amount of nitrate they are producing is pretty much used by the plants as well. So you get a 0 nitrate reading even when you shake heck out of bottle #2 and also the test tube after you have added it.

Finally, in some planted tanks, especially the more high tech ones, nitrate must actually be added. I did this for years in my high tech tank before it came down and I still add it in a few of my remaining planted tanks which are heavily planted.

Next, columnaris is a bacterial disease. There are a variety of strains. Some are fairly mild while others are quite virulent. It needs to be treated with antibiotics. If caught early it is easier to combat using water born medications. Once it advances, the meds will need to be fed. The aquaculture industry has been working with a variety of vaccines to prevent initial infection. Here is a plain English bit of info. It is pretty decent and I would point out that they hit the nail on the head with some of the meds, especially the use of fed Oxytetracycline.

Columnaris - Mouth Fungus
   Symptoms: cottony patches around the mouth, White spots on mouth, around the chin and mouth area, edges of scales and fins, cottony patches around the mouth. May be accompanied by clear stringy feces, a loss of appetite, and rapid gilling where gills are infected.

  Names Columnaris is known by are Mouth Fungus, Cotton-Wool, Cotton-Mouth, Mouth-Rot, Saddle Back,  Flexibacter, False Neon Disease, and Guppy Disease.
  It is often called Mouth Fungus because it looks like a fungus attack of the mouth. It is actually caused from the bacterium Flavobacterium columnare, previously called Flexibacter columnaris, Bacillus columnaris, Chondrococcus columnaris, and Cytophaga columnaris. This is a common bacterial infection that affects freshwater aquarium fish, particularly livebearing fish and catfish. It is not seen in marine fish, they can be infected by myxobacterial diseases that are similar to columnaris, yet this is very uncommon in the aquarium.
  Columnaris can enter the fish through the gills, mouth, or small wounds on the skin and results in an internal or external infection. It can have either a chronic progression of days or months or an acute progression with lesions spreading quickly, often wiping out whole populations of fish in just a few hours. It is highly contagious and may be spread through contaminated nets, specimen containers, and even food.
  This disease is brought on by stress, injury, inadequate diet, and poor water quality, including an unstable pH. To prevent Columnaris maintain your water with good biological filtration and weekly water changes that include vacuuming the substrate. Keep the tank well aerated, provide your fish with a varied diet, and don't overstock.

  Columnaris generally shows up first as a gray or white line around the lips and later as short tufts sprouting from the mouth like fungus. This bacterium produces protein and cartilage degrading enzymes that eat away at the fish and forms round or oval shapes with an open ulcer in the center. It may affect the fins, beginning with degradation at the edges, or as a lesion near the dorsal fin. The "saddleback" condition is a discolored gray patchy area near the dorsal fin and a pale white band encircling the body of the fish. A yellowish-brown ulcer develops in the center as it progresses. This coloring is caused by detritus particles trapped in the slime produced by the
  This is a quick acting disease and needs immediate treatment. The toxins produced and the inability to eat will be fatal unless treated at an early stage. This bacteria is often accompanied by a second infection of an Aeromonas bacteria and fungus often invades the affected skin. Be aware that some strains of this bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. So ensure you treat for the full length of the medication. To rid the aquarium and fish of this disease, first increase the water quality and then begin treatment.

  You can treat Columnaris with a gram-negative medication. However, other bacteria that are gram positive mimic the Columnaris Disease, so if you use a gram positive treatment and it worked, the affliction was NOT Columnaris disease. Some aquarists suggest using both the gram positive and negative together just in case you are not sure.

     Several types of antibiotics and medications can used to treat Columnaris:

    Penicillin: Penicillin at 10,000 units per liter is a very effective treatment. Treat with a second dose in two days.
    Chloromycetin: You can use chloromycetin, 10 to 20 mg per liter, with a second dose in two days.
    Kanacyn (kanamycin): Kanacyn will treat both bacteria at once.
    Maracyn (erythromycin): Maracyn is effective against Columnaris, and using Maracyn 2 (minocycline) in conjunction with it will treat the Aeromonas bacteria as well.
    Others: Copper sulphate, Furan, Tetracycline, and Potassium permanganate. Nifurpirinol, Acriflavine, Chloramphenicol and Malachite green are also said to be effective.
    Medicated Foods: Feeding food dosed with Terramycin (Oxytetracycline) will help to internally treat this disease.

For those with a more scientific bent, here are a few papers to peruse:

Columnaris disease in fish: a review with emphasis on bacterium-host interactions

New attenuated vaccine against columnaris disease in fish: Choosing the right parental strain is critical for vaccine efficacy

This one is a Ph.D. thesis: Studies on the Epidemiology, Vaccination, Susceptibility, and Treatment of Columnaris Disease in Fishes,%20July%205,%2015.pdf?sequence=2&ts=1451981411867

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan
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« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2016, 12:37:14 PM »

So did my water testing this morning still nitrite .1 and  nitrate was 0 .. So I went and got  good bacteria which is to start my tank to cycle, I really think it hasn't cycled yet so... two hrs later I tested water again this is what I got for results.
Ph 7.4
Ammonia .25
Nitrite .5
Nitrate 10
When talking to the people at the fish place I went to said I could  add the stuff for treating the fish for mouth fungus as well... I haven't put it in the tank yet as I am scared to but it is called " API fungus cure" I am supposed to add this powder to the tank and leave for 48 hrs, then treat again and leave 48 hrs and then on the four day I am to do a 25% water change. So just not what I should do... Add the medication or not add medication...
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« Reply #27 on: April 13, 2016, 09:18:59 AM »

Mouth fungus is not actually a fungus, it is a bacteria. So an anti-fungal med will not help. Please see my post above for which antibiotics can help.

The term good bacteria is basically meaningless. It is a term used by manufacturers to describe bacteria I would not choose to use. Brands are what matter. What one needs to determine is that the mix contains nitrosomonas and nitrospira, the latter is essential as it is the one that converts nitrite. Because of patents, most bacterial additives do not contain this. In addition, nitrifying bacteria do not form spores, So any bacterial product should state it contains live bacteria, not spores.

The two products I have recommended over the year, which are essentially the same, are Dr. Tim's One and Only or Tetra's Safe Start. Please havea read here:

The ammonia level in your tank at .25 ppm in pH 7.4 even at 85F is not a worry as there would only be .005 ppm of NH3 present. .02 ppm or below is pretty much not harmful to any aquatic life and certainly not any we would have in our tanks. Nitrite would be the bigger worry. That can be dealt with by getting chloride into the water by adding a minimal amount of salt- plain old table salt works fine.

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan
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« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2016, 10:02:21 AM »

Testing done this morning are as follows,
Ammonia  .25
Nitrite .3
PH 7.6
Nitrate 10
I looked for safe start at the store and they didn't have any.
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