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Author Topic: dead sailfin silver molly, male  (Read 2424 times)
Jay Gowen
« on: July 31, 2017, 09:27:26 PM »
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I have a 40 freshwater tank, established three months ago: 6 mollies, 2 cory cat, 1 betta, 1 apple snail, dozens of fry. Three of the mollies transferred in from a 10-gallon tank I'd had for 5-months previous.

I change 25-40% of the water every 2-3 days. Water specs have remained constant (7.8 pH, 0.0 ppm Ammonia/Nitrite, <5ppm Nitrate) with every change. Temperature is constant at 78-degrees. I don't know water hardness nor alkalinity, but I have used the same water source in Houston, TX for 8-months. I have never had a fish die.

Three days ago, I noticed that 1 of my mollies, a silver sailfin male that had been in my 10-gallon tank, was acting strangely. He would periodically twist and brush his underside against the heater or the wall of the tank. He hung out near the top of the tank, gulping at the surface (not frantically), or at the bottom of the tank. He never floated upside down and always stayed horizontal, but he also occasionally listed ever so slightly to the left or the right. Honestly, it was so subtle the only reason I noticed was because I know how he swims. I never noticed a change in his appetite by the way.

When I got home today, he was lying on his side on the bottom of the tank. His gills were open slightly; they were red inside but looked clean. When I went to lift him out, he twitched slightly, but only once. When I got him out and looked at his body, it looked clean. To my eye, there was no sign at all of disease.

None of the other fish show any sign of illness. I have two broods of fry--one 2 weeks old, the other 1 day old--and they all seem fine.

Any idea what could be wrong? Btw, this fish (the only sailfin in the tank) was one of two male mollies and though he was an active swimmer and even a bit territorial at times, not once in 8 months did he ever initiate or reciprocate breeding. Could it be he was just the victim of too much inbreeding?

Any advice at would be helpful.
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2017, 07:31:53 AM »
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Based on your water parameters you indicated, it does not seem that water condition issue are the culprit. My best guess at this point is a possible parasitic infestation. Most likely Ich. These little critter will take advantage of resting and nesting on a part of the host that is easiest to enter. Hence the gills. It is difficult to spot when Ich is impacting the fish if in the gill region because there is no visible tell-tale sign to spot them. When you described the actions of your fish prior to their demise, I think Ich may be the culprit.

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"For every difficult question, there is an answer that is clear and simple and wrong."
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Jay Gowen
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2017, 12:04:08 PM »
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Thank you Russ. That's what I was afraid of. I'm a little surprised because the last thing I introduced to the tank was hermetically sealed dwarf hairgrass 6/28, but I know that icky protozoan is hard to avoid. I'll check the website for treatment advice as I want to protect my tank. If you have any particular tips, let me know. Thanks again!
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2017, 04:54:11 PM »
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I am not so sure the problem was ich, but I will not rule it out by any means. However, Ich doesn't go away on its own as long as hosts are available. Fish which have survived a bout of ich tend to acquire a temporary immunity to it which last about 6-12 months (if I remember the time period right). this is why we must treat the entire tank and not just the fish showing symptoms. Here is one of my favorite blurbs re Ich from the

Freshwater Ich
Symptoms: Fish look like they have little white salt grains on them and may scratch against objects in the tank.

White spot disease (Ichthyopthirius multifiliis) is caused by a protozoan with a life cycle that includes a free-living stage. Ich grows on a fish --> it falls off and attaches to gravel or tank glass --> it reproduces to MANY parasites --> these swarmers then attach to other fish. If the swarmers do not find a fish host, they die in about 3 days (depending on the water temperature).

Therefore, to treat it, medicine must be added to the display tank to kill free-living parasites. If fish are removed to quarantine, parasites living in the tank will escape the treatment -- unless ALL fish are removed for about a week in freshwater or three weeks in saltwater systems.

 Remedy: For most fish, use a medication with formalin and malachite green. These are the active ingredients in many ich medications at fish shops. Some products are Kordon's Rid Ich and Aquarium Products' Quick Cure. Just read the label and you may find others. Check for temperature fluctuations in the tank and fix them to avoid recurrences. Note that tetras can be a little sensitive to malachite green, so use it at half the dose.

Use these products as directed (usually a daily dose) until all of the fish are spot-free. Then dose every three days for a total of four more doses. This will kill any free-swimming parasites as they hatch out of cysts.

Another remedy is to raise the tank temperature to about 90 deg F and add 1 tsp/gallon salt to the water. Not all fish tolerate this.

Finally, one can treat ich with a "transfer method.'' Fish are moved daily into a different tank with clean, conditioned, warmed water. Parasites that came off of the fish are left behind in the tank. After moving the fish daily for a week, the fish (presumably cured) can be put back into the main tank. The disadvantage of this method is that it stresses both fish and fishkeeper. 

Sometime diagnosing a problem requires working backward by ruling things out. For example, contagious things should affect other fish. Since this seems to be limited in scope, the problem was most likely specific to that fish. Just because a fish is eating doesn't mean it is also pooping. These are two separate issues. A constipated fish eats until it can't. Did you see your fish pooping, if so, how did the poop look? Often the symptoms we can observe are secondary in nature. Loss of balance doesn't mean the problem is in the swim bladder, constipation or infection elsewhere can both affect the swim bladder. Bloating, can be caused by constipation, infection, parasites/worms.

There are also other parasitic infections similar to ich such as velvet. the latter can be harder to spot, but for a fish to die from ich and not be covered in the white grains or at least have some of them clearly visible, I doubt the ich. Velvet is a more golden and dustlike and can be more difficult to see on some fish.

Protozoan Diseases

Velvet, Rust - Gold Dust Disease (this is either Oodinium pilularis or Oodinium limneticum)
Symptoms: Peppery coating giving a yellow to light brown "dust" on body, clamped fins, respiratory distress (breathing hard as seen as frequent or quick gill movements), cloudiness of eyes, and glancing off decor or substrate, possible weight loss.

Velvet disease in freshwater fish is caused by either Oodinium pilularis or Oodinium limneticum, which are parasitic skin flagellates. This parasite swims in the aquarium until it finds a fish host and adheres to it.

    In Oodinium pilularis (as well as with "Ich" Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) it eats into the cells of the epithelial layer of the skin and fins as well as through the mucous membrane in the mouth. The mature parasite then leaves the host and drops to the bottom of the aquarium or plants. It then forms a cyst that divides, forming between 34 - 64 new cells, then bursts freeing the new cells into the aquarium to find a fish host.

    Oodinium limneticum is similar, but attacks the fish’s skin and fins rather than burrowing under the epithelial layer, so it is localized right on the surface. It also multiplies on the host rather than at the bottom of the aquarium or on the plants.

This disease has the appearance of a golden or brownish dust over the fins and body. The fish may show signs of irritation, like glancing off aquarium decor, shortage of breath (fish-wise), and clamping of the fins. The gills are usually the first thing affected. Velvet affects different species in different ways. Danios seem to be the most susceptible, but often show no discomfort. This disease is highly contagious and fatal.

They can be treated either in the separate or in the main tank. A good treatment is with copper sulphate at 0.2 mg per liter (0.2 ppm) to be repeated once in a few days if necessary. Aquarisol is one medication of this sort that is usually readily available at pet stores. Acriflavine (trypaflavine) may be used instead at 0.2% solution (1 ml per liter). There are things to be aware of with each of these treatments however. Acriflavine can possibly sterilize fish and copper can lead to poisoning, so the water should be gradually changed after a cure has been effected.
color added by me.

Keep an eye on the rest of the tank in case the problem is velvet.

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan
"The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it." Neil DeGrasse Tyson
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