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Re: [Killietalk] RE:Tank parasites
Here is a write up I did for a couple of discus websites and the local fish club newsletter. I
have never tried it on Nothos. Hopefully I will not need to.
The following article is based on my personal experience and a pathology report for Patricia W.
Varner, DVM, PhD, AFS/FHS ? Certified Fish Pathologist
This is a sordid tale involving love, murder and betrayal. The evil arises from a villain named
Cryptobia. It is an evil that is often misdiagnosed. He hides in darkness while his deeds are
often blamed on others???
It all started when I decided to add some new breeding stock to my discus hatchery. I brought in
13 adults/young adults. I quarantined them in a 75 gallon tank filled with aged tap water at 84
degrees and 2 cycled sponge filters. I added 2 tablespoons of salt per 10 gallons as a
precaution. I added in three 2.5 to 3 inch juveniles from my own stock which had never been
exposed to the outside world. The fish were fed my homemade beef heart mixture and received a 50%
water change daily. After 8 weeks everything look perfect. None of the fish had showed any sign
of illness. I had a pair form in this tank. During this initial bonding/spawning cycle the rest
of the fish in the tank were continually harassed and run to one end of the tank. During this a
couple of the fish started showing signs of Hex. I figured it was due to the stress and did not
worry much about it. I moved the pair to a breeding tank and the ?hex? fish to a treatment tank.
I raised the temp in the treatment tank to 90 degrees with a single sponge filter. I treated with
400 mg of metro per 10 gallons of water a total of four times. After the initial treatment I
waited 8 hours, changes 50% of the water and added the second dose. The third does was added 24
hours after the second and the forth was added 24 hours after the third. After treatment the fish
started eating normally again and everything seemed corrected, but after a couple of weeks they
were showing signs again. I treated them again which lead to a temporary remission of the
symptoms. As a discus breeder I don?t always get as attached to the fish as others might and I
was ready to get rid of this ?hex? problem so I treated the fish with a double dose of metro and
carried the treatment out for a full week. The fish looked like death for a couple of weeks and
then started eating with a vengeance. All of the earlier signs of illness (stringy feces,
shyness, grouping together, and hanging in the corners of the tank) were gone. Over just a couple
of days the fish rebounded to perfect heath. Life was great except that the hex had seemed to
have crept into several other tanks.
While this was happening the pair that I had earlier moved into the breeding tank raised a clutch
of 154 fry. I separated the fry 3 weeks after they went free swimming. I had picked up some of
these fish for the purpose of crossing them into a red turquoise line of my own so I decided to
pull out this male and swap him with a suspected male from a 75 gallon tank with 10 eighteen month
old red turquoise fish of my own and a red snakeskin female from one of my pairs. I needed a
place to put this original male so of course I tossed him in the 75 gallon tank the new male had
been pulled from.
I mix fish around in my tanks all of the time. When I do this I will often see some aggression
but it will be short lived. This time the aggression was fairly excessive but I had no doubt that
it would subside before I returned from work. When I got home that evening I discovered that I
had been sadly mistaken about the aggression subsiding. The new male was not only dead but his
eyes were missing. I have never seen discus do this before. I removed the dead male and also
decided to move the female snakeskin back in with her mate. In less then a week all of the
remaining fish in the 75 gallon tank were very ill. The female snakeskin and here mate were also
both very ill. I tried several treatments including furan2, tetracycline, erythromycin, and salt.
One day they might look a little better and then next they would look worse. This pattern
continued as they slowly lost ground. The reoccurring hex problem also continued in my other
tanks. It was at this time that I decided to send in 3 specimens to Dr. Varner.
This was one of my better decisions in a long time. 2 of the specimens were ?healthy? fish from a
couple of different tanks (both of which had had bouts of reoccurring hex) and the only remaining
live fish from the 75 gallon tank (I had also lost the snakeskin pair) By this time the sick
individual was suffering from a host of what Dr. Varner called ?secondary opportunistic aquatic
bacterial pathogens?. I have a hunch that many of the fish that die from cryptobiosis are
mistakenly determined to have died from one of the many secondary infections that Cryptobia hides
behind. I was very lucky that Dr. Varner had noticed some ?lightly encapsulated granulomas with
amorphous necrotic center? and also ?lymphocytes, histocytes, melanomacrophages, and rare
multinucleated giant cells?. Instead of just letting it go she spend the next couple of weeks
doing all kind of test. She also discovered these granulomas in the spleen, liver, caudal kidney,
and heart. The brains were unaffected. It is very hard to diagnosis chronic cryptobiosis but Dr.
Varner was reasonably certain that it was the root cause of problem.
The fact that the two ?healthy? fish had the same abnormalities was what clued me into what I had
been seeing in my tanks. It was not reoccurring hex that I had been chasing but Cryptobia. This
parasite was slowly weakening the fish. In the beginning there was normally no signs but if the
fish gets stressed they can show the normal signs of hex (stringy feces and loss of appetite). If
somehow caught at this stage it can be treated successfully with metro. Since at this stage I was
still uneducated in this disease I do not know the exact dosage. To get rid of it I treated in
what I call a ?strong and long? formation. Do so at you own risk. Once the problem has been
around for awhile metro will not cure the problem. A product called dimetridazole (trade name
Emtryl or Unizole). I used 100grams of product will treat 330 gallons of water. You will need to
treat for 3 concessive days. This means that 100 grams is enough to fully treat (3 days) 110
gallons of water. The containers that I received came with a plastic scoop. I determined that
there were exactly 33 scoops in 100 grams. This made the dosage easy. 1 scoop per 10 gallons of
water once a day for 3 days. This is not a easy product to find anymore, but I was able to find
out that it is still widely used in the world of racing pigeons. A search of pigeon supplies and
a few phone calls should lead you to the product.
I observed some interesting developments during treatment. The tanks that I knew had been exposed
all turned cloudy after the first treatment. They clouded to the point that I could not see a
breeding pair in a 29 gallon tank. I had to add some extra aeration but otherwise the fish were
unstressed and started eating better after the first treatment. Some tanks that I felt were
?clean? stayed crystal clear. The tanks had the same water parameters and dosage level. I do
not know exactly what that means but thought it was worthy of noting. I also notice that if you
get interrupted while medicating the tanks and accidentally double treat a tank you will have a
death rate of approximately 70%. To make matters worse this was one of the ?clean? tanks that I
was just treating for my own piece of mind. These were the only deaths that I experienced during
treatment. At the time the smallest fry that I treated were about one inch. The only tank I had
not treated was a pair with eggs. Based on the success of the other tanks I have now started
treatment on this pair. The fry are only 10 days old but after the initial treatment they are not
showing any signs of stress.
In conclusion I feel that many people, just like myself, have been treating the symptoms but not
the root problem of the ?reoccurring hex? illness. Without stress your fish can live with
Cryptobia for many months without any symptoms. With proper care these fish are able to spawn and
raise with just a slight reduction in success rates. When the fish do breakdown we often blame
the secondary conditions for the deaths that we see. Even if you send in a fish for a pathology
report it can easily be missed. The good news is it appears to be completely curable with the
right medication and the treatment appears to be easy on the fish. I hope that the exposure of
this menace can lead more people to successful discus keeping.
--- Kenneth Combs <KCombs at mergerx_net> wrote:
> On Nov 2004 17:22:34 -0600, Wayne Morrow said:
> >I recently lost a 20 gallon of F. gardneri and Gambasia. Wasting and
> swimming in place.
> >I did large water changes. Some of the Gambasia suvived when moved to
> another tank.
> >How to I sterilize the 20? Do I toss the sand and plants?
> I don't know what's going on, but I've seen more "sunken bellies" in the
> last 2 yrs than the other 30ish yrs (that I've kept fish) combined...
> Anyhow, personally I've never "cured" this disease per se..IMO forget
> any "normal" over the counter meds, that is unless you can figure out
> how somehow to get the fish to ingest it, nothing I've tried has worked.
> Pipzine and metronidazole "seem" to arrest/slow down the spread. I've
> read a long string of post here on "Notho fade" and about 3/4th of it I
> can confirm, the other "reports" either I can't substantiate or run
> counter to what I've seen....could we be dealing with 2 causes but same
> symptoms/results?..I dunno, nor can I distinguish between Hex, "TB" and
> "Fade" ("fade" as read here is reportedly due to protozoan induced
> throat irritation)..I have no scope, nor experience to use it anyway....
> Here is what I know:
> - seems to be "species" specific at the time, I've most often observed
> this in tanks of zebras and feeder guppies, leading "some" people to
> believe it is triggered from environmentally induced stresses (I have
> some reservations on that)..moreover, of all the fish I've had, I've
> seen this once in Apistos, but every other case was a livebearer or
> killie (danios being the other exception)
> -I'm not certain about "environmental" stresses, at least in livebearer
> or killies as often I observed this in 2nd generation fish born in
> un-crowded "pristine" planted tanks (either way I could not find any
> thing to "fix"). I was only able to slow it down by aggressive &
> merciless culling...
> I am currently fighting something "similar" with some recently received
> Nothos I have (may not be the exact same thing), Anyway, I'm certain the
> fish were healthy when bagged, and only looked "3 days" thin (likely
> 24hr fast + 2days transit)...The males ate immediately, about 1/2 the
> females have refused all foods (an entire smorgasbord I might
> add)..water is CLEAN & "Notho friendly" (reasonable filtration, et), NTM
> the females are in a separate tank to allow undisturbed grow for a week
> or so....
> ...I'm pretty sure this is not a water "acclimation stress" as bag &
> tank water params were surprisingly close (TDS, pH, et),NTM due
> diligence was followed acclimating...however, as mentioned here, it
> obviously it is a "moving stress", I suspect...
> ...Efforts to obtain the suggested meds: flubendazole A.K.A
> "fenbendazole", A.K.A. "Panacur" (per Vet) have been fruitless (hope I
> spelled those right :-/ )....
> BTW, I have tried "spiking" the food (problem is getting them to eat it)
> Anyway, good luck finding the stuff; Vet's will not dispense it for
> fish, nor would I bother here: http://www.4fishstuff.com/ they no longer
> carry it (I just checked yesterday), Also, unforunatley, our local feed
> stores don't carry it (about 1/2 had no clue which "de-wormer" I was
> talking about)..
> If anyone has a source, plz post or email me (time is at hand)...even if
> the med cost exceeds the replacement cost of the fish, from what I'm
> seeing if this works it would be good to have on hand...
> To join the AKA see http://www.aka.org/pages/join.html
> Archives are at http://fins.actwin.com/killietalk/
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