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FAQs on Discus Disease Diagnosis

FAQs on Discus Disease: Discus Disease 1, Discus Disease 2, Discus Disease 3,
FAQs on Discus Disease by Category:
Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Infectious, Parasitic, Trauma, Treatments  

Related Articles: Plants + Discus = Wow! by Alesia Benedict, Planted Aquariums: Plants and Discus: What They Need To Thrive  By Alesia Benedict, Discus Divas, Glitz, Glam and Lots of Demands by Alesia Benedict, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Discus 1, Discus 2, Discus Identification, Discus Selection, Discus Compatibility, Discus Behavior, Discus Systems, Discus Feeding, Discus Reproduction, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Sick discus need help      5/19/18
Hey ! My discus fish is not eating since 3days after the death of his tank mate and today he has clamped its fin.....and is in stress
<Yes, probably is stressed. May well be suffering from whatever killed the other Discus in your tank. Review the conditions in the aquarium. To recap, Discus need a large tank (for a pair, probably over 150 litres/40 US gallons) and certainly need good quality water with the right water chemistry. In other words, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and a nitrate level below 20 mg/l. Water chemistry should be relatively soft for farmed Discus: 1-12 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5. Wild-caught Discus are more fussy, and must have very
soft water, more like 1-5 degrees dH, pH 6-6.5. Water temperature should be relatively high, 28-30 degrees C. Discus are omnivorous in the wild, and need a varied diet in captivity. They are prone to Hexamita and Hole-in-the-Head diseases though, both of which are more likely if they are given monotonous, low-vitamin diets lacking fresh greens; cooked peas, for example, are usually eaten by hungry Discus without too much fuss. Cheers, Neale.>

Discus just not 'happy' :(     11/13/17
Hi Crew,
<Greetings Liese>
Apologies for the tale of woe, but the more forums I check for 'advice' the more confused I get, so I hope you guys might be able to untangle the reasons for my Discus being generally 'off'. So, I have a 60 gallon (280 litre) tank with, as of the last few weeks, 4 adult Stendker discus (had 5 for the last 3 years but recently one died, perhaps all part of the same issue here?).
<Maybe; let's see your data>
I do 3 partial water changes a week (overall works out about 30-35% a week), using aged tap water, treated with Prime and warmed before adding. I used to do larger water changes (20% 3 times a week) using water directly from the tap (I did use Prime and warm water too!) but when my fish first started to look unhappy I was advised to age it for 24 hours, so now storage issues mean I can only change 35-40 litres at a time.
<Storing the new water for a week (or even more) is advised>
Water parameters currently and for many months are: ammonia and nitrite zero, nitrate somewhere between 10 and 20ppm,
<Well; I should mention, so I am... even cultured Discus don't like NO3.
I'd have you read on WWM re methods of reducing, keeping this metabolite under 10 ppm>
pH 7, temperature 83F. I have also had the water checked at the local fish store just in case my test kits were wrong, but no problems there. Water out of the tap is pretty soft. I feed a mix of beef heart, flake, pellet food.
<Mmm; I made MANY pounds of beef heart mix for my Symphysodon decades back, but this component has largely fallen out of favour>

So, compared to a few months ago, my fish are all so much darker in colour, almost black at times, I can see strands of slime coat coming off a couple of them, and they're not eating with as much gusto as previously :(
<Something wrong here. I suspect, as usual, first and foremost, issue/s with the environment>

At various points over the last few months I've treated for Hex, internal bacterial infection, worms, flukes,
<? All these fish have been in captivity for years? Where would pathogens be introduced here?>
trying to eliminate obvious issues first, but nothing has made any noticeable difference so I have to assume that there is another reason for their stress/symptoms? I know 6 is the magic Discus number, but my 5 were always OK and I was reluctant to upset the status quo since I know my tank is only 'just' big enough for 6.
<I would not add more to a sixty gallon>
I will get another couple if you think that will help, but I'd really like to get to the bottom of the current issue before throwing more fish into the unhappy mix. Since getting my discus 3 years ago, I added a shoal of 10 Corydoras sterbai about 6-8 months ago who are doing really well, breeding regularly (very cute babies!) and zooming around on the tank bottom.
<Ahh, a good sign... at least conditions suit them. Am curious as to your water temperature; as C. sterbai is a cooler water species (typically 70-77 F) and Discus warmer>>
So, this has now got me thinking. Could all the Cory 'action' on the bottom of the tank be upsetting my Discus?
<Doubtful, but a remote possible influence>
I'd say there is a pretty 'normal' amount of aggression between my discus generally, although recently the biggest one has been chasing two of the others around. Maybe now there are only 4 the hierarchy is being re-established?
<I think you'd see over aggression here if this were so>
I'd really appreciate your advice as I'm at a point now where I don't know what to do for the best. I have no space in my house for a bigger tank so can't go down that route (I would if I could!), but it upsets me to see my once-beautiful Discus shadows of their former selves :(
Thanks in advance,
<If it were my system; I'd try to systematically reason out the source of the trouble via elimination, manipulation of one variable at a time. Do you use chemical filtrants? Near the top of my trials, I'd use a pad of PolyFilter, and/or a unit of ChemiPure in your filter/flow path, and see (it should be obvious w/in a few days) if improved water quality is an/the issue here; next... I'd raise the temperature a few degrees F.
Please do report back with your further observations. Bob Fenner>
Re: Discus just not 'happy' :(    12/5/17

Hi Bob,
An update on the Discus, wish it was good news. So, despite Polyfilter, an increased water temperature and water changes to get nitrates well below 10ppm, I got up this morning to find the blackest of my Discus had died. It had seemed to perk up a bit the last couple of days and was showing its stress bars rather than being completely black. Then last night it was hovering close to the water surface.
<Darkness, poor body orientation... are very bad signs>
I turned up the aeration but obviously that didn’t help. No water change yesterday so I can’t even blame that. So, of the 3 I have left, I now have one who’s swimming slightly head down. Seems ok otherwise, eating and out and about. I’m not treating for anything, although I do have swim bladder medication on standby. It’s definitely not constipated. Sorry for yet another ramble, at the moment I feel like banging my head on a brick wall! I’ll keep up the water changes and see how these 3 get on. On the plus side, they’re not aggressive towards each other....best wishes. Liese
<Without knowing what, if anything, is amiss here; am wont to suggest a change. IF they were mine, I might try adding a "black water tonic/extract" in the hope of positively influencing water quality here. There are a few such products, or you can make one yourself from a peat product. Bob Fenner>

Help, Discus poorly.      6/20/16
<Hello Daniel>
I'm sorry to bother you but I don't know what is happening to my discus.
I tried your article on poorly fish, self diagnosis, but the link isn't working.
I have 2 discus in a community tank, it's 240l.
<Mmm; well... Discus aren't really "community" fishes... Can be kept with some other species... best w/ others hailing from the same soft, acidic, hot water habitats... but... Best in a group mainly of their own...
Symphysodon spp.>

One seems perfectly fine, the other is always at the back of the tank hiding and is always sitting on either the floor/ the heater or ornaments.
His head seems to be angled up a lot and his fins are always down.
<Bad signs>
Temp is 28deg C
PH is 6.5

Ammonia is 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 10ppm
Planted tank with plenty of hiding places.
I do water changes once every 2 weeks and clean filter on alternate weeks.
Diet is frozen bloodworm, daphnia, mosquito larvae. Tropical flakes.
Please help!
Thanks you.
<What other species are present? Some/one may be badgering the hiding fish.
This may sound/seem strange, but if it was me/mine, I'd add another Discus... these are social animals, and best kept in odd numbers if only a few animals... that way one can't be beating up on the other solely. Bob Fenner>

Please Help for Identifying the disease      1/20/14
<Sup Sup?>
This is my first mail to WetWeb media.
<You are a stranger here but once>
Today morning I found one of my discus dead with white belly . My all other fish including 3 discus are absolutely fine.

I have found few white spot on discus pectoral and caudal fin three days back. But today I found all white spot gone. I have attached a picture of dead fish. I want to know what is happening with this fish because I never saw this before.
                     Previously the discus was not eating and hanging tank top corner with some bloated stomach.
Already I have tried epson salt and tank temperature to 30C. I have measured and found all parameters are absolutely fine.
[image: Inline image 1]
<IF all Discus were similarly affected I might guess (and have you confirm with microscopic examination of a skin scraping) body flukes, perhaps one of a few Protozoans. But the fact that the sole Symphysodon is thus leads me to believe it was "picked on" by <an>other fish present. This does happen; and is likely related to the isolated, non-feeding behavior... Too crowded, de-selected... other factors. I'd keep your eyes open for aggression amongst your remaining fish/es; remove the bullied, or bullier if obvious.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Please Help for Identifying the disease. Symphysodon     1/21/14
thanks a ton for reply. Today i have evacuated my 4 nos 4 inch clown loach from my discus tank because they are very notorious swimmer also destroy my
live plants.
But i don't really understand after dead why my discus belly turned white?
<It was very likely gone over roughly by another (fish)... Possibly the loach; but more often by a "sucker" of some sort... A rogue "Pleco" perhaps>

Discus problem. Lack of data, rdg.    2/11/13
I have a pair of blue diamond discus with me since last 2 yrs.
Since last week there is a problem with them. They have turned dark and refuse to eat normally as they used to. Their fins are also stuck to their body . 
<Something off here... When, where in doubt, massive water change/s w/ Symphysodon... Or moving to another established system>
They are aggressive as usual. My water temp is at about 32 degrees as I am located In India.  I have done a recent water change.
Could you suggest me a solution to the problem . I will be very much obliged.
Thanks in advance.
<Can't "tell" more w/o knowing more... re water quality, the set up, any changes done  or perceived recently. So, I'll refer you: Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusdisf3.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Discus problem.    2/12/13

<Not you too Amit! Proper nouns, the beginnings of sentences are capitalized. Next you'll be telling me/us that you're a Wall Street Journal reporter>
thanks for replying promptly to my mail.  i have gone through the link forwarded by you.  I would like to add more regarding the discus that i have observed \that have started swimming erratically. I am located in India so there is no ph testing kit available  at  my local lfs. 
<Can surely be ordered via the Net>
I normally fill the water directly from my tap.  I have been doing this for the last 5 years but there was no problem. 
<Does the tap/source water vary in quality? Likely so>
can you suggest me a medication for my sick fish.
<Not w/o knowing what the issue is, no>
 I am worried about them.
water changes every week and I feed my fishes with Tetrabits and frozen bloodworms.   My temp in the tank is at 30 degrees.  I have a corner filter.  I have 1 inch black gravel in my tank.  I normally siphon of all the dirt from the bottom every week.
<Have you read on WWM re Discus as you were directed?>
is it possible for you to diagnose the problem and suggest me any medication.
thanks in advance
<Please, don't write w/o following directions first. BobF>

Re: Sort of sickish Gourami in new Discus tank    10/18/11
Hi, crew,
Thank you again for all your wonderful advice. Wasn't sure whether to start a new thread, but now one of my smaller discus has been hiding in the back for over a week, and now light eating has turned into not eating--not even live food.
<Worrying. Do review the tank carefully. Apart from water quality and chemistry, look at social behaviour. Discus can be bullies, and the smaller one could easily end up starving because the bigger ones push it around.
Discus should be kept in pairs or groups of 6+ specimens. Singletons can do fine in quiet aquaria.>
Simultaneously the old pearl Gourami has developed a bit of a gray patch on his head again.
The Gourami is eating and chasing the female, but remains very thin, fins still not really growing back, still indentations in his head, but not exactly holes like HITH. (Your advice about the live brine shrimp did help him. I did continue to use some of the Jungle Anti-Bacterial food, but not exclusively, and all the fish ate that too--did I create a resistant something???)
<Probably not.>
Anyway, with the discus hiding for over a week now (he does get bullied, but this is a personality change), I am thinking of treating the whole tank with Metronidazole. Or should I move the Gourami & the hiding discus into quarantine for treatment?
<I would treat the whole tank, if economical to do so.>
I hesitate to overmedicate (especially with an Ancistrus), but if the Gourami has transferred something, it's probably in the whole tank, right?
<Yes. But often these parasites and bacteria are latent in all fish, and only cause problems when the host is stressed somehow.>
Tank parameters are all the same, 000, very low kH,gH,pH7, the only difference is that I started using some live blackworms to try to get the small discus to eat. That worked briefly, but now all the other fish pig out on them except him.
Thanks again in advance.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sort of sickish Gourami in new Discus tank  10/18/11

Thanks very much Neale. I will treat the whole tank. You've set my mind at ease about it.
I have 6 discus, all fairly similar in size when I got them, and that bullying issue you mention is something I am concerned about. The two biggest food hogs have gotten bigger, while this little guy who used to be
very pugnacious and go toe-to-toe (fin-to-fin?) with them now just hides.
For a while I thought maybe the biggest one had shown him who's boss. I haven't ever seen white or clear feces on this fish, or any of them, for that matter.
I will medicate with metro, and see if he comes back to his old self.
Thanks very much, and for the quick reply as well!
<Glad to help. Your analysis and what you plan to do sound correct. There may be a combination of bullying alongside a possible parasite infection.
Some aquarists deworm Discus regardless, and stay prepared to treat for Hexamita as well. While Discus are less prone to bullying than Angels, it does happen. Not much can fix this, though removing them all, moving the plants and rocks about, then reintroducing can sometimes reset the social hierarchy. Removing the bully for an hour or two can also work. Adding more should help, but may not be an option in all cases. Removing the bullied one might end up with the next smallest being picked on. Cheers, Neale.>

Discus Not Growing   7/23/09
Hi, I have a 75-gallon tank with 5 Discus, a Uaru, a Rummynose, and a small assortment of various Cory catfish. The Discus and, especially, the Uaru, are growing nicely; however, one of the two Cobalt Blue Discus I have is as small as he was when I got him and the others about 9 months ago. Even the one that is growing is doing so at a very slow pace, but at least he's growing. The runt, or "little guy," which is what I tend to refer to him as, seems to be eating his fair share of food, which consists primarily of frozen blood worms (mosquito larvae), brine shrimp, and plankton, during every feeding. Also, the water is always crystal clear and kept at a steady 82 degrees, at times, 83 or even 84 on the really hot days of Summer. 30% water changes are done once a week as well. All things considered, in addition to him acting healthy and his colors being so vibrant, I am stumped as to why the "little guy" is not growing. I say, "little guy," but, for all I know, he could very well be a she. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Regards, Gregg
< Three things could be the cause. The first is nutrition. With a varied diet like that, nutrition should not be the problem unless he is being chased away from the food and actually getting less food than the other
fish.. The second is water quality. High nitrogenous wastes interfere with the growth of young fish. High protein diets do produce lots of this waste. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 20 ppm. <<Much lower. RMF>>  The last is genetics. In the wild small fish are removed from the gene pool by predators. No such predators are usually found in an aquarium. Most commercial discus breeders sell everything they produce with little concern for long term results. I'm afraid you just may have a runt.-Chuck>

Help me (Symphysodon; mystery deaths) 6/6/09
Hello dear Neale,
<Hello again,>
How are you? I hope you will be fine there. Neale I have 4 discus in my tank of 90 gallon.
<Should be kept in groups of six or more; in smaller groups, Discus tend to be bullies, until just one mated pair is left, and the others are so battered they have to be removed.>
Neale I am used to feed them twice a day and they finish all of them in 2 to 3 minutes. Neale today my small discus died and I observed it from last 2 days it was showing in balance in its movement while swimming.
<I need more information that this. What's the water chemistry? What's the water quality? To recap, Discus need 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, less than 20 mg/l nitrate, less than 10 degrees dH hardness, and a steady pH somewhere between 6 and 7.5.>
I think it died due to swim bladder disease or due to the constipation problem?
<Neither is likely. Discus aren't especially prone to constipation, and on the usual diet of good quality flake foods plus frozen (or live) invertebrates should do very well. "Swim Bladder Disease" is a catch-all name given by some hobbyists to a range of different things. Almost always, when fish die from what people think is "Swim Bladder Disease", they actually died because of something else. For example, water quality problems, inadequate diet, etc. In the case of Discus, you can add to this pH stress when people try to keep them in soft water without using a buffer, and starvation, when Discus are forced to compete with more active fish. Discus are sensitive to certain parasites carried by Angelfish, and if the two species are mixed, Discus may sicken and die. Not always, but sometimes. So how the Discus are kept prior to you purchasing them matters as well.>
I don't know Neale what happened wrong? Water condition is perfect. Please tell me that what is swim bladder and constipation problem and how can we cure our fish? What is the cause of these two diseases? How can we prevent them? I am very much depressed why is these disease are so common in fish? Please help me, waiting for your reply.
Thank you,
Ali Zaheer
<Much written about Symphysodon, here:
Good luck, Neale.>

Sick Discus questions ???  3/12/08 Hello, My Grandson & I have a sick Blue Cobalt Discus. We noticed him hiding in a hollow resin log the other day, and he's also stopped eating. He's lost some of his color, and his eye's have gone from red to jet-black. Today, we noticed two small lesions just above the mouth, look almost like two nostrils (hole in the head ?); His eyes are beginning to bug out a bit as well. The other Discus in the tank seem to be in great health, so we decided to put the little guy in the hospital tank. I have the temp in the hospital tank turned up to approx. 88 F. with good aeration and a dose of "General Cure" in the water. He is also exhibiting symptoms of internal parasites, white trailing fecal matter. The fish in question is young, barely 2" in length, that's being generous. Can you please tell me if I should be treating him/her with anything additionally ? Thanks in advance for your time, Dan & Gabe. <Does sound like Hole-in-the-Head. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhllefaqs.htm  Usually treated with Metronidazole in the food, though there are some off the shelf medications as well, e.g., eSHa Hexamita 'Discus Disease'. Regardless, this is difficult to cure in very small fish, and you must certainly treat promptly to have any chance of success. Do also remember HITH is triggered by environmental issues even if a parasite is the problem. Water quality, particularly nitrates, are a common triggering factor with cichlids. Cheers, Neale.>

Discus disease  2/1/08 Hi, <Greetings,> I have a tank of 120,50,50 cm , <That's about 300 litres by my reckoning.> with 8 discus . <On paper at least should be acceptable.> suddenly, my fish start to die without a real warning except a white tail and a white eye, <Sounds like either excess mucous production or dead skin or Finrot/Fungus. In any case, likely caused by water quality problems and/or sudden changes in water chemistry.> and that's get harder during the night, <Don't understand this.> I lost 5 discus in 2 days . <Whenever you lose more than one fish, especially in a short period of time, you MUST check water quality. Almost always, when several fish die, it is because something is wrong with the water, not the fish themselves.> I'm using an r o filter, <Reverse Osmosis water is good for Discus, but it MUST be mixed with some source of carbonate hardness. Tank-bred Discus don't need very soft water, and very soft water isn't easy to work with. Because it lacks carbonate hardness, the pH can change suddenly, usually towards the acidic, and this is intensely stressful for fish. So check the carbonate hardness. As a ball-park estimate, if your local tap water is hard (say, 10 degrees KH, 20 degrees dH) mix it 50/50 with the Reverse Osmosis water. The resulting neutral, moderately hard water is absolutely perfect for tank-bred Discus, and will give you much more precise control of the pH over time.> plus co2 system for plants , <Without carbonate hardness, the CO2 will cause dramatic pH changes, so again, make sure you are providing some carbonate hardness.> and a timer to regulate my lightening and other equipment (air pomp,co2..). temperature is always 30 Celsius, <Sounds fine.> I feed my fish 3 times daily (bloodworm, brine shrimp, flakes...), <OK.> &I change water once to twice weekly, <Hmm... if all you are using is RO water, I'd be very concerned about pH changes, so please let me know something about the carbonate hardness (KH) and the pH of the aquarium.> and am using a uv lamp also 24/7. <Useful, but doesn't completely prevent disease.> I tried many treatment like parasite fighter internal &external ,white spot preventer, hole in head treatment , <These won't make the slightest difference if water quality/chemistry is the issue.> ..I really need ur advice. I didn't had any problems for more than 2 years until now ,its like a curse. <Unlikely a curse!> Thank u for ur time. <Please don't write in TXT speak; we don't like it here at WWM.> B.K <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Discus Might Be Getting Sick   5/20/07 Hello Crew, I haven't been writing to you so please forgive me if anything wrong. May I discuss about my Discus? < Sure, they are still tropical fish.> Last Monday, I bought 2 Yellow Face and 2 Pigeon (pic. 1) (as the fish seller said) which around 1' each and I put them into 1'x1' tank with 28c Heater, 20Watt lamp and air pump. I feed Tetra Bits flakes for 4~5 flakes/ 3 times/ a day. I change 20% of water for every 3 days and also put 1 tsp of salt after water change. This morning, I realized one of my fish's color was turned lightly (pic. 2) and the other one's fins are turned black (pic. 3). Both of them didn't eat well. Fortunately, the rest of my Discus are normal. I haven't been breeding Discus as before; therefore, I don't know what's wrong with them. Please give me some advices. I don't want to loose them. Really thanks to you. KMMK < Some strains of discus are genetically hardier than others. At 1" all discus are susceptible to getting sick. In the wild they like soft, warm, clean, acidic water. I would do a 50% water change , vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Check the nitrates. They should always be under 20 ppm, the lower the better. I would skip adding the salt. Discus are not big flake food eaters. Try to get them on to small sinking pellets. Some live brine or frozen food should get their appetite going. Discus turn dark when they are not happy. They could simply be the low fish on the pecking order and are not happy with the other tankmates.-Chuck>


Discus Health   4/12/07     /James Hi guys/gals,  <James> Yesterday I paid a visit to my LFS.  He sidelined me to his discus tank asking for advice/answers.  Some of his discus, (3" size) look like pepper was sprinkled on the upper third of their body.  All appeared to be very healthy and well fed.  Told him I'm not a discus expert by no means, but would ask the crew for help.  Unfortunately I did not ask him what strain the discus were.  Any help will be much appreciated.  James (Salty Dog) <Mmm, my best guess is that there are body flukes here... and the standard treatment suggested... either an organophosphate (e.g. Fluke-Tabs) or anthelminthic (e.g. Praziquantel) treatment regimen... Not uncommon problem with wild or wild-exposed Symphysodon... And I do encourage prophylactic (pre-emptive) treatment of all such fishes with both a anti-protozoal and anthelminthic. BobF>
Discus Health   4/12/07    /Sab
Hi guys/gals, <Hey, James!> Yesterday I paid a visit to my LFS.  He sidelined me to his discus tank asking for advice/answers.  Some of his discus, (3" size) look like pepper was sprinkled on the upper third of their body. <This is a normal characteristic of "pigeon blood" discus.  Since it's a very strong trait, it can occur on most any "type" of discus, by breeding that type with a pigeon blood....  so you can get blue pigeon blood, striated blue pigeon blood, etc.  It's usually a pretty undesirable trait.   Makes the fish look almost.... "dirty".  Do a Google image search on "pigeon blood discus" and you'll get some results to look at, compare with.> All appeared to be very healthy and well fed. <Just like a red Crowntail beta vs. a red beta, pigeon blood discus can be just as healthy as any discus - just a color trait.> Told him I'm not a discus expert by no means, but would ask the crew for help.  Unfortunately I did not ask him what strain the discus were. <Since the pigeon blood trait can be "put" into most any other discus "strain", it really won't matter.  "The" pigeon blood trait alone is usually an orange or mostly orange fish with black marbling or pepper looking dots on the fish, and it can be all over, very dark, very sparse, just on the top portion....> Any help will be much appreciated. <Do please take a look at some images on Google, and I think you'll have your answer.>   James (Salty Dog) <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>
R: Discus Health  4/13/07
Thank you, Bob James <Welcome... though I do think Sab's guess is as good as mine. B> I've looked at some pics Sab was referring to and they are an identical match of what I saw. James <Ah, thank you for this... will share w/ her, accumulate. B>

Dashing Discus  7/14/06 Hey guys! I have a few things that I wanted an opinion on. Let me give you my tank and fish specs first. I have a 55 gal, a couple medium sized plants, sponge filter and eight discus under 3 1/2". My problem is three different fish who all display different symptoms. 1.) I have a blue snakeskin who was breathing through one gill for long periods of time. He would use both if agitated by a tank cleaning, or during feeding (I assumed just from the activity). I consulted my local fish store and was told to let the fish ride it out as long as he was eating properly and not getting any worse as medication can be pretty intense for fish. So that's what I've done. I came home from work tonight and he is at the bottom of the tank bobbing up and down hitting the gravel bottom each time. He seems to be breathing heavily (using both gills) and one of his fins (right side) is torn up pretty bad in the webbing. I gave him some stimuli by turning on the tank lights and stirring him with my hand. He was completely unresponsive until I touched him, at which point he darted around aimlessly hitting every decoration and wall in the tank multiple time, often swimming upside down and on his side. He came to rest in a corner of the tank on his side and resumed the bobbing behavior. Is this later stages of a gill problem I should have taken care of earlier? < Probably should have treated for gill flukes with Fluke-Tabs but hind-site is always 20/20.> 2.) My red snakeskin has always been a good and healthy fish (still young though) at the time that I came home tonight, he was swimming around the tank, upright, and running into anything in his direct line of swim. Almost the way a blind person would walk if they couldn't spot to avoid objects. He has no outer signs of abuse from the others, or anything that would look like disease. Could this be related to the fish I mentioned in #1? Or is this a part of night time discus unresponsive behavior? < Internal parasites or trauma like a blow to the head may be the problem. Fish sleep when it is dark and it could take a few moments to let his eyes get adjusted to the lights and shadows.> 3.) I know this is getting long, but thank you so much for anything you can help me with. Lastly, I have a brilliant turquoise that is kinda beat up looking. Again, all the fish looked fine today (except for the one with the gill problem) and when I came home tonight I noticed that there were white scratch marks along his sides and towards the back of his body. No other symptoms though. Is this just normal pecking order battle scarring? < The fish could have  been  startled and inadvertently scratched himself against an object. Fish do not do this kind of damage to each other.-Chuck> The only other thing I can say is that I performed a water change today, but I tested the water right before I emailed this and everything checks out fine. Very consistent with previous water conditions. I love my fish and I would hate to lose one to something I should have prevented a while ago. Thanks again for what you guys do. I'll look forward to hearing back from you. Ryan

Discus Problems  12/9/05     Hello. I have a couple of questions regarding my discus. First of all my water tests at 0 for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates, and my pH is 6.6, dGH and dKH is 3 degrees. My tank is 165 G and I run three Fluval 404's, and one Emperor 400. I change 75% the water, and vacuum the gravel on a weekly basis as well as clean the filters 2-3 times monthly. The problem is that my discus are showing a variety of suspicious behavior and symptoms, and without the use of a microscope I am left wondering what to do.      My discus are very itchy, and they are continuously scratching and flashing against the plants, but this behavior does not extend to my tetras or Corys, it only affects the discus. This is not only disturbing them, but it is disturbing me to see them so irritated. Along with the itching they were showing symptoms of gill flukes "coughing", scratching, etc, so I watched them for a couple of days while I researched on the net, and consulted my many books on disease, one of these books being specifically on discus (Discus Health Selection, Care, Diet, Diseases, and Treatments by Dieter Untergasser).  <<Excellent addition to most anyone's library.  MH>>     I then did a water change and dosed the tank with Prazi Pro. This stopped the rapid pumping of their gills in their "coughing" fits, but did not stop the scratching. The only thing I have noticed are small worms in the gravel that look like small white pieces of plant debris, and from the many articles on your website everything points to these being harmless and caused by a lack of circulation and over feeding. But after a close examination of my discus, and looking repeatedly for days on end for something visible to explain the scratching, I found one of these worms on my discus. Yikes! Needless to say he started twitching his dorsal fin where the worm landed and flicked him off, and the worm just sunk back to the bottom of the tank.      Could this be the problem? If so how do I fix it, as I keep my aquarium clean and don't overfeed my fish. The fish get fed 3-4 times daily, but only in very small portions, and as for the Corys they are fed (due to nothing ever reaching the bottom for them to eat) once each day; shrimp pellets and algae tabs which the discus love to eat. I also have a bubble wand running continuously, and aerating the water because my discus are kept at about 84-86 degrees F. Would you recommend another filter, perhaps a diatom, or even a UV Sterilizer? <The Prazi Pro should have taken care of any invertebrate in the tank. The appearance of these worms indicate that it hasn't worked. Treat again or try Fluke-Tabs.>     Thus cleaning up the water even more. I would happily perform more water changes, but due to my extremely hard alkaline water, and the fact that it takes approximately 10-12 hours to make 60 gallons of RO water, turns this into quite a chore, but if you think it will help I can and will do it. I hate treating my fish with various medicines especially when I can't pinpoint the problem, but in my experience it happens more often than not due to the conditions they are kept in at the one and only LFS in the area (Nitrate at least 500ppm, Total Hardness at least 425 ppm, Alkalinity 0, pH 5), so I do pre-treat my incoming discus in a separate quarantine tank, so I guess you can say I rescue my discus before the LFS can toast them (they did this in less than one day with their last batch of 5, 1 1/2 inch discus).      Of course their excuse was that they came in cold, and they didn't have time to properly acclimate the fish, so they just dumped them in. Jerks!  <<Not uncommon, unusual in aquarium shops.  Marina>>     Thank God for my quarantine tank! I feel bad for all these little fish, so I just bring them home and fix them. I usually pre-treat for flukes and Hexamita, give them food that's high in vitamins, and then just keep a close eye on them for a couple of months; treating further if necessary. Most of the time just improving the conditions they're kept in solves the problem.      My display tank houses five large discus, twenty cardinal tetras, and a colony of 15 panda Corys, so yes it is fully stocked, but no new fish were added other than two recently sexually mature discus from another one of my other tanks (I didn't want them to stunt a 3" discus). I have had one of these discus for 4 months, and the other for 6 months with no problems, so again could this be the problem? None of the equipment like nets, water changers, etc come into contact with the other tanks, so I don't believe all of these problems were from a sick fish or cross contamination.      Up until I put the Prazi Pro in my tank my discus would breed on a weekly basis. Sadly none of their eggs have ever hatched, as to why I do not know. Could you possibly think of any reason as to what may be causing this problem as well? The eggs that are laid are fertilized, and you can tell by the nice amber color, but up until the day of hatching some of them start turning white, not fungused just white. Some of the eggs even make it to the stage of developing "eyes", and then die off, so the parents always end up scrapping them.      Something's not right, but what is it? Are these problems connected in anyway, or are they just a lot of different ones with a totally different underlying cause? Any information and advice you can give me would be appreciated. Thank you! < Young fish or inexperienced breeders usually take awhile to figure out how to spawn successfully. Next time pull the eggs and try to hatch them artificially. Raising the fry artificially is a painfully time consuming but may be worth the effort. Next time they spawn do not do any water changes but make sure the parents are well fed. If you have a discus that has a habit of eating eggs or fry, then I would try and replace that discus with another. Egg eating can be a habit that is hard to break.-Chuck>

Discus Hey, I have several discus and one of them is showing a sort of pimple along the lateral line right before the tail. The fish seems to be eating fine and swims along without a problem but the pimple is there with a white top on it. Should I move the fish to a temp tank? What would you recommend for treatment?  DK < I would do a 30% water change, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel. Watch the pimple carefully because it may be the first signs of hole in the head disease. If it gets worse I would isolate the fish and treat with Metronidazole. The key with discus is clean water with lots of water changes.-Chuck>

Discus Deaths Hello, <Hi, Kurt, Sabrina here today!> I have a 90 gal. planted Discus tank that has been running for several months with no real problems.  The 5 Discus in my display tank all died overnight.   <Yikes!> I had noticed them swimming up next to the plants and twitching occasionally over the last few days and yesterday they did not eat as aggressively as normal.   <Do you recall any other symptoms at all, specifically appearance of the skin?> I searched the internet yesterday and thought maybe Flukes?   <Unlikely, unless you had any recent additions.... ?> or Maybe Discus Plaque?   <A very important concern.  There are folks that think that the "plague" is simply Hexamita, to be treated with Metronidazole in food, and there are folks that think this "plague" is something entirely different, and far more difficult to deal with.> My water parameters are good and I do a 25% water change with 75% RO water about every 4 days.  Until the last couple of days they looked good??  What do you think killed them?   <Very difficult to say without more detail, on symptoms, tank in general - especially any very recent changes/additions to the system.> What can I do to my tank to ensure that whatever did kill them won't kill any other new ones.   <Again, without knowing for sure what did 'em in, that's a tough one to answer.> The display tank is a 90 gal fairly heavily planted tank.  It has 11 Siamese algae eaters, 3 Corydoras paleatus catfish, 18 cardinal tetras, and 1 Bristlenose Pleco, and 2 Botia striata to eat the snails.  They all seam to be O.K.   <With delicate fish like cardinal tetras remaining unaffected, that does make me think this was a relatively discus-specific illness, rather than a toxin in the water or water quality issues, as I imagine the other delicate inhabitants would've been effected.  Might even still be worthwhile to wonder about pH fluctuation, were you sure to match pH and temperature when you did the water change?  And again, have you introduced anything to the tank without sufficient quarantine?  New fish, new plants, anything?  Even so much as borrowed a used airstone?  And as for re-stocking....  most of what I've read/discussed regarding this "plague" seems to indicate it is safe to introduce healthy fish to the system again in a month after removing infected fish.  Certainly, if this is simply Hexamita, one could do so much sooner, but, "better safe than sorry", if you will.> Help? <I wish I could be more of a help than giving ambiguous possibilities, in this case!> Thanks,  Kurt Will <Wishing you and future discus well,  -Sabrina>
Discus Deaths II - 02/02/2004 
Thanks for your reply,  <Sure thing, Kurt.>  Since I wrote you I think I have determined that my problem was a lack of oxygen and or co2 poisoning. Because of the twitching symptoms I had raised the temp. to 88deg. the night that they died.  <Ahhh.>  My CO2 injection is all automated by ph controller so I don't think that was it. However apparently in a heavily planted tank 88deg. could have robbed too much Oxygen from the water.  <Yes, quite likely indeed.>  Also, when I woke up that morning the cardinals were all at the surface of the water which would also indicate not enough Oxygen.  <Agreed.>  What do you think?  <I definitely think this is a strong possibility.>  I have since put my co2 control on the light timer just to be safe (it won't run at night). And I installed an air stone on a timer to run only at night.  <A very good idea - but do please test your pH *carefully* while you are fine-tuning this.>  I am now shopping for Discus again. Kurt  <It might be a good idea to wait a month or so before putting any new discus into your tank, just to be on the safe side - if it is an illness that targets the discus more than the other fish (Hexamita, for one), that should be sufficient time to be sure the system is safe for them. I suppose that would give you time to quarantine your new charges! May you find some beauties. -Sabrina>

Not sure what's wrong (Discus health) Good Morning,  My discus are in a 165 set up and I have one fish that is swimming by the top of the surface with his nose pointed up in the air other than that he looks fine.  I treated him last week in a hospital tank in which he never did the same thing in that tank so I thought it had been cured but now he's at it again.   I don't see any other fish in the tank doing this.  Do you know of any diseases that this is a typical symptom?   If it was an oxygen problem for some reason wouldn't all of the fish be doing this?  I thought possibly gill flukes as it says the nose up in the air can be a symptom but not sure.....   I would appreciate any advice.  Thanks! < If your discus is not wild then it is probably a line bred fish that is many generations from the real fish. It is possible that it has deformed gills that aren't functioning properly at the higher temp's that discus are usually kept at. If you put him in a cooler tank then the water has a higher oxygen carrying capacity and it becomes easier for the fish to breathe. If could be caused by parasites attacking the gills. Flukes are only one of many parasites that can cause this. I would isolate the fish again and treat for Protozoans with rid-ich by Kordon. Follow the directions on the bottle. Once the fish is better then you can put him back in the main tank. If he gets sick again or other fish get sick then the parasite is in the main tank and this particular fish seems to be more prone to get sick that the others. If you still want to keep him in the main tank then you will need to treat the big tank. What a pain!!! To prevent this you should quarantine all new fish for a few weeks to make sure that no new diseases become introduced to the big tank and you have to spend all this money and time to get things back on track. If the rid-ich doesn't work then I would try Furanace in the quarantine tank. All medications affect the good nitrifying bacteria in some way so watch for ammonia spikes.-Chuck>   
Re: Not sure what's wrong
Thanks so much for your advice!! Could it be any protozoan medication? They don't carry that particular brand where we shop. < Any medication in which the primary ingredients are malachite green and formalin. For gill flukes I would use clout or fluke tabs.-Chuck>

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