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FAQs on Discus Infectious Disease

FAQs on Discus Disease: Discus Disease 1, Discus Disease 2, Discus Disease 3,
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Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Parasitic, Trauma, Treatments  

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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,


Discus fin rot!  6/8/10
Hi crew,
One of my discus has what I think is fin rot just above what would be his forehead. Part of the fin looks like it is deteriorating and has something white on it (definitely not ich). I've quarantined him in a ten gallon tank. I've never
had a fish with fin rot, but I don't know how else to describe what I'm seeing, nor do I know how to treat. I've got eight discus total. The other seven seem fine. The sick one first got my attention because he wasn't eating.
Please help!
Thank you,
<Hello Pat. Without a photo it's difficult to diagnose this. Possibilities include Finrot, Mouth Fungus and Hexamita. Finrot typically begins on the fins as bloody swellings that eventually decay into the raggedy fins we associate with the disease. Mouth Fungus -- actually a bacterial infection also called Columnaris -- is more common around the mouth, as you'd expect.
Distinguishing it from Finrot isn't easy, but Mouth Fungus tends to look fibrous, hence the analogy with Fungus. Hexamita is a parasitic infection that may or may not be responsible for Hole-in-the-Head disease. Discus, like all cichlids, are prone to both straightforward Hexamita infections and Hole-in-the-Head, the latter appearing as white pits in the head that suppurate over time, releasing dead white goo. Does this help any? Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Discus fin rot!
Hi Neale,
<Hello Pat,>
I don't see anything around his mouth. I also don't see any holes anywhere (head or body). When I described the location as being above his "forehead", I was attempting to describe the location of the affected "fins". The affected fins are the ones that form what sort of look like "spikes" or "fingers". Having said that, the affected area is approximately in the middle of this "spike" area.
<Finrot should look very distinctive. The fin membrane decays from the outside edge inwards, so the profile of the fin becomes ragged. Usually, the fin rays stick out beyond the receding fin membrane. You usually see red or at least orange/white specks on the fins where blood vessels have become congested, especially near the base of the fin.>
Now, this morning, I got out my flashlight so that I could get a real good look at him, and to look for the red swelling you described. I no longer see any white "fungus" looking stuff at the base of the fins. The fins look a lot better although a little like part of them has "melted away" ?
<Fin membranes and eventually fin rays can, will fall away as the infection progresses. Given good water quality, a healthy diet, and if necessary medication, fins heal back very quickly.>
The fish seems to have improved in appearance. Is this possible.
He's still not eating and I think one of the other seven isn't eating as well.
<Stress, including social stress through bullying, can make fish vulnerable to secondary infections. Finrot often follows on from aggression, though that's uncommon among Discus. But with that said, Discus can be bullies
sometimes, so keep an eye out for it.>
I had Hexamita in a couple of these guys on the 15th of last month. Do you think it might be a recurrence?
<Doesn't sound directly related. Hexamita typically manifests itself though white, stringy faeces, loss of overall condition, and in some cases the appearance of "weeping" pits on the head.>
Thank you for your help and patience with me
<Cheers, Neale.>

Discus fin rot 11/11/09
Dear Crew,
<Hello Victor,>
First I must thank you for your helpful site.
<Glad you enjoy.>
However, I am still facing a problem.
My discus in my 33 gallon tank are currently suffering from fin rot.
<Do review water quality first and foremost, and also think about any sources of physical damage, such as fin nipping, fighting, or careless handling by the fishkeeper. These are almost always the root causes of
The tank is a 33 gallon with 3 discus, the largest with a diameter of 5 inches, and a Raphael catfish.
<This tank could easily be overstocked, depending on the size of the fish and how much food you're adding.>
It is a planted tank, ph 7, nitrate 40 (it never seems to change even after water changes) and I do 2-3 20% water changes a week.
<I see.>
I also recently added a CO2 thing in October.
<This shouldn't in itself cause Finrot, but rapid changes in pH can be stressful, so check this. Do also remember than biological filtration works best at pH 7.5; as pH drops, biological filtration works less well, and below pH 6, it stops working altogether. So if the pH drops too far below 7, you can easily have spikes of nitrite and ammonia.>
I have tried using Pimafix and nothing has happened.
<Largely useless tea-tree oil remedy. Do use a proper medication, e.g., eSHa 2000, Maracyn, etc.>
Earlier, like September I saw their fins starting to get a bit ragged, but now they are starting to miss chunks of their fins. I am very worried because they never got fin rot, even before in their old overcrowded tank
of 20 gallon. What could be the cause of the loss of their fins?
<See above.>
Thank you, Victor
<Cheers, Neale.>

Discus Caught in a Web  9/23/05 Hi. I have recently acquired a pair of red Marlboro Discus. One of them is having a spiders' web like thing attached to its skin at the upper side of one of its gills. It is also distinct that it is facing difficulty in breathing. Please help me urgently. I would appreciate if you can email me. Thanks & regards M. Misbah < Difficult to figure out. If it is a worm like extension then it could be treated with Fluke-tabs or Clout. These would also treat the fish for gill flukes that would account for the fish's rapid breathing. If it is a mucus secreted by the discus to fight off a bacterial infection then it could be real trouble. First do a 30% water change , vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. These hybrid discus come down with all kinds of strange diseases that continue to baffle some of the worlds greatest discus experts. If possible slowly lower the pH while changing the water. Use distilled water in a 5 gallon bucket and use a buffer to bring the pH down to 6.5. Acidic water tends to inhibit bacterial growth. Make sure the water temp is at least 80 to 82 F. Increase the aeration because water has a low oxygen carrying capacity at higher temps. Now that the tanks conditions have been optimized we can try and treat the problem. Hopefully in a hospital tank I would recommend a heavy duty antibiotic like Nitrofurazone.-Chuck>

Discus pH shock/Columnaris Bob, I have a 75-gallon tank, containing nine 2" to 5" discus, several pairs of various Amazonian dwarf cichlids, a few Cory cats, a 7" diameter Guyana stingray (humerosa), and several other small dither fishes. All were doing well together, besides the stingray occasionally eating one of the smaller fishes, until I recently ordered online four (of the nine) young 2" to 3" discus, which quickly developed Columnaris.  I do at least a 25% water change twice a week. I use a Fluval 304 and an AquaClear 500 for filtration. I have about 15 plants (mostly swords and Anubias), which I supplement with a small CO2 system. I must have taken my previously good, stable water conditions for granted, for a day after adding the new discus I tested my pH: it was about 5 (the test didn't go any lower). The ammonia and nitrites remained at zero, while the nitrates hovered around .12 mg/L. The first night using 7.4 pH tap water, conditioned of course for chlorine and whatnot, I managed to raise the pH up to 6. The next day the older, larger discus also developed Columnaris; I've heard it can be quite contagious to other tankmates, or perhaps they developed it on their own as a result of pH shock. I believe that my original mistake was not correctly measuring the proper amount of discus buffer (to lower pH), which sent my normal 6.5 pH plummeting. For the first five days I treated the tank with tetracycline/hydrochloride, but the fish showed little recovery and one of the new ones died (a red spot green). I don't think they liked sitting in the dark all day and night long, due to tetracycline being photo sensitive, so after three treatments-I believe it was 200 mg (1 pill) for every 5 gallons (I added about 13-15 pills every 1.5 to 2 days) I switched to using erythromycin, particularly Maracyn. They are all eating frozen bloodworms, which I provide them a feast twice a day (the stingray is a bottomless pit that I refer to as a vacuum cleaner).  After two days of treatment using erythromycin three of the discus seem much better, and I know they appreciate the light. The rest still look pretty ragged. My pH is back at a stable 6.5, and I've added more Epsom salt than I normally use and also aeration to aid in their respiration.  I'm wondering how long Columnaris typically lasts, and when I can expect my discus to fully recover. I also am curious about the 5-day treatment Maracyn recommends, particularly whether I should do partial water changes between daily treatments. Surprisingly the stingray could care less about the medicated water and is his same mischievous self. The other fish also appear unaffected. . . . I'd like to know your opinion of my set-up and my predicament. I hope I provided enough information.  < You first mistake was in not quarantining your new discus. If they had been placed in a small clean aquarium the medicating would have cheaper and more effective. The erythromycin is a good choice for this disease, but the water changes help your fish recover. In about a week you fish should be better. Watch out for ammonia spikes because the medication may affect the good bacteria that breaks down the fish waste into less toxic nitrites and nitrates.-Chuck>
Re: Discus pH shock/Columnaris
Thanks, Chuck. One more thing: After treating my tank with tetracycline for 5 days and erythromycin for another 8 days two of my eight remaining discus that had already seemed on the road to full recovery are now resting at the bottom of the tank. Their colors have darkened only slightly, and they don't appear to have anything new wrong with them.  Are there complications for extended use of erythromycin? I've removed the medication, but they've now stopped eating (they were eating during the medication). Also I've been adding salt at a rate of about 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons, maybe even a little more, which I heard may aid in their recovery. This has gone on for a couple months. Could the salt be the reason why the discus are behaving strangely? Something's up, my pH is 6.8, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate .6 mg/L. I don't know what the hardness is. I have some plants in the tank as well, which seem fine. Do the fish simply need to rest for a couple days? I've had discus refuse food for weeks and then act normal like nothing ever happened. Any ideas? (Tank specs: 8 discus, 1 stingray, 6 Irian Jaya red rainbowfish, several bottom feeders, 100 lbs. of sand, 2 96-watt power compacts, 15 plants, CO2 yeast thingy [not cylinder], no aeration, except current from AquaClear 500 and Fluval 304).  Adam Michels < Nothing brings discus back faster than water changes. I would do water changes as often as I could with soft acidic water. Offer a variety of foods and clean the filter often. They should be back at it in no time.-Chuck>

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