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FAQs on Discus Parasitic Disease

FAQs on Discus Disease: Discus Disease 1, Discus Disease 2, Discus Disease 3,
FAQs on Discus Disease by Category:
Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Infectious, 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,


White parasites on discus      5/1/14
I'm having a problem with my discus that have the kind folks at simplydiscus stumped. First, some background. I have 8 discus in a 210 gallon tank and change @ 40% of the water every two days, with the temp at
82. It's a lightly planted tank with a sand substrate, and the other inhabitants are some cories, a large school of neons, and various snails.
Two months ago, my discus developed white spots.
<I see this/these>
Thought Ich at first, but then they grew out - protruding from the fish 1-2mm.
<A bit large... though, for the record/browsers, what one actually sees on
 fish hosts is NOT the actual parasites, but accumulated body mucus from irritation... can be largish at times>
Three days later, they all fell off and fish appeared normal.
<... like a single generation instance of Ich>
Since my initial observation,
they've appeared 3 more times. Tried treating with formalin/malachite green (quick cure), PraziPro, and Metronidazole flake (although I was trying to treat Hexamita with that last one, only because I see what appears to be HLLE on a couple fish)
<Beware of too much Metro/Flagyl use (will kill the fish)... and the HLLE is likely due to treatment... IF applied properly some should have killed the snails, likely the Tetras>
while boosting the water changes significantly.
Today I noticed the white spots returning. I assume this is a parasite but at a loss as to how to combat this. Any ideas?
<Yes; a microscopic examination of some of these spots scraped onto a slide... may be nothing but Symphysodon mucus/bumps... How was the Prazi applied? Are these flukes?
Bob Fenner>

 White parasites on discus      5/1/14
Thanks for the input! I applied the PraziPro directly to the tank - I was thinking some form of body fluke is a possibility.
<How much and how? Did you try introducing via foods? See WWM re. B>

sick discus. Reading        4/23/14
Hello Timbra sent me to you!
I was given three sick discus! we thought parasite. There were three two died pretty quickly. The last one was treated with General cure for four doses.
<What do you think you were/are treating for?>

was not 100 percent better so moved him in with my big guys at which at first his sprits were listed. I have still never seen him eat but day before last he was out and not hiding.. this am he was at top with fins clenched then he moved around a pit..while in big tank...its prob been bout a week i have used PraziPro but he still ahs white poop and like i said doesn't look really happy..any advice? He's small bout two inches
<... Perhaps lumenal issue, protozoan... I'd have you read here re Metronidazole use:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: sick discus
i believe i was treating for Hexamita.
<.... Octomita now-named... General Cure "contains Metronidazole and Praziquantel in quick-dissolve powder form" should do this in proper use>
white stringy poop and not eating...when he's out and about with the group he looks normal..but the times he withdrawals he looks bad i go home in two hours so i can check on him then, i did read the article.. i kinda felt the way that guy did he was miserable when he was alone . The big tank was treated with PraziPro
<.... Read the FAQs please; and run your writing through spelling/grammar check before sending. BobF>

still white spot? Symphysodon... other Protozoa     11/27/12
Hello, I have had my tank up and running for a few months now. Tank cycled using ammonia and have had no issues since on this side of things.
Tank is a 55g with 3 cardinal tetra's, 1 ram and 9 small discus. I realise this is to many for size of tank and will rehome some discus when they grow some.
Ammonia, nitrite are zero, ph 7, kH I maintain at 4 using bicarb at water changes as my tap water is super soft with 0 buffer. GH sits at around 50ppm.
<These are cultured Symphysodon, so there should not be an issue of too hard water>
I have been tackling a Ich out break which has been fatal to 1 ram, 4 tetra's and sadly my smallest discus.
Ich came in with cardinals, don't have space for quar tank.
Im on the second course of Waterlife's Protozin now, the first course helped a lot but was obviously just short of eradicating it.
<The fish in the pic sent along looks very poorly>
My temp is 30 degrees. Water changes before treatment was 30% twice a week, sand substrate.
My question 7 of my discus are now looking great, colour back, fins erect, very alert etc but 2 small ones are not doing very well at all, the white spots have become light coloured patches.
<I'd keep these separated from your others... in a different tank>
 Could you tell me if this is still white spot on them
<I don't think it is; instead that it's accumulated body mucus/slime coalescing into distinct dots... the real issue something else. Perhaps Octomita/Hexamita, other protozoan/s; quite common unfortunately in far east imported Discus at times... Read here re:
and search WWM re treatment... re Metronidazole in particular>
 or have they developed something else like body rot from the stress etc.
Pic below, I've added a tank and healthy pic for you to see also.
many thanks.
<Separate them... and treat pronto... via food/s, feeding. Bob Fenner>

Re: still white spot? Discus...      11/27/12
Thanks for your help, they have both perished now but I will read the likes <links> you provided.
I'm not sure if you mis-understood what I wrote but its just the lack of buffer that I add bicarb. My tap water is 1kh so I just buffer it to stop ph swings.
<Ahh, I see.>
Thanks again
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
disease, FW...      11/28/12

Hello, I have had my tank up and running for a few months now. Tank cycled using ammonia and have had no issues since on this side of things.
Tank is a 55g with 3 cardinal tetra's, 1 ram and 9 small discus.
<... I responded to this ayer... See WWM re>

 I realise this is to many for size of tank and will rehome some when they grow some.
Ammonia, nitrite are zero, ph 7, kH I maintain at 4 using bicarb at water changes as my tap water is super soft with 0 buffer. GH sits at around 50ppm.
I have been tackling a Ich out break which has been fatal to 1 ram, 4 tetra's and sadly my smallest discus.
Im on the second course of Waterlife's Protozin now, the first course helped a lot but was obviously just short of eradicating it.
My temp is 30 degrees.
My question 7 of my discus are now looking great, colour back, fins erect, very alert etc but 2 small ones are not doing very well at all, the white spots have become light coloured patches. Could you tell me if this is still white spot on them or have they developed something else like body rot from the stress etc. Pic below, I've added a tank and healthy pic for you to see also.
many thanks.
<... same response. B>

discus plague? (Bob, any thoughts'¦?)<<>>    2/8/11
I have purchased 6 Discus and they are currently housed in my QT tank.
50ish Uk gal. I have had these for one week and they have developed what looks like Plague? Please see picture attached.
<Yes, very sick indeed!>
They are huddled in the corner and 2 and floating on top. They are all producing excess mucus and the sand
<Are you sure this is not Whitespot?>
is sticking to the fishes body, The fins also look to be getting eaten away.
<Presumably Finrot or some other opportunistic bacterial infection.>
What do you suggest?
<Would work through a checklist of possibilities. First, Whitespot. Heavy infections will cause excess mucous production, lethargy, Finrot, and ultimately death. Secondly, review environmental conditions. Specifically, check you have zero ammonia and zero nitrite in the system; check also the temperature is sufficiently high, i.e., around 28-30 C; and finally, check the water isn't too hard, 1-10 degrees dH being about right for farmed Discus (although pH is secondary to hardness in importance, the pH shouldn't be above 7.5). If you can eliminate these two, then yes, Discus Plague may be the issue, but do remember that most so-called "Discus Plague" cases probably aren't, in the same way most of the bacterial infections people call "Fish TB" are nothing of the sort. Discus Plague is primarily an issue with cheap Discus mass-produced on farms in Southeast Asia, but these are precisely the same Discus likely to be bought be inexperienced aquarists, so knowing when a Discus has Discus Plague and when it's been killed by poor care is very difficult to judge. But if you are an experienced aquarist who has handled Discus before, then you could consider Discus Plague as a possibility here.>
Daily water changes as per plague or is this something completely different?
<Treatment for Discus Plague is extremely hard. If the fish gets better, it does so under its own steam. Medications serve no purpose at all, and ones with copper and/or formalin in may well make things worse. Instead, optimal water conditions do seem crucial. That's why daily water changes are recommended -- to optimise living conditions by removing nitrate. If you can do that, great, but you do need to make sure you water changes don't cause pH, hardness or temperature changes, and also don't stress the fish by lowering the water level in a scary way (turning the lights out is a big plus). Discus Plague as normally defined appears to be viral, something equivalent to Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus or Koi Herpes Virus in nature if not in symptoms.>
Thanks Paul.
I have also added Cuprazin as advised by LFS
<Not my favourite anti-Whitespot medication. Would recommend eSHa EXIT over this as more reliable. But would not use either if I didn't think Whitespot was to blame. Most anti-Protozoan medications are toxic, and in stressing your Discus, reducing its ability to fight off a viral infection. Cheers, Neale.>
re: discus plague? (Bob, any thoughts'¦?)   2/8/11
thanks for the reply the water has been spot on over the week I have been doing 10% water changes every day
<<RMF would change half every day>>
 I have 6 neon tetras in there as well its just that the guy who sold me them told me it was velvet
<Look for a golden sheen on the body. Velvet typically attacks the gills before anything else, so fish with Velvet will often "gasp" or exhibit laboured breathing.>
and to add salt and Cuprazin,
but when I was talking to a local guy today he said it could be the plague,
<Could be, but by no means certain. Because it's viral, outside of a fish laboratory, there's no way to confirm.>
I was using water that I had in a bucket for a couple of days with an air stone in so it was only at room temp when I was adding it so the temp will of been dropping off while doing w/c
<Do review conditions, symptoms as stated in last e-mail, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

RMF could swear this IS Ich and bacterial challenges... would remove the Neons, raise the temp. to high 80's F., add aeration and 250 mg. of Nitrofuranace per ten gallons... see WWM re...

More re: discus plague? (Bob, any thoughts'¦?)   2/8/11
thanks for the reply the water has been spot on over the week I have been doing 10% water changes every day
<<RMF would change half every day>>
<<<Neale would not disagree, provided water hardness, pH and temperature are kept steady. If you're not 100% sure you can control these factors, changing smaller amounts, say, 25%, may be better, but at the same time, do other things to minimise nitrate levels in the tank -- stock the tank very lighting, feed minimally, use plants to export nitrate (ideally via a "vegetable filter" in a sump so light is kept outside the tank, else floating plants like Indian Fern that produce shade while growing rapidly). Cheers, Neale.>>>

Re: discus plague? (Bob, any thoughts'¦?)  2/8/11
Hi Bob,
Yes, you will see that was my first thought too -- hence my list of things for Paul to check through before assuming this is viral Discus Plague.
<<I did, and do... this one fish, and likely all others are very close to death from both the protozoan and bacterial challenges. Need treatment immediately>>
Paul -- bacterial infections through the punctures in the skin caused by mature Whitespot parasites are EXTREMELY common.
Cheers, Neale
<<Paul: See and heed my comments on the dailies. B>>

Sick Discus -- 02/05/11
Good morning crew,
I have 17 discus in a 240g aquarium. I run a constant drip, (approx. 2 gal per hour). My nitrates are maybe 10ppm.
I've had 11 of the discus for 12 to 15 months. 2 of them had that white poop thing
<Stringy, white faeces from cichlids is usually caused by Hexamita, but can have other causes.>

about a year ago were treated in a quarantine tank, recovered, and have been fine ever since.
About 8 weeks ago I purchased 6 discus from Kenny in Daly City. Followed his direction and everything has gone well.
2 weeks ago I changed out my black sand to white sand so that I could more easily view my fish and to lighten everything up.
<They won't like that! In fact I doubt the colours will improve. Discus show their best colours in shady tanks.>
For about a week I've noticed the smallest discus hanging in the corner first thing in the morning when I feed. (similar behavior to the white poop thing). I just assumed that maybe it was taking him a little longer to wake up than the others. It wasn't until this morning that I noticed that he wasn't really eating. (so now the symptoms are much more consistent with the white poop thing)
<Agreed. Would assume Hexamita, and treat accordingly. I'd probably treat all the new batch, but that's up to you. Certainly the ones exhibiting odd symptoms.>
Then it seemed to happen right before my eyes that one of the other "new" fish darkened and began a behavior that I can only describe as "tail standing" .
<Not good, and with Discus usually implies overall weakness, perhaps through lack of food.>
I've removed both fish to a quarantine tank and began treatment with "API General Cure"
<Not a particularly useful medication except for a few, easily identified things. Despite the marketing, this product isn't a cure-all by any means!>
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
<Would recommend a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace, a good combination for cichlid ailments such as these.
Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: Sick Discus  2/14/11

Hi crew,
I thought I'd give you an update:
The discus that was doing the tail stand thing seems to have recovered completely. He was bullying the other sick little guy so I put him back in the display tank.
The other little guy seems better, he is eating, although he's not eating very well.
He's in a 10 gal quarantine tank. Thought I'd a 50% water change, and see if that causes any improvement.
<Needs more room than this... but do keep up the water change regimen.

Discus hanging in corner, beh., hlth.  -- 5/17/10
Hi crew,
Last Monday that I moved my eight Turquoise Discus to my 240.
They all seem to be doing fine, but one hangs in one of the corners and I don't really see him eat even when the food passes right by his nose.
He seems to be the runt.
<Perhaps. But do be aware of the symptoms of worm infections, e.g., Camallanus, and also Discus Plague.>
He doesn't seem to be getting skinny, but he also doesn't seem to be growing like the rest. I also thought I saw white poop coming out of him soon after the move.
<A common symptom of Hexamita infections, treated using Metronidazole.
Prompt treatment is essential. Although contagious, it's likely latent in all farmed cichlids, and only becomes problematic under certain circumstances, typically stress, non-zero nitrate levels and/or the use of a poor quality diet. I wouldn't treat the other Discus unless they were obviously sickly. Note that Metronidazole needs a clean aquarium to work well, so remove as much organic detritus from the aquarium and filter as possible.>
Any ideas?
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Discus hanging in corner -- 5/18/10

Hi crew,
I've isolated the discus in a ten gallon bare bottom quarantine tank with a product called Parasite Clear.
<Never used this, so can't comment from personal experience.>
After I contacted you, I noticed 2 more not eating so I've included them in with the first one. The remaining 5 are really eating aggressively. The package lists the following ingredients:
The package does not state quantities.
The directions say to add one tablet per 10 gallons of water.
My question is:
How long do I need to treat these fish?
<Follow the instructions on the packaging. Doing otherwise rarely helps.>
Again, the only symptoms are not eating. Their fins are erect, not held close to their body, respiration seems normal. I mentioned that I saw white poop, perhaps I should watch for poop in the ten gallon. It shouldn't be
too difficult since it's bare bottom.
Thank you very much for your help!
<Do read the articles linked to last time. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Discus hanging in corner  5/24/10

Hi crew,
I'm happy to report that my sick discus are eating today after just 24 hours after being treated with API General Cure which contains 250mg of Metronidazole!
<Ah, good>
After 4 days treatment of Parasite Clear, I wasn't seeing any improvement.
I found another LFS about 90 miles away that still didn't have exactly what I was looking for, but better than what I was using.
I changed out all the water from the ten gallon quarantine tank, refilled with fresh water from my 240 gallon tank, added the medicine and fish at about 11:30 AM yesterday. As of 2:00 PM today all 3 fish are eating. There is still 3 more days of treatment based on the directions, but I was so excite, I wanted to share the good news!
<Thank you for doing so... and do continue to monitor water quality, do such change-outs. Cheers, BobF> 
Re: Discus hanging in corner, now FW quarantine   5/25/10

Hi crew,
I can't remember ever having fish survive a quarantine procedure. When its complete, do I just remove them from the quarantine tank and reintroduce them to the display?
<Is the standard method for freshwater fishes... Though some folks use the opportunity to run them through prophylactic dips/baths...>
Or should I do a 100% water change on the quarantine tank (using display tank water), and allow them more Time?
Thank you!
<Welcome. BobF>

Sick discus, help !!!!!!!!
Sick Discus  3/8/10

I have a sick discus and I'm pretty sure he has Hexamita he has white stringy feces and is not eating one fish make that two fish have already died the pet store gave me some Metro. But I'm not sure how to properly administer this ??? the website where I found you says soak food in 1 percent metro 1 percent of what ??? how much metro is that ??? a teaspoon tablespoon in terms of quantity I don't know ???? and what do I put some Metro in a cup and throw fish cube in it and just let it soak in the fridge??? I also read 250mg of Metro directly into the water per every 10 to 20 gallons ???? I'm greatly confused I don't anymore fish to die please help !!!!!! Thanks, Freddie Baigen
< If your discus is eating , then getting the medication into the food is the best treatment. Check the ingredients for the medicated foods at the fish store. If they don't have it then you can buy it online at Drsfostersmith.com. You can also buy the medication to add to the water directly. In the meantime I would recommend a 50% water change, clean the filters and vacuum the gravel. Organic matter seams to interfere with medications.-Chuck>

help Hexamita problem ?? Discus dis. f'   8/18/09
Hi crew,
Firstly thanks a ton for the previous times you guys have helped and the way the site is kept up. Ok have two queries...
1. My discus in a planted tank seem to have got Hexamita (seems) attaching some pics along. The fish have very good appetite and am feeding them freeze dried blood worms, freeze dried Tubifex, NLS spectrum Thera +A , NLS discs formula, NLS spectrum grow.
<None of which have medicinal value for treating Octomita/Hexamita>
Tank size is 48' * 18 * 18'. Water is changed twice weekly 30% with RO water . PH is a 6.8 mainly due to the driftwood.
Ammonia is 0. Filtration is by 2 Eheim 2217 canister filters which house sponge in one and carbon with Zeolite in another. Water temperature is kept at 28 degrees with the help of a Jager 300 watt heater. Lighting consists of
6 compact fluorescents of 30 watts each.
All the rest of the fish that include Angels
<A poor idea to mix these with Symphysodon... see WWM, books re>
and Ramirezi are thriving. the
discus do get ample of food and still are getting paper thin, with black spots or pepper on the body. There is no aggression in the tank so far. It has been up and running for the past 11 months now. Feces of the smaller discus are a little pale but not white completely. My LFS sent me
Hexamita clear medicine, as he has seen remarkable results with it . You can
check the stuff at http://www.bigfish88.com/ .
<The ingredients are not listed... little is in English...>
Would like to know if I should start giving Metrogyl
<What is this? Metronidazole hopefully>
and Nitrofuranace to the fish.
2. My 2 inch FH has a bloated stomach, is of food and sitting on the bottom of the tank. Prior to this I did see white stringy knotted feces hanging from him. Just bought this guy 10 days back. H is in a temporary tank of 36'* 18 '* 18' with two Aquael unfiltered 1000. Temp is at 30 degree PH is 7.5 ,ammonia is 0. I have done 50% and then next day 30% water change now added Metrogyl 500mg (IV form) 50 ml and Nitrofuranace to the tank as he is not eating. Have cleaned the filters also. Attaching pics f him also.
Need help.
Abhishek Singh Gaur
Adios Amigos.
<... you crashed our mail server, by sending 30 some Megs of images...
100's of Kbytes is all we allow. Follow directions... Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: help Hexamita problem ??  8/18/09
Hi Bob,
Yes Metrogyl is Metronidazole I have it in IV form of 500mg concentration.
<Ahh, so, I take it you will be injecting this... rather than hoping to administer via ingestion>
The angels were put in on request of my daughter, but they are going to the LFS as planned.
<Ah good>
Sorry about the crash caused will send the pics again.
<No need>
still waiting for a reply to my second query.
<Please see WWM (again) re Octomita... and Metronidazole... can't be just  added to the water... BobF> 

Discus with white poop - weighing options -- 06/12/09
Hello Crew,
Not long ago I got two new Stendker Discus from Discus Hans in Baltimore.
They are in an established 75 gallon tank, pH 7.6, temp 82, GH 8 degrees, ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate=10ppm. Tankmates are two other discus, a few tetras, 4 cories, and 2 small Plecos.
<I'm not wild about mixing Corydoras with Discus; with the exception of Corydoras sterbai, most traded Corydoras prefer cooler water than Discus, so one or other species ends up being stressed and has a shorter life than otherwise.>
I noticed a couple days ago that the larger of the two fish (5") became less interested in food and began spitting out the blood worms I have been feeding them. Today I noticed that the fish had a white poop coming out and had little or no interest in eating.
<Well, most fish prefer a variation of food, and will bore of any one thing. So if you're keeping Discus, it's a good idea to cycle bloodworms, brine shrimps, earthworms, daphnia, flake foods and pellets through the
week. Beef heart is an old stand-by, and you can add this to your frozen food collection, though aquarists tend to use this food sparingly rather than the as the staple that it once was. Letting fish starve for 24 hours
does them no harm at all, and often they take foods willingly afterwards that they otherwise ignored.>
I did some research on the discus forums online and of course as is the case with nearly any issue like this, there are as many different diagnoses and cures being suggested as there are people posting. I don't want to
blindly medicate the fish, but from what I read, the problem seems to either be Hexamita or intestinal worms depending on who you ask. My questions are as follows:
<Hexamita infections are quite common among tank-bred cichlids, and some argue they're ubiquitous, and merely switch from being harmless to lethal only if environmental conditions and/or diet shortcomings allow.>
1. I think hex is the more likely scenario. Do you agree, or do you think worms more likely, or do you think it would be better to medicate for both types of parasites.
<I'd go with Metronidazole first, since the copious production of pale (mucous-rich) faeces is a classic symptom of Hexamita infection.>
2. If I medicate the entire tank with Metronidazole or Praziquantel, will either of these medications affect the biological filtration of the tank?
<Used correctly, the filter should be unharmed; the one treats Protozoans, the other helminths, and neither is strongly anti-bacterial.>
3. I have not had good luck saving any other fish that I have removed to an outside tank and medicated. If I do nothing, do you think there is any chance the fish could recover on its own?
<Cichlids rarely recover from Hexamita infections on their own; it's almost always lethal unless treated early on.>
4. If I medicate the fish in a separate, uncycled tank, would I be able to use Amquel to keep ammonia in check, or would using Amquel adversely affect the potency of the medication?
<Would treat all the fish together on the assumption cross-contamination is likely, even probable.>
Thanks for your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Discus with I believe with HLLE (yep!)  11/05/08 Hi I have a 75 gal tank with 8 Discus four are the size of the picture I am sending and the remaining being silver dollar in size. Filtration is a Penguin BioWheel 350 filtered with Bio ceramic filter balls and filter cartridges w/activated carbon, second one is a whisper filter 60 gal that I use filter cartridges with. 1 airstone. Gravel1-1 1/2" deep. Artificial silk plants. Feeding is as follows: San Fran Bay Frozen Spirulina Brine shrimp, San Fran Bay frozen beef heart, Beef heart flakes, Hikari bio encapsulated w/vitamins bloodworms, Hikari microwafers, frozen plankton, omega one color flakes, omega one vitamin flakes, Tetra cichlid sticks. I dose the water with VitaChem once a week and add to frozen food. I vary the food giving flakes and frozen everyday and feed 4-5 times a day. Water parameters today are: AMM- 0, Nitrite- 0.3, PH- 7.5, temp- 85 degrees. Water changes are done once a week at 75% change with Kordon NovAqua Plus. I want to make sure this is HLLE I noticed Sunday clear matter floating around like poop but totally transparent note all fish have normal poo.  This was discovered on fish yesterday added salt and this morning it is worse can you let me if I am correct in HLLE and I've read the threads metro is what I should use. The first picture is yesterday, next two are today. <Greetings. This does indeed look very much like Head-and-Lateral-Line-Erosion, or HLLE. This disease is "caused" by one of two things, possibly working in combination, though the precise details are obscure. The Hexamita parasite is at least partially involved, and while normally associated with problems with the digestive tract (commonly observed as white, stringy feces due the excess mucous production) the parasites somehow can spread to the surface of the fish under certain situations. Once that happens they cause the sensory pits on the head and flanks to become infected and ultimately the pits decay, causing the tell-tale wounds we call Hole-in-the-Head (HITH) or HLLE, depending on where the wounds are seen. It is possible Hexamita is latent in many fish, and only under specific situations does it become a problem, and both diet and water quality seem to be extremely probable triggering factors. With cichlids, any nitrate level about 20 mg/l seems to lead to a, elevated risk of HLLE/HITH. Every cichlid I have ever seen with the disease was in an overcrowded tank or one with infrequent water changes, and this is based partly on observations of my own mistakes! Bob Fenner has also written convincingly about the appearance of HLLE/HITH in marine fish as being closely related to lack of vitamins. Herbivorous fish are particularly prone to receiving inadequate diets, and cichlids are overwhelmingly at least partially herbivorous in the wild. Even fish-eating cichlids will be consuming herbivorous fish, and in that way consuming the plant material in the guts of their prey. Tinned peas, Spirulina flake and cooked spinach are usually taken by even the most carnivorous cichlids. So while the immediate treatment is Metronidazole, long term you need to review water quality and diet, and see if there's anything there you can improve. Cheers, Neale.>

Ick, FW... Discus incl.  -03/27/08 Hello, I have discus and cardinal tetra in a 44 gallon tank. The tetras have the ich white spots. As soon as I noticed them I raised the tank temperature to 82-84 removed the carbon filter and treated with Rid-Ich. After several days and treatments the ich was still on them. I then did a 50% water change and began treating with super ich treatment. The discus appeared to be stressed so after two days put filter back in and did water change. Cardinals still have white spots but not noticeable on Discus. What can I use to get rid of the Ich and not harm or stress the discus? Any assistance you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Susan <Hi Susan. There's really no magic to Ick medications, and when they don't work, it's either because the disease was misidentified (e.g., it's Velvet, not Ick) or else the medication was used improperly (e.g., wrong concentration, without removing carbon, etc.). So check these things; it's easy to make mistakes. Next up, I'd recommend trying alternate brands of medication. I've found some medications much less effective than others in some instances. I'm not a huge fan of raising the temperature when using copper/formalin medications IF the Ick problem is being dealt with early on. The standard operating temperature for Discus is around 28C/82F, and that should be ample warmth to speed the Ick life cycle to under a week. Raising the temperature makes more sense with coldwater/subtropical fish where the life cycle takes longer. Because Ick damages the gill membranes, the combo of high temperature (= low oxygen) coupled with the Ick damage can lead to breathing problems for the fish. In any case, removing carbon shouldn't be causing distress to your fish. If you have so much organic material being dumped into the aquarium that the water turns nasty within a few days, you have bigger problems than Ick! Seriously, carbon plays no particularly useful role in freshwater aquaria so I wouldn't bother with it. Do always check that "modules" in filters don't have hidden carbon sachets. Carbon exists in the hobby primarily as a way for manufacturers to extract cash from consumers, and they love to build in carbon (costs pennies) into filters to force inexperienced consumers to buy new carbon modules every month. Almost every time I've experienced or been told about Ick medication not working, it's been because there was carbon somewhere in the system. Cheers, Neale.>

Discus plague   3/5/08 Dear sirs, I am a discus keeper from Macedonia. I have been keeping discus fish for many years very successfully. Recently, I made a huge mistake in keeping discus. I have a 450l tank with all equipment needed. I kept my fish at 86F, performed regular water changes and everything was perfect. <Very good.> A week ago I went to a local pet store seeing a new discus imported fish from Asia. I could not resist the fish colour and I bought two new fish for my tank. I owned six semi-adult discus in my tank which were a good size of 15cm in diameter. I made a disastrous mistake of introducing the new fish in my tank without putting the new ones in quarantine first. <Uh-oh...!> I had a severe outbreak of Discus Plague in my tank. All my fish get sick with symptoms of darkening of their colour, hiding in the corner of the tank with clamped fins and finally swimming in disoriented way. <Could be 'Discus Plague' but do remember: many other diseases cause the same symptoms. A lot of people blame Discus Plague, but unless you are a microbiologist or a vet, actually confirming that Discus Plague is to blame is impossible. So you must be broad minded. Check water chemistry and water quality. Think about other disease-causing organisms that could be to blame, such as Hexamita. Toxic chemicals can also cause similar problems; for example paint fumes. Also check the behaviour of other fish in the tank. Loricariid catfish such as Plecs for example will sometimes decide to suck on the mucous on the side of the Discus. Needless to say this causes intense stress, and a stressed Discus is not a healthy Discus! So be sensible and look at the big picture rather than *assuming* it is Discus Plague.> The new two fish were not so inflicted so I returned them to the store. After few days of fighting with the virus I decided to stop my fish from misery. Now I only have my albino and long fin albino Bristlenose Plecos in my tank and I am continuing to perform massive water changes to clean the tank from the reminders of the virus. My Plecos did not get ill as they are not inflicted with the discus diseases. Can Plecos carry the disease? <Unlikely; but I wouldn't keep Plecs with Discus anyway for the reason mentioned above.> I am planning to reintroduce a new discus fish in my tank as the tank is without any discus now. How long would last to be safe to put new fish in the tank? <I would tend to remove all the fish if possible, and run a course of anti-protozoan medications and then a course of anti-bacteria medications. While doing this, remember to keep adding occasional pinches of fish food so the filter bacteria have something to "eat".> Should I medicate the tank with something before introducing new group of fish? <I would, yes.> Thank you in advance for your answer. Yours Igor! <Hope this helps, Neale.>

SICK Discus PLEASE ANSWER ASAP!  1/14/08 Sick Discus Just got some discus from an online place. They got here and after a day, one has a pimple on it and the one next to it looks like a "c" shape. I am thinking some kind of worm. I started to treat with tetracycline (suggestion from place I bought them from at 1/2 the dose) and now I think I need to switch to Praziquantel since that will kill flukes (they're breathing fast) and these worms. QUESTION..... I did a 1/2 dose of tetracycline yesterday and I was wondering with a 50% water change, could I put in the Praziquantel. Or should I use something to take it out of the water? I have the temp at 92 to speed up the cycle. They are not really eating like they were yesterday. It was 88 then. I read that 93 is like the magic number for discus disease. Please advise..... Can I combine the two, or can I just forget the tetra. and start the Prazi after a 50% water change. BTW these are National fish Pharmaceutical products..... really good stuff! Thanks! < Hopefully you have them in a quarantine tank. I think 92 F is way too high. At that temperature the water can almost carry no oxygen at all. This could account for the heavy breathing and the lack of appetite. I would drop the water temp down to 83 F. If they are breathing normal you might think twice about the Praziquantel. If it still looks like a bacterial infection I would recommend the tetracycline only if they are in soft water. The minerals in the water sometimes affect this medication. Another medication to consider would be Nitrofurazone. If they are suffering from Hole-In-The-Head I would start treating with Metronidazole.-Chuck>
Sick Discus Part II - 1/17/08
Hi, I talked to Brian Aukes, PHD who is at National Fish Pharmaceuticals on line and sent pictures. < You never sent any photos to WWM.> He identified it as Chilodonella. <<W/o microscopic examination? RMF>> < This is easily cured using salt but is usually seen on koi or goldfish.> He also said what you said and I am lowering the temp to 86 F. 83 F is too low for babies anyhow. This tank is NEW so it is a QT tank and display ALL IN ONE. I have had my 150 gallon as a reef, so you don't need to tell me about QT! lol! You never answered the most important question and that was if tetracycline and Quinine Sulfate (which is in the family of metro) can be mixed and the answer I got from Brian was no. < I actually recommended two other medications that I have used together.> I did a 25% water change, am lowering the temp (yes I know, over a few days) and put in carbon for 24 hours before I start with the Quinine Sulfate. He said Metro would work as well, but suggested I use the Quinine since there were few things going on. Problem I have is I had read about that 93 F and it always worked before but you have a TON of aeration. Brian told me that the discus females become sterile at that temp! I was glad my females were not here yet! Sheesh! I would like to ring the neck of the idiot who wrote that article! Well Brian to the rescue again! GUY IS GREAT!!!! < Hopefully this treatment will work for your discus.-Chuck.>
Sick Discus Part III - 1/17/08
Just found out that 93 will NOT KILL FEMALE EGGS! IN FACT, that temp was keeping a plague like disease from getting worse! So I am BACK UP TO 93! How do I know? I talked with Gabe at Jack Wattley! Finally, someone who can give me correct advice! He said to get rid of the Quinine Sulfate since it is a poison and use Paraguard. I have to do 3 30% water changes over the next 3 days and then put in carbon for 48 hours before I put in the Paraguard. This morning they ALREADY look better!!!!! Gabe told me that discus will die at 100 degrees and their brains will cook before their eggs will. You know I raised a blue diamond pair in 93F for 3 weeks when they were babies and NOT eating. That grew them out, and GUESS WHAT? They laid FERTILIZED TAN EGGS when they became adults. So my common sense and intuition were correct. So PLEASE take off that 93 will kill the discus egg comment! That is wrong. Like Gabe said, don't you think if that was the case that breeders would do that to eliminate competition???? YEP I DO! 93 F is FINE IF you have tons of aeration, which I now do. PLUS, with a planted tank, you WILL have more oxygen anyhow. So I am going back to my original 93F plan, since I have done this over and over and cured any disease that EVER popped up over the last 2 years. Yes, I have plenty of aeration, since that is just common sense. The reason they are breathing heavy was more from the disease, since their breathing did NOT slow down that much when I lowered the temperature. So, if someone reads this, and you are the one who wrote that 93F cures it all article, THANK YOU and I apologize for listening to those who do not BREED for a living! Take care you guys!!! < Write back after you fish are cured.-Chuck>
Re: SICK Discus PLEASE ANSWER ASAP! 1-22-08 Heated Up Discus Doing Better
Well Chuck, You said to email you when they are all better, and all (except one baby and one adult) have gotten their brightness back, swimming around and eating. EVEN the baby and one adult are both eating and lightening up from almost a black-blue color, so I will LEAVE my tank at 93 (temp shows 91.2, but all 4 heaters are at 93) for 2 more weeks and continue STRONG aeration. This is the 2nd day I have added Paraguard from Seachem and the 2 sickest are responding like I said. So that is really exciting and I am very happy for them! < Glad to hear that your fish are doing better.> My philosophy is "Lets not assume we have THE answer" but to always be open to suggestions. This is how we learn. Do not condemn an idea that is different or that we are unfamiliar with. < When people write WWM they are seeking advice on a situation with their aquatic organisms. Recommendations by WWM crew members are given based on the info received. In your particular situation you sent a few descriptive lines about some marks on the forehead of your discus, with no photos attached. These recommendations are based on first hand experience or at least by published literature and studies. Your fish belong to you and you are free to treat them as you see fit. You are not required to follow this advice. Nobody here has condemned anyone for trying something new.> (I am sure in the early centuries they thought they were right about blood-letting for sick people that ultimately killed them!) We also have to follow our instinct. We cannot assume the person who is writing for advice is stupid and does not understand the oxygen to temperature correlation, (like you guys did to me) but guess what, if the PH <pH> is lower, there is more oxygen in the water ANYHOW. And yes, more frequent water changes are needed during that time, I know. I do not like being attacked when I need advice. < Nobody ever gets attacked at WWM for seeking assistance. We simply point out concerns and possible side effects from some treatments. Not everyone knows all this info so it is simply pointed out. We do this not only for your benefit, but for the benefit of all the aquarists online reading your question and the answer on WWM. This way everybody learns.> I do hours of research before EVER write to WWM. But I cannot say that I will again after this. < Apparently you didn't find what you were looking for after all those hours because you still ended up asking for advice. Based on the little info provided you were given a very reasonable treatment recommendation. This was not the only treatment but one that has had some success for aquarists in the past.> My first instinct was to hike the temp to 93F for 3 weeks and add Metronidazole and Focus (1:5 ratio) from Seachem to the food. Funny, that is what is working now, after all the OTHER advice I got and temperature manipulation, adding this and that to the water didn't have any effect...... UGH! AND BTW you can use metro/focus in food in a marine/reef tank too without stressing your fish out in a QT. Surprise, I do not believe in stressing a fish out that is already sick (using a QT tank) when I can just FEED it medicine that will not hurt the reef OR the biologicals in the tank. I had an anemone EAT the food with that on it and he was fine. (of course I called Seachem and they assured me it would be fine) FYI for everyone, Paraguard (Seachem) is up there with the metro for curing problems and CAN be added to a PLANTED tank too which is a GREAT piece of knowledge to have! So 93F for 2 or 3 weeks is my solution and my discus don't die. Again, adding aeration and water changes is a no brainer. I hope someone who is struggling with their sick discus will read this and try that. I read a LONG article on that method, and the person who wrote it was well versed and obviously would not put a suggestion that would kill fish. You would just DIE if you know how I kept my reef/marine tank for the past 3 years..... btw, no one died, got sick and the corals GREW........ I should charge money for this information. < Don't give up your day job.> And no, it was not frequent water changes. I will not tell you since you will probably say I am wrong and this and that. But my success speaks for itself. I do have to thank Bob Fenner, who, in the past was ALWAYS kind and not thinking he was the fish god. Bob has always been non accusatory, but who knows who will answer my emails if I have a question. No one likes being attacked. < Bob will appreciate you kind words about him.-Chuck><<Perhaps a lesser deity. RMF>>

Sick Discus worms or bacterial infection? -- 10/28/07 Dear Wet web media <Ben> I have a 1200l discus community tank and one of my larger discus has started to get thin or indented on its sides however the forehead is still pronounced with no hollow. <Mmm, could be trouble for all> I pretty sure am going to need to catch the fish and treat it in isolation but am not sure weather <Whether... homonym> to treat it for worms or for some type of internal bacterial infection, there is no other signs of anything else on this fish apart from very slight loss of colour. <Mmmmm> The fish is still eating fairly well which makes me think worms however there are no sign of worms protruding out of the body and i had wormed the tank 4 weeks ago, my water is at 29.5, 6.6 and test are all zero Best Regards Ben <Well... how was the system "wormed"? The behavior might well be just resultant from this exposure... I would NOT be so swift to remove the one fish... Bob Fenner>

Treating Discus with Ich - 8/14/07 Hi Crew, <Hi Greg, Pufferpunk here> I apologise for the long email up front. <It's ok, we need to know what's going on & how you've been treating.> I am having a bit of a problem getting rid of White Spot (Ich) from my well planted low-tech 6x2x2 Discus & community aquarium. The tank has been up and running for seven months and was fully cycled after three months. From day 1 the temp was set at 30C (approx 86F) and I didn't have any problems at all with disease etc, but Ich must have been in the tank somewhere as when I recently lowered the temp down to 28C (approx 82F) to help the plants grow I suddenly had an outbreak of Ich that I am having problems getting rid of it. <That's your problem right there. Discus' immune systems are compromised at lower temps. Never mind the fact that ich dies off mush faster at higher temps (86-88 F).> So far I've had four 'attacks' against the Ich as follows: 1st Attack - I used 'Rapid Ich Remedy' which contained Formalin and Malachite Green, followed instructions as per the bottle (5mL per 20L = approx 150mL per dose) on days 1, 4 and 7 which cleared the Ich for about a week, then it came back. 2nd Attack - I again used 'Rapid Ich Remedy' following instructions as per the bottle (5mL per 20L = approx 150mL per dose) in terms of dose rate but I dosed on days 1, 4, 7, 10 and 13 which again cleared the Ich for about a week, then it came back. 3rd Attack - I used Waterlife's 'Protozin' (the double strength version) which I assume also contains Formalin and Malachite green as it looks & smells the same as the 'Rapid Ich Remedy' medication, followed instructions on the bottle (2.5mL per 75L = approx 25mL per dose) on days 1, 2, 3 and 6. This again cleared the Ich for about a week, then it came back yet again. 4th Attack (currently I'm on day 4 of this 'attack' & I'm getting desperate)... I'm again using Waterlife's 'Protozin' in combination with an Anti-Parasite medication for fish ponds (made by Interpet) which contains Formalin. I'm dosing as follows (don't freak out): A 13 day attack plan, where I'm dosing the Pond Anti-Parasite medication (25mL per 1,100L = approx 15mL per dose) on days 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7 at 7:00AM and I'm also dosing Protozin (2.5mL per 75L = approx 25mLs per dose) on days 1,2,3,4,5,7,9,11 and 13 at 7:00PM i.e. each medication for the first 7 days is 12 hours apart. Note: I'm not performing any water changes during treatment but I usually change 20% of the water twice per week. Bad idea! Discus need 90% weekly water changes. During ich outbreaks, 80% every other day is necessary to remove the free-swimming parasite from the water column. It shouldn't be necessary to treat ich with any meds at all. High temps & 2tbsp salt/10gallong should be sufficient, along with large bi-daily water changes. Using all those different meds are just making the ich stronger & the discus weaker.> I figure the 4th attack will either kill the Ich, and/or kill (and probably permanently preserve) the fish with all that formaldehyde, or perhaps the Ich and the Fish will survive and I'll likely give up and accept that I am stuck with Ich for the rest of this tanks life. I guess I could get rid of all the plants and fish except the Discus and then raise the temp up to 31 or 32 degrees C (approx 89F), as I figure the Ich will not cause too many problems at this temp for Discus. However I really don't want to go back to running my tank above 30 degrees C (approx 86F) as the plants (mostly Amazon swords, Ambulia and Water Sprite) don't like the higher temps at all, as everything looks and grows much better at 28C. I really like having a planted Discus aquarium and since all the fish get along so well its a shame to have to give into this single celled monster! <I have a fully planted discus tank. I don't use any of the plants you have listed. All my plants are also low-light species. Right now, I have many species of Crypts, Anubias, Java fern & Crinum. See: http://www.aquariumplants.com/Warm_Water_Discus_Plants_s/20.htm Many plants require CO2 supplementation (which I don't use). In addition, I add Yamato Green weekly (www.yamatogreen.com) & poke Jobe's Spikes under their roots, every 6 months.> Now you may be wondering how everything has held up through these multiple attacks against the Ich? Well during all the treatments so far I have not noticed any effect whatsoever on my biological filtration (no measurable NH3 or NO2) but then again the plants may well be taking care of NH3, NO2 and NO3 as they are still growing just fine through all of this. <Anti-parasitic meds do not harm biological filtration.><<Mmm, I would NOT make this statement. Many compounds sold as such definitely WILL affect, stall nitrification... directly and/or indirectly. RMF>> Even all the fish (including the supposedly fragile Cardinal & Rummy Nose Tetras) don't even seem to notice that they are being medicated at all, which makes me wonder if the medications are being negated by the plants or perhaps by something else? Like I said my 4th attack is quite brutal and I'm likely to suffer losses but I'm prepared to do almost anything to get rid of this stubborn Ich once and for all. Maybe I need to increase the dose rate? Maybe I need to try NaCl and raise the temp? <Now you're thinking in the right direction!> I have an 80L quarantine tank that I use for all new fish but it is not big enough to move all the fish in there for separate treatment. The QT is usually set at 30C and all fish that go through it get nuked by Multi-Cure (basically Methylene Blue, Malachite Green and Formalin) and then I watch them for a minimum of two weeks (total of a 3 week stay in QT) before fish are transferred into the main 6x2x2 display tank. I've never lost any fish apart from the odd Cardinal or Rummy nose using this method but I find them rather delicate at the best of times when purchased from the LFS - they always look starved! In case you need to know the tank is setup as follows: 6x2x2 glass aquarium with approx 600L of water 1x Eheim 2228 canister filter 1x Aqua One 2450 canister filter (UV-C is off during treatment) 1x air stone running 24/7 Temp at 28C (approx 82-83F) pH = 7.4 Hard tap water (treated with a double dose of Prime during each WC) 10 healthy young Discus (see attached photos) 5 Black Neon Tetras 12 Cardinal Tetras 15 Rummy Nose Tetras 5 SAEs 3 BNs 2 Sterbai Cory Catfish 4 Kuhlii Loaches Well planted (actually the plants are growing really well even throughout the treatment - see attached photos taken 3 days ago for reference) <Sounds/looks like a lovely tank! Lighting?> Any suggestions on what I'm doing wrong or what I can do to win this battle would be appreciated... thanks Crew! <Try my suggestions above. The plants may not be strong enough at this point to handle the treatment but I think the fish are worth the risk. ~PP> Regards, Greg Simpson Perth, Western Australia

Re: Treating Discus with Ich (or neons in this case)... actually Cardinals...  Poor Advice... 8/15/07 Thanks for your quick reply Pufferpunk! <Sure!> It's actually not the Discus that seem to be effected by the Ich, it's the Cardinals! <That's what I get for assuming...> After a few weeks it's like they are slowly being sprinkled with salt and they 'flick' against the stems of plants (classic Ich symptoms in my opinion). I guess the poor Cardinals are feeling poorly from the anti-parasite medications and thus cannot resist the Ich as much as the stronger fish. <Yes, I believe so many meds will actually weaken the fish's immune system.> What about Copper based treatments? I hear copper can be quite effective too. <Copper is very effective but extremely dangerous, especially on weakened fish or used incorrectly. You could try a saltwater dip on them but they are so tiny!><<RMF would NOT SW dip small S. American Characins>> I guess after round 4 of my 'attacks' I'll try the higher temp & salt combination as round 5. <I think this is your best bet. Don't forget to do huge water changes every other day, trying to clean the substrate (as best you can with the plants), to remove the free-swimming parasites.> If that fails Copper based meds might be round 6. I hope this does not turn out to be a 12 round fight! I've kept tropical fish for 24 years and have never had such an issue with disease as I have this time around. I've had Ich before in smaller/less planted tanks and usually after a basic Ich treatment it's resolved for good. I must have a bad/resistant strain of it!!!! <Add Melafix to heal the wounds from the parasite boring into the fish. Good luck, let me know how it goes. I'm sure there is tons of info on ich treatment at WWM. You can also read this: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/fwich/ ~PP><<This citation has NOTHING to do w/ FW ich treatment... RMF>> Regards, Greg


No New Fish. So, where did the Ick come from?    6/24/07 Hello, <<Hi, Neil. Tom here.>> I've just discovered your website and am thoroughly impressed. It appears to be the one-stop-shopping site for all, or most, of my aquarium related research! <<I thank you for all of us, Neil.>> My question is this - In my planted discus tank, I have absolutely not added anything in this tank for over a month. It's a fairly new setup (46 Bowfront running since 4/21/2007). The plants and fish are thriving. I have 5 discus, all of which will eat right out of my hand. The tank also houses 4 Red Serpae Tetras (cycled the tank), 3 Corys, 3 Otos and a Clown Loach (snail control). The discus were the last fish added. The plants were present from day 1. <<All sounds nice, Neil, though I'm, admittedly, a fan of 'fishless cycling'.>> Last night, I noticed about a dozen cysts on one of my Discus. His behavior hasn't changed, he's not flashing or scratching, still has a good appetite. I'm baffled as to where the ick came from. I'm not a believer in the "there is always ick present in the aquarium, just waiting for a viable host" theory. <<Sounds like your fish is far more tolerant than most, Neil. As for the 'theory' you mention, you're quite right in not believing it. Ick is not 'ever-present'. It must be introduced via fish, plant life or even 'transport' water. Quarantine, quarantine, quarantine!>> Would any of you have any possible suggestions as to how this could have happened? I don't feed any live foods whatsoever. Just freeze dried Bloodworms, Brine shrimp Tubifex and Flakes. All Hikari. Also, frozen Bloodworms, Brine shrimp and Mysis. Also Hikari. Other than that, I'm baffled! <<While it seems, at first, to fly in the face of logic, Neil, realize that it only takes one parasite to start the ball rolling. One lousy, little single-cell parasite. In colder conditions such as those you might find in a pond setting or Goldfish tank, for instance, the life-cycle of this parasite can take weeks rather than days. Additionally, let's consider that a weak strain of Ick -- there are more than one -- might not reproduce enough 'strong' tomites (juveniles) to make an infestation immediately obvious. It's only in the mature Trophont, or 'feeding' stage, that the parasite is visible to the naked eye and, even then, it presupposes that the parasite has infested the animal(s) where it can be seen, i.e. on the body as opposed to the gills where it might not be readily 'caught' by the aquarist. Now, add in that a large, heavily-planted tank may make it somewhat difficult to observe each and every fish closely on a daily basis and something can 'slip through'. Sure, the possibility that I'm offering is hypothetical in its nature but it's based on the fact that, somewhere along the line, the little 'baddies' were introduced into the tank and, more plausibly, probably with your Discus if only because they were the last added.>> Thank you! Neil D'Ambrosio Jackson, NJ <<Whatever treatment you undertake, Neil, remember not to cut it short. Continue treatment for three days after all signs of Ick are gone. You don't want to go through this twice. Best of luck to you. Tom>>
Re: No New Fish. So, where did the Ick come from? (update)
  8/5/07 This message is for Tom as a follow-up to our exchange about 1 month ago: Hi Tom, Neil from Jackson NJ again. Thought I'd provide some updates to our previous exchange. <<Hi, Neil. Good to hear back from you.>> I'll start with the Red Mellon discus with the long, white stringy feces and no appetite. As you may recall, I was treating him/her in my QT with Fish Zole (Metronidazole) and was 2/3 through the treatment. <<I do recall, Neil.>> Well, that was my 1st experience with that medication and I must say it worked as advertised. <<Satisfying when something works as advertised, isn't it? :) >> The Red Mellon is a little eating machine now. Always coming to the top of the tank whenever I enter the room. His appetite has improved 100% and he actually looks like he's grown some. Interestingly enough, the first food I was able to get him to eat was Hikari freeze-dried Tubifex. I soak 1 cube in warm water and keep tapping at it with an eye dropper until it completely falls apart into individual "strings". I know there are many articles warning against the use of Tubifex. However, I'm a big fan of Hikari products - both frozen and freeze dried. I then just squirt some of the worms into the water column and most of my fish go wild on this. I feed the same way with Hikari frozen blood worms. <<Part (most?) of the warnings against Tubifex, as you know, really stems from where these little critters are cultivated, or at least where they've been cultivated in the past, and what they can potentially harbor. Hikari irradiates the worms, in freeze-dried form anyway, to eliminate the concerns of contaminating the tank, however, so that's certainly good news. (These worms must really be "yummy" since I've yet to hear about a fish that didn't like them.)>> The Paraguard treatment worked very well in my show tank as well. You may recall I was treating another discus in my show tank for what appeared to be Ick. This product worked well, with no apparent harm to my live plants nor my Clown Loach, Corys or Red Serpaes. The Ick went away after about 7 days of treatment and has not reappeared since. <<Can't ask for more than that, Neil.>> About 1 week ago, another of my discus in my show tank appeared with a long stringy feces the color and consistency of aquarium sealant! This was one of the toughest, more dominant of my discus. When he refused food, I knew he was sick. I raised the temperature gradually to around 87 degrees and this time used Seachem Metronidazole. I tried this brand since it comes in a fine powder instead of pill form (Fish Zole). <<Okay.>> I used the same regiment - 250mg/10 gallons every other day for 3 days with a ~35% water change in between treatments. He began to look a bit better after about 3 days but was still not eating. I tried all kinds of food but he would just chase after it, take it in, then spit it out. Finally, I tried frozen Daphnia and that did the trick. He's been inhaling it every day since. He's now taking flakes and some freeze dried Tubifex as I described above. I haven't seen the "Aquarium Sealant" feces in 2 days so far. He's back to his old self chasing other Discus around during feeding time! <<You're getting very good at this, Neil. I'm happy to hear about the fine results you've been having.>> I feel a great sense of accomplishment since I've only been keeping Discus since May of this year. I've learned so much by reading many books, magazine articles and from internet sites such as this one. I appreciate that a real person takes the time to reply to my messages - and in a timely manner! <<We give it our best shots when it comes to answering in a timely fashion, Neil. Every one of us realizes how frustrating and discouraging it can be to have a sick pet, or a 'sick' tank, and not get the information we need to do something about it quickly. Sometimes, the solution itself can be time consuming so we try to get back to our readers/writers as fast as we can.>> I do have some really interesting things to share and was wondering if there was some way for me to submit articles on this website? <Oh yes. RMF> As a newbie to Discus, I would like to focus my attention on other newbies who I'm sure are experiencing the same stress and anxiety that I have. I have also discovered some helpful hints on filter media and maintenance that may help some fellow hobbyists save some money without sacrificing water quality or the health of their livestock. <<Direct your correspondence regarding this to Bob Fenner. Bob's always open to well-written, informative and pertinent material. Might be that you've got something he'd be interested in helping you develop for print.>> Well, I think I've written much too much this time. However, I hope this information can help others who are stressing over which medication to use and when to use it - much in the same way that I did! <<First-hand information is always valuable to us/others, Neil. Your experiences might shed some light where other sources have failed. I encourage you share what you have with Bob and be guided accordingly.>> Thanks again for listening! Neil D'Ambrosio Jackson, NJ <<It's an easy 'listen', Neil. Thanks for writing back and sharing your successes with me and the rest of our readers. My best to you. Tom>>

Hole in the Head on Discus/plant questions  4/17/04 Hi Crew, <Hi Eric , Pufferpunk here> Thanks for your past help and running a great site. <You're very welcome!> I am hoping you can give me some advice with this issue. I have a 72 gallon FW heavily planted tank housing 26 cardinal tetras, 1 Ram, 2 Otos, and 3 captive bred discus (about 3' lengthwise). All were added over the space of a few months, quarantined and prophylactically treated (I have to look up the protocol if you it is needed) for 2-4 weeks. The filter is a Aquaclear 110 running with Zeolite, peat moss in pantyhose, carbon and sponge. <I don't think this is enough filtration for that tank.  On tanks larger than 50g, I would add a canister like an Eheim.> Everything is changed about once a month and the sponge is cut in half so only half is changed at a time. The heater is not on since the ambient temp plus heat from the lamps (220w PC run for 2 bulbs on 12 hrs/ the other two only on for 6) keeps the water between 76 and 78 deg F (cooler end at night). <Discus need to be kept at much higher temps: 84-86 degrees.> There are a bunch of Malaysian trumpet snails and some type of small snail that looks more typical and hitchhiked on plants (I don't mind since they leave my plants alone as long as I drop in some Spirulina every now and then).  I usually try to do a 20-25% water change every two weeks but with a new baby its hard. <Discus need 90% weekly water changes.  Discus breeders do 100% daily!> Since the tank is lightly stocked and heavily planted the parameters stay good anyways. My latest param.s are (nighttime) -- pH 6.6, total Ammonia -- 0, KH -- 3 dKH, 6 dGH, nitrates -- 0, nitrites -0, phosphates 1 mg/L. I dose Seachem Excel and Flourish once a week and add Seachem Acid buffer at water changes (tap water here is soft, but the Tahitian Moon sand contrary to their statements raised my pH and hardness). <Parameters sound good but there are things we can't test for in our tanks.  Tank-raised discus don't need all those pH lowering additives.  They are born into normal tap water.  I use none of this & only add Prime during water changes.  Carbon really isn't necessary either.  I wonder if you are getting pH swings?>   Now here are my questions: One of discus (they were purchased in early December and quarantined for 3-4 weeks) has developed what I think is Hole in the Head. At first it looked like an enlarged nare but now I see that it has enlarged further and deepened. It doesn't exhibit any other signs or symptoms that I am aware of. It eats fine (I feed a mixture of live blackworms, fruit flies, flakes, frozen assortment, which is thawed under running water first) and pellets and still keeps its rank in the pecking order. I have read on your site and others that some think that HITH is caused by poor water quality and others think it is a bacterial infection (I believe that it is probably a combination, no?). <Actually a parasite.  Poor water conditions lower a fish's immune system, making it more susceptible to disease.> I have read all kinds of treatment suggestions from Maracyn to Melafix (which I doubt has any value). <I swear by Melafix for minor bacterial problems, scratches, small wounds & frayed fins.  Definitely helps quicken the healing, along with stronger meds for worse problems.  HITH is a parasite--flagellate protozoa, called Hexamita.  Treatment: Adding a chemical to kill the Hexamita (Flubendazole, eSHa - Hexamita, Waterlife - OCTOZIN, Seachem - Metronidazole CLOUT, Fluke-Tabs, Aquatronics - Hex-a-mit, etc.) and secondary bacterial infection (Melafix).> I just did a water change and pruned out a bunch of overgrown Java moss and shook out some of the rest and a bunch of sediment came out but my param.s were fine before the water change so I don't know if that is the problem. Anyway, my dilemma is do I just sit and watch right now? <Could get worse.> Do I quarantine and treat? <I'd treat the whole tank.  Parasites can be contagious.  Anti-parasitic meds & Melafix will not harm your biological filtration.> I am afraid of stressing the fish out but on the other hand, I can't treat the whole tank and anyways none of the other fish are exhibiting any problems. Do I add some kind of vitamin supplement to its food (I saw that recommended here)? If so, how and what do I add? <I soak all my fish's foods (even live blackworms) with Zoe vitamins. A lot of folks believe this parasite comes from feeding live foods, especially live worms.  I have been feeding live worms to all my fish for years but I  check the batch at the LFS, before it's bagged up.  If there are a lot of dead worms, I don't buy them.  I rinse well in a brine shrimp net, add 1/4" water & a few flakes, along with some drops of vitamins & let sit overnight in the refrigerator.  The next day, I pour into the net again & throw out any dead worms on the bottom of the container.  I do this daily.> I really put a lot into this tank and the fish and everything looks beautiful. It is my first attempt at discus and I would hate to lose this fish. I am looking forward to your advice. <There is nothing more beautiful & peaceful than a planted discus tank.  ~PP> Sincerely, Eric New York City
Adding to one of yesterday's answers, Discus hlth., sys.    4/19/07
Hello there Crew, <Nicole> I hope you don't mind, but I feel compelled to add to an answer. It's "Hole in the Head on Discus/plant questions  4/17/04" which was answered very adeptly by Pufferpunk. <Please do> For Eric's discus, perhaps he could try medicated flakes such as those offered by flguppiesplus? Here's a link to flakes containing Metronidazole: http://flguppiesplus.safeshopper.com/256/cat256.htm?5 <Thank you for this lead, link> I also wondered why Eric would have Zeolite for chemical filtration in his tank, instead of activated carbon or a carbon resin blend. <Me too> Probably unrelated to the HLLE his discus are experiencing, but I would still switch out that Zeolite for a bag of Chemi-Pure, if it were my setup. My thoughts on Zeolite, Ammo Chips, etc. were that these interfered with the nitrifying bacteria - however, I notice some folks use these instead of, or along with, carbon. Your thoughts? Thanks for listening! Nicole <I am in agreement. Thank you for sharing. I do hope Eric will see this... and do know that many others will over many years, and that your effort will help them and their livestock. Bob Fenner>

Discus With Parasites   1/4/07 Hello, One of my recently purchased Discus is now in my hospital tank.  It seemed to have gill flukes (clamped gill, not eating). The LFS recommended adding salt to the tank and increasing temperature.  They also recommended salt baths, which seemed to open up the gill (I did 2 in 3 days).  The fish still was not eating or behaving normally, so the LFS gave me 5 tablets of Clout to be used over five days.  When I started using this, the fish turned pale, and I noticed a lump along the end of the lateral line near the tail fin.  I'm questioning the wisdom of the treatment and if the medication induced this lump - a tumor? < Clout is a pretty good medication. I think your discus has parasites. The Clout has killed the parasite and their bodies are decomposing and causing the lump. From your description it sounds almost like a pimple. Those white blood cells look like pus and force the problem to the surface of the skin where it can be extruded from the body.> parasite? < I think the Clout killed the parasite and the discus has moved the dead parasite to the skin surface.> The fish is breathing through both gills, but is still pale and hasn't eaten for about a week, even though I try to entice it with blood worm and brine shrimp.  When undisturbed (I am doing 30% water changes daily) it swims around the tank as it would normally.   I am a novice as you can tell, but I check the water parameters closely in both tanks (the other fish are doing well).  Any idea what the lump is? Or what the paleness is caused by (Clout I'm guessing), and what I should do next? Thank you, Michaela <Get the discus eating again and keep up with the water changes. Watch the "Lump" are for signs of a secondary bacterial infection. If it gets red then treat it with Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>
Discus With Clamped Fins   1/4/07
Thank you for the information Chuck.  Since my last email to you, my discus has been clamping its pectoral fins, or at times sporadically moving them, and seemingly trying to rub itself on the side or the tank and the air stone tubing.  Could it be that all the parasites were not killed? < Discus are very sensitive to changes in the water. The treatment has stressed the fish and other things may be attacking him. The medication may have killed off the parasites but not the eggs. So the fish gets reinfected after a few days.> I have done a 50% water change today, and added another tablet of Clout.  What if after this, the last dose, my discus still doesn't look free of the parasites? <Keep up with the daily water changes and allow things to stabilize for a few days before attempting to treat again. If the fish looks like it is going to immediately die then you may need to try some desperate measures. Discus come from soft warm acidic water with no salt in it. I would back off on the salt for now.> When you mention 'get the discus eating', do you mean adding the shrimp and/or blood worms more often? < When cichlids are sick they seem to shut down and stop eating. If your discus is still eating then this is a good sign.> I have been trying twice a day, and then vacuuming it out during the water change (because the fish hadn't shown any interest in it).  What about the salt baths - was that a good idea?  Is salt a good idea now in the tank to prevent secondary infection? So many questions, so little time :o) Thank you again for your helpful information. Michaela < I would still back off on the salt for now, increase the water temp to 82 F and do %25 daily water changes. Offer the food as you have been doing but be sure to remove any uneaten food after a few minutes. Keep the fish dark so not to stress him more than needed.-Chuck>

Discus problems, poor and little useful info.   8/2/06 Hey there! <Ho there> I have an issue with my discus.... from reading your site, it appears to be white spot   <As in ich?> as he has white or lighter color patches, has darkened and hides out..... <Behavioral manifestation...> I can do the dips but currently do not have another tank to set them in to allow the other to go fallow (also there are a few Rummynose and Congo tetra in the same tank) <Mmm... not so fast...> I was given sulfathiazole for a treatment, do you think this will work?   <For?> I have raised the temp to 90, added aquarium salt (same as metal salt?) <Mmm, all salts are composed of a metal and non-metal...> and the pH is a bit high, 74, <... missing a decimal place...> I plan to add more RO water hopefully to get it down somewhat. I surely do not want to lose another discus, I have lost 1 already and have 2 other in the tank 1 with no patches and the other with TIA Denise <The markings and head-down behavior you mention are much more likely an indication of psychological stress than pathogenic disease... That is, there's something environmentally, socially "wrong" here... There is nothing offered in the way of information that gives an idea of what this might be... the size of the tank, excessive lighting, bullying by other fish, over-crowding... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusbehfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Am hopeful "something" will "jump out" in your conscious from reading here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Discus problems ... dis.   8/3/06
Thanks for the reply, sorry if I left out some info that may have helped you.. It is not like the ich I have seen, these are not small, white pimples, just flat whitish patches. <Ah, yes... I took this to be so> Starts out with one, then they get more numerous.  I recently lost two discus, one while I was away -and am quite sure the caretaker did not do anything out of the ordinary, except leave the fish in the tank..... and then lost another about a week later.  That one had one raised white spot on the side of it's head, larger than any ich I have seen, as well as the whitish patches on the side of the body, clamped fins, not eating-and he was the one that ate the best of all of the discus. <... this is starting to sound like another possibly protozoan complaint... and/or worm... internal, intestinal...> He died bout a week later.  Then another came down with one white patch, that then grew into more white patches....  His fins are not clamped and I have gotten him to eat, I just do not want to lose another discus. My other discus so far has no patches as of yet... <Your system may well be infested> The tank is a 55, planted, 1 40w light.  Also in the tank with the 2 of the 4  discus are 6 Rummynose, 4 Congo tetra, and 2 catfish. The only environmental thing may be the pH, maybe the temp got below 80, usually is about 83 <This is fine either way with the species listed> but have had the AC  on a lot lately. No excessive bullying going on in the tank that I am aware of.....   I know discus will darken, go off food for a bit etc, but the white patches on the body do not look like anything good, they are not fungus and not bloody, maybe possibly  missing scales?  all I could come up with from what I found on the forums was that is was possibly a protozoan type thing..., hence the sulfathiazole. <Sulfa drugs will not help you here> Does this help.... I could not find pictures on the web that helped me. Thanks again Bob! Denise <... You did read on WWM re Discus Health?... Please use the search tool, indices on WWM... read re Hexamita/Octamita, Camallanus, Metronidazole/Flagyl, Praziquantel... and soon. Bob Fenner>

Parasite under microscope, Discus, Hexamitiasis   7/18/06 Dear Crew   I have a simple question concerning internal parasites. I have three discus fish all are eating and active. Water parameters are all ok, temp 87, <A little high for "day to day"... I'd keep this in the 82-84 F. range> and I am using an external filter and a UV light at about 50gph flow rate. 30% water changes are made biweekly <Good> and plants are growing well. A week ago I noticed stringy feces coming from the largest discus. I have had such a symptom before with angelfish and they soon became shy, reclusive, and did not eat, even lost a little color. <Yes... commonly Octomita/Hexamita...> Not wanting to wait to treat the discus with medications till more symptoms occurred I decided to take a sample of the feces and look at it under a microscope at a lab I work in. What an experience, let me tell you. You probably already know. Well I didn't know exactly what I was looking for. I saw some bacteria, which could be just intestinal E. coli-if fish have that. <This and other...> There were Paramecium like creatures-lots of them. They had a definite posterior end and cilia for movement. They came in a variety of sizes and were concentrated in the stringy parts of the feces. I believe they were unicellular. I am not sure whether I saw any worms/flukes/the like. I did see long worm-like things but was unable to positively identify anything that would make them more than just a scratch on the slide or an oddly digested piece of food. I also thought I saw some eggs, visible with the human eye, perfectly round, red, and one partially exploded when the cover slip was placed on it, which make me wonder if this is a tubeworm infection. <Could be... as well>   Now all three of the discus have the same stringy feces with the same identifying organisms, but are eating and active. Is this a protozoa infection? <Likely so. Please see: http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&lr=&q=Hexamita&sa=N&tab=wi> or a tubeworm infection infected with Protozoans? <Not tubeworms... possibly Nematodes, other phyla...> What should I be looking for in the feces. I have started lacing food with pure metrazidole(sp?) <Close: Metronidazole/Flagyl> as I would rather treat while they are still eating then later when they are not. But obviously better to not treat when treatment is not necessary. Since the directions of the metrazidole said, "impossible to overdose" I treated. Should I keep treating? What else should I do? <Is very easy to "overdose"... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm and the linked files above>   I am feeding a rotation of bloodworms, brine shrimp, beef heart, and veggie stuff. Would any of these introduce internal parasites?   Sincerely   Clifford <Mmm, no... This/these problems are "imported" with new fish livestock almost invariably... Hence the call for careful quarantine... Bob Fenner>

Sick Discus... hypochondria in the display tank    3/29/06 Hello, <Kurt> I love your site and have spent many hours searching.  Most of what I have learned I learned here! I have a problem in my planted tank.  It is a 90 gallon planted tank with 4 Wattley discus (adults) and some compatible community fish (rummy nose tetra, gold nugget Pleco, blue rams).  The tank has been set up for about 3 years and has been problem free for a long time.  I use RO water and some tap water for water changes and change 30% twice weekly. Temp is 85, PH is 6.5, No ammonia or nitrite.  Only the Discus are having a problem. <Okay> For the last week or so, the discus have shown signs of external parasite. Dark color, white dry looking skin, scratching etc...  Until today they have been eating fine.  Still eating some just not much. I treated for 4 days with Quick Cure (35 drops in my 90 gallon tank) water change daily. <In your main tank? Toxic... Do keep your eye on ammonia, nitrite... the formalin in the QuickCure will kill off your nitrifiers...> Still not better so I did large water change and treated with 4 teaspoons Prazi pro.  The next day my blue diamond was looking worse again so I assumed it was because I stopped the Quick Cure treatment.  For the last 2 days I have been treating with Paraguard 40ml in 90 gal. tank with daily water changes.  I also dipped the blue diamond (sickest fish) for 1 hr. in 1 gallon water and 3ml ParaGuard yesterday.  No improvement yet? Could I have another problem? <Yes...> Should I be doing something different? <Of a certainty, yes> Should I continue with this treatment? <I would not. Too toxic, too shot-gun in its approach> They do not show any white stringy feces like with Hexamita. Please help!  I don't want to lose these fish or kill my plants. Thank you! Kurt Will <... do you have a microscope? A relationship with a local store that does and knows how to look for parasites? You may just have an environmental complaint.... assuredly though, if you keep pouring these chemicals into your main tank, all will be dead. You need to accurately diagnose what the root cause/s of the problem are here, and treat the mal-affected fish/es elsewhere. The life in the main system is absorbing, reducing the treatment efficiency of what you're pouring in. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Discus - 03/29/06
Thanks for your response. <Welcome> Since writing to you I have talked to Gabe Pasoda at Jack Wattley discus. <Good> He advised that my initial treatment with Quick cure was too weak of a dose (35 drops in my 90 gallon).  I did that due to the tetra's. <Mmm, agreed to both of you... but am still opposed to using Malachite and/or Formalin in an established biological system...> Yesterday I dosed 75 drops (after 30% water change) and today am seeing some improvement. So far tetra's OK.  I think I will dose again with quick cure for another day or so and watch closely. <... Do monitor your nitrogen cycling, accumulation... there is going to be trouble...>   I don't have a microscope and my LFS while great people are not discus experts. I do have a quarantine tank however it currently has a new possible pair of discus being quarantined before introducing to my main tank.  This is the main reason for treating my display tank.  Also, wouldn't the parasites remain in the tank and cause problems again in the future if I didn't treat it? <Depending on the cause/pathogen, allowing such systems to operate sans fish hosts ("fallow") weakens or starves such agents generally> I am not one to just pour in the chemicals for no reason.  I maintain my tank very meticulously and do my water changes like clockwork. <Good to read/understand>   I am watching very closely while I medicate and am prepared for large water changes if I see any sign of distress. <Ah, very good> Thanks again, Kurt <Thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Discus  3/30/06
Thanks again Bob, My Discus are looking much happier this afternoon.  I think one more day and I will be in good shape again.  I appreciate your help and advise. Kurt Will <And I your follow-up. Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Discus problem  - 03/05/06 Hello! One of my discus is suffered from internal parasites. He is releasing a white string like thing. This thing is about two inches long. But my discus cannot release it. More than two hours have been past but he is still trail by that (which I think is a worm). I am treating him with Metronidazole. <I would try an anti-worm treatment here as well... Praziquantel would be my first choice> Today, I have raised the temperature to 32 centigrade and also increased the amount of medicine. I have 28 gallon tank and now it is containing 500 mg of medicine. -How can I help my discus? -Can I remove that worm by myself? <I would not> Please, suggest a medicine which I can get from a medical store. My local aquarium shops do not have such medicines which contains Flubenol, etc (other discus specific treatments). Thank you in advance. <See WWM, the Google search tool... with the term "worm disease treatments". Bob Fenner>

Reef and Discus questions   2/22/06 Hello, all, I appreciate the wealth of information that is available on this site. I hope you can help me fill in a few holes I haven't been able to glean from your pages. 1) How long can Ich remain dormant in temperatures above 85F?... <Marine/Crypt: Days to a few weeks... depending on... conditions, in the absence of fish hosts... with fishes about, indefinitely. Freshwater/Ichthyophthirius can be present indefinitely> I have 4--2-3" discus that are currently battling what looks like Ich. These small, whitish, reflective nodules numbering approx. 20/fish have "sprung up from nowhere" and infested my poor discus. There haven't been any new fish added since Nov. of 95 and the temps have been maintained above 85F since then, normally around 86. I recently moved and my water parameters went from 7.6ph, .5dGH to 7.4ph, 13dGH <Mmm, pH a bit high... I'd look to keeping under 7.0> and the water is from a rural plant (still culinary, not well). We've been somewhat concerned because we noticed the Ich at the same time as some type of bug raced through our family, resulting in 'gastro-intestinal distress'--to put it loosely...pun intended. We were concerned that the bug on the fish and the 'bug' bothering us might be 'related'. Temps have been raised to 88F and I've added QuickCure and salt to the water, as well as Metronidazole to the food. <...?> This seems to be helping, but no resolution after 5 days. <I would use Malachite Green alone here (not formalin... the other component of QuickCure> 2) During our move my reef tank melted down. I don't mean that figuratively... the LR and corals were traveling in the back of my van and when we pulled them out the water temp was at least 140F! <Yeeikes!> (They were accidentally put right in front of a heater vent-I lost all of my corals and fish!) Fortunately their aquarium w/ 4" DSB and 1"plenum was not super-heated and I still have my snails and crabs. I have since put the 60+ lbs. of once-live rock back in my standard 55gal. aquarium and the water parameters for the last 3 weeks have been 0,0,0 for NH4, NO2, and NO3. One of my biggest concerns right now is that the new house is very poorly insulated and the house temps range from 69-79...and my lighting is 250W MH and 130W CFL! I've shifted the light cycle to after sun-down but my dig. therm. broke and I haven't had a  chance to see if that will help any. Should I just bite the bullet and get a chiller? <Mmm, possibly... or consider other countervailing strategies... posted> Drop the MH and get a different lighting type?. I keep softies and am planning on trying my hand at a BTA some time in the next year or so. When would it be ok to start stocking with fish/corals? <A month or more...> Should I look at adding some more LR to my system or will the DSB reseed the LR (I still have a small smidgen of coralline left)? Thanks for all the help. Branon Rochelle. <I would add  a few new pounds of LR. Bob Fenner>

Help from The Los Angeles Zoo board member  11/17/05 Hi Bob, <Richard> As you can see I am seeking guidance on the topic mentioned here below.  I tried sending the message to Dionigi based on an article I read in The Krib, but Erik replied he does not know his where about. I then thought that maybe you know someone to refer me to entertain consulting regarding these matters. Awaiting your guidance, truly yours, Dr. Richard Sneider <My comments below. RMF>
Huge community tank Dear Dionigi, I am on the board of The Los Angeles Zoo. We are contemplating doing a very large freshwater tropical fish exhibit containing many conspecific and community tanks, many of which will be planted, and ranging from a couple hundred gallons, to several thousands. I have extensive knowledge in various fresh water species, including many predatory fish, but limited community tank experience. As a preamble to such exhibit I am personally building a 1,500 gallon planted tank under the consulting of staff from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. While the tank is being built I started housing a 200 gallon community tank containing several species: discus, Altums, other angels, <I would not keep Symphysodon and Pterophyllum species together... some evidence of parasitic host reservoir action twixt and behaviorally incompatible> rummys, harlequins, Corys, cardinal tetras, and so forth. This tank is bare bottom, with 5 large canister filter and UV sterilizer. The tank has been running in great condition, with all the fish thriving in great activity, color and health, until recently, when my largest discus started folding fins, and thrusting itself against the equipment in an effort to scratch itself. In addition my large Altums starting folding fins and get reclusive. I resorted to the use of Quick Cure (Formalin=Malachite), but on no early sign of recovery, moved after two days to Clout (broad spectrum shot gun bomb). It has been two days since the use of Clout, and still no visible signs of improvement.  <Mmm, likely an internal protozoan. The vast majority of "standard cures" here have involved Metronidazole/Flagyl (see Noga re). Many folks speculate Octomita/Hexamita... as causative agent here.> I have now become very concern on setting a large community planted tank, and fear that an epidemic like this cannot be controlled and eliminated, and as such, embark not only on a devastating personal 1,500 gallon experiment, but embark the Zoo on a collection of them!  <Mmm, I would definitely quarantine, treat all incoming fishes per the above, a month or more in advance of introduction. Your system is now infested (much more expensive, difficult to treat), and you don't want to keep re-exposing your livestock to the Flagyl> Are you familiar with Clout as a remedy? Is there anything that can be done to assuage my newly acquired fears and hope of successfully keep large community planted tanks? <Am familiar, and would just use the Metronidazole> Upon reading your great article on fish health diagnosis and remedies I also became concern with the high maintenance lengthy periods needed for successful quarantine, but now, more than ever, realize that these are necessary to prevent disasters.  <An emphatic YES!> <<I thought a quarantine period of 30 days disease-free was standard protocol for ALL public zoos/aquaria, is standard for all but the most delicate specimens acquired for the LBAOP.  Might want to contact them re: their quarantine procedures, best I've witnessed.  Marina>> If we have a few quarantine containment established tanks, are daily water changes necessary? <Checking of water quality, regular (weekly) changes likely sufficient> I would imagine, since some of the suggested prophylactic treatments would likely destroy the bio systems for the nitrifying bacteria...  <Possibly> I would sincerely appreciate your guidance in the issues above mentioned. Awaiting your response, truly yours, Dr. Richard Sneider <Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Help from The Los Angeles Zoo board member  11/18/05
Hi Bob, <Rich> Sincere thanks for your guidance. With all the distress signs in the tank, such as loss of coloration and motor skill complications, along with some blood lines in the angel's fins, I think I have a combination of a toxicity and a  parasitical/bacterial infestation that is still lingering. <No fun...> After two days of Quick Cure (Formalin=Malachite), and three days of Clout, I don't seem to see much improvement, but know that some of the potential improvement may be masked by toxicity manifestations. <These are (as you well no doubt know) quite toxic medicants...> My thinking is:  A) do a 50% water change, and filter with carbon, and replace by metro...as suggested, or <... Would... but limit the water changes to 25% daily...> B) do the water change and raise the temp to 88 dgf and commence a salt treatment... <Sounds good... but what re plants?> C) In addition I can inject my largest discus (worse sufferer) with Flagyl and Levaquin (have done this in the past with black Serrasalmus and discus and has worked well). <Thank you for this information> D) add another day of Clout and then water change Please note that as of yesterday, since I run 5 large canister filters with lots of media, my ammo was still 0, and had not raised the nitrate/nitrite much.. <Good> Which of the above choices would you do? <A, with no more than quarter water change outs in a 24 h period, B, with as much salt is tolerable, C, with care on the larger, more valuable fishes, not D> Thank you again for tour time and guidance! Sincerely, Dr. Richard Sneider <Glad to offer my input/ideas. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Help from The Los Angeles Zoo board member  11/18/05
Thanks, Clarification: Either A or B right, <Mmmm, A and B... but no more than 25% of water volume changed out in a day, elevated temperature is fine (just reduce slowly later), you'll want to leave the activated carbon out while medicating... the salt... oh, I see this below> and if so, which? Or both? How much salt? No plants in this tank, bare bottom... Thanks! <I would add a level teaspoon of "aquarium" or synthetic marine salt per twenty gallons of system water a day, for three consecutive days... Cutting back if the fishes appear mal-affected. Bob Fenner> 

Dying Discus 10/31/05 Please help me, I have a: * 125 Gallon tank- glass  * 1 -Rena XP3 Canister Filter  * 1 -48" Coralife Double Bulb Compact Fluorescent Light  * 1- 24" All-Glass Double Bulb fluorescent Light  * 100-150 Assorted Live Plants  * 2- Large Pieces of Driftwood  * 3-4" of a Mix of Fluorite and Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate  * 2- 300 Watt Via Aqua Steel Thermometers  * 4- Small/Medium Discus- about 3-4"  * 3- Lemon Tetras  * 13- Cardinal Tetras  * 6- "Golden Wonder" Killies- about 2"  * 20- Grass Shrimp  * 50 Small Snails- I tried to keep them out of the tank!  * 2-Large Common Plecos- 6"  <Yikes! Marauders!> * 1- Small Common Pleco  * 2-Clown Plecos  * 6- Assorted Small Corydoras Cats (Julii, Emerald, Panda)  * 6- Dwarf African Frogs  * 12- "Oto" Cats  * pH- 7  * Nitrate- 20ppm  * Nitrite- 0ppm  * Ammonia- 0ppm  * 30% Water Change every Saturday I originally had 6 discus, 20 cardinal tetras, and 6 lemon tetras. Last week I bought 20 tetras, some Oto cats, and some brine shrimp to feed to the  fish. (I know, I should have quarantined, but I didn't have another tank...) <You'll learn... are learning> So a few days later, I discovered to my horror a discus was dead, as well as 4 cardinal tetras. Then the day after that, another discus and 3 more tetras died, so I began feeding them tetra medicated food. Then today I discovered the cardinals all had ich. <Bonus!> The temperature of the tank is 82 degrees. Should I raise this? <I would, along with increasing/adding aeration, circulation... and filtration> What can I do to save my discus? <See the previous sentence> I really don't want to lose anymore fish. Please help! Anthony <Get/use a separate quarantine system... and add redundant aeration/circulation/filtration... very likely your root problems here are introduced disease and insufficient A/C/F... Bob Fenner> 

Ich and Popeye in Discus  9/19.5/05 Hello, You have a very informative website. I bought a pair of 2 inch discus last Saturday. Since I bought them they show signs of stress. Their bodies are very dark. They have tiny whites specks on them. Their eyes are bulging out.  Their bodies look dry. They just stay in one corner. My current setup is a 60 gallon aquarium. Tankmates are Pleco, rosy barb, 2 clown loaches, Mystus catfish, and dwarf gourami. Tank is fully cycled with 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites and 20 ppm nitrates. Current temp is 78 degrees. Under LFS advise, I raised the temp to 80, added salt and added Melafix to the tank. I was wondering if I'm on the right track in trying to save my discus and if you have any other suggestions. Thanks, Ed <Don here, back from a few months hiatus while job seeking. The "tiny white spots" and "bulging eyes" are a problem. The spots sound like Ich, the bulging eyes is Popeye. Discus require warm, (82 to 86) clean, fresh water to thrive. That means lots of water changes. Many Discus keepers will change 50% of the water every two or three days. Although your water conditions seem good, (0, 0, 20) you may want to check the pH and hardness. Popeye is almost always a sign that something is amiss with your water. You want soft water with a pH below 7.0. If your source water is hard with a high pH I see a RO unit in your future. Adding one tablespoon of Epsom salt per five gallons of water will help reduce the swelling. The Ich is a tiny parasite and is best cured with regular aquarium salt, IMO. But that may be a problem for the Loaches. I suggest you read the link I'll provide below. Please take note of the life cycle of Ich and continue any treatment for at least three weeks after the last spot drops. Treatment is best done in a plain QT tank while the you let the main tank run fishless for a few weeks. Without a fish host the parasite will starve out. Raising the temp in the main even higher, say to 88 to 90, will speed up the life cycle and ensure the Ich dies. The only equipment you will need for the QT is an airstone. Control your water quality with daily water changes, replacing the meds or salt with each. Then QT EVERYTHING before adding to the main to stop any reintroduction. The Melafix is useless in this (and most, IMO) situation.   http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32

Fish with Worms Hi Chuck! I have been following your advice and treated the tank with Fluke-Tabs. No new sick fish so far but a bit too early to say if it really worked. One thing though: it didn't prevent the fishes that already showed symptoms of infection to die. -Is this normal? <If sick fish are treated too late then a combination of illness and medication will kill them sooner than the parasite alone. Either way they would of died.> They Can this medication save fishes already sick? < The key is early detection. If the disease is treated early enough then it can cure fish without killing them.> -I discovered another (expensive) medication called PIPERAZINE CITRATE. Would it be even more effective than Mebendazole and Trichlorfon (Fluke-Tabs)? <Depending on the parasite one may be more effective than the other.> I think I will treat the tank again in a month even if there is no sign of the parasite. I want to be sure it's gone before I introduce the 5 discus I plan to buy. And at least I will be prepared for the next attack. Dominique <Good luck with those new discus.-Chuck>

Apparent Cestodes in Discus I have six beautiful pigeon blood discus in a community 68gal. tank. Two pair are currently spawning, laying and fertilizing their eggs. After each batch I have noticed that all four fish have at one time or another expelled a white, ribbon like, segmented cord from their anus. Once one was breathing it in and out. I didn't see if it had ate it or if it just came out of it's mouth. I am concerned because I just lost a beautiful breeding pair of Snakeskin Red Turquoise. They just went crazy for about three days and died. I left them in the tank for a couple of hours and this cord was coming out of their mouth and gills. It freaked me out. Is this a tapeworm and should I medicate with Praziquantel (Droncit) or should I just leave them alone. <Worth looking into. Do you have availability to a microscope? I would try to take a look at these stringy feces before actually treating. Metronidazole (aka Flagyl) is a possible antiprotozoal to add to the possible materia medica here. Bob Fenner> Please help.

Ich in planted Discus tank :-( >Me again... >>I'm sorry, I don't remember you.. ;)  Marina here. >I've noticed that almost all of my Discuses (15 adult in 180gal tank) developed Ich (overnight).  There was no temp drop and I've never had ich...  so a few questions...- I guess CopperSafe is out of the question - will it harm clown loaches or plants, or be hard on few fry Discuses I have in that tank? >>If I recollect correctly, anything with malachite green will harm scaleless fishes, but if you have fry that's another concern entirely.   > - I increased the temp to 32C and added aquarium salt at rate of 1tablespoon/5 gal (I hope the plants and loaches can take this temp and salt for a few days?) will that kill Ich? >>It will stress the ich, and it will definitely harm the plants. > - On the side note, when treating with antibiotics, is there a temperature (upper range) where the antibiotics become ineffective? e.g. will erythromycin still work if temp is 32C? >>Not that I am aware of. >Any other pointers? Taking the Discuses out of the tank and treating them in a separate tank is out of the question... >>That being the case, ensuring excellent water quality, boosting their immune system via feeding (though, I would think that if you're anything like other Discus owners I've known, there are few people who feed their fishes BETTER than you), and avoiding malachite containing products is the best you *can* do.  I'll link you to a fish medication site, maybe this will give some ideas on other treatments.  OH MY GOODNESS!  I can't link you, there's a sheriff's sale of Pets Warehouse, and the site containing this information has been taken over.  Very, VERY sorry, please do a search on our site on freshwater fish diseases.  Best of luck to you!  Marina

Gill Flukes Part Two - 8/19/03 wrote last night about gill flukes in a discus checked him out today and breathing normally so I suppose all is well. Guess I just panicked.  thanks again <don't relax too soon. The symptoms for gill flukes can and do wax and wane. Watch closely and treat if needed. Anthony>

Discus Questions I have 6 discus fish in a fairly new aquarium.   <Discus are very delicate fish and it's best to keep them in aquariums that have had about 6 month to mature.> They developed ich, and I've been treating them with Rid-Ich for @ 4 1/2 days.  The ich is almost gone, but now their eyes are cloudy and the look like they're covered in whitish slimy stuff. <This white slime is not a true fungus but a bacterial infection known as Columnaris or Body Fungus.  It can be treated with Mardel's Maracyn.  Make sure the read the package and treat accordingly.> Their fins don't look clear and they're looking pretty bad.  The small one has stopped eating.   <Discus are fish that many people aspire to raise, they are not easy fish and require very specific water parameters.  I suggest that you go to you local library or bookstore and rent/buy a book on how to care for discus.  Knowledge about how to care for these fish will make them infinitely more enjoyable and you will know what to expect and how to handle it without having to wait for emails. PLEASE HELP!!  Anna <Wishing you and your fish all the best. -Magnus>

".... like I need a hole in my head." Hi!    <Hello!> I appreciate your time and any help or expertise you can offer.  I have a 4.5 inch discus that we treated for hole in the head last month, it had white pussy matter coming out of holes above the lateral line.   <Sounds classically like hole-in-the-head indeed.> We treated with Paragon II and it cleared up after 2 rounds of medication.  Now a month later it has started again.  Will this keep coming back do I need to retreat?   <I would re-treat, but with Metronidazole in food rather than in the water.> Is there a better medication that you can purchase at a pet store that you would recommend?   <Metronidazole can be found under the name "Hex-a-Mit" (Aquatronics).  It would be best to administer this via food, *not* just in the water, as the package directs.  Perhaps try mixing it into a frozen food (er, thaw the food to mix it in, then re-freeze).  Aim for about 1% medicine by weight.> We are currently feeding quite the variety of foods so I would find it hard to believe it is from a vitamin deficiency.   <Might be worthwhile to look into vitamin supplements anyway.> Lastly what is the minimum size you would recommend for a hospital tank, we just put our 75 gallon tank away and aren't too excited about setting it back up.           <For a single, 4.5" discus?  You could manage with something even as small as a 10-gallon tank (or even Rubbermaid container), if necessary.  A 20g might be a little more suited to a good sized fish like that.  Be sure to provide something for the fish to hide around and feel safe.  PVC pipe elbows are good for this, and cheaper than plastic plants.  Wishing you and your discus well,  -Sabrina>

Discus with Hexamita? - 02/02/2004 Please help...I don't want to lose me discus fish. I have been treating with rid-ich for 5 days now. The ich is almost gone, but the fish have developed cloudy eyes, a whitish clear coating on their bodies and ragged fins.  <This sounds perhaps like "skin slime disease" - caused by protozoan parasites, likely Hexamita, or possibly Ichthyobodo (Costia), Chilodonella, Trichodina.... All should respond favorably to Metronidazole administered in food. Metronidazole can be found made by Aquatronics (Hex-a-Mit, green or blue box) and by Seachem (simply Metronidazole).> I have a 55 gallon aquarium. Temp is at 86 degrees. Nitrates, nitrites and ammonia are ok. Ph is at 7. I've been doing a 20 - 25% water change daily, and I added 8 tablespoons of aquarium salt to the water. Please let me know what else I should do.... <A good start - and may in and of itself effect improvement or cure. I would still treat with Metronidazole in food.> Thank you sooooo much, Anna <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Tiny worm in my discus tank Hi there, I wonder if you can help me. I have a planted discus tank and I noticed a very tiny worm on the glass just above the gravel today. It is extremely small, approximately 1/4" long and 1/64" to 1/32" diameter, and was a light color close to white or light tan. It sort of looked like a very fine piece of plant root, but I noticed it move and then it crawled down the glass into the gravel and disappeared. I have introduced new discus and plants into the tank recently.  Any idea what it might be and if it is harmful? What can I do to kill any in the tank without harming the discus and plants? I have heard that adding salt to the tank would work but I'm not sure. I read that Formalin could work but not with plants. Thanks, Mark. < I am guessing that you may have some plant leeches that came in with them. The probably will not harm the fish and may harm the plants. If there is no apparent problems then I would leave things alone for awhile and see if they get worse. If it really is a worm then there is a good chance that your fish would eat it if they found it.-Chuck> 

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