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FAQs on Freshwater Infectious (bacterial, fungal) Diseases: Mycobacterial, TB, Wasting Disease

Related Articles: Freshwater Fish Diseases, Freshwater DiseasesFW Disease Troubleshooting, Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks, Understanding Bacterial Disease in Aquarium Fish; With a gallery of bacterial infections, a discussion of Fish TB, and a listing of major antimicrobial medications with examples available to fishkeepers By Myron Roth, Ph.D.,

Related FAQs: Infectious (bacterial, fungal, viral) Disease 1, Infectious FW Diseases 2, Infectious FW Disease 3, Infectious FW Disease 4, Infectious FW Disease 5, & Infectious Disease: Identification/Diagnosis, Causes/Etiology/Prevention, Cures/Medications, Case Histories: Bacterial, True Fungal, & By Type/Organisms: Fin & Mouth Rot, Columnaris, Whirling Disease, Bettas w/ Infections,

Mmm, much is often diagnosed as "Mycobacterial" in origin. Like most infectious issues, those attributed to TB are largely environmentally mediated. Nonetheless, do wear gloves and/or keep your hands out of your tanks if your skin is broken.

Crayfish, bad molt, and mycobacterium      12/14/16
Hello WWC,
<Close enough>
This is very long because I want to give as much information as possible. I am a college student working on my B.S. in zoology,
<Oh! My undergrad. degree as well>
so this is exactly the kind of thing that interests me and therefore I have collected a lot of information about the circumstances.
<Okay>
I have a 10 gallon freshwater aquarium with the following water conditions... the first test is from 5 days ago, and the second is after I did a water change:
First:
Nitrate <20 ppm
Nitrite 0
GH 200
KH 180
PH 7.8
Temp 64 F
Now the numbers are:
Nitrate <20 ppm
Nitrite 0
GH 150
KH 120
PH 7.6
Temp 64 F
<A bit "older"... still; acceptable values>
In the tank resides one female crayfish of unknown species and two "mosquito fish" (Gambusia affinis). I have had the crayfish since November 2, 2015 when I accidentally caught her from a pond at my school (I was netting some mosquito fish from the pond to put in an aquarium because I'm just weird like that). She was only approximately an inch long at the time, and almost translucent, with tiny little baby pincers. While reading up on crayfish, I found a recipe for a gel-type food that I could adjust to meet her needs. It uses gelatin as a binder, and is frozen after it sets, so I can break off cubes to thaw as needed. I made it with dried Spirulina, dried organic kelp, fresh spinach, fresh zucchini, cooked whole shrimp, and some salmon. It is mostly greens, though, as that seemed most appropriate.
Her diet consists of the gel food, shrimp pellets, algae pellets, fresh greens/cucumber/etc., duckweed, and sometimes frozen brine shrimp. I try to keep it varied.
<Good... I'd add a modicum of iodide-ate to the water weekly as well. Have you read on WWM Re Cray nutrition?>
Now she is approximately 4.5" long, and has molted 10 times since I brought her home. The problem started with the last molt, which was July 15, and continued with one that happened 5 days ago. Before I get to that, however, I want to express my reason for emailing you when you have so many posts already regarding bad molts.
<Ah yes>
I had some mosquito fish fry in my 5.5 gallon aquarium, and on June 5th I noticed one fry had a bent spine. I thought maybe he had been injured or something, and never considered that it could be something contagious. Then there were some other anomalies with the fish in that tank and with the tank conditions, the specifics of which probably don't matter in this context. But at some point I realized there were more than one fry with a bent spine, and finally researched it as a symptom of a larger illness, rather than an injury. I began to come to the horrible hypothesis that my tank somehow had been infected with mycobacterium. It explained many of the abnormalities I had encountered.
<Mmm; well.... This genus of bacteria are about in most all aquatic systems...>
**Since this took some time to figure out, it is very likely that I used some tool (a net or whatever) on both the 10 gallon and the 5.5 gallon tanks after the 5.5 gallon was infected.**
I tried treating the 5.5 gallon with Tetra Lifeguard (it's the only medication I had on hand so I gave it a try), which was ineffective against most of the symptoms I was seeing. The number of fish with spinal deformities was going up, and there were several deaths within a few days of each other, so I began to consider euthanizing them.
<I would; yes>
Before I did, however, on July 15 the crayfish molted and was left with at least three exposed gills on one side. They were completely outside the carapace. I went to my LFS (they have a local reputation as "experts"), freaking out a bit, and the guy was worse than useless. He said he couldn't help me, there was nothing that could be done for either the crayfish or the Gambusia. His actual advice regarding the crayfish was, "just keep checking the water conditions and see if she makes it."
<?!>
I euthanized about 15 fish that day, mostly fry, and treated the healthiest ones with Kanamycin. I completely broke down my 5.5 gallon tank and tossed all the live plants, but didn't know what to do about the crayfish in the 10 gallon. I decided to just go on the assumption that crayfish couldn't contract mycobacterium (if that's even what my fish had, but I didn't test them, so I'm not 100% sure), and that the bad molt was due to lack of iodide, which she only really gets from her diet.
<Again; I'd supplement; weekly, add to the water>
The last few months she was pretty much refusing to eat the gel food any more and would just make a mess with it and then leave it sitting on the bottom of the tank. She stopped eating the stuff she usually enjoyed, like fresh kale, and would almost exclusively eat the shrimp pellets or the flake fish food that I put in for the mosquito fish. I kept meaning to buy aquarium iodide to supplement this, but life happened and I never got to it. I didn't realize how long she went without eating greens until I saw the effects.
When she had the bad molt,
<You are leaving these molts in the system I hope/trust, for this animal to consume>
I tried to be more vigilant about water conditions (though when I tested it at the time, the parameters were actually the same as the first test listed above, they weren't horrible, but I hadn't been cleaning the tank as often as I should have been and I wasn't sure if that contributed or not), and tried to get her to eat more green things. Once again, though, several things happened in my life that made it get pushed aside, and she must not have been getting enough iodide still...
She molted 5 days ago and she almost died this time. I found her lying on her side next to her molted exoskeleton, and she had a number of gills outside the carapace again but more this time, and on both sides. One of her antennae didn't look right, and she was not moving. Her little antennules were twitching, though, so I covered the tank with a dark towel
and kept her in the dark and quiet for about 24 hours before checking on her again. At that point she was still on her side, but another 12 hours later she was upright again and eating her exoskeleton. Now I have been able to see her better and not only are a bunch of gills outside her shell and an antenna bent (and the part after the "bend" is turning white), but one of her claws looks really bad, too. She was holding it funny and after a couple days the "elbow" (for lack of a better word) turned very bright red. The redness has spread along that claw and it also looks a little fuzzy, like food that's been left in the tank too long. She isn't very active, she is barely eating her exoskeleton at all, but she does walk
around a little and she is definitely alive and alert. She looks awful though.
<I'd also add a level teaspoon of baking soda/sodium bicarbonate and a "hardness" stone like those sold for turtles in the trade>
I have ordered marine iodide and I am keeping the tank somewhat dark, so she feels safe and hidden, to minimize stress. I bought gallons of bottled water and I **VERY** carefully gravel vacuumed the dirtiest part of the tank (I didn't clean the whole thing because, again, stress. I didn't go too close to the crayfish herself, I let her feel hidden.) and replaced the water (about 50% of the tank) with Crystal Geyser, instead of using treated tap water. I don't know why, it just seemed safer. Maybe that's just paranoia.
<Dechloraminated tap/mains water should be fine. Bottled isn't better for crayfish>
My concern about getting her through this is, can this be caused by mycobacterium?
<Not "caused" per se... or per accidens: that is, not the immediate, direct cause... But bacteria may be playing a secondary role here>
It affects the skeletons of vertebrates, could it affect the exoskeleton of an invertebrate?? Should I take the exoskeleton out at this point? Is it just making water conditions worse as it breaks down?
<I would leave it in... and do what I've mentioned above. Triple dose the I2 now>
I adore this crayfish. She is a remarkable little creature. Can I do anything for her? Is there some medication that would help her recover?
There are things I know I did wrong and will be making an effort to change, but I don't know enough about invertebrate biology to know exactly what went wrong, especially when there are a number of possible causes. I'm attaching a couple pictures of her current condition so you can see what exactly I'm talking about.
Thank you in advance and let me know if there is more information you need.
-Margie
<Welcome. Bob Fenner; who will place this msg. in Neale Monk's in-box for his separate resp.>
Crayfish, molt, Myco- pics      12/14/16

Hello again,
<Marge>
Sorry I forgot to attach the pictures when I emailed you earlier today. I was up late studying for finals so I'm a bit tired lol.
<No worries>
Forgive the reflections off the glass of the tank. Also, I cropped the pictures to reduce their size, so some may be odd proportions. If there are any included here that look weird, they are included because they show something specific, like the gills outside the carapace (which are hard to see because they blend into the rocks) or the antenna that is sad looking. The redness of the claw is obvious, but also if you look closely you'll see the fuzziness... like it's rotting. All these are from the most recent molt that she had about 5 days ago. The first 2 pictures were taken 2 days after molting, the next one where she is on her side was taken yesterday, and you can see how the redness has spread down the claw. In that one she is next to her shed exoskeleton, so excuse any random extraneous body parts.
Thank you again for all your time.
-Margie
<Can't (of course) discern root cause/s here; but do concur the molt is odd/misshapen... Perhaps something missing (deficiency)... I'd add liquid vitamins/HUFA mix to the water weekly as well as to the food mix (like SeaChem's "Vitality" product). BobF>

Crayfish, bad molt, and mycobacterium   Neale's go       12/15/16
Hello WWC,
<Margie,>
This is very long because I want to give as much information as possible. I am a college student working on my B.S. in zoology, so this is exactly the kind of thing that interests me and therefore I have collected a lot of information about the circumstances.
<Understood.>
I have a 10 gallon freshwater aquarium with the following water conditions... the first test is from 5 days ago, and the second is after I did a water change:
First:
Nitrate <20 ppm
Nitrite 0
GH 200
KH 180
PH 7.8
Temp 64 F
<All sounds fine.>
Now the numbers are:
Nitrate <20 ppm
Nitrite 0
GH 150
KH 120
PH 7.6
Temp 64 F
<No major problems here.>
In the tank resides one female crayfish of unknown species and two "mosquito fish" (Gambusia affinis). I have had the crayfish since November 2, 2015 when I accidentally caught her from a pond at my school (I was netting some mosquito fish from the pond to put in an aquarium because I'm just weird like that). She was only approximately an inch long at the time, and almost translucent, with tiny little baby pincers. While reading up on crayfish, I found a recipe for a gel-type food that I could adjust to meet her needs. It uses gelatin as a binder, and is frozen after it sets, so I
can break off cubes to thaw as needed. I made it with dried Spirulina, dried organic kelp, fresh spinach, fresh zucchini, cooked whole shrimp, and some salmon. It is mostly greens, though, as that seemed most appropriate.
Her diet consists of the gel food, shrimp pellets, algae pellets, fresh greens/cucumber/etc., duckweed, and sometimes frozen brine shrimp. I try to keep it varied.
<Good. This all sounds appropriate. Gambusia are a bit hit and miss in fish tanks, but shouldn't cause any problems with crayfish.>
Now she is approximately 4.5" long, and has molted 10 times since I brought her home. The problem started with the last molt, which was July 15, and continued with one that happened 5 days ago. Before I get to that, however, I want to express my reason for emailing you when you have so many posts already regarding bad molts.
<Indeed! It's impossible to know the real problems, but iodine may be a significant factor. On top of that, other dietary deficiencies are possible, but as you suggest, maximising variety, and biasing towards plant foods, probably helps here. Then there's exposure to heavy metals. While clearly copper for example is toxic to crustaceans above certain levels, the problems caused by lower, non-lethal levels aren't often considered by aquarists, but may be important. There may be other factors too, such as day length or season temperature variations we just don't consider, and again, these may be important with regard to properly synchronising all the different physiological mechanisms involved.>
I had some mosquito fish fry in my 5.5 gallon aquarium, and on June 5th I noticed one fry had a bent spine. I thought maybe he had been injured or something, and never considered that it could be something contagious.
<The odd deformed fry is relatively common among fish. They tend to produce large numbers of offspring, but with little of the "error correction" typical among mammals, where deformed embryos will be eliminated long before birth. I guess it's down to the relative shortness of the pregnancy phase, and the far weaker interaction between the eggs and the mother's blood supply. There are exceptions, the Goodeids for example having the equivalent of a placenta, but your Mosquitofish do little more than carry the eggs and provide oxygen; the fry get most of their energy from a yolk
sac, and relatively little from the maternal blood supply.>
Then there were some other anomalies with the fish in that tank and with the tank conditions, the specifics of which probably don't matter in this context. But at some point I realized there were more than one fry with a bent spine, and finally researched it as a symptom of a larger illness, rather than an injury. I began to come to the horrible hypothesis that my tank somehow had been infected with mycobacterium. It explained many of the abnormalities I had encountered.
<Possibly. But Mycobacteriosis is very difficult to diagnose by visual inspection. It's probably impossible to do so, really. It may also be the case that Mycobacteriosis may well be latent in most tanks, but only becomes a problem under specific conditions where fish are stressed or poisoned. In any event, it's hard to say that's the story here, because things like bent spines and failed moults can easily be explained by environmental stress, genetics, dietary shortcomings, etc.>
**Since this took some time to figure out, it is very likely that I used some tool (a net or whatever) on both the 10 gallon and the 5.5 gallon tanks after the 5.5 gallon was infected.**
<Easily sterilised using dilute bleach followed by thorough rinsing.>
I tried treating the 5.5 gallon with Tetra Lifeguard (it's the only medication I had on hand so I gave it a try), which was ineffective against most of the symptoms I was seeing. The number of fish with spinal deformities was going up, and there were several deaths within a few days of each other, so I began to consider euthanizing them.
<Yikes.>
Before I did, however, on July 15 the crayfish molted and was left with at least three exposed gills on one side. They were completely outside the carapace. I went to my LFS (they have a local reputation as "experts"), freaking out a bit, and the guy was worse than useless. He said he couldn't help me, there was nothing that could be done for either the crayfish or the Gambusia. His actual advice regarding the crayfish was, "just keep checking the water conditions and see if she makes it."
<Would agree somewhat; once crustaceans are sick, it's actually very difficult to heal them. On the upside, if fed and protected, subsequent moults can put right any damage.>
I euthanized about 15 fish that day, mostly fry, and treated the healthiest ones with Kanamycin. I completely broke down my 5.5 gallon tank and tossed all the live plants, but didn't know what to do about the crayfish in the 10 gallon. I decided to just go on the assumption that crayfish couldn't contract mycobacterium (if that's even what my fish had, but I didn't test them, so I'm not 100% sure), and that the bad molt was due to lack of iodide, which she only really gets from her diet.
<I would agree with your analysis here, in the sense Mycobacteria species are unlikely to jump from a fish to a crustacean. That said, I don't know that for sure.>
The last few months she was pretty much refusing to eat the gel food any more and would just make a mess with it and then leave it sitting on the bottom of the tank. She stopped eating the stuff she usually enjoyed, like fresh kale, and would almost exclusively eat the shrimp pellets or the flake fish food that I put in for the mosquito fish. I kept meaning to buy aquarium iodide to supplement this, but life happened and I never got to it. I didn't realize how long she went without eating greens until I saw the effects.
<Understood. Their scavenging behaviour does mislead some folks into seeing them as more carnivorous than they really are. Crayfish are more deposit feeders, and tend to consume a lot of algae and decaying plant material alongside carrion and other scraps of food.>
When she had the bad molt, I tried to be more vigilant about water conditions (though when I tested it at the time, the parameters were actually the same as the first test listed above, they weren't horrible, but I hadn't been cleaning the tank as often as I should have been and I wasn't sure if that contributed or not), and tried to get her to eat more
green things. Once again, though, several things happened in my life that made it get pushed aside, and she must not have been getting enough iodide still...
<I see this from your photo.>
She molted 5 days ago and she almost died this time. I found her lying on her side next to her molted exoskeleton, and she had a number of gills outside the carapace again but more this time, and on both sides. One of her antennae didn't look right, and she was not moving. Her little antennules were twitching, though, so I covered the tank with a dark towel and kept her in the dark and quiet for about 24 hours before checking on her again. At that point she was still on her side, but another 12 hours later she was upright again and eating her exoskeleton. Now I have been able to see her better and not only are a bunch of gills outside her shell and an antenna bent (and the part after the "bend" is turning white), but one of her claws looks really bad, too. She was holding it funny and after a couple days the "elbow" (for lack of a better word) turned very bright red. The redness has spread along that claw and it also looks a little fuzzy, like food that's been left in the tank too long. She isn't very active, she is barely eating her exoskeleton at all, but she does walk around a little and she is definitely alive and alert. She looks awful though.
<Agreed.>
I have ordered marine iodide and I am keeping the tank somewhat dark, so she feels safe and hidden, to minimize stress. I bought gallons of bottled water and I **VERY** carefully gravel vacuumed the dirtiest part of the tank (I didn't clean the whole thing because, again, stress. I didn't go too close to the crayfish herself, I let her feel hidden.) and replaced the water (about 50% of the tank) with Crystal Geyser, instead of using treated tap water. I don't know why, it just seemed safer. Maybe that's just paranoia.
<I would be careful dramatically changing water chemistry. Good water quality is important though, and ideally water that's somewhat hard, to reduce osmotic stress if nothing else, but also to prevent further damage to her skeleton.>
My concern about getting her through this is, can this be caused by mycobacterium?
<No idea, in all honesty.>
It affects the skeletons of vertebrates, could it affect the exoskeleton of an invertebrate?
<Completely different mechanisms of secretion and maintenance, so hard to imagine Mycobacteria could affect them/these similarly.>
Should I take the exoskeleton out at this point? Is it just making water conditions worse as it breaks down?
<Crayfish should have access to previous moults; what we do know about crustaceans generally is that consumption of their moult is often significant, and budgeted into their energy equation, allowing them to recycle nutrients. Without access to the moult, they might 'overspend' on calcium or whatever, and that deficit could be lethal.>
I adore this crayfish. She is a remarkable little creature. Can I do anything for her?
<Optimise water quality; offer tiny bits of food periodically; provide a suitable source of calcium such as a bit of cuttlebone to harden the water and possibly be eaten; optimise diet, to include seaweed-based iodine sources.>
Is there some medication that would help her recover?
<The science just isn't there yet. We know almost nothing about medicating inverts. Far more effort is put into exterminating them, insects especially. We probably wouldn't know much about fish medicines either, were it not for hobbyists keeping them as pets. Only very recently has fish farming been an actual thing big enough to warrant research.>
There are things I know I did wrong and will be making an effort to change, but I don't know enough about invertebrate biology to know exactly what went wrong, especially when there are a number of possible causes. I'm
attaching a couple pictures of her current condition so you can see what exactly I'm talking about.
<Thank you.>
Thank you in advance and let me know if there is more information you need.
-Margie
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Re: Crayfish, bad molt, and mycobacterium      6/20/16
Hello again!
<Margie,>
Thank you so much for all the information. As Neale observed, there is a lot more information available out there about exterminating inverts than saving them, so you guys are a rare and valuable resource.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
Since both responses I got asked about this, yes, I do always leave the exoskeleton in the tank every time she molts so she can "recycle" it. (Got a great picture of her eating her own claw once. It was AWESOME. And it creeped my mom out, too, which was a bonus.)
<Heh!>
The crayfish lost her damaged claw the other day. Not just the part that's exoskeleton, either-- there was a good sized chunk of flesh that came off too. She has a little stump that is still bright red and white, and looks quite bad. She hides 24/7 (making it difficult for me to get a good look at her) and barely moves at all. She doesn't explore, or rearrange her tank, or scavenge for food at all. She hasn't been eating her exoskeleton, or anything else that I know of. I kind of gently nudge her tail sometimes just to see if she is still alive (she is). I'm very concerned.
<Understood. Autotomy, the casting off of damaged/trapped limbs, is within the normal range of things crayfish do. So in theory, if the break is clean, she can/will survive without much trouble. But if the damage extends beyond the natural 'breaks' in their exoskeleton, they can quickly become infected. If she survives a week, that's probably a good sign though.>
I removed from the tank the part of her dead claw that was fleshy, after a couple days, since it was beginning to decompose.
<Absolutely! Leaving empty shells to be eaten is good. Leaving decaying hunks of flesh, that's bad!>
I guess my big question is just... in your opinion(s), do you think she will make it? Obviously you can't predict the future (or can you?? o_0) but in your experience is something like this survivable?
<Yes, if the break is clean. Less likely otherwise.>
Also, how much iodine should I be supplementing? Since I usually see the recommended dose is half whatever the bottle says, but then Bob said triple dose, so does that mean triple the half dose (so 1.5x the dose on the bottle label), or triple what the bottle says?...
<Oh, I'd tend to go half the dosage stated for marines. Freshwater organisms seem hard-wired to get by with less iodine.>
Thank you again.
-Margie
<Most welcome. Neale.>

TB or results of Camallanus treatment in guppies       1/18/15
Hi,
<Hello Eva,>
I'm hoping you can help me with a problem I've been having in my freshwater tank. I came home with a couple of new guppies in October and they had Camallanus worms.
<Not uncommon in farmed livebearers, particularly in the US for some reason.>
I ended up with my whole tank infected. After trying several things I was finally able to get my fish store (not the one that I bought the sick fish from) to sell me some Levamisole, which took care of the worms.
<Indeed.>
Since they were treated the one neon I had developed a crooked back and died. I figured that he had worms inside him that died and that was why he got crooked and of course died.
<Possibly, or a reaction to the medication, or simply a coincidence. Neons and Guppies require fundamentally different living conditions, so it's unlikely (read: practically impossible) to provide optimal conditions for both. To recap, Neons want cool (22-25 C/72-77 F) water that's soft and slightly acidic to neutral (1-12 degrees dH, pH 6-7). By contrast, fancy Guppies are more sensitive to cold their wild ancestors, so need warmth (25-28 C/77-82 F) and want water that's at least medium hard and slightly basic (10-25 degrees dH, pH 7-8.5). There's a strong argument for adding a little salt to the aquarium where Guppies are kept (2-3 gram/litre is sufficient, and won't affect most hardy plants) and they also do very well in proper brackish conditions too (around SG 1.005 being ideal). As you can see, there's little overlap between their requirements. In hard water,
Neons basically die off one by one, rarely living more than a year, while Guppies are persistently disease-prone when kept in soft water. Chilling weakens Guppies, making them sickly, while overheating Neons shortens their lifespan still further. You could probably keep both if you had precisely 10-12 degrees dH water, pH 7-7.5, at 25 degrees C, but very few aquarists
get that kind of water out of the tap, most either having soft water or hard water depending on what's supplied by their local water company (and do note, softened water as produced by domestic water softeners is not the same thing as naturally soft water, and actually shouldn't be used in a fish tank).>
Now I have a guppy that is also developing a crooked back. My question is:
Could the crooked backs be related to the Camallanus worm infestation or is it probably fish TB. If it's TB do I just give up on the tank and the 20 or so fish in it?
<Do see above. Check the temperature, hardness and pH, and combined with luck and/or genetics, you may well have your answer right there.>
Thank you for taking the time to reply.
<Most welcome.>
Warmly,
Eva
<Neale.>

New fish, unwell tank, Mycobacterial/TB?    /Neale         10/2/14
Hi guys,
I'm new to your web page but have had a look at a lot of the info here.. I come with a pretty heavy heart as things are not looking good in my tank.
Tropical 80L tank has been set up for 6 weeks. Temp 27C, pH about 7-7.4, ammonia 0, nitrates 0
Got 2 new dwarf gouramis 2 weeks ago. I didn't quarantine. I know, stupid.
I don't have a quarantine tank. I've never had trouble of this sort before, and really only 'dabbled' in having fish. (I set it up, it worked, I cared for the water and the tank and all seemed good... Never needed to look further into it).
At that time tank contained:
Mature angel fish (about 3-4 years old)
Albino Cory catfish (about 3 years old)
Yoyo loach
3 male guppies
3 female guppies
1 Mollie
1 neon dart
all was ok for about a week until a Mollie died. I watched the tank and noticed a bit of aggression from one of the gouramis. I put the death down to this and hoped all would settle. A few days later, the guppies started dying one by one and I noticed one of the male's tail had a tear and a white/clear patch developing. I also noticed at this stage a lesion on the face of one of the gouramis, and a 'graze' patch on the other one.
I began treating with Melafix, but after a few days I realised the bottle I had was out of date. I went to the aquarium and got a new batch and some salt to add.
<Salt doesn't do much of use in most tanks, but it can/will help with Guppies and Mollies, though at the cost of stressing soft water fish such as tetras, barbs, gouramis and Rasboras.>
The gourami with the 'graze' - the one who was initially a bit aggressive - got rapidly worse over 3 days. The graze patch spread across it's side, over it's head and onto the other side. I euthanised it yesterday.
All of the guppies have died except for 1 male, who seemed fine until tonight - he has started swimming really limply and has a black spot in his dorsal fin. The most recent guppy to die (female) was badly emaciated.
I have the remaining gourami in isolation, but as I said it is not a functioning tank so I am relying on water changes from the main tank. It has developed a patch that looks like the graze on the first one - pale and
loss of scales.
I called the aquarium and they said the MelaFix takes 7 days to work, but I can see the second gourami getting steadily worse. I have also called a vet, but need to wait about 14 hours before they would be available and they have told me it will cost upwards of AUD$290 to test and diagnose for Mycobacteria. Firstly I'm not sure if the fish will last this long, and secondly am not really in a position to spend this much.
<Quite so, and largely pointless. There's nothing you can do medicate/treat with Mycobacteria or (equally likely) Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus (DGIV). Both have similar symptoms: atypical behaviour, wasting, lesions on the skin, eventual death.>
I'm concerned for my own health, as I most certainly have cleaned the tank in the last two weeks with broken skin on my hands. I've bought some shoulder length gloves online, but I am nervous at the thought of getting infected. I noticed a spot on my hand a few days ago (before I knew of Mycobacteria) that went away in 24 hours. I have taken a photo of the faded site.
I include photos of the deceased gourami, the still-living gourami and my hand.
<Indeed. I wouldn't worry overly much about catching Mycobacteria infections, though it does happen, and some degree of common sense should be used where Mycobacteria infections are suspected. Typical symptoms are itchiness and a rash, and if you suspect this is the issue here, consult with a doctor. Mycobacteria infections are transmitted by handing infected fish directly and to some degree working inside the tank, especially if your skin is cut. Wearing rubber gloves may look silly but can help in such
situations. Regardless, washing your hands afterwards is a must. So far as the fish go, isolation and hoping for the best are the way to go, taking care that the hospital tank has as close to ideal conditions as possible. DGIV is treated similarly, but isn't communicable to humans.>
Thanks in advance. I guess I know the chance of it being Mycobacteria is slim, but I can't get it out of my head. Thanks for being there to help with this kind of thing.
Hope to hear from you soon,
Meg
<In short, avoid Dwarf Gouramis (Banded and Thick-lipped Gouramis both make slightly larger, slightly less colourful but infinitely hardier substitutions). Mollies and Guppies need quite specific environmental
conditions, i.e., hard, alkaline water, possibly brackish -- and the quality of farmed Guppies is notoriously poor anyway, making them doubly sensitive. Do review WWM for suggestions of hardy, easy fish for casual aquarists. Might suggest starting here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestk.htm
... then following the links up top. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: New fish, unwell tank, Mycobacterial/TB?    /RMF       10/2/14

Hi Bob,
<Meg>
Thank you for your reply.
<Welcome>
I'm still a little in the dark as to how to proceed.
<Understandably so>
I have read a lot of the info provided online and have gathered as such: Vet/pathological tests= expensive but worth knowing?
<Mmm; well; I'd spend the money/time/resources on my/your own health... seeing a dermatologist first>
Melafix = worthless. Change to antimicrobial medication (from the vet? Or do aquariums sell this? - it's nearly 2am here so can't check myself). This may help if it is NOT Mycobacterial.
<I would not treat, try to treat... as you point out, w/o knowing particularly the susceptibility of whatever pathogen this is... and likely not virulent at this time...>
Mycobacteria? = could well be. No way of knowing without expensive vet tests
<Or medical...>
My hand = 'I am relieved', suggesting you think it is fine? From what I have read it starts as a spot and comes back up to 4 weeks later as a welt.
Fingers crossed this is not the case.
<Am guessing...>
Tank maintenance = I have ordered gloves. Is this feasible as long term personal protection?
<Yes it is... elbow length plus... and/or remote tools... to keep hands out. Always washing after you've been in the tank>
Update: the second gourami has faded and I do not have faith it could have gotten better. It has been euthanised.
I am very disappointed that the aquarium has urged me on two separate occasions to continue the MelaFix.
<... dump them. Go elsewhere>
My focus is now on the remainder of the tank. Is it viable to assume the best outcome and treat with antimicrobial meds?
<Again; I would not treat. Not likely to be efficacious, nor likely necessary at this time>
The vet I consulted yesterday told me that a live specimen is needed for diagnosis (and would be sacrificed for the samples to be taken). I have, however chilled the deceased gourami in case they tell me otherwise tomorrow.
<Okay>
I have no idea about what this means for the future of the tank and my still living fish.
<Really... not much... these disease organisms come and go... gain, lose strength depending on... Let's have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm
Any further info you can supply would be greatly appreciated.
<Glad to assist your gathering awareness>
Regards,
Meg
<And you, Bob Fenner>

New fish, unwell tank, Mycobacterial/TB?    10/1/14
Hi guys,
<Meg>
I'm new to your web page but have had a look at a lot of the info here.. I
come with a pretty heavy heart as things are not looking good in my tank.
Tropical 80L tank has been set up for 6 weeks. Temp 27C, pH about 7-7.4,
ammonia 0, nitrates 0
Got 2 new dwarf gouramis 2 weeks ago. I didn't quarantine. I know, stupid.
I don't have a quarantine tank. I've never had trouble of this sort before,
and really only 'dabbled' in having fish. (I set it up, it worked, I cared for the water and the tank and all seemed good... Never needed to look
further into it).
At that time tank contained:
Mature angel fish (about 3-4 years old)
Albino Cory catfish (about 3 years old)
Yoyo loach
3 male guppies
3 female guppies
1 Mollie
1 neon dart
all was ok for about a week until a Mollie died. I watched the tank and
noticed a bit of aggression from one of the gouramis. I put the death down to this and hoped all would settle. A few days later, the guppies started dying one by one and I noticed one of the male's tail had a tear and a white/clear patch developing. I also noticed at this stage a lesion on the face of one of the gouramis, and a 'graze' patch on the other one.
I began treating with Melafix, but after a few days I realised the bottle I
had was out of date.
<This tea extract is of no medical use. A sham that can/does make matters worse>
I went to the aquarium and got a new batch and some
salt to add.
The gourami with the 'graze' - the one who was initially a bit aggressive -
got rapidly worse over 3 days. The graze patch spread across it's side, over it's head and onto the other side. I euthanised it yesterday.
All of the guppies have died except for 1 male, who seemed fine until
tonight - he has started swimming really limply and has a black spot in his dorsal fin.
The most recent guppy to die (female) was badly emaciated.
I have the remaining gourami in isolation, but as I said it is not a
functioning tank so I am relying on water changes from the main tank. It has developed a patch that looks like the graze on the first one - pale and
loss of scales.
I called the aquarium and they said the MelaFix takes 7 days to work, but I
can see the second gourami getting steadily worse.
<I'd shop elsewhere>
I have also called a vet, but need to wait about 14 hours before they would
be available and they have told me it will cost upwards of AUD$290 to test and diagnose for Mycobacteria. Firstly I'm not sure if the fish will last this long, and secondly am not really in a position to spend this much.
I'm concerned for my own health, as I most certainly have cleaned the tank
in the last two weeks with broken skin on my hands. I've bought some shoulder length gloves online, but I am nervous at the thought of getting infected. I noticed a spot on my hand a few days ago (before I knew of Mycobacteria) that went away in 24 hours. I have taken a photo of the faded site.
<I see this; and am relieved>
I include photos of the deceased gourami, the still-living gourami and my
hand.
Thanks in advance. I guess I know the chance of it being Mycobacteria is
slim, but I can't get it out of my head. Thanks for being there to help with this kind of thing.
<Mycobacteria (the genus, condition) is not rare...>

Hope to hear from you soon,
Meg
<Do please search (the tool on every page) on WWM re this genus of bacteria. Bob Fenner>


Fish Tuberculosis      7/13/14
I wanted to clarify something that has been bothering me for a while now.
I believe, from reading posts and questions in various forums, that this subject is a general cause for concern, but the bottom-line is never truly addressed. As a laboratory professional, more specifically, a microbiologist, the topic of "fish tuberculosis" has naturally piqued my interest. Perhaps it's an unfortunate coincidence that the Mycobacterial disease in fish was coined "tuberculosis", although the actual microorganism that causes the disease is Mycobacterium marinum. The microorganism that causes the dreaded tuberculosis (the pulmonary disease) in humans is Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
<Yes and yes, and yes>

It is true that M. marinum can cause disease in humans, so I believe care should be taken, especially if a person is immunocompromised or has cuts or broken skin on their hands or arms. Usually, the infections are opportunistic and are skin-related diseases (granulomas). The pathogen that causes "fish tuberculosis" in fish does not cause tuberculosis, the pulmonary disease, in humans.
<Indeed; this is so>
I hope I haven't confused the situation more...in proof-reading I had to stop and think a second. Anyway, I don't want to downplay the dangers of M. marinum as the pathology it may cause in humans is nothing to ignore. I just wanted to clarify that "fish tuberculosis" is not the same as TB in humans.
<Again; Stan Sniezsko was one of the first to be credited with this... some sixty years back>
I also wanted to give a great big "Thank You" to all of you who help all of us on a daily basis! Your knowledge and experience benefit us all so much (well, I can only speak for myself...). Thanks!!
Kim
<I thank you for your efforts here, and your kind, encouraging words. Bob Fenner, common progenitor of WWM>

Re: Stocking question for tank with Mycobacteria 9/20/12
Hi Rick,
<Carrie>
Thanks so much for your help. Yikes. I am in for a long haul, eh? Okay, I don't think it's feasible to move the inhabitants of the big tank and break it all down, so I am going to do the best I can. I have a couple of questions about the treatment protocol you suggest:
<It depends. Are any animals sick right now?>
Preliminarily, is it worth trying just a UV sterilizer first to avoid the more drastic measures of medicating and replacing all media? If the answer is "no," then my other questions are:
<Depends again. Are any animals currently sick? When was the last death?
the UV sterilizer is kind of a finishing touch, not a first line of defense. Shouldn't really need it at all, I just like the additional step.
They are not cheap pieces of equipment.>
1) What antibiotic would you recommend I use? (keeping in mind the Kuhli loach)
<I'd start with erythromycin or tetracycline, whichever you can find for cheaper. I urge you to temporarily relocating the loach during treatment, even if you have to get a Goodwill tank or borrow a tank.>
2) What would the order of treatment be (in other words, which comes first -- UV Sterilizer, filter media change, antibiotics)?
<All at once. I'd change the filter media after a major water change, add the antibiotics per directions and run. You're going to need a large quantity of antibiotic, that's the real disadvantage of treating in your display tank. Don't forget to remove any activated carbon in the filter path. Then, once everything else is running, add the optional UV sterilizer.>
3) Do you recommend a particular UV sterilizer?
<I don't have a preference. Get something on clearance if you can find one at Petco or PetSmart.>
4) Obviously, I am going to destroy my biological filter with all of this.
How should I deal with that during treatment?
<Not necessarily, or not completely. If you have ornaments and gravel there will be some bacteria there to seed a new cycle. To prevent ammonia spikes, you might get some empty filter bags at PetSmart (like 99c each) and a box of ammo chips. Put a scoop of ammo chips into the filter bag and put that into the filter path. Most filters have space for it. Ammo chips are useful for this sort of temporary situation where water changes mid-treatment aren't necessarily the best idea. It's one of the few legitimate uses for ammo chips in my opinion. Test for ammonia daily.>
Thanks again. I know I made a huge mistake not quarantining.
<The most common mistake, even amongst experienced aquarists. My quarantine tanks somehow keep ending up with permanent residents.>
My experience should serve as a cautionary tale. I would have avoided a lot of heartache if I had simply followed best practices.
<Prevention is far easier and a lot cheaper than cure.>
Carrie
<Rick>
Re: Stocking question for tank with Mycobacteria 9/20/12
I know I am probably testing your patience,
<Back and forth is fully expected for a problem like this.>
 but if I could get one last clarification it would make me feel much better. I get so nervous before doing major stuff to the tank, I always fear I will make a huge mistake and kill everyone.
<Understandable. Sometimes it happens despite doing everything right. If that happens, use it as an opportunity and a learning experience.>
The last death was yesterday.  No one is sick right now. Does you still recommend the antibiotics, new media, uv sterilizer trio?
<At this time, I would just change the filter media, do a major water change, and monitor the tank. At the very first indication of illness, start the antibiotic treatment.  If you do have a UV sterilizer, you can put it in now and leave it in for several weeks, even if there are no obvious illnesses.. I don't know if the cost justifies buying a UV sterilizer just for this, but they are nice to have available as an option.
I store mine in the cabinet 99% of the time, but I did defeat a lingering  string of mysterious illnesses in my 46 gallon tank simply by changing filter media and running UV for 3 or 4 weeks.>
Also, I have a 10-gallon QT set up for future new arrivals that I could put the loach in, however, I cycled it using filter media from the big tank.
Should I treat the QT first, change the filter media in it and then put the loach there while I treat the big tank, or is the risk not so great that it makes a difference?
<If you do the above suggestions, then you may not need to move anyone. If you do have another illness in the big tank, then I would move the loach out and just monitor that tank also.  Just be ready to act quickly if you see signs of illness on any of the fish.>
Again, thank you so much.  I will be making another donation to your wonderful site.
<Thanks!>
Have a great weekend.
<Good luck>
Carrie
<Rick>
Re: Stocking question for tank with Mycobacteria 9/20/12
Thank you again. I will update you in a few weeks.
Carrie
<Good luck - Rick>
Stocking question for tank with Mycobacteria 9/20/12

Happy autumn my wet web friends!
<Still have another day of summer.>
Thank you as always for the wealth of information on your site. It is the only Internet resource I consult.
<Lots of good stuff here, for sure.>
My 72 gallon bowfront has been up and running for 7 months. I was a complete novice and utter fool when I got this tank, and did not quarantine new livestock. I also purchased 9 platies from a big box store soon after setting up the tank. Five died within a few weeks from what I believe was/is Mycobacteria. The ones that survived were doing okay, and had a number of fry that also survived, but a pattern soon developed where one of the males would start harassing one of the females, and a few days later, she would develop Mycobacteria symptoms and die.
<What symptoms? Mycobacteria (aka fish tuberculosis) gets blamed for a lot of things that are actually caused by something else. It's fortunately somewhat rare. Please describe the symptoms and why you believe it's Mycobacteria.>
My belief is that when the fish was healthy, she could fend off the Mycobacteria, but as soon as she got stressed, it "got" her.
<Not uncommon. There's definitely a lingering problem of some kind in your tank.
At this point, only 1 of the original 9 is still alive, and 7 fry have reached maturity. I have 2 males and 6 females.
<This already is a good M/F ratio for livebearers, but regardless, I would not add any fish until you understand what's going on and correct it.>
I would like to get a few more females to spread the love, so to speak, and have found a LFS with good husbandry practices, but is doing so merely a death sentence for the new additions?
<Possibly, unless you correct the problem first.>
I have read on your site that Mycobacteria is present in most all aquariums, but also read that a tank with a Mycobacteria outbreak should be broken down and bleached in order to avoid a recurrence.
<Probably a little of everything is in every tank. Again, why do you think this is Mycobacteria?>
So, can I in good conscience add platies?
<Fix the problem first.>
Would Endler's be a better choice (and would the platy males be interested in them)?
<Anything you add will be at risk. Platy males might be interested in Endler's females if they can't find a female platy.>
Or should I avoid livebearers all together?
<Livebearers are great fishes, so I would never tell anyone to give up on them. That said, tell me about your water parameters, especially temperature, hardness and pH. Livebearers are hard and alkaline water fishes. If you have soft water, there are other steps you should take for the health of your fish.>
Thank you for sharing your expertise.
<Welcome. - Rick>
Carrie
Re: Stocking question for tank with Mycobacteria 9/20/12

Good morning,
<Carrie>
I am sorry that I didn't give you the necessary information in my first email. I have read so many FAQs I should have known better! The first few weeks I had the tank there were some water quality issues, including an ammonia and nitrite spike, because I didn't know about cycling. Since then (the last 6 months), ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate= between 10 and 20.
Also, it was at 77 degrees, 7.4 ph, KH=3, GH=6. When I began researching on WetWeb, I realized the platies need harder, alkaline water, so I began adding Neale's Rift Valley Cichlid mix (Epsom salt, marine salt, and baking soda) until now the KH=5, GH=between 200 and 220 ppm or between 11 and 12 gH degrees, Ph=7.6. The temp is set at 76.5, but during the summer months I couldn't keep it below 78 or 79. I do a 25% water change every week to 10 days.
<All good. After the crisis is resolved, you might experiment with using crushed coral in the filter path to see if you can get a more passive way of increasing the hardness and pH. Not your priority right now.>
In addition to the platies, the tank has zebra danios, neon tetras, a harlequin Rasbora, a Kuhli loach, and a big Pleco. It is for them that I don't go harder on the water. They seem largely unaffected by the problem, with the exception of two Rasboras, which I will explain. The "post-mortem" on the platies is as follows:
<I see.>
Platy #1 -- died within three days of entering the tank. Crashed on bottom for one night, localized swelling on one side with small amount of "white fuzz" on scales.
<By crashed on bottom, I assume you mean sleeping? White fuzz sounds like a fungus. Given the month between this and the next fish, it might be unrelated.>
Platy #2 -- A month after tank setup, crashed on bottom of tank, fins clamped, flashing. A few days later, internal red "blotch" visible. The next day, localized swelling at site of red "blotch," swimming erratically, laying on side, heavy breathing. Euthanized (using clove oil).
<Possibly an infection of some kind.>
Platy #3 -- One day after platy #2 died, crashed on bottom, flashing, fin clamping. Died days later.
Platy #4 -- One month later, hiding, crashed on bottom, "sickly" color, day later dropsical. Died two days later.
Platy #5 -- Two months after platy #4, platy harassed by male for several days. Started hiding, hanging at top for a few weeks. Stopped eating for four days, became dropsical and died the next day.
Platy #6 -- Around same time, started hanging by filter for a few weeks.
Developed dropsy. Euthanized the next day (a week after #5).
Platy #7 -- Traditional "wasting away" became very skinny over the course of a month. Eyes became "sunken." Turned up dead in tank one morning, two weeks after #6.
Platy #8 -- A month later, harassed by male for few weeks. Started hiding more. Developed slight localized swelling on one side and eyes appeared slightly "sunken." Began swimming erratically, crashed on bottom, laying on side, heavy breathing. Euthanized. As I said, the only other fatalities were two Rasboras. One had a large lesion develop on his side and he got quite skinny before he died. The other had a large white lump appear under the skin near his tail. He developed fin rot and died despite antibiotic treatment in a hospital tank.
<Despite the failed antibiotic treatment, it still sounds like a bacterial infection to me.>
I have concluded that this is some sort of Mycobacteria because it appears to affect only the platies, and, honestly, after hours of research I don't know what else it could possibly be.
<Would eventually impact all residents. Likely a gram-negative infection.>
I am completely open to suggestions as I very much want to correct the problem. All of these platies came from a store where, in my visits since, I have seen many fish with clamped fins, dead fish left in tanks, and other indicia of poor fishkeeping. Also, I am quite sure they were farmed platies, so they may be genetically weak as well.
<Well, almost certainly they were farmed. But chances are it's some kind of gram negative bacteria. Mycobacterial infections are somewhat rare See this article. Discussion of Mycobacteria can be found but searching the document for "tuber" as in tuberculosis. The entire article is worth reading.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/mycobactera.htm>
I very much appreciate any and all thoughts you might have. I am still trying to make up for initial mistakes, and want to make a healthy tank for all inhabitants. Thank you again. Enjoy the last day of summer!
<First mistake you made as a newbie was not quarantining your animals before putting them into the main tank. Too late for that now. Ideally you would get a culture of the bacteria to get a positive identification whether it's Mycobacteria or something else. Failing that, the odds still are on a gram negative, not a gram positive like Mycobacteria. So, if you can't do a culture, then at this stage, I think you need to do a thorough antibiotic treatment for gram-negative bacteria in the tank (or better yet, in a smaller volume quarantine tank and thoroughly clean the large tank.)
With a lingering problem like this, you want to treat the fishes, you want to get any lingering bacteria out of the water with major water changes (preferably before you add the meds) and completely replace the filter media, since the nasty bacteria can hide in there just as easily as the beneficial bacteria. I bought myself a modest UV sterilizer that I use in this sort of situation. I install it in the tank and leave it running for several weeks. When I'm confident the situation is corrected, I remove the UV sterilizer from the tank and store it. That kills free bacteria in the water. You also want to use medicated food if possible.
I would assume this is not Mycobacteria unless treatment for gram-negative has no effect. In that case, fall back to the Mycobacteria theory, but recognize that it's very difficult to treat. (See the article I linked.)
One other thing: Make sure you are protecting yourself. Always wash your hand with soap and water after working with your tank, and be especially mindful about it in a situation like yours, where the tank is sick. If there is indeed Mycobacteria in the tank, it can be transmitted to you.>
Carrie
<Rick>

Sequential Platy Sickness/Death -- Mycobacteria?    4/3/12
Good morning all,
<Carrie>
I wrote to you several weeks ago as a "newbie" who had completely botched the transfer of a friend's 72-gallon tank.  Since then, I have learned more about water chemistry and fish behavior from reading your website than I ever thought possible, so thank you.  Unfortunately, I am humbly seeking your advice once again, but this time because after much research I am considering drastic measures in an attempt to curb what I fear is an outbreak of Mycobacteria infections in my platies.
<Ok>
Here are the relevant stats: 72-gallon tank, inhabitants are: 6 platies (plus 2 platy fry), 9 zebra danios, 5 neon tetras, 2 harlequin Rasboras, 1 common Pleco, and 1 kuhlii loach.  The tank was transferred from a friend's house to mine six weeks ago.  As a result of initial ignorance, we had a mini-cycle and a nitrite spike (to about .5) within the first week.  Since then, ammonia and nitrite have been zero, nitrate never higher than 20ppm, and ph hovering around 7.4.  Last week, I finally got my GH/KH testing kit and discovered that despite the ph, my water is soft out of the tap (KH = 3 degrees dh and GH = 5 degrees dh).  I started adding Neale's Rift Valley Salt Mix during water changes at about 1/4 strength to slowly harden the water and the tank is now at KH = 4 and GH = 6.  I know that is too soft for the Platies, my goal is KH of 5 and GH of 11 (I don't want to go too hard b/c of the neons and the loach).
<Good>
We also had a mild Ich outbreak that was cured by keeping the heat at 86 degrees for two weeks (thanks, Bob F.!!). <Welcome>  I lowered the heat over a week and it has now been at 76 degrees for several days.  Okay, here is the problem.  My platies are getting sick and dying one by one.  No one else seems affected.  I have scoured your site for hours and hours and the best I can come up with is some sort of Mycobacteria infection.  The "post-mortem" is as follows:
Platy #1 -- died on 2/16 within three days of entering the tank.  Crashed on bottom for one night, localized swelling on one side with small amount of "white fuzz" on scales.
Platy #2 -- crashed on bottom of tank, fins clamped, on 3/10, coming up only to eat and occasionally flash.  Three days later, internal red "blotch" visible.  The next day, localized swelling at site of red "blotch," swimming erratically, then crashing to bottom.  Euthanized on 3/15.
Platy #3 -- crashed on bottom of tank on 3/14.  No visible symptoms except occasional flashing and fin clamping.  Came up to eat until 3/19 when she remained at bottom.  Died hours later on 3/19.  Never any visible problems.
Then, all was fine until 3/29 when another platy stopped eating and started hanging listlessly at the top of the tank, then she started hiding and occasionally flashing.  She actually has a "sickly" yellow color to her and has her fins clamped.  She now seems thinner than before (although it may just be the 4-day fast).  On Saturday, another platy started hanging out listlessly at the top and sitting on the bottom, and yet another was swimming and eating normally, but fin clamping and occasionally flashing.
The listless one is the only one that seems much thinner than the others, although as of yesterday, he was still eating fine.
I have no idea what to do.
<Mmm, I wish... as too usual... that we/you could "go back" a few weeks; treat the incoming Platies ahead of their placement here... The possibilities of infectious and parasitic disease are vast... One might treat the entire (present) system w/ Metronidazole and Prazi... or other vermifuge... in the hopes of covering most all bases...>
 I have a QT tank cycling, but it is not quite ready yet.  The remaining three platies, as of today, seem healthy.  After reading all the information on Mycobacteria infections, I am actually considering pulling the three symptomatic ones and euthanizing them.  I could not bring myself to do this until I sought your advice.  I would hate to put down a fish that could be cured, but I have not attempted to treat the tank yet as I cannot figure out what to treat it for, and I have read your advice not to treat until you are fairly certain with what you are dealing.
So, my biggest question is: does it sound like Mycobacteria to you
<Not able to tell w/ what is presented>
 and, if so, should I euthanize the symptomatic fish in an effort to save the healthy ones (and the two larger fry that are in the tank)? If you think it is something else, is there any treatment you would recommend?
<I would have you read re this species diseases:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/PlatyDis8.htm
and the linked files above... till you understand your options (from at least our points of view)>
Thanks once again for sharing your expertise, and for taking the time to read this lengthy email.  You guys are the best.  I am at my wit's end, but nonetheless am trying my best to educate myself and act rationally rather than haphazardly throwing chemicals in the tank.
I hope life is treating you well.
Regards,
Carrie
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Sequential Platy Sickness/Death -- Mycobacteria?    4/12/12

Good morning,
<Car>
It's me again.  I took your suggestion and treated my main tank with Metronidazole and Prazi.  Last treatment was Thursday 4/5, 25% water change on Saturday, 4/7.  The platies have almost completely stopped flashing and appear happier.  Thank you.
<Ah good>
I know that it is very difficult to figure out what exactly what is going on in my tank and you have been very patient with my persistent questions.
I am writing again because something happened yesterday that I think may be a clue about the nature of the disease and I can't seem to find anything about it anywhere.
I noticed four or five days ago that one of the (always healthy-looking) platies had a spot on her head that looked like she may have scraped it against something.  The scales looked a little translucent and indented if that makes sense.  Yesterday, that spot had turned black.  Like a black patch or smudge.
<A healing site>
 The patch is not raised or bumpy, it is flat with the skin, and does not appear fuzzy. She is acting and eating completely normally and appears pregnant (I can see the black eyes of the fry in her belly).
When I saw this, I remembered that the last two platies who died had similar areas of black on their backs, although not as pronounced.  Only the tips of their scales in the area appeared black.  I noticed the change 10 days or so before they sickened and died.  This does not sound consistent with any of the platy disease symptoms I could find discussed in the FAQs.
My little 10-gallon tank is finally cycled and ready, so I can pull the affected platy and treat her separately.  Does the black patch give you any other idea what might be happening?
<I think this is what you speculate. A trauma>
 If not, is it worth treating her with a wide spectrum antibiotic?  Is it something that might heal on its own?
<The latter>
Thank you again for continually answering my questions.  I made another donation to your site this morning.  It is something I have been meaning to do for weeks because you have been such a help to me.  I wish I had some useful skill to offer in kind, but, alas, I am a lawyer, so I do not.
<We're all doing what we can>
Regards,
Carrie
<And you, BobF>

Sick fish   4/2/12
What do you think causes this sunken belly. This fish is having trouble swimming, stays at bottom of tank a lot and is not eating a great deal either. Thanks Jane
Jane
<Does look like "wasting disease", typically Mycobacteria infection. No cure, unfortunately. More often that not caused by an environmental stress, but among livebearers this isn't always true, and sometimes bad luck and bad genes come into the equation, but keep an open mind and check the environment is appropriate to the species. Do review:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/mycobactera.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/MycobactFW.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/poeciliids.htm
http://wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
Cheers, Neale.>

Re Fish are getting better...? Lost...  Mycobacteria f'   3/4/12
Just a little update on the fish and how they're doing.  They've gotten so much better, and they no longer seem panicked or stressed.  I do have one more little problem.. The golden female platy in my tank has become very, very thin, and her spine is starting to curve strangely.
<Hmm… do suspect Mycobacteria infection… very common among farmed livebearers (including Platies but especially Guppies). Essentially untreatable; would recommend at least isolating, else euthanising.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/mycobactera.htm
http://wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
To some degree Mycobacteria infections are environmentally-triggered, but that said, the quality of farmed livebearers (and a few other groups of fish) is so low that these bacteria are especially likely to become a problem.>
She also has developed little black speckles all over her body, all of them no bigger than a fleck of pepper.  She shows no signs of illness, she's eating properly, nothing wrong with her digestion, but it still worries me.  (The angelfish also has very tiny flecks of black on the bases of its ventral fins, but I'm pretty sure they've always been there, since she's white with black patches/spots)
<Yes.>
My little sister recently purchased four neon tetra and a fancy guppy for my tank, so to spare her feelings, I had to keep them (and the fact that she threw away the receipt..) Despite the addition of the fish, the ammonia stays at zero, nitrites at zero, and the nitrates at 10-15 ppm.  I also got a big piece of Mopani, and I soaked it for five days in a separate container, but it leached more tannins into the water when I put it in the tank.
<And will do, for months if not years. Do check the pH; livebearers mustn't be exposed to pH below 7, so it's important to ensure at least moderately hard and alkaline conditions to keep the pH in the 7-8 range.>
So there are two possibilities for the platy to have the black flecks: contraction of disease from the guppy and tetra, or something from the driftwood's tannins.
<Or a third possibility, that "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" isn't true, and the Platy got sick at a time purely coincident with the arrival of the new fish.>
All of the fish are still doing fine, but I'm just a little worried.  The black specks do not protrude or intrude on the body, so it looks like part of her coloration.  She is a panda platy, but she is mutated, so she's completely yellow instead of both yellow and black.  She originally had little flecks of black around her tail area, but I'm not sure if her coloring is just coming in a little more, or if it's something else, like a parasitic or bacterial disease. There's also the fact that she looks anorexic, and her body is starting to curve a little bit, her back arching up more and her tail curving down. Do you think she could have a disease that's making her so thin and curving her spine?
<See above, and the linked articles.>
Should I be feeding her any special foods?
<Platies are herbivores, as are Guppies, so a Spirulina-based flake is recommended.>
I feed them all Ocean Nutrition: formula two flakes, which has a lot of protein and vitamins for the fish, and the only one that's getting fat off of this stuff is the baby platy.  The momma is starting to get a little bit bigger, but I don't know if that's because I'm feeding her a little more or because her back is starting to arch more.
All of the other fish are fine, except that the male guppy loves to watch himself go up and down the glass every other hour, and they're all eating fine. I'm cleaning the tank more often to keep algae from building up, keeping the nitrates lower, etc.  I'll have them in a bigger 30 gallon tank by the end of this spring, so I'll just have to work harder on this tank until then.
If you could reply back, that would be great  :)
Thanks again, Jenny.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: Fish are getting better…? (RMF, photos consistent with Mycobacteria?)<<Could be>>     3/4/12

Thank you for the reply.
<Welcome.>
I've read both of the links, and I now realize that the infection may not be treatable, but if I were to try and treat her, what medication should I use?
< Mycobacteria? Not really worth medicating, if it is this.>
There should be two pictures attached, but I don't know if they will show up.  In the first picture, the black specks didn't show up very well, but you could see that her tail is slightly curving downwards and her back is arched more than usual. You could also see that she's very. very thin.  The second picture kind of shows the black speckled area near her tail which has always been there, but the new specks that have appeared look like the specks in that area, so again, it could be part of her coloration.
<The black specks could be anything. "Black Spot" in pond fish is a parasitic infection, and when it happens in aquarium fish, generally clears up by itself because the parasite can't complete its life cycle in aquaria.
Black patches on a fish are more likely to be bacterial infection, dead tissue, defective colouration cells in the skin -- a variety of things.
What makes me think this is Mycobacteria is the deformity and thinness of the fish, entirely consistent with Mycobacteria infections of livebearers.>
I forgot to mention this, but she started getting thin a little while ago, long before we got the new fish and the Mopani wood, so that excludes the possibilities of the new fish or the wood contracting the disease. I just wasn't very worried then because she was still eating, and she seemed perfectly fine other than that she was starting to get thin. But when her spine started to curve like that, I got a little worried. I probably should have emailed sooner.
But she seems to be getting better, eating a little more than she used to and grouping together with her tank mates more, looking a little bit bigger than she was before.
<Since Mycobacteria are opportunistic, it is possible for fish to get better under their own steam. Rare, but possible. Treating is difficult.
Mycobacteria are considered to be Gram-positive bacterium from the perspective of medication, so an antibiotic that treats Gram-positive bacteria, such as Maracyn, as opposed to a Gram-negative antibiotic like Maracyn 2, is the way to go, and if the fish is feeding, may help the fish's own immune system pull the fish through.>
I read in that first link that you can treat the fish three ways: through immersion, feeding orally, or injection.  It seems that oral would be the easiest way to treat, since she's gulping down food just as well as the others, but I wouldn't know how to feed her the food with the medicine. I could do it one of the mentioned ways, food mixed in with the jello, but again, I don't know which medication to use. (are any of the medicines listed on that first forum oral medications, or can be used for food?)  In the end, I'd probably have to euthanize her, but I at least want to try to help her: she's a very nice tank mate to have and she has a very good temperament.
<Do refer to the instructions on the antibiotic used.>
And thank you for the links, and I'm sure they'll be very helpful to me. 
I'll try to set up a separate tank for her, but I don't have anything over 1 or 1.5 gallons. Maybe I can get a bare 5 gallon for her, and I'll need to buy a new filter to go with it.    I also mentioned getting a 30 gallon at the end of this spring, so this new tank will be disease free. :)
<Antibiotics can be "hard" on biological filters -- after all, the things do the filtration are bacteria, and you're treating with a bacteria-killed chemical! So use of zeolite instead of a biological filter, plus regular (ideally, daily) water changes will help.>
Thanks, Jenny
<Cheers Neale.

 

Re: Fish are getting better…?     3/6/12
Actually, just one more really quick question: can you use medicine for immersion in food instead of putting it in the water?  <If you're a vet and know how to dose according to body mass. Otherwise, no, not if the medicine doesn't come with instructions for doing this.>
I'm going to set up a separate 2.5 gallon, using water from the tank to avoid any more stress from uncycled water, and have her in there for a little while, feed her the food, then put her back in the main tank, just to avoid any mess-ups with the water quality in the main tank.   I went to the LFS, and they didn't have any five gallons, just 15 and up or 2.5 and below.
If I were to feed her the medicine, I will use the gelatin method, blending the food with the medicine and some water, mixing in some gelatin and freezing it. Then I can give her the recommended dose on the box.
-Jenny
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Fish death   3/30/12
Well, it's very sad, but I had to euthanize the fish.
<Too bad.>
I ordered the medicine (can't remember the name off the top of my head..) 
It ended up coming a day late, and my fish was completely degraded,  wouldn't even swim up for food.  But she's been put out of her suffering, and since the suspected fish TB is still in my aquarium, I'll be able to use the medicine for any future confrontations with the disease.
<I see.>
I had a little mix up with the angel and the younger platy, though.  I had come home from my classes and all of the fish seemed okay, I fed them, and left. But I came up about an hour later and I found (for the platy's size) a rather large lesion a few centimeters behind the right eye.  I'm surprised it didn't go for the guppy or any of the neon tetra first, though.  The wound looked just about the same size as the angel's mouth, so I guess we have a culprit here.
<Can be. Angels eat small fish, including Neons. They don't, however, normally take pot-shots at fish they can't swallow whole. So keep an open mind here, and don't place blame on the Angel without considering alternative issues.>
Now I'm going to need a tank divider....  I'm looking online for a couple of different antibiotics for the platy, but I saw one called "Bio-bandage,"  using a gel-based formula to heal open wounds and abrasions. (too bad it's ten dollars for a little 6 oz. bottle..)
<Pretty pointless, but if you want to spend the money go ahead. Otherwise, if water quality is excellent (zero ammonia and nitrite) and you do 10-20% water changes every day or two, fish with open wounds will heal quickly, within a week or so.>
There's no sign of stress or any fungus growing on the wound, but I don't really want to waste any time that I could be using to heal the wound. 
I'll look into this "bio-bandage" stuff, but I'll need some more options.
Thanks for all of your help, though.  I'm sure that the platy will be fine, but I'll just have to wait and see.
-Jenny
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish death   3/31/12

Well, there could have been some alternative causes, but it looked like the angel had gotten a bit agitated lately, probably because I stopped feeding her as much food as I used to. I added some Melafix,
<Not a medication I recommend once a fish is actually infected with something; better used as a preventative when healthy fish are physically damaged, e.g., by fighting.>
hoping it could help keep any rotting or fungus away, and whether it was the Melafix or not, the fish seems to be getting better already! :)
<Good.>
I'm thinking it was partially the neon tetras, too, because they were lightly picking at her before I separated the injured fish from the rest. I guess they kind of "cleaned" her of the dead/dying tissue, so that could have helped prevent any rotting on the wound. (hoping that it wasn't painful for the poor fish..) I've bought a tank divider to separate them while the fish heals, fits snugly so none of the other fish, especially the angelfish, can get to her.
Thanks for the reply, hope you have a nice day :)
-Jenny
<Glad to help, and have a nice day yourself! Cheers, Neale.>

Sick gouramis! Please help?   10/31/11
Hi, I have searched Google and your website and can't seem to find anyone who has had the same symptoms as my two gouramis currently have. We have a 250 litre tank with 2 gouramis, 5 mollies, 2 silver sharks and 1 angel fish. The water levels are all fine.
<Meaning what? Mollies require water that is hard and alkaline, and ideally brackish; such conditions are the opposite of what Gouramis want. It's hard to create conditions that both species enjoy.>
We have recently treated the tank for Ich (approx 3 weeks ago) and now all the other fish seem fine, except the gouramis. Our rainbow fish died today and when we removed it from the tank we found that the gouramis had been hiding in the plants (plastic). When we disturbed them by removing the rainbow fish they came out and we noticed a White patch on one of them and both of them appear to have a rotting top fin and swelling on their heads.
<Not good. Does sound like Mycobacteria infection. Quite common with gouramis, especially the small Colisa species (e.g., Dwarf Gouramis) and the hybrids based on them (Sunset Gouramis, Red Robin Gouramis, etc.).>
They seem to be clamping their side fins too.
<Indeed; a common trait among sickly fish.>
I can't see any problems with and of the other fish. I haven't come across this before but they really don't look well. I have attached a picture below.
<Does look like a bacterial infection. But the cause? Hard to say.>
The big White area is on the fish behind and is quite blurred but you can clearly see the White areas on the one at the front. This also looks as if the skin is shedding/peeling. Do you have any idea what this could be?
<Bacterial for sure. Antibiotic may help; Mycobacteria are gram-positive, Finrot bacteria typically gram-positive, so choose accordingly. Ideally, choose one or two antibiotics that allow you to treat both sorts of bacteria at the same time.>
Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. Laura
<Cheers, Neale.>

 

Danio with fish TB or merely bad water quality or old age?   9/16/11
Hi,
first of all, Id like to thank you guys for running this website its helped me out many times and its always my first stop when there is something wrong with my fish and I need an answer.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I have a tropical fish tank with a mix of loaches, Platies, a Cory, and four (or, as of yesterday, three) zebra Danios. I feed them mainly with fish flakes and some additional sinking food for the loaches. I cant recall how big the tank is, but from previous calculations I know that it isnt overstocked (since I had a few deaths recently its rather a bit under-stocked, but more of that later). As for food occasionally they get bloodworms or daphnia but they havent had much variety recently because we were on hold for a few weeks and its easier for the fish feeder to just give the flakes.
<Sounds fine. Good quality flakes can make an adequate staple, though offering occasional live or wet-frozen foods really can help with constipation problems.>
Now, to give you the back-story. I have to admit that in recent months Ive been a very bad fish keeper indeed. I am pregnant and the constant exhaustion and nausea has thrown me for a bit of a loop, meaning that Ive been less than diligent with cleaning out the tank. Add to that that every time I clean it I seem to have to flush a fish or two afterwards (is it the shock of all that clean water?) and tank maintenance hasnt looked too appealing recently and the tank has on occasion looked pretty bad.
<I see.>
Through this neglect I have lost a few fish recently, but there was nothing in particular about those deaths that alerted me to anything like an illness fish would stop eating, keep themselves separate, and eventually die. There were no sores, discolouration or anything else odd. Losses were varied an aquatic frog, a couple of guppies, a Cory, and some Platies, but with many weeks in between). Its bad, I know, and I feel rather guilty, but I attributed it to the bad water quality and tank hygiene rather than any disease.
Now the Danio A while back (at least a month or so ago) he developed a curved spine. Looked really odd, like he had a hunchback or something like that. Initially this didnt seem to bother him much at all, but during the past week or so he got slower and stopped swimming around much. Eventually I found him at the bottom of the tank, kind of crumpled up he looked almost paralysed, his spinal deformity looked that bad. He wasnt moving and I thought he was dead, but when touched he roused himself and swam off. The next morning I found him floating at the top of the tank, dead, but get this by the time I got round to fishing him out (had to get kids off to school, etc, so it was a couple of hours later), he was gone! This was two days ago and Ive done two water changes since and I havent found him. Perhaps he was eaten?! Granted, I have a lot of plants in there, but I did check through them and nothing!
<Could be a combination of things. Crooked spines typically appear either at birth if genetic or in older fish as a result of environmental stress and/or poor diet. Simply being old shouldn't cause this problem, but it might I suppose.>
Since he died in such an odd way, today I sat down to Google the hunchback syndrome and after reading about Fish TB for a couple of hours I am more than a little freaked-out, in particular as it can be passed to humans. As I said, I cleaned the tank twice in the past two days and I did discover a little wound (cuticle) on my hand, so that wound was definitely in contact with the water! In particular as I am pregnant Im rather worried that I may have contracted something... Do you think it is likely the Danio died of Fish TB? He didnt appear to have any sores, etc. that I could detect, but then, that appears to be optional. He was quite big and I think I must have had him for at least 1.5 years so perhaps it was just old age? Or it was the dismal conditions that the tank was in for a while? I have today discovered that another of the remaining Danios has a slightly curved spine, although not nearly as bad as the one that died. He is also a rather large (so Im guessing one of the older) Danios. So far he seems fine otherwise.
What is your opinion? Fish TB? Old age? Bad water and nutrition? Or some other weird and not so wonderful fish problem? And should I go to the doc to get this TB thing checked out?!
<If the aquarium is otherwise fine, and the fish all seem healthy now, I wouldn't worry. The Mycobacteria infection aquarists call Fish TB (probably erroneously) is likely latent in most tanks anyway, but provided the fish are healthy and well cared for, there's no particular reason to worry about it. Nonetheless, I would wait a good 6 weeks before adding any more fish. And if finding the time to maintain the tank is likely to be hard, then understocking the tank will really be a good idea.>
Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you!!
Best regards,
Iris
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

MB and Panda Platy   2/21/11
Dear Crew
<Patrick>
I've emailed your fantastic team over this sick fish in the past. Although I've successfully halted most problems my female Panda Platy over the past few weeks, it appears that the fish TB (Mycobacterium) is taking hold now.
<?... what evidence?>
She developed fin rot and has stopped eating. I put her into a hospital tank where I do a twice daily water change and put it some liquid vitamins.
I treated the fin rot with some salt and JBL Ektol Fluid for two days and the rot appears to have stopped. I gave her two days free from meds and she appeared to be swimming fine albeit with a wobble now. She hasn't eaten for a week and is now looking painfully thin. Is it now time to put her out of her misery with some clove oil?
<I would not give up...>
She appears to be happily swimming about so I don't want to deny her a few last days if you think she is not in pain. However, if you think that this is unkind, please tell me and I will perform the euthanasia as soon as.
Finally, will I need to strip down all my tanks?
<I would not do this either>
She has been in all of them for one reason or another. The other fish all appear fine and I have read that there could be up to 25% of all fish sold commercially with TB. Any advice?
<To stay the course... cleaning these tanks and just replacing the supposedly infected fishes won't cure or stop Mycobacteriosis>
Thanks so much once again,
Pat
<Mmm, have you read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/mycobactera.htm
and the linked files (Related...) above? Bob Fenner>
Re: MB and Panda Platy   2/21/11
Dear Bob
<Pat>
Thank you so much for responding.
<Certainly welcome>
The evidence for the fish MB is as follows for me. I've had my tanks now for nearly a year. The shop that sold me my first batch of Panda Platy's finally admitted they had something wrong with the fish/tanks when I complained after they kept dying. They all wasted away pretty fast.
<There are quite a few possible etiologies/causes for this>
The only one to survive was one Panda Platy despite having a curved spine.
About seven months down the road, she started to show a lump and strange flaking on her tail (almost like dropsy). After communications with Neale (he wasn't sure from the pictures I sent), I decided to try a 30mins bath in JBL Furanol 2 antibiotic and it appeared to help. She did well in the main tank again for a few weeks but then became shy and stopped keeping food in. I also noticed she had developed fin rot and was looking painfully thin. This is when I moved her to a hospital tank and treated her with JBL Ektol Fluid. The fin rot appears to have stopped but she just now wobbles at the bottom of the tank and appears very very thin and weak.
I have indeed read the page you suggested to me, thank you. I understand that the JBL Furanol 2 does not treat MB. Is there anything else I can do?
The param.s in the other tanks are ok and detailed below:
Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 10ppm
PH - 8.2 (tap water is 7.6 but I cannot get the PH down in the tanks despite bog wood added)
Phosphates 2mg/L (I know this is high, but the tap water is the same)
Water Hardness (hard - 16 degrees?)
<Is okay>
The water in the hospital tank is being changed almost twice a day although due to her lack of eating, the ammonia and nitrate levels are pretty much zero.
What should I do?
<If it were me, mine; nothing treatment wise>
Thanks so much!
Dr Patrick Nunn
<Do you have a sufficiently high-powered microscope, or access to one/folks who know how to use? Mycobacteria are easily discerned... gram neg., non-motile rods... BobF>
Re: MB and Panda Platy   2/21/11
Dear Bob
<Hi Pat>
Once again, many thanks.
<As many welcomes>
I'm not sure whether I will be able to get it checked out via microscope, I'll have a think on that one (I am a doctor of music, not medicine unfortunately in this case).
Should I be able to tell from a water sample?
<No>
Or do I actually have to get a scraping from the fish (can't imagine how on earth I would manage that!)
<Is actually easily done... but need proper light microscopy... And not really worthwhile in view (as you've stated) of the commonplace occurrence of Mycobacteria... Better (in this life period) to "shoot for" good initial health livestock, optimized environment, nutrition... and boosted resistance>
If I find anything, I'll come back to you.
cheers
Pat
<And you, BobF>
Re: MB and Panda Platy    2/21/11

Dear Bob
<Mr. Pat>
That's great. Thanks. I'll try and make Platy's life as comfortable as possible as there appears to be not much more I can do.
<Yes>
A quick question on tank maintenance if I may take one further minute of your Sunday. My tanks are pretty heavily planted and I have a JBL Manando substrata with some white sand that has since become rather dirt coloured.
I try as much as I can to clean out fish waste with a battery vacuum
<Better by far to just siphon the water and waste out and put it on your plants, replace w/ new water>
but there always appears to be so much waste left behind (when I change water it stirs up in the tank for a good hour). I've searched the net for ages and found nothing much more than others advising not to bother, the waste will act as a fertiliser for the plants.
<Mmm, most systems are too crowded, overfed for this...>
Is this correct or should I continue to get as much as I can out (along with the snail shells etc.)
cheers
Dr Patrick Nunn
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm
and the linked FAQs file above. BobF>

Fish TB (RMF, anything to add?)<<I don't care for spectator sports period>> 10/4/10
Hello from the UK. I will try to keep this brief. Have a 720l freshwater tank, which I intend converting to a marine FOWLR. Plan was to give most of the fish to a mate, and sell the rest.
<OK.>
Was going to keep substrate (mix of pea and coral gravel),
<Wouldn't bother. Can't see the cost factor being beneficial, and all the crud in the old gravel will just boost nitrate, phosphate levels in the marine tank. Start with good quality, clean sand of appropriate particle size for the fish and inverts being kept.>
external filter (for chemical media and floss),
<Again, you may want to review this; assuming we're talking a canister filter, invest in good quality mechanical filtration media like Siporax or Eheim ceramic noodles. Live rock will be handling the biological filtration, so what you want in the canister is something you can whip out and rinse under a tap every few weeks.>
add new water and bring SG up to 1025. Leave for a week, then add 75kg of live rock and leave to cycle for a month. After this slowly add stock.
Unfortunately after a few deaths, diagnosis from a vet. Mycobacteriosis (fish TB) and to euthanise all stock, which is sad as I have had some of these fish for seven years.
<Indeed, sounds depressing.>
Anyway back to my question, do I have to do anything specific to rid my system of this bacteria, or will the simple addition of salt sort it out.
<Very, very difficult to say. The Mycobacterium species that affects marine fish aren't usually the ones that effect freshwater fish, but there is occasional crossover, as in the case with M. marinum. Whether these are distinct strains as opposed to the same strain adapting to both environments is hard to say. For what it's worth, given you're starting from scratch, there's no reason not to throw out everything you don't need,
and then use household bleach or hydrogen peroxide to sterilise anything you want to keep. Of course, rinse anything bleached will need thorough rinsing afterwards.>
Hoping your countries impending loss in the Ryder Cup does not affect the advice you are going to give. Many thanks, Paul.
<Couldn't care less about golf. And my side won anyway. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish TB (Bob, thoughts on euthanising fish in tanks with TB)<<At times expedient>> 10/4/10
Re fish TB- Hello again, from a citizen of the continent who now holds the Ryder Cup.
<Well, okay. I'm English but don't really care about golf -- a good walk ruined, as someone once said.>
Thanks for the info, will chuck gravel and replace with sand. I'm also checking out the media you mentioned. Was wondering at what temperature these Mycobacterium perish at, and if there would be any point in heating the empty tank up to and over this temp.
<No point at all. Bacteria tend to be very hardy, and the cost of heating the water and running it that way for a few days would be excessive. A common rule of thumb in microbiology is that boiling bacteria for at least 15 minutes kills most types. I don't see that being viable in a fish tank!>
A quick question on the grisly task of disposing of a tank full of what looks like perfectly healthy fish.
<And may well be healthy. Mycobacteria infections are latent in most tanks, but only affect fish that are weakened for one reason or another. If the fish are asymptomatic, there's no reason to assume that they'll become sick and die. They may well be, and remain, in fine health. Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/mycobactera.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
You said you'd had the diagnosis made by a vet; that being the case, your vet is perhaps the best person to state whether the remaining fish need to be destroyed.>
I intend using clove oil, unless you can advise me of a better method.
Again thank you Paul.
<Cheers, Neale.>

TB?   6/26/09
Hello,
I've attached a photo ( sorry about the quality but I believe it shows what I am talking about) of my Rasbora trilineata. I have had him for 1 month and slowly I have noticed his spine in the caudal region has become bent.
Until now I believed it to be a birth defect that merely became more noticeable as he grew.
<Indeed. Well, it's untreatable but unlikely to spread, so would remove/euthanise this fish, but otherwise not worry over-much.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
>
I have "trained" the fish to eat when I signal them so I can observe them eat. For the past 3 days he has stopped eating even though he comes when I signal, he does not eat. I have moved him into a quarantine tank to isolate. He was in my 90 gallon tank with 5 neon tetras and 2 other Rasbora trilineata. All added without quarantine as they were held in the same tank together at the store for me for one month while my tank fully finished off cycling ( I don't add until Nitrates are low and or algae is present).
Cycle was done using a fishless method with a grocery store bought and rinsed shrimp in a rinsed stocking. I did not know fish could carry TB until I came across a FAQ by Don and I am alarmed by the symptoms similarities.
<Fish TB is actually extremely rare, particularly among freshwater fish.
The vast majority of bacterial infections of fish are opportunistic, meaning that they're caused by otherwise-harmless bacteria in the aquarium that are *allowed* to cause disease because the aquarist isn't doing something right in terms of water quality, diet, or whatever.>
While his trunk does not appear to be swollen compared to the others his sudden loss of appetite and elusiveness are setting off alarms. If the most prudent plan of action would be to put down the animals, what is the most humane way to do this and also to dispose of the bodies without contaminating anything else. If this does not seem to be TB what are my next steps. Ammonia and Nitrite are 0 and Nitrate is 10 ppm. Lush bright green algae on sides and back. I do 30 gallon water changes once a week.
Filtered with Aquaclear 110. The substrate is Eco-Complete plant substrate one inch thick across entire bottom. Temp 76F pH 7. Two Maxi-Jet 1200's for water movement. One bubble wand for oxygen. No Co2 injection. For lighting I use Corallife 96 watt 6700k bulbs. Quarantine tank is a 12 gallon nano cube that has been stripped down to have a sponge filter and is cycled.
<The tank sounds fine. In this case, I simply think you were unlucky, and whether this fish has a birth defect, a viral disease, or some type of obscure bacterial infection, I honestly don't think the other fish are at major risk. So I'd certainly euthanise him (if he's not eating, he's not going to get better) and then simply observe the other fish to see what happens.>
Long term plan for this tank is heavily planted without co2 only using common low light plants. Any advice is welcome I work with the public and can not risk carrying/having/spreading TB.
<While Fish TB certainly exists, it's very uncommon. I'm not a medical practitioner, so if you need public health advice, I have to recommend you consult a qualified MD or vet. But in general, fish tanks are not a major health risk, hence their wide use is hospitals, waiting rooms, shops, sushi bars and the like.>
Thank you in advance.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: TB?   6/26/09
Neale,
Thank you so much for your advice. I think I will take the fish to a vet to be euthanized and possibly get them to run some tests on it to make 100% sure.
<Hmm... would sooner you euthanised the fish yourself: I wouldn't trust the average aquarium shop to make an effort to euthanise the fish humanely; most simply feed sick fish to any predatory fish or turtles they have in stock.>
Although I no longer believe TB is an issue I figure it can not hurt to make certain. I feed TetraColor tropical flakes by Tetra and have decided to include frozen bloodworms to mix up the nutrition values.
<Good. While a good quality flake like Tetra Min should be perfect, adding variety is always a good thing. I'd tend to recommend against colour-enhancing foods as a staple; indeed, unless you have red fish, they will have little/no impact on colours at all, and they don't do anything that crustaceans such as daphnia won't do just as well. Carotene is carotene, wherever it comes from...>
While I have your ear I would like to run a short stock list to be added no sooner then a month from now. Hopefully then I will be sure there are no pathogens, odd chemistry or poor nutrition taking place in this tank.
I want to add in this order.
3 Crossocheilus siamensis
3 (possibly more) Corydoras panda
5 Gasteropelecus sternicla
<All fine, though Gasteropelecus are flighty and prone to throwing themselves at the hood if kept with boisterous fish or tanks without floating plants.>
Do you think the TSAE will stress the hatchets out too much?
<Depends how deep the tank is; if the tank is something over 50 cm in depth, I'd expect that the two fish would barely meet, since Crossocheilus tend to stay at the middle to lower levels. But if the tank is very shallow, say 30 cm, then you might have problems. Boosting the number of Hatchets would make a big positive impact: they're a lot more reliable in swarms of ten or more.>
My tank is covered with eggcrate but I still don't want them freaking out.
<Floating plants help.>
I am unsure of what will come after but I believe I am pushing the stocking limit of my tank. They will be added in family groups as to keep the load on my quarantine tank low. Also how long should I allow my quarantine tank to sit fallow before I can quarantine more fish? In closing I have to thank all of you for the knowledge that has accumulated on this site. Neale has helped me with other tanks in the past that have absolutely flourished.
Another invaluable article on tap water preparation, storing and polyvinyl has saved me oodles of money/livestock. I have even earned a free True Siamese Algae eater through helping my LFS separate their Flying Foxes, False Siamese Algae Eaters and their True. Much of my success I owe to this site. I wish I could remember all the authors of the various articles I have read that have made me very skilled at aquatic husbandry.
<Thanks for your kind words!>
Also I would like to urge my fellow aquarist to get out there and shop the local mom and pop fish stores. They do not seem to be doing well with the economy, mega store and online competitors.
<All very true. But ultimately it does depend on the Mom & Pop store being at least reasonably decent; too many of them had dingy tanks, limited selections of fish, and questionable husbandry practises. Competition is a good thing, and those family stores that can meet the demands of modern aquarists can do rather well, particularly if they gear themselves up to providing "value added" services such as setting up tanks in offices and shops (a real money earner!) or visit aquarists at their homes to help with marine and jumbo freshwater tanks that can cause problems to less experienced hobbyists.>
Thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Tuberculosis in a Well-Maintained Tank 11-5-08 Hi Bob :-) This is Anna. <Hi Anna, this isn't Bob, but Merritt today.> Before I start I wanted to let you know that I've learned a lot from the WetWebMedia site, especially regarding fish tank maintenance.  I am a big fan of partial water changes (up to 1/3 of a tank) which I perform every single week. <That is quite a lot of water changes; you should cut back on them due to the stress they are causing on your fish.> My tank is freshwater, 35 gallon, with a score of live plants and just 15 fish - mostly tetras, 1 Pleco, and 3 albino Cory fish. There are no real problems although this morning I noted that one tetra had a few red wounds (?) along its nape region and dorsal fin. The wounds are approx. of a size of a head of a needle. There are approx. 10 of them.  I studied Dr. Dieter Untergasser's "Handbook of fish diseases" and concluded, based on content and pictures, that my tetra may have tuberculosis or be affected by a type of Sporozoan. Attached are some pictures of the fish under the mentioned conditions. <The wounds do not look like tuberculosis, watch them to see if they show more signs of tuberculosis, like the bending of the spin, fish wasting, skeletal deformities or loss of scales and coloration .> The description of either illness suggests that bad water condition be a culprit. The ammonia level in my tank is 0.00, the pH is 7.2-7.4. I run 2 Marineland filters and take a good care of my tank. This is why I am a little confused... <Like I said, your tank may have great conditions but constant water changes stress fish out which lessens their immune system allowing for disease.> Anyway, I transferred the infected tetra to a 5-gallon hospital tank. <Great move!> Will you be able to shed little light as for the cause of my fish's condition? Am I able to help that fish? What should I do? I would not like to sacrifice it. I hope there is a cure... Besides, do you think that my display tank is in danger? I just changed 50% of the water and replaced all filter pads. Is there anything else I should and could do?  I will appreciate any insights. Your experience is extremely valuable and needed :-). <It would be best to treat your sick tetra for a protozoan infection due to the wounds resembling protozoan infections other than tuberculosis. I would watch the other fish for any signs of sickness and cut down on the water changes. If the symptoms persist after you medicate for the protozoan, then tuberculosis could be the culprit. Tuberculosis is of bacterial origin and you will have to switch the medication. Watch yourself if the symptoms for tuberculosis do develop because you can catch it from your fish. Mainly persons of low immune systems are susceptible but, just be careful. Here are some links about disease and medication that should help you. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwfishmed http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwdistrbshtart.htms.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/woundbactf.htm> Thanks in advance for your help. ANNA <You are welcome and please email updates! Merritt A.>

Question re: TB, and Fin damage  - 4/3/08 Good day, First off I want to thank you all for this extremely valuable resource for us fishkeepers and your time and knowledge- You have saved a many of fish I assure you. Couple questions: In my 100 gallon main tank I have 4 Bala sharks that are still fairly young. The tank is cycled with Am-0 ,nitrite-0, nitrate-10- There are lots of Amazon sword plants and a few other plants I am not sure of. All except one of the Bala's have either frayed or split fins but are otherwise very healthy and growing fast. Should I be concerned or should I just keep a watchful eye on them? The one with fins intact seems to have a belly unlike the others so I don't know if they are squabbling over "her " or what. Some of my other inhabitants can be fin nippers so I realize that this is not the only possibility. My next question involves Goldfish (a.k.a zebra Danios) I went to my dads last night (not the best fishkeeper) and I saw that his Goldfish was sort of floating vertically, listlessly. Not only that but he has a definite "bump" or hunched back (see attached pic, hopefully you can see it) I am not sure of his water parameters but I snatched him, brought him to my house and put him in my QT tank so my dad wouldn't flush him. After researching I have concluded that it could be either be TB or just old age (even though I don't think he's more than a year old but one "expert" stated that Danio's can get a hunch back just as they age (I don't know how reliable they are) Well, immediately after getting into my QT tank he has perked up and is swimming around and everything...He "acts" like he is eating but I honestly think he is just spitting it back out- its hard to say for sure. Do you think it is indeed TB and if so, exactly how do I disinfect my tank after he "succumbs" and what do you recommend as an ideal method for Euthanization (I realize everyone has their own opinions but I am looking for the easiest for both me and the fishy) I am nervous about using bleach to disinfect the tank because when I was a young'n I did and I guess I didn't rinse well enough because it killed all of my fish immediately :(- Lastly, (I know, sorry this is a lot) About two weeks ago I had a big oops. In my QT tank (at the time had 5 Neons and one female Pregnant guppy) I was stupid and decided to buy the cheapest heater there was. Well, little did I know there was absolutely NO safety feature on this thing whatsoever. I plugged it in and fell asleep woke up an hour later and the thermometer read 115 F !!!... Amazingly only 2 of the Neons and possibly the fry in "utero" didn't make it. In my frenzy I decided to forgo the "gradual" temp change rule and kept putting ice directly into the tank until it was WNL. Well, the second the ice started melting the lifeless fish that were laying on the bottom perked up and swam to the top to get more so I couldn't deny them. ANYWAYS- My question here is this: I know that this stress could very well open the doors to many of illnesses and now 2 of the surviving Neons have white areas on their body's that are opaque and completely block the "neon" and all color. Is this "neon tetra" disease or something else and how do I handle it? FYI I will never buy such useless and dangerous equipment again- I assure you. One more thing I promise....A month or so ago, I emailed in with problems regarding Dwarf Gourami's- I was told that it was probably DGD and it would be best to put them down. I did lose 2 but on the third I decided to try something. He had all the symptoms of DGD BUT the lesions. Well, I treated with Parasite Clear for 4 days (it took two treatments to see results, I thought he was dead many times) a few weeks later he is better than he has ever been!! Has tons of energy and eats like a pig. I just thought that this might be helpful and others might be able to try this if they suspect DGD but want to try and save their pets. Again, thank you all for all that you do and please know that I (as I am sure others) are extremely grateful for every second you devote to helping. Very Respectfully, Grace

question re: TB, and Fin damage - 4/3/08 Good day, First off I want to thank you all for this extremely valuable resource for us fishkeepers and your time and knowledge- You have saved a many of fish I assure you. Couple questions: In my 100 gallon main tank I have 4 Bala sharks that are still fairly young. The tank is cycled with Am-0 ,nitrite-0, nitrate-10- There are lots of Amazon sword plants and a few other plants I am not sure of. All except one of the Bala's have either frayed or split fins but are otherwise very healthy and growing fast. Should I be concerned or should I just keep a watchful eye on them? <Yes, be worried. Either Finrot (caused by poor water quality, regardless of what your test kits say) or physical damage (fighting/fin-nipping). Treat with anti-Finrot medication, e.g.. Maracyn or eSHa 2000, but not Melafix or "tonic salt".> The one with fins intact seems to have a belly unlike the others so I don't know if they are squabbling over "her " or what. Some of my other inhabitants can be fin nippers so I realize that this is not the only possibility. <Remove the fin-nippers to another tank.> My next question involves Goldfish (a.k.a zebra Danios) I went to my dads last night (not the best fishkeeper) and I saw that his Goldfish was sort of floating vertically, listlessly. Not only that but he has a definite "bump" or hunched back (see attached pic, hopefully you can see it) I am not sure of his water parameters but I snatched him, brought him to my house and put him in my QT tank so my dad wouldn't flush him. After researching I have concluded that it could be either be TB or just old age (even though I don't think he's more than a year old but one "expert" stated that Danio's can get a hunch back just as they age (I don't know how reliable they are) <One year isn't "old" for a Danio. They easily live for 3+ years when properly cared for.> Well, immediately after getting into my QT tank he has perked up and is swimming around and everything...He "acts" like he is eating but I honestly think he is just spitting it back out- its hard to say for sure. Do you think it is indeed TB <Unlikely; quite rare in freshwater fish. I'd simply feed him up and see how he does. Nothing to lose. If he gets fatter and healthier, then he'll be fine; if not, painlessly destroy.> and if so, exactly how do I disinfect my tank after he "succumbs" <Clean and air dry the hospital tank.> and what do you recommend as an ideal method for Euthanization (I realize everyone has their own opinions but I am looking for the easiest for both me and the fishy) I am nervous about using bleach to disinfect the tank because when I was a young'n I did and I guess I didn't rinse well enough because it killed all of my fish immediately :(- <See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasiafaqs.htm > Lastly, (I know, sorry this is a lot) About two weeks ago I had a big oops. In my QT tank (at the time had 5 Neons and one female Pregnant guppy) I was stupid and decided to buy the cheapest heater there was. Well, little did I know there was absolutely NO safety feature on this thing whatsoever. I plugged it in and fell asleep woke up an hour later and the thermometer read 115 F !!!... Amazingly only 2 of the Neons and possibly the fry in "utero" didn't make it. In my frenzy I decided to forgo the "gradual" temp change rule and kept putting ice directly into the tank until it was WNL. Well, the second the ice started melting the lifeless fish that were laying on the bottom perked up and swam to the top to get more so I couldn't deny them. ANYWAYS- My question here is this: I know that this stress could very well open the doors to many of illnesses and now 2 of the surviving Neons have white areas on their body's that are opaque and completely block the "neon" and all color. Is this "neon tetra" disease or something else and how do I handle it? FYI I will never buy such useless and dangerous equipment again- I assure you. <Observe for a while before deciding this is Neon Tetra Disease; stressed Neons will indeed lose their colour. But Neons with NTD also lose weight and become strangely shy, separating off from their school. NTD is unfortunately not curable.> One more thing I promise....A month or so ago, I emailed in with problems regarding Dwarf Gourami's- I was told that it was probably DGD and it would be best to put them down. I did lose 2 but on the third I decided to try something. He had all the symptoms of DGD BUT the lesions. <In that case, not DGD!> Well, I treated with Parasite Clear for 4 days (it took two treatments to see results, I thought he was dead many times) a few weeks later he is better than he has ever been!! Has tons of energy and eats like a pig. I just thought that this might be helpful and others might be able to try this if they suspect DGD but want to try and save their pets. Again, thank you all for all that you do and please know that I (as I am sure others) are extremely grateful for every second you devote to helping. <Very nice to hear this story. It's worth repeating the point that while Dwarf Gourami Disease is a common reason Dwarf Gouramis get sick, not all sick Dwarf Gouramis have Dwarf Gourami Disease. Sometimes they get other things!> Very Respectfully, Grace <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: question re: TB, and Fin damage 4/4/08 Hi again, You say that TB is unlikely in FW fish but after reading numerous pages on this site I've gathered the complete opposite. <I don't agree with them. Fish TB has historically been cited by aquarists for all sorts of "mystery deaths", and recent work by scientists has certainly proven that some Mycobacterium strains are common in aquaria. But in my experience, almost all "mystery deaths" are better explained by other factors: Hexamita, poor water quality, genetics, use of feeder fish, and so on. In any event, because Mycobacterium is untreatable, you may as well try to concentrate on things you can fix, in the hope that the fish will recover. If it doesn't, no harm is done.> Most other people state that if its an adult fish with a bent spine (and its even a Danio ((Glofish but they are the same thing))- at any rate tonight he's laying at the bottom of the tank barely breathing- Hopefully my husband gets home soon because I cant bring myself to euthanize him. Does this mean that this QT tank is now infected? <What the Czech scientists who looked at Mycobacterium discovered was that the bacteria are present in 75% of fish tanks. http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/pfk/pages/item.php?news=1055 In other words, you probably have the bacteria that could cause Fish TB anyway, but then so do I and so do most other fishkeepers. So why don't 75% of fishkeepers have fish dying from Fish TB? That's the question! While you should certainly clean the hospital tank as a precaution -- something you do with a hospital tank anyway -- don't bother getting paranoid about the Mycobacterium itself. By the way, the variety of Mycobacterium that can infect humans is the one most common in marine aquaria, Mycobacterium marinum.> After reading your email I put two other sick fish in my QT tank with him (I found my black Sailfin molly with skin that looks like it is "decaying" he has holes in his Sailfin and body and the rest of his skin looks like its going to fall off) and the Neon (of which got even MORE white on his body after putting him in there. <Mollies are never that healthy kept in freshwater tanks. The vast majority of Molly deaths come down to high nitrate and the wrong water chemistry, and I'd bet all the money in my pockets that that's the issue here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/mollies.htm Neon Tetras are very prone to a disease called Pleistophora (or Neon Tetra Disease) that is incurable. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdistrbshtart.htm If you're suddenly getting a bunch of fish looking sick, then I'd first turn to my water test kits. Check the water quality. Neons and Mollies for example require completely different water chemistry, and choosing what's right for Mollies will stress/kill your Neons. So you have work to do there. I'd review nitrate especially, as that's a killer for Mollies. Neons need soft/acid water, and Mollies hard/basic water with salt added at a dose of about 6 grammes per litre.> Have I gave these fish the death sentence? If they didn't have it already? If not how would you recommend me helping them? <If the Neon has Pleistophora, it'd doomed so you may as well destroy it painlessly. Mollies usually recover quickly when kept in brackish or marine aquaria, so that's what's required there. As for the Danio, it doesn't look that good to me.> With my Balas in my 100 gallon how do you recommend I treat that? Like I said they do have some spits/ and frays on some of their fins but otherwise act VERY healthy and seemingly fine. <Depending on where you are, you'd use different medications. In the UK, I've found eSHa 2000 very safe and effective. Americans like to use Maracyn instead.> I am hesitant to treat in this tank because its my main and so large yet I cant put them in the small 10 gallon with all the other terminally ill fish- <Treating the fish in the 100 gallon tank is fine. Used correctly, no modern fish medication should cause undue stress on the fish.> Ugh...Couldn't I just put in some salt and keep and eye on the fins? <No. Salt doesn't really have any useful impact on Finrot. Salt can help with Fungus, but only up to a point. Anyway, the salt would stress these freshwater fish rather more than medication.> And if they start to get any worse treat the whole tank with Maracyn like you said? <No.> What a mess I have here. I really shouldn't have "saved" this hunchback Glofish from my dad but at the time I didn't know I had two other "sick" fish. <No good deed goes unpunished!> The Molly started with a shimmy and I had him in the qt tank for a few days with salt- put him back in the main tank and 3 days later looks horrible. <Precisely. I know people sell Mollies as freshwater fish, but they really aren't reliable as such. Sorry, but that's just the way it is.> and was either laying on the bottom listless or hiding in my deco. in the past 24 hrs. I haven't slept in 2 days because I am trying to change all the water and take care of all of these issues ( I can only do it at night when my baby is sleeping) so if this is a little hard to follow I apologize. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. <Gosh, I'm sorry you're having such a bad time! Obviously you have to put children before animals. This being the case, painlessly destroying sick fish would be completely understandable. Lesser of two evils.> V/R Grace <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: question re: TB, and Fin damage 4/4/08 Thank you for your prompt reply- I usually keep my mollies in the 100 gallon which is my "semi-aggressive" some salt tank and my Neons in my 20 gallon "community" tank - its my QT tank where they have to be combined. I've been testing my water every few days since my Bala's first started showing the frayed fins (I think it might have been from a new decoration we just put in there) <Hmm... physical damage can cause symptoms similar fin-nipping. Spiky ornaments can scratch fish that bomb around the tank when alarmed. Though that does raise two points: firstly if your fish are getting scared, that's something that needs to be fixed. Secondly, even if the fins are scratched rather than bitten, Finrot is still a problem. I'd also mention that if physical damage is the issue here rather than nipping, you'd expect to see scratches on the body and/or missing scales, not just frayed fins.> Am-0, Nitrite-0 and Nitrate 15(aprox)- So do I get all the money in your pocket? (lol). <I guess!> I am in the US so I guess I need to go out and get a huge box of Maracyn today....should I take my BioWheels out and put them in a bucket of aquarium water so I don't destroy the biological filter? <None of this is necessary. Maracyn is completely harmless to your filter when used as instructed.> I was hoping the neon with the white "insides" was a fungal infection from the broken heater issue and not the NTD and I was going to try and treat him and the Molly (and I suppose the Glofish too because today he is swimming around again! <All sounds very perplexing. NTD typically has the Neon losing colour, becoming shy, hiding away from the group, not eating, and then wasting away. It's highly contagious to other Neons and perhaps other tetras, though rarely affects other types of fish.> He was acting SO "dead" last night) for fungal/bacteria issues. <Well maybe there's hope!> The molly's skin looks REALLY bad. Mollies can sometimes be improved by giving them dips in "seawater" -- a litre of aquarium water with 35 grammes of salt, ideally aquarium salt but rock or kosher salt will do. Dip the fish for 2-20 minutes depending on how it reacts. That should clean up the skin quite a bit. Repeat daily.> I do have 4 other molly's in the 100 gallon and they seem perfectly fine as I am in South Texas and the water here is naturally "hard" (high lime content) actually my Ph naturally runs 8.2 -.4 out of the tap- I was told to not bother treating it as long as its constant they will be fine? is this the case? <"Liquid rock" water is certainly what Mollies prefer. Quite why Mollies are so unpredictable in health when kept in freshwater is unclear. They are common enough in freshwater in the wild. While 100% of the Mollies sold thrive in brackish water aquaria, in my experience, only some Mollies will do well in freshwater aquaria.> And I have never tested for hardness or softness (not even sure what a test for these would be) because in the things I have read they never stated it necessary- should I? <If you have rock hard water, then chances are you have hard, basic water conditions. Ideal for livebearers, Goldfish and many cichlids, but not necessarily ideal for fish from soft water environments, including Neons. To be fair though, your water is probably similar to mine here in Southern England -- out of a chalk aquifer -- and most fish adapt just fine.> Thank you again. I pray my issues get resolved soon. <So do I! If you have a digital camera to hand, some photos of the Molly and the Neon might help us diagnose things further. Good luck, Neale.>

Curved Spine TB?   9/11/07  Hi WWM Crew, I've read and read and now have become confused. Is a curved spine a definite telltale sign of TB or could it be a symptom of swim bladder disease or something else? I have a convict cichlid. She is very tiny 2 inches at most. She's about 3 years old. She was fine and a spunky little fish. There is another adult pink convict (a male about 4 inches) in the tank who is sometimes a bully. Most times they are compatible. They are in a 10 Gal. tank with water changes every week. Yesterday I saw her floating on her side in a curled up position. Her fins were moving and it seemed she was trying very hard to right herself. When I noticed this I put her into a breeding net to keep the male away from her. I didn't notice any visible signs of trauma. No bloating or bleeding or missing scales/fins. I did a 75% water change and cleaned out the filter and treated the water with Epsom salt. I didn't know fish could get TB until I visited your site. She is very thin, no appetite and curling up as if in pain. I feel really bad for her and want to ease her suffering. The male isn't showing any signs of illness (yet). He keeps swimming past her outside the breeding net though and she tries to move toward him. It's very sad. I am hoping you can help me try to diagnose my little girl. Do you think it may be contagious and is it possible the male will be infected too? Please help! Thanks, Maureen <Hello Maureen. Just as in humans, physical deformities can be caused by any number of reasons, and it's important not to assume that because something is symptomatic of a particular diseases, that it's ONLY caused by that disease. Also, Fish TB isn't the same thing as the TB humans get. Fish TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium marinum, whereas human TB is caused by a number of closely related species including the appropriately named Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Fish TB is very uncommon in freshwater aquaria, and almost always when freshwater aquarists blame fish deaths on Fish TB they're really making it up and have no idea what killed their fish. A bit like those "internal parasites" people mention for similar reasons, citing Fish TB amounts to nothing more than a scapegoat alternative to actually admitting their tank was overstocked, they used live feeder fishes, they didn't quarantine new stock, and so on. In your case, you have a couple of problems that are likely factors. To start with, a 10 gallon tank is not nearly big enough for convicts. I'm assuming you're talking 10 US gallons (= 8 UK gallons, 38 litres). Even for a matched pair of convicts you wouldn't be able to keep them in a tank that small. While you might consider them to be small specimens, the fish don't know that, and adults in the wild are anything up to around 15 cm long and defend territories something of the order of 1-2 metres in diameter. Males are notoriously belligerent to unreceptive females when kept under aquarium conditions. You have to remember that evolution hasn't needed to come up with a "play nice" gene; in the wild, if a female enters a male's territory but she doesn't want to breed, she just swims away. In the aquarium, she has nowhere to go, and the male's natural territoriality (which, in the wild, is a good thing by making him a reliable father) ends up becoming destructive. It is entirely possible she's received internal damage from being attacked by the male. You don't say anything about water chemistry or quality either. Convicts need moderately hard to hard water with a pH somewhere in the slightly alkaline range; pH 7.5-8, 10-20 degrees dH is what you're aiming for. Water quality needs to be excellent, as just like any other cichlid, dissolved metabolites in the water do harm over the long term. Water changes must be of the order of 50% weekly, and given your tank is so tiny, I'd be doing two such water changes a week. Regardless, you're after 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and nitrates ideally 20 mg/l or less and certainly not more than 50 mg/l. Finally, diet is an issue. Convicts are omnivores, and that means you need to include green foods in their diet as well as flake or frozen. Algae pellets and flakes are probably the easiest things to use, but tinned peas, Sushi Nori, spinach, blanched lettuce, and so on can all be tried. Very few cichlids don't eat greens in the wild, and for many it provides important vitamins as well as fibre. You may want to send along a photo so we can better diagnose your sick fish, but in the meantime, I'd encourage you to review some of the factors mentioned above and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale>

Tuberculosis, FW bacterial and goldfish dis. f's   1/25/08 Hello there, I'm hoping that you can help me with a problem I've been having with my fish tank. I have been keeping a fairly good diary of everything over the past 2 years that I have had the tank so can give you pretty thorough information. <OK.> The tank is 60 gallons with a 60 gallon filter in it. <What in heaven's name is a "60 gallon filter"? If you mean, the manufacturer states the tank is suitable for up to 60 gallons, that's fine. But I will make this point: manufacturers universally give "best case" scenarios when selling filters, for the same reason motor manufacturers quote glowing fuel consumption rates you'll never see in real life. As soon as you put media in a filter, or worse, put the filter under the tank so it has to pump against gravity, your filter's turnover drops. So if you have a 60 gallon tank, you need to be careful. I'd always recommend getting *at least* the next size up in a filter range for a tank of any given size, rather than trying to scrape by on the *absolute upper limit* of one particular filter. In other words, get a filter with not less than 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. I'd recommend 6x for dirty fish like Goldfish, Plecs and cichlids.> H20 measurements have always been good. <Meaning what? Please give us NUMBERS... lots of people thing their water quality or water chemistry is good, and then it turns out it's rubbish. For example: Goldfish need hard, alkaline water, yet lots of people don't know that, and wonder why their little Goldies keep getting sick in apparently clean but soft/acid water!> 25% H20 changes once a week. <Good. More would be better though!> Average number of fish in the tank at any give time is 5 fancy goldfish (average length is about 1.5-2 inches not counting the tail), 3 Cory's and a Pleco. <Odd mix, but what the heck! If they get along, great.> There is also quite a bit of plant life in the tank which all the fish love. <I bet. Goldfish tend to be herbivores when given the chance.> Tried a couple of Apple snails but they didn't do too well - I think the water was a bit too hard for them maybe... they are harder to diagnose than fish. <No, this wasn't the situation here. For a start, Apple Snails want water that is as hard as possible, like snails generally. Usually Apples fail because they get harassed, and can't eat or get damaged in the process. Many fish will nibble on their tentacles, scrape on the shell, or whatever. Best kept in their own tanks, where they're great fun.> I feed the fish almost exclusively peas, and occasionally some soaked fish flakes. <Sounds good, though the Corydoras would doubtless like a bit of protein every day rather than just vegetables. Corydoras do indeed eat a lot of algae and decaying plant matter in the wild, but they're also micro-carnivores, taking insect larvae and worms of various types. Vegetarian flake food (sold for livebearers) and algae wafers (sold for Plecs) would work great for ALL your fish.> Temperature is about 78 degrees. <Slightly warmer than I'd go for this collection. Does depend on the Corydoras species being kept though. The genus Corydoras ranges across subtropical to tropical environments. Peppered and Bearded Corydoras for example prefer cooler conditions than most tropical fish, around 20C/68F being just right for them. I'd tend towards the 24C/75F level if keeping Fancy Goldfish with low-end tropicals just to balance warmth and oxygen within a safe zone for all the fish.> Other than that I have had some goldfish live for the whole 2+years I've had the tank with not much in the way of any symptoms, and some live for only a week. before showing distress. I always use the salt quarantine method with in conjunction with Melafix before adding new fish. <Not a big fan of Melafix.> After the quarantine period, I add them to the main tank. Some survive, some die quickly, some last a couple of months. In general, the more exotic the variety, the more unwieldy the body type, the sooner they die... though Plecos and catfish are susceptible as well. <This really isn't normal. If you're losing even 10% of the new fish you're buying, that's a far greater mortality than normal. Goldfish should have, easily, a 95% survival rate within the first year, and Plecs about the same, maybe even better. All else being equal, if you're seeing dramatic losses in fish, then you have to check two things: water chemistry and water quality.> Some will start spending all their time at the top going for the oxygen-rich air; some will hide behind plants or in a corner or sit on the bottom having a hard time breathing; some will develop a fungus or ich or septicemia. <All consistent with poor water quality.> Some have never shown any symptoms in the 2 years. Many will develop a bent spine in the latter stages of their decline. I used to think that all of these symptoms were the problem and have concentrated on curing these, which is easy enough but the fish themselves never really recovered and eventually died for no outward signs. About a month ago however, one of the fish I've had for 2 years started developing bumps under his scales. He is my biggest fish at 2.5 inches and some of the bumps were as large as a small pea! I would look at him the next day however, and the bump would be gone, but another one or two would have appeared somewhere else! It was very disconcerting to see a rotating series of bumps on him every day when I checked in on him. I have since seen these bumps open up with a type of... I'll say it looks like yellow processed cheese. After the cheesy stuff squishes out at detaches itself (takes about an hour or 2), you would never know there was a problem, though a new bump will quickly start forming if it hasn't before the other one burst. I am able to keep these bumps at bay by feeding all the fish (I no longer bother taking this fish out of the tank into quarantine) an erythromycin based gel that I mix in with their peas. I can feed this to them for 2 weeks, but a day after I stop, the bumps return for the one fish and some of the other fish start showing signs of sickness - breathing at the surface or sitting on the bottom. The fish with the cheesy blisters never seems to be suffering too much - he has always been pretty hardy but you can tell it is getting harder for him to swim and he isn't quite as energetic... though always ready to eat! <Sounds like some sort of systemic bacterial infection... Aeromonas or something similar. That's why the erythromycin is helping. But the bottom line is that these things almost only ever happen in tanks with chronic problems, typically poor, or at least variable, water quality.> After spending a lot of time reading on the net - your site and others - I have decided that it is probably tuberculosis and that treating individual fish is probably not the answer anymore - I have to treat the whole tank. <Unlikely Fish TB; Fish TB is almost entirely an issue in marine aquaria rather than freshwater aquaria, and even then it isn't common. Most of the time people *think* it's Fish TB, it's actually something much more prosaic. Regardless, identifying bacterial infections is virtually impossible for the home aquarist, unless you happen to be a microbiologist as well, in which case take a swab and ID the bacteria under a microscope.> I live in Canada and I know that some medications for fish are no longer available here... I'm not sure which, however. <Can't speak for Canada, but in the UK at least, pet owners can only get antibiotics from the Vet. Not expensive, but it is another step in the chain. In the US, antibiotics have traditionally been more readily available to pet owners under brand names such as Maracyn.> I was hoping you could give me some feedback - do you think that tuberculosis is the problem. <No.> How should I treat the tank? <First tell me something about the water quality and water chemistry. Not what you think the results are (so don't tell me "fine" or "good") but tell me precisely what your test kits report, i.e., the pH, the hardness in degrees dH or KH, the nitrite in mg/l, and (ideally) the ammonia in mg/l as well. Tell me the turnover of the filter in litres/gallons per hour -- this'll be written on the pump somewhere ("gph" or "LPH" usually).> Oh, one important note may be that there are only 6 goldfish and 2 Cory's currently in the tank. Thanks, Matt <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tuberculosis (RMF, feel free to comment)  1/25/08 Wow! You guys are fast! <One tries...> I feel like a bad fish keeper now. <We all make mistakes and we all go wrong. What matters is learning and changing.> Here is some more specific data on the aquarium: The filter is an Aquaclear 70 that can filter 300 gallons per hour and hangs on to the back of the tank. I don't have it cranked though as the goldfish are so small that if they swim to near where the water comes in it can throw them to the front of the tank. There are 3 inserts in it - Aquaclear Foam, Biomax, and Ammonia remover. <Not a big fan of Ammonia Remover (i.e., Zeolite). In a proper aquarium, biological filtration is altogether more effective and reliable. Zeolite needs to be replaced as often as once a week! Few people do that, and often tanks with Zeolite in the filter have unsafe levels of ammonia because of it. Mostly, Zeolite is a marketing gimmick: it sounds useful, but outside of a certain set of situations (e.g., hospital tanks) it really isn't useful.> Upon checking my fish diary and in-tank thermometer again the temperature in the tank is actually at 76 degrees. This is the lowest temperature the heater will keep the water. I have the heater set to 72 degrees, which is it's lowest setting, but it doesn't correspond to that temperature in the tank which is always at 76 degrees. It has been stable at that setting since I purchased the heater about 2 years ago. Before that the temperature of the tank always fluctuated and we had constantly spawning goldfish. <OK.> As for the water measurements, here they are and they haven't really fluctuated much from these norms in the past 2 years: pH is 7.6 (though will vary between 7.4 and 7.8 over time) KH is 120mg/L <A little less KH than I'd like with Goldfish, and explains somewhat the fluctuations in pH.> GH is 180 mg/L Ammonia is 0.1-0.2 mg/L Nitrite is less that 0.1 mg/L <Here's your problem: Ammonia and nitrite should both be zero, all the time. "Less than 0.1 mg/l" isn't acceptable. It HAS TO BE zero. No deviations. If it's like this all the time, that's why your fish are so unhealthy. Too many fish, too much food, or inadequate filtration. Pick and choose from those, because they're what's on the table as far as explanation goes. Do read Bob's article on establishing proper Bio filtration, because that's your next job: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm I'd streamline the filter by chunking out any media other than medium to fine sponges or ceramics. What you want is optimal bio filtration.> These are all the measurements I have the ability to take with the test kit I have. I await your further instructions on how to make my fish happier! Cheers, Matt <Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tuberculosis (RMF, feel free to comment)  1/25/08 OK, so I can do more frequent or larger H2O changes and maybe feed the fish a little bit less and add a smaller, 2nd filter perhaps to increase the water quality. <Likely need to do ALL those things. Try them out and see if the nitrite and ammonia drop to zero. If they do, BINGO! You've cracked fishkeeping.> Should I not worry about treating the tank as far as the apparent bacterial infection goes because it should disappear with better water quality? <Need to do both. Without better water quality, the fish won't stay healthy, regardless of how often you treat. Even if you fix the water quality, the bacteria are in your fish now, and need to be dealt with.> Thanks again, Matt <Cheers, Neale.>

Two general questions... Fish-TB, and "easy fish" 2/1/08 Hello all, <Neale> Two quick questions, germane to some FAQs I've done tonight. (1) Fish-TB. For real, or a myth? <Mycobacteriosis in piscines? Real> My books seem to suggest it's more an issue with marine fish, which is probably why I've never seen it in the flesh. The old Fish-TB suspect in gouramis turned out to be the Dwarf Gourami Disease Iridovirus. <Yes> (2) What are the easiest freshwater fish to recommend to people? I plumped for peppered Corydoras and zebra Danios. Any others? <Mmm, for "most" general water conditions about the world... likely the small Danios, Rasboras and barbs... Perhaps Platies would score high... given local acclimation... The more "cultured" Corydoras I'd agree with as well... C. aeneus, paleatus as you mention... Given the proviso of numbers/keeping in groups... BobF> Cheers, Neale

Catfish and TB I have a 20 gal freshwater tank which has been up and running for 13 months. I have recently had problems with a disease affecting my neon tetras and zebra Danios. The symptoms include wasting and bent spine but normal feeding. My LFS recommended EM treatment but now my research indicates a bacterial disease such as TB or Neon disease. Advice seems to be that any bacterial disease is untreatable and that the best thing to do is clean the tank and start again. The majority of the fish are tetras and Danios with a couple of guppies. Research again suggests that these species are most susceptible to these diseases. I am hoping to be able to save my Cory cat who has been in the tank for nearly a year but I'm not sure if he will remain a carrier even if he doesn't develop symptoms. Can he be saved, if so how long should I quarantine him, and how best to clean the tank. I am probably just being sentimental and should euthanize the lot but I would like to do the right thing. Hope you can help. Tim <A subject I asked about not too long ago. I also had some bent Danios in with my Corys and Plecos. Most of the people I have asked about this subject say all the fish in the tank should be put down and the tank bleached. But one person pointed out that she could find no reference to TB in catfish. At that time I had four Corys and five Plecs in that tank. No way I could put them all down. So I only removed the dither fish. All the cats are still alive, active and seem healthy. One pair of Plecs have bred four times since the outbreak. All the fry seem fine. So, the combined wisdom of our site is to start over, completely. But my one time experience is that the Cory should be fine. My own personal theory, based on nothing at all, is that nature has endowed these mud sucking, bottom dwelling scavengers, that I love so much, with one hell of an immune system. At least that's what I'm betting. But with only the one Cory, you may decide not to gamble as I did. That would be the smart play. Don>

Wasting symptoms in Zebra Danio   3/15/06 Hello, <Sharon> I had a 30L freshwater BiOrb containing 3 White Cloud Minnows, 2 Zebra Danios and a living plant. Water condition is good - Ammonia 0, Nitrates 0, Nitrites 0 and pH 7.6. About 6 weeks ago I lost one of the Minnows. Symptoms included enlarged abdomen (I initially thought it may have been pregnant) followed by (48 hours before death) bent spine, floating near surface and lack of appetite. In recent weeks I have noticed: *         one of the Danios appears to be wasting away i.e. is very skinny (although it is still eating normally and active), *         one of the Minnows appears to have an enlarged abdomen (also eating normally and active). I lost a second Minnow last night - not the one with the enlarged abdomen. I had been away for a couple of days and returned to find it with looking skinny with a bent spine. It also had swim difficulties (probably due to bent spine), lack of appetite and was floating near surface. I quarantined it immediately in salt water, but to no avail. I have searched your website and come to the conclusion that my fish may have either an internal parasite (bad) or TB (really bad). What do you think? <Could be... perhaps from just "initial" troubles (you bought them with this)... But could be environmental to a large extent... or nutritional. What do you feed your fishes?> And, if you could provide some advise for on my next course of action that would be much appreciated? Regards, Sharon Bell. <Mmm, I would ask your stockist/LFS if they've been having trouble with their minnow fishes... You can/could become involved in sequential antimicrobial "trials"... in the hope of blocking something at play here. My first choice would be a Furan compound (likely Furanace). Bob Fenner>

Mystery Wasting Disease...  Help...!   3/10/06 I have a sick tank.  It's 55 gallon, all of my parameters are good: ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrates 20 - 40, <I'd keep under 20 ppm> ph-7.6.  Water temp 78 f.  Planted. UGF and jet heads. This tank has been up since last summer and has been extremely stable.  I had one of my original Gouramis die a couple of weeks ago.  I have no idea why she went, she was a red (honey sunset?) Gourami, and the only "sign" of illness she showed was losing all color the night before she died.  She was truly ashen and looked very "old."  Within a week of her death, her partner developed dropsy. <Mmm, well, this species, Colisa lalia, does have some standard "problems" nowadays...> He is still with us, but not doing well, so far he hasn't really responded to treatment.  Just a little...  He is in a 2.5 gal QT. Since he has been in quarantine, I lost one bloodfin whose body became very sunken and bullet shaped, head very bony.  Best way to describe it is total emaciation.  Another bloodfin has fallen sick with this, I unfortunately had to put him in with Gourami due to lack of another QT tank and in hopes of him responding to the treatment.  This morning I have another bloodfin and neon that are showing early signs of this mysterious disease.  Fading colors, body shape thinning, hiding in plants, not eating. My LFS will give me some advice after seeing a water sample but not until then.  I can't make it there before the weekend. Any ideas? Thank you so much, Mary. <Mmm... your system may have a Mycobacterial infection... the same genus of microbe that causes TB in humans... I do encourage you to read: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=treating+mycobacterium+in+aquarium+fishes&spell=1 and consider a treatment with an efficacious antibiotic. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mystery Wasting Disease...  Help...! FW TB...  3/23/06 Hi Bob & Company, Thanks for your reply.  I am still losing fish to this bacterial infection. I have treated the tank with Kanaplex and an erythromycin gel food that the LFS recommended. <Use of such antibiotics is a hopefully hit, mostly miss proposition...> They looked at one of my sick fish and called it "wasting away disease," and picked these medicines to help.  The Kanaplex had a three time maximum dosage, and that was finished a week ago.  Yesterday I discovered one of my African dwarf frogs had taken ill, he had been hanging around in the floating plants a lot, but I thought he was just digging them. Then I noticed that he looked like he might be shedding, so I took out my camera and put the micro lens <Good technique> on it and found that poor froggie was sick.  I panicked and put him in quarantine, with 1/2 tsp kosher salt per gallon, don't know why I did that because I had Melafix and Pimafix on hand, but he died within a half an hour.  I don't know if the salt did it or not.  I have attached two of the pictures I took of him.  Do you have any other suggestions? <Once these conditions get to such an extent... very difficult to remit> Would taking the tank apart and boiling the gravel and wash down everything help? <Mmm, as a last resort...> Unfortunately, I REALLY love these little animals (fish included in that statement) and last night I cried until I couldn't cry anymore.  It's breaking my heart and I don't want to lose everyone in this tank.  Anymore suggestions, ideas? <Don't know enough from what we've sent back/forth to render any more substantive direction, focus... other than to encourage you in the short/er term to read of other folks circumstances... to find if there are parallels> P.S. I did read up on fish TB and the Mycobacterial infection.  My LFS laughed when I first mentioned fish TB to them and told me that if I had that, not to touch the water, or anything in the tank, and to euthanize the fish. <Mycobacteria are "nothing to laugh about"... kill many humans daily... Are very real human health issues in Eastern Europe, elsewhere> Well, how do you find out if you have it? <"Culture"...> No one seems to be able to say... (shrug) (Comment not meant for you) <Ask your M.D. re... or do a bit more look/seeing on the Net, large library... worth investigating, and being very careful when working in fish tanks... wear long gloves and/or thoroughly wash after... And not place in such systems with open wounds. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mystery Wasting Disease...  Good news!   3/28/06   Bob, I just wanted to let you know that the chain of disease finally broke.  It has now been 6 days since my last casualty, and no others fell sick, or have fallen sick.  This has been the first few days in over 6 weeks where I didn't have at least one sick or dying fish.  I still have no clue as to what the infection was, but it seems to have run it's course.  Yeah! Take care, Mary. <Thank you for this update. Am tempted to draw parallels, express my worries re events such as "Bird Flu", Ebola type viruses similarly "running their course" amongst our species. Bob Fenner>

Sailfin Molly Illness (02/27/04) Please, help me determine a possible cause of illness in my Sailfin mollies. <Ananda here to help try, with Sabrina helping out...> I have a 55 gallon tank that is brackish.  The contents of the tank are 2 Gourami, 2 red-eye tetra, 4 black Neons, 3 black-skirt tetra, 3 lemon tetra, 2 adult red velvet platies, 1 Plecostomus, 1 rainbow shark, 4 adult silver mollies, 1 adult Dalmatian molly (lyre-tail) and approx. 15 molly fry. <Uh... the only fish in that whole list that are brackish are the mollies. Platies can tolerate some salt. But the rest of them should not have any salt at all, except perhaps a "tonic" dosage of about 1 tbsp of salt per 10 gallons of tank water. (Which doesn't qualify regarding making the tank brackish.) What's your specific gravity?> All parameters of the tank are stable, all other fish are healthy....except the adult Dalmatian molly.  I have had a total of 4 (including this one) Dalmatian mollies in the past 6 months and at least 2 of them have suffered similar fates.  It starts with patchy loss of scales/color, fins become translucent and there is progressive weight loss.  They still eat and swim normally.  The first one that developed this illness had me so concerned about cross-contamination and looked so pitiful, that I euthanized him.  The first time I've had to do that!  Then the other adult Dalmatian started developing the same symptoms.  None of the other fish in the tank show any signs of illness, and are breeding well.  I'm concerned about fish T.B. <Sabrina and I agree that it does sound like mycobacteriosis.> That is why I didn't want the first sick fish to die in the tank. I read the other fish ingesting the dead sick fish is sometimes the way it is transmitted. <I have read the same thing. You were wise to remove the affected fish from the tank.> This is a very slowly progressing process.  It takes weeks or months before they reach the full extent of the illness.  What is the lifespan of a molly?   <About four years.> Could these fish just be old? <Most mollies I've seen at stores are 6-10 months old.> Why don't any of the other fish display symptoms of illness?   <Mycobacteriosis, aka fish TB, is a funky thing. You can have fish that are infected that display *no* symptoms. Meanwhile, other fish exhibit slowly degenerating health. Sometimes, things progress fairly quickly. And the list of possible symptoms is staggering.> I have treated the tank in the past with antibiotics, Methylene blue or malachite green, and MelaFix.  I can't figure out if it is a parasite or other disease, why it takes so long for it to affect the fish and why other fish aren't simultaneously ill.  What should I do? Debbie Bronson <The best thing to do is try to prevent any more fish from becoming sick. The way to do that is to maintain impeccable water quality; a UV sterilizer *may* help. For you, always wear long-sleeved aquatic gloves while working in the tank and see your physician if you develop any funky bumps on your hands/arms (and do mention the possibility of TB to the physician). The one possibility Sabrina's read about that may possibly cure the disease is Kanamycin, administered in food. However, this does not always work, and can be expensive to boot. If you have fish that exhibit symptoms, it is best to remove them from the main tank. Then, you can either keep them in isolation (possibly attempting to treat them), or euthanize them (I use clove oil; do a search both on the WWM site and at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk for more info). I wish I had better news for you. Fortunately, even though your mollies may be affected, the rest of your fish seem healthy, and you could raise the fry in a different tank. --Ananda>

More Bent Spines I currently have a dozen Platy fry and I'm wondering about some physical deformities.  We had 11 babies from 2 females just days after getting them from the pet store (so obviously not from my male).  I raised them in a 2g tank, and then found a new fry about 5 weeks later in the big tank and moved him in as well (he was newborn... the rest of his batch got eaten or sucked into the filter).  I had a new female in a QT tank for a few weeks, and as soon as she was moved to the main tank I separated my babies into 2 tanks (both 2g).  I thought maybe they'd grow faster. The first 11 are approx. 9 weeks old now, and still seem pretty small (too small to trust with my adults in the main tank). So my first question is am I stunting their growth somehow? Is the tank too small for all of them?
<If I understand this correctly you have a total of 12 fry in two, 2 gallon tanks. That should be fine for now. Even if they are all in one 2 gallon tank you should be OK. Just move them as soon as they are big enough not to be eaten. Test the water and watch for ammonia and nitrite build up. Both must be at zero. Nitrates below 20ppm.>     2nd question - and of much more concern - is about some of them with very bent spines. There are 2 in particular that are pretty bad and it makes them swim in a very wobbly fashion. One of them seems to rest on things all the time because he has such difficulty swimming. But he does get up to the top to eat, and he's been behaving this way for a week now. I feel bad for him and wonder if I should put him out of his misery? There are some with less pronounced bent spines, and most of them are beautiful and look perfectly fine. Is this a product of water quality or environment? or is it just genetic?  The bent spines weren't evident right away, but have been noticeable for about a month now.  My kids have gotten so attached to them that I hate to lose any right now, but I also hate to see them miserable. Also, if I need to, um, "get rid of" any of them, what is the most humane way? <Let me first say you are not alone with this problem. Not only are we seeing a lot of questions about bent spines, but I have the same thing going on in my tank. Although it is possible for this to be genetic in your fry, it is most likely TB. I'm sorry to say that the only treatment has about a 10% success rate. Also, it is caused by a bacteria that can be transmitted to humans through breaks in the skin. Some say that the bacteria is always present and keeping your tank and water pristine will allow the fish's own immune system to keep it at bay. Others suggest sterilizing the entire system and starting over. Personally, I would suggest to you to go the sterilization route. At very least, remove the bent fish and keep the water clean and fresh. This is what I am doing since I have some nice catfish that seem to be unaffected. Make sure you and the kids do not put your hands in the tank if you have any cuts in the skin. Another point is that no bacteria can spontaneously generate in your tank. It came in somehow. Maybe with Mom. Watch all your tanks. I don't want to scare you into thinking an aquarium is dangerous to the family, they are not generally, but I need to make you aware of the potential problem. In our forum you will find a thread titled "Hunchback Danios". Please read. The best way to put down a fish is to add a few drops of clove oil to a cup or so of water and add the fish. Freezing is another option. Chill the water to the point of "skim ice", then add the fry to the cold water. Do not flush them, living or dead. Bury or put in trash. Don> Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks. Jennifer  

More Bent Spines Thank you for your quick response. TB in the tank is quite scary! <Please, not my intent to scare, just make you aware.>  I put 2 of the worst to sleep because they were really struggling.  <OK> Right now I have 8 fry that look just fine, and 2 with slightly bent spines. <Remove them>  I test the water regularly and have had both ammonia and nitrite at 0 since I cycled the tanks. On my larger tank I do water changes weekly, but the smaller 2g tanks I do 2x a week (approx 30% each time).  And I use a gravel vac when I do the changes. <All good, great in fact>  The adult fish are fine and healthy (at least they appear to be). Are there any other signs of TB? <Red or bloody wounds, advanced stage> Also, I stopped by the pet store where I bought the pregnant females (had to pick up fish food), and in the Platy tank they have a... well.. "stubby" looking male. He looks like his spine is bent just enough to make his body look short and a bit strange. I didn't notice if this fish was in the tank before, but it very well could have been.. and maybe I'm getting it's offspring? <Unlikely they bred in the store> They look very similar in body shape. <Could also have TB> Maybe I'm looking for an excuse for this to be genetic. <Understood> And I'm having a hard time getting myself to put the other 2 fry down, since they seem healthy enough and can swim ok. Should I put them to sleep or let them go to see if they get worse? <If they are showing the bent spine, I'd remove them at once>   Thanks again, Jennifer

More Bent Spins, Again Okay, now I'm a little nervous after running through the FAQ's and reading about "hunch back Danios" having TB, transmittable to humans. I've had some Danios die over a period of the last year, but never noticed a hunchback problem. <Good> I'm now down to two (from a start of 6) in my 55 gal tank. I've had several 3'rd generation mollies develop problems, usually their spine assumes an "S" shape, and swimming becomes erratic. <This could be TB, but mollies are very inbred. Could be genetic in nature.> I've put several of them down in the last few months due to this, the victims usually being about half grown. A couple were in the 55 gal. tank, but most were in a 29 gal tank containing only mollies. I thought this might be a genetic flaw from some inbreeding, but now I wonder. In a separate 15 gal. tank with Swords & Platys, I've had similar instances occur with a couple platys. <If this is happening with adult fish then it is TB. Most genetic problems will show from an early age.> My other tanks seem fine, but I'm watching all ten of them closer now. <Then we have done our job here.> I do frequent testing, and change water frequently, whenever the nitrate levels start getting too high. <Great> The ph is just on the high side, LFS advises that since our aquifer contains massive limestone it would be never-ending battle to try to lower it, and the yo-yo effect would be far worse for the livestock than leaving it as is. <Agreed. Very, very good advice> Please clarify this possibility of TB before my wife decides I need a safer hobby! <I'd pass on skydiving> Any input, or advise, as usual is much appreciated! Jess <Hi Jess, Don here, trying hard not to scare the hell out of everyone. TB is something to be aware of, but not overly feared. Some say that it is always present in our tanks and is kept at bay by the fish's immune system. If this is true then transmission to humans seems pretty rare. But I did just suggest to another person to sterilize her fry tank. She had young children in the house and I would hate to advise otherwise when kids are involved. It can enter through cuts in the skin, and kids tend to have more cuts than adults. Your excellent tank maintenance will help a lot. It could be that the high pH stressed some of your fish just enough to weaken their immune system and allowed the bacteria to get a foot hold. But there are many very well respected people here that suggest sterilizing whenever TB is found. That is a very hard call, but harder to argue against. I would at least remove any bent fish before they die in the tank. Also watch for red or bloody wounds on the fish. Another sign of TB. Remove those fish at once. I would not give up the hobby over this potential problem. Just be aware, wear gloves if you have any breaks in your skin.>

Lumpy Loach Mycobacterium Infection? 01/11/2005 Hi, <Hello!> I have a 75-gallon tank with three 14 year-old clown loaches and two large green kissing fish.   <Must be some pretty large loaches, at that age!  It wouldnt be a terrible idea to try for a larger tank, if possible.> One of the loaches has large lumps all over his body under the skin, appears to be very swollen even his eyes appear to be bulging.  He is hiding in the back of the tank and will not come out to eat; he just stays in the same place breathing very rapidly, in an upright position, leaning on tubing.  He has been like this for about a month and I really didnt expect him to be alive this long since I just noticed his illness right before I went out of town.  I assumed that he had an age related problem since a couple of his tank mates have passed on over the past couple of years.  I havent been able to find out anything about this particular illness.   <To be quite honest, this sounds to me like a very good indication of mycobacteriosis.  The swelling, pop-eye, and lumps/tumors/granulomas are very strong symptoms of this myxosporidian bacterial infection.  Its really quite a good thing that the critter did not die while you were gone a dead fish can release literally millions of spores that can infect other fish in the tank!> The nitrates in this tank stay fairly high even with frequent water changes and Poly-filters in the filters.   <Yes....  These are very large fish in a (comparatively) small tank; increased water volume would really be a good idea.> There are no indications (redness, etc) on his outward appearance that would suggest a bacterial or fungal condition.  I would try to treat him in a separate tank if I knew what to try, or at this point would it be better to euthanize him?   <Sadly, mycobacteriosis is essentially incurable.  There is some indication that Kanamycin sulfate may have some effect, but recovery is unlikely, Im so sorry to say.  Either way, should you choose to medicate or not, definitely remove the fish as soon as possible from the healthy animals I can assure you, you do not want this to spread, if that is, in fact, what it is.  Also, PLEASE read the following link, so you can understand what risk this illness might pose to you:  http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-07/sp/feature/index.htm .  Do please understand that without seeing the fish for myself, I cannot guarantee that this is an accurate diagnosis but based on the symptoms you describe, it is my best guess.  Gah, I hate being the bearer of bad news.> I appreciate your consideration. Thank you, Karen Chaney <Wishing you and your loach the best,  -Sabrina>

Dorm Room Betta What are other signs of fish TB? One site told me that a curved spine (which Jack's straightened out) is a sign of swim bladder issues? Thanks. Ann <Wasting away, getting very thin along with the curved spine. In some cases the fish will bloat. In extreme cases you may see a sore or blister with red edges. It is always fatal to the fish. The only known treatment involves a three drug cocktail with only a 10% survival rate. Swim bladder problems are also very difficult to treat. If he is improving I suspect he was constipated to the point he was becoming bloated. Try to feed a pea or add some Epsom salt to treat. Don>  



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