FAQs on Freshwater Infectious (bacterial,
fungal) Diseases: Columnaris, Chondrococcus, Flexibacter
Related Articles: Freshwater Fish Diseases, Freshwater Diseases, FW Disease Troubleshooting,
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, Mycobacteria/Tuberculosis, Whirling Disease,
Often enough the
generic secondary bacterial infection labeled as mouth, body
Congo tetra swollen. 3/30/18
Hello crew. Hope you are doing alright.
Today one of my Congo tetras, the biggest and dominant male appeared with a big
swollen and open mouth. His head looks very red and swollen. He is still
responding to stimulus but very weakly. His condition is worsening by the hour,
so this is a very aggressive ailment. He was not like this yesterday. Other
notable symptoms are an under jaw with marked veins, a small blood blotch near
the pectoral fins.
This looks horrible and I've never seen anything like this. He does fight a lot
with a certain other male to the point of pursuing each other across the whole
150 gallon aquarium they are in.
I've had my group of Congos for two years now. When i first got them they came
with a type of mouth fungus, something that looked like they are white gums and
no teeth (its the closest i can to describe it). It never got bad and it went
away once happy in my tank. Now all of a sudden this. I checked the other Congos
and there is one with the same white gum thing that i saw two years ago, but it
is not hindering in normal feeding or behavior. I conducted a large water change
I have quarantined the sick fish into a 5 gal bucket with 1/2 Methylene blue and
will be waiting on response. Its 8 pm and i don't think i can go get anything
difficult right now and i don't think he will make the night if i don't do
something right now.
I have malachite green, Metronidazole, and Levamisole in my med box. Any
<This does look like the infamous 'Mouth Fungus' to me, which despite its name,
is a bacterial infection nowadays more often called Columnaris after the
bacterium species responsible, Flavobacterium columnare. It can be extremely
aggressive, and while it can be treatable, you need to work promptly. A strong,
reliable antibiotic is necessary -- Kanaplex of example is known to be
reasonably effective. Outside the US, access to antibiotics can be limited, but
I have found eSHa 2000 to be quite effective as well, especially if the problem
is caught early on (it's less effective once the fish is really weak). Neither
Methylene Blue, Malachite green, Metronidazole, or Levamisole are useful here.
Do bear in mind Columnaris is opportunistic and to some degree caused by things
like fighting and less than perfect water quality, so reviewing the tank is
important as well. Cheers, Neale.>
I have been reading your answers for a couple of years now and have
learned a lot.
I have had a problem with my 240 Gallon display tank now for over a
The infection started after I introduced some fish that had ICK in their
gills after quarantine of 3 weeks with no outside symptoms. I raised the
water temp to 85 over a week for treatment and it killed the ICK but
brought on this infection.
My fish seem to have Columnaris. Not all the fish have symptoms and some
of the fish that have the symptoms get better.
<Columnaris is also known as Mouth Fungus. It's similar to Finrot and
Fungus in causes. It's not temperature-related, so any apparent
connection there is unlikely. On the other hand, it is
environment-related, so do check water quality, water chemistry, social
The tank is filtered with a Fluval FX 5,a Sun Sun 305,a Maxi Jet 400
power head and an Aqua Clear 110 power head. I have both the power heads
set up as DIY sponge filters. There are about 80 big fish and about 20
babies at this time. I have a mixture of African cichlids, South
American cichlids, Rainbowfish and a few others. The water parameters
are: Ammonia- 0,Nitrite -0, Nitrate -10, temp 76, ph -7.6 to 7.8.
<An odd mix of species (if your "African" cichlids are Malawian or
Tanganyikan species) for this water chemistry. West African cichlids
(like Kribs) would be fine with South Americans and Rainbows, but I
can't imagine Mbuna or even things like Julidochromis from Tanganyika
getting along well with South Americans. Differences in environmental
requirements and personality are just too great.>
I have the tank decorated with wood and lime stone rocks. I do 35% water
changes weekly with gravel vacuuming and clean the filters about every 2
to 3 months as needed. I feed HBH Natural 8 Veggie Flake twice daily and
supplement with fresh veggies like Cucumber, Romaine Lettuce, Squash.
The rainbow fish are the ones effected with their fins eroding and their
bodies with patches of gray areas and some loss of scales.
<Ah, I see.>
I have treated the tank with Melafix/ Pimafix combo,
Acuflavin, Kanamycin/Furan II combo, Triple Sulfur, Maracyn II, and
probably some I can't remember. At this time I am doing twice a week 35%
water changes and am keeping aquarium salt in it at 1 tsp/gal. I haven't
lost any fish in over 4 months and lost about 10 fish at the start of
the infection and 4 more 4 months ago. I had to remove all my live
plants due to the salt use.
Please help. I don't know what else to do other than tearing down the
tank and starting over again which I would hate to do since it has been
established now for about 3 years. I have also spent a small fortune in
meds for this problem. Thank you.
<Columnaris is almost always environmental, but can be triggered by
fighting. Rainbowfish do need to be kept in fairly large groups, with
more females than males, otherwise the males can squabble. On top of
this, they need good, oxygen-rich water, and my gut feeling here is that
your tank is overstocked or otherwise "not right" in terms of filtration
and/or water changes. I'd sit down and review the aquarium, thinking
about the species being kept. Also, what's the hardness? Rainbows
usually want fairly hard water, 10-15 degrees dH, and in soft water tend
to be very prone to disease. Does this help? As for treatment, any
reliable Finrot medication should work, but only if the environment is
correct. Don't forget to remove carbon while treating (if you use
carbon, and you shouldn't really). Neale.>
Help diagnose? 12/28/11
I have a pair of female endler guppies housed with some Sailfin
mollies and Flagfish in my 46-gallon planted tank. (They
One of these two fish has developed a cloudy white patch on her
right side from about the gill to the distance of the anal
<I see this in your successive email>
she also seems to be somewhat swollen, possibly from fluid
retention, though I have not seen any dropsy pineconing.
The fish is still quite active and eats normally. I want to
emphasize that this appears only on one side of the fish and does
not appear to be spreading. Her left side looks normal and
none of the other fish appear to be affected.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to catch her for quarantine and
I have not yet been able to get a photo.
<Use two nets. REMOVE the afflicted fish/es
My first guess was Columnaris.
Because she is still eating normally, I have been feeding
with a flake medicated for gram-negative bacteria.
After four days there is no sign of improvement, so I will be
discontinuing this treatment to try something else.
<VERY hard to cure... see my writings on WWM... Neomycin
Sulfate and a few other med.s have proven (at times)
I still prefer to treat with medicated food since she does feed
I have available food for treating gram positive infections, and
food for treating Protozoans. Problem is, I'm not sure
what I am facing.
<Requires microscopic examination of samples... some staining
sensitivity testing... See Ed Noga's work/s re...>
Costia crossed my mind as one possibility,
<Nah, or not likely. Else all would be similarly
so I am leaning toward trying the protozoan flake next, but
I have not seen this fish flashing. In fact, the fish
behaves as if nothing at all is wrong with her.
Can you think of anything I missed?
<Just (like me) knowledge. BobF>
photos of affected fish
Here are some photos of the fish I wrote about last
evening. These aren't particularly good photos but
better than nothing. I'm including one of the normal
and the ill side of this fish.
Re: Help diagnose? Chondrococcus, Endler's
Thanks for the feedback.
You know, this fish gave me fits the last time I tried to net
her. Two nets is standard operating procedure for me in any
tank larger than a few gallons, and I chased her for a good 45
minutes the last attempt. Today, I hardly got the net wet
before I managed to snare her. Go figure.
Anyway, I now have her quarantined in one of those 2-1/2 gallon
mini bow front plastic tanks, so I can be a lot more
I have two antibiotics on hand, API tetracycline and Mardel
Maracyn (containing erythromycin). I have plenty of both for the
small tank, but I'm inclined to go with the Maracyn if only
because the product explicitly states Columnaris on the box.
I'll wait a few hours in case you scream "No! Use the
But, I suspect these two antibiotics will have similar
effect. If I see no improvement by Monday, I'll go
hunting for something containing Neomycin Sulfate.
<Likely too late then>
Do you think I need to do anything to the tank she came out
<Too likely too late there to do anything of use either. The
fish will resist the pathogen or not. I would bleach the system
if all die. B>
I can easily continue feeding those fish the antibiotic
flake food for a few days.
Re: Help diagnose? 12/29/11
I will let you know how it turns out.
<Thank you. B>
Re: Help diagnose?
Update for you.
It looks like it's probably not Columnaris as I
expect this fish would be dead by now if it were.
Also, none of the mollies, Flagfish, nor the other endler
female in the main tank show any signs if infection at all.
I treated the endler female with erythromycin and had some
limited success, but it did not completely cure her. I left her
in the bath for an additional week without any more improvement.
I am currently removing the meds with carbon and will try
tetracycline in a few days, putting her back on the medicated
food at the same time.
<Nice to have a scraping, culture... Cheers,
Re: Help diagnose? 1/14/12
I could get a scraping. Unfortunately, I'm not enough of a
biologist to really know what to do with it.
<Requires just one bit of gear... a decent microscope... If
you have interest, get hold of a copy of Ed Noga's "Fish
Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment", 1st or 2d ed.... and have
a read. Cheers, BobF>
<Patrick... am thinking musically now... Bruno Mars, "Today I
don't feel like doing anything"...>
Hope you are having as much wonderful weather as we are experiencing in
the UK for this time of year!
<Is fab here in N. Fiji, though a bit rainy last night>
I have two 30 gallon tanks that are usually very settled. However, the
past few days has experienced a rapid outbreak of Columnaris.
<Trouble... very aggressive w/ certain species... esp.
I have removed those fish that appear particularly affected to a
hospital tank but due to the amount of fish affected (basically about
25 guppies in each tank - a few adults and many juveniles) I decided to
treat both tanks with Esha2000 (this is day 1 - the LFS advised double
dose which I have tried in one tank).
<Mmm, I do hope this works. The olde timey remedy of choice used to
be Neomycin Sulfate, and/but I can't recall what I heard a couple
months back at the UNE fish health conf. re>
What I am experiencing is that the female guppies (with the double
dose) that are maturing are tail nipping the older females constantly.
Also, they all went very still when the medication was added to the
tank and now all fish are flashing quite furiously. One guppy in
particular appears to be going quite insane and darting around the tank
as if chased by a bee (obviously not of course!). Would you say this is
due to the effects of the treatment?
The double dose?
I've tested the tank for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate - all fine at
(0, 0 and 0.5ppm respectively).
I'm preparing myself for the worst! I just don't understand how
it came about so quickly when there appeared to be no/little stress yet
appeared in both tanks almost simultaneously.
<Likely introduced w/ a new fish>
I've since cleaned all external tank equipment in some eSHa 2000
with tank water as a preventative.
Dr Patrick Nunn
<And you, doo doo doo doo doot. Bob Fenner>
Re: Columnaris 10/1/11
Many thanks to you for your advice. I love your humour! I was
thinking.... musically..... Donny Osmond - "And they call it,
<Have sung this tune w/ the changed lyric meself!>
I've not introduced any new fish for quite some time so I am not
sure if that is how all the Columnaris problems began.
<Mmm, well... symptomatically... could be summat else than
Possibly from the maturing lyre tail guppies as they seem (both male
and female) to constantly nip the dragon tail guppies. Also, some are
getting rather old now (about 12 to 18 months?). Maybe as the juvenile
guppies have turned into adults the tanks have just become more
stressful environmentally for the older ones.
I'm on day three of using ESHa 2000. We have restricted medication
here in the UK and although I do have some aquatic broad-spectrum
antibiotics, I am loathed to use them due to the re-cycling issue in
the tanks (our tap water is also quite high in nitrites making frequent
water changes quite problematic). Overall, most of the fish appear to
be stable (the older ones who are infected worsening slightly).
<Columnaris presents itself as rapid, total mortality.
Coincidentally, am currently reading Frank Herbert's 1982
I decided to do a mass salt dip today for all guppies and two
fork-tailed rainbow fish that also show signs of the bacteria infection
- 1 tablespoon of rock salt to 1 litre of tank water for 5 min.s. then
gently re-introducing tank water to their dip to gradually lower
salinity until almost diluted/reduced to zero for 30 min.s before
returning them to the tank. I've also separated the female lyre
tail guppies into a smaller net to give the dragon tails some breathing
space from their harassment.
Fingers crossed it will help.
I'm not sure I can do anything else now - temperature reduced in
one tank to 74 degrees F, the other regrettably in a room that is
suffering from the Indian summer here in the UK with tank temperature
around 80 degrees F.
One male dwarf Cherry Gourami is now showing a little spot on his side
(can't quite tell if it is an injury or the beginnings of
Columnaris). Of course, I am unable to salt dip him due to the stress
it will incur.
Any other things I can do to aid the situation?
<Not really, no>
Should I continue with ESHa 2000 past the three day treatment (with a
water change in between)?
<I likely would; yes>
Continue daily salt dips for the guppies?
<If you think this is doing any good>
Do a large water change anyway to reduce the bacteria load (with the
risk of slightly raising the nitrite level to say 0.1ppm?)
<Mmm, not too large... I'd limit such changes to about twenty
percent a day>
Clean out the filters (usually cleaned once a week anyway)?
<Stick to this routine>
I've heard faster water stream helps - although not sure if I can
do this on both tanks.
Dr Patrick Nunn
<And you and your fishes. BobF>
strange marking on Guppy mouth (RMF,
<<Unfortunately appears so. I would IMMEDIATELY
aggressively treat for (Neomycin sulfate), and euthanize/remove
this most mal-affected specimen. BobF>>
Trust you have all had a great weekend so far.
<Very good, thanks; and hope yours good too.>
Earlier today I noticed that one of my female guppies had strange
white around her mouth and her left eye looked a bit cloudy see
pix attached is this something to worry about?
Tank size 100 lt
25 juvenile females (small in size)
3 fork tail blue eye rainbow fish
1 Gourami Colisa labiosa
many thanks for your help in advance.
<Do think this is Columnaris, also called "Mouth
Fungus" despite being a bacterial infection. Quite common
among livebearers. Usually indicates some environmental stress,
typically water that is too soft, too acidic, or too cold. Do
review conditions. Fancy Guppies need middling to high
temperatures, 25-28 C; moderately hard to very hard water, 10-30
degrees dH; and pH levels between 7.5-8.5. The addition of marine
aquarium salt at 2 g/l (about a teaspoon per US gallon) is a
major plus, but may stress the
Gourami (the Rainbows won't mind). In any case, medicate as
per Columnaris, taking care to remove carbon from the filter.
Re: More re: strange marking on Guppy mouth (RMF,
Many thanks for your reply - I have treated the guppy with
<? What is this? According to Google, furniture polish? A
Not likely efficacious>
for 30 min.s in a separate container.
Have place her back in main tank with in a separate small
<... not a good idea to put this fish back in w/ the
Is this ok or should I remove her completely (euthanise).
<I would do the latter. Do please search on WWM... the search
tool on every page... w/ the term "Columnaris"... NOW.
Re: More re: strange marking on Guppy mouth (RMF,
Love your sense of humour your a cool guy I meant JBL Furanol
Will follow your advice.
<As many welcomes. B>
Just wanted to say that after five days of Esha2000 treatment and
careful monitoring (as well as euthanasia of four badly infected
fish / fish with dropsy), the tank appears to be settling and
those with some cotton mouth / eye coverage are in remission.
<Very good news. Generally there's real trouble w/ these
I haven't done any water changes yet but with a combination
of less food (brine shrimp rather than flake food) Esha2000
treatment, lowering the tank temperatures (as far as I am able)
to 74 degrees, it appears to be having positive results.
Hopefully in a few days, all signs of cotton mouth will have gone
and I can start to introduce some water changes to bring the
tanks back to non-medicated states.
Thanks for all your help and support. I almost gave up on keeping
fish but have decided to keep going, but not to replace my stock
with guppies (they are just too genetically weak). However, some
important learnings have been taken on board!
Many thanks as ever,
<"I'm in the mood for a moray, simply because
they're finless... No P1's or pelvics, I'm in the
mood for an eel". Cheers, BobF>
"I'm in the mood for a moray, simply because they're
finless... No P1's or pelvics, I'm in the mood for an
what's the song Bob? I don't know the original fishless
<Ahh, sub "amore" for the corrupted " a
Treating Fish in Display Tank to Prevent
I've noted over the last few days that my male red swordtail was
not as evident in the tank as he had usually been.
Tonight I made a close search through the plants and finally located
him sitting low under a piece of driftwood. He had clear signs of
Columnaris, with the saddleback discoloration, discoloured patches on
his body and a mouth full of cotton. I immediately removed him to a
hospital tank and will treat him with appropriate medications and
<Do remember a small hospital tank with poor water quality offers no
benefit at all; oftentimes it's better to treat the whole tank if
that means avoiding some 2.5 gallon death trap. I wouldn't keep a
Swordtail in a hospital tank much smaller than 10 gallons.>
Meanwhile, I now have a 30 gallon display tank and a number of fish who
have all been exposed to this. Included in my tank are two angels, a
Farlowella gracilis, a Corydoras,
<It's Corydoras; like "sheep", both the plural and the
singular are the same.>
three Oto cats, two female swords, a school of six rummy nose tetras
and one rock shrimp.
<Do be aware many medications will kill shrimps; copper in
particular is highly toxic to them.>
Ammonia is 0, pH 7.2, KH 180 ppm, GH 150 ppm, nitrite 0, nitrate 5.
At this point I don't see any other fish exhibiting signs of
illness. What is the risk to the rest of the occupants in this tank? I
have to assume that the male sword does not have the most virulent form
of Columnaris because he's clearly been hiding for a few days with
Should I go ahead and treat the rest of the tank on a preventative
And if so, what treatment would you recommend for a tank stocked with
five catfish and a shrimp!
<Nothing with copper in. Because Columnaris and Finrot are latent in
all tanks, "prevention" is meaningless. If the fish are
healthy, they'll resist those bacteria just fine. If the fish are
weakened somehow, then they'll get sick.>
Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Treating Fish in Display Tank to Prevent
Thanks for your quick reply Neale.
My swordtail is currently swimming by himself in a cycled, lightly
planted tank, so not too worried about stress from him feeling crowded.
Just crossing my fingers he's not too far gone.
<I hope so too.>
If I need to treat the display tank at some point if others get sick I
can put my shrimp in with the swordtail (assuming he survives
In a worst case scenario like that, what treatment would you recommend,
given all my various catfish...
<I don't know what medications are sold in your part of the
world. Here in England, I've found eSHa 2000, which contains
Rivanol, copper, and methyl orange, work safely with my catfish and
pufferfish. It treats Finrot, Columnaris and Fungus. In general though,
catfish keepers try to avoid copper and formalin if at all possible, so
try to find medications that don't contain either of these
ingredients. If you have no choice but to use something with copper or
formalin, at least use them carefully, and observe your catfish for
signs of negative reaction: gasping at the surface, laboured breathing,
and so on.>
I know a lot of meds need to be dosed at half strength with cats in the
tank...just wondering what would be safest and still likely to do the
<I'm not a big fan of the "half dose" approach; many
of these medications work reliably only at the stated dose on the
package, and I certainly don't have the training in veterinarian
science to be confident about changing doses. Half doses can create
problems by knocking back an infection without actually curing it, so
the disease comes back a few weeks later.
Alternatively, a half dose might not even work at all, so you end up
with a dead fish. I'd sooner choose medications that are safe for
use around catfish, and use them at the full dose, i.e., ones that
don't contain copper or formalin; Methylene blue for example has
been widely used for treating catfish affected by fungus, and of course
salt works very well against whitespot. It's important to be clear
that catfish aren't uniquely sensitive to medications than any
other fish. Indeed, there are lots of other fish groups at least as
sensitive, or a good deal more sensitive.
Loaches, Mormyrids, stingrays, pufferfish and moray eels are all
examples of fish equally or more sensitive to copper and formalin. On
the other hand, other fish aren't magically immune to copper and
Livebearers, barbs, tetras and so on happen to be a bit less sensitive
than, say, catfish, but slightly higher doses will kill them just as
quickly. So it's all about getting the right amount of
antibacterial medication to kill the infection while not killing the
fish. Compared with antibiotics, which target just bacteria,
antibacterial medications (copper, formalin, organic dyes) kill
everything they touch, we just try to minimise the harm done to the
fish by getting just the right dose into the aquarium.
If you have fish that may react badly to antibacterial medications,
then antibiotics are the safest and best way forward. On the plus side,
antibacterial medications are cheap, don't need a prescription, and
generally reliable without being complicated by the gram-positive,
gram-negative issue that makes choosing the right antibiotic
Thanks again in advance,
Re: Brain damaged Flowerhorn? 7/2/09
Flowerhorn With Columnaris
He has been improving greatly, taking pellets, then this am I see
this.. I cannot find anything on your site and don't think it
is Columnaris but I thought I would ask you. What is it and what
med should I use?
<In a hospital tank, I would treat with an antibiotic like
Nitrofurazone or Erythromycin type of antibiotics. The little
white columns are actually a characteristic of
Re: Brain damaged Flowerhorn? 7/2/09
Indication of Columnaris
Is it the larger white spot with the surrounding red or the
flaking white spiky things that indicate Columnaris? (for my
forums understanding as I have posted pics) Thank you again so
< The spiky white things are Columnaris. The big hole could be
hole in the head /trauma/or a bacterial infection. Treat with the
antibiotics as recommended. Get the nitrates down to under 20 ppm
with water changes and gravel vacuuming.-Chuck>
Mollies with Columnaris and Ich
I'm in a bit of a quandary. I purchased three mollies the day
before yesterday, and placed them in my cycled 10 gallon quarantine
tank (pH: 8.1, ammonia: 0, nitrites: 0, nitrates: 0 -- I had a bunch of
extra cuttings so
the tank is stuffed with live plants).
<Mollies don't do well in small tanks. They're very
sensitive to nitrate as well as ammonia/nitrite, and in small tanks it
is very difficult to keep them healthy for long. Minimum tank size for
small Mollies (Shortfin
mollies, black mollies, balloon mollies) is 20+ gallons, while large
Mollies (Sailfin mollies, liberty mollies) is over 30 gallons.>
Unfortunately yesterday I observed that one of the mollies had what we
used to call cotton mouth or mouth fungus.
<Very common with Mollies, especially when kept in freshwater
I understand, from researching your site, that this is likely
<Indeed. You will need a suitable antibiotic or antibacterial (as
opposed to a make-believe solution such as tea-tree oil or
Today I also observed two Ich spots (sure glad I quarantined). I was
going to go the salt + heat route, but I learned (also from researching
your site), that Columnaris grows faster with higher heat.
<Your options are limited here, but in this case, I'd raise the
salinity to deal with the Ick, and treat with an
antibiotic/antibacterial at the same time. Since Mollies are best kept
at SG 1.003, I'd recommend 6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre
of water. There's not much point trying to keep Mollies in a
freshwater aquarium because they rarely (seemingly, less than 50% of
the time) do well. You're also fighting with one hand behind your
back because the tank is so small, so a difficult job is being made
twice as hard.>
My questions are: Should I raise the heat, and how I can treat both the
Columnaris and Ich concurrently? Also, should I remove my plants?
<Plants will not be affected by antibiotics or antibacterials used
correctly, and a salinity of SG 1.003 is fine for hardy, salt-tolerant
Thanks very much for your help and your wonderful website.
Re: Mollies with Columnaris and
Thanks very much for your help. The Mollies are currently in a ten
gallon tank because they are in quarantine (their permanent home will
be a 40-gallon heavily-planted breeder tank).
<Ah, that makes sense. A 40-gallon system will be perfect.>
The water parameters of that tank are:
Carbonate hardness: approximately 200 mg/L CaCO3
<That's 200/17.8 = 11.2 degrees KH. That's extremely high,
and while perfect for Mbuna or Central American livebearers, a lot of
other fish will find that a bit on the hard side for their tastes. Do
be aware when choosing fish and plants.>
Their tankmates will be Wrestling Halfbeaks, Scarlet Badis, White
Clouds, and Threadfin Rainbows.
<Halfbeaks will thrive, the others should tolerate, but may not show
optimal colours or longevity.>
I was hoping the Mollies would do well without salt because of the high
pH and hardness, and I wasn't sure (aside from the Halfbeaks)
whether the plants and other residents would appreciate the salt.
<Plants that tolerate hard water generally do well in slightly
brackish water too; species such as Vallisneria, Hygrophila, Java
ferns, hardy Crypts, etc. If you have plants that need soft water,
chances are they
aren't going to thrive a this level of carbonate hardness either,
so it's a moot point. As for the fish: Halfbeaks tolerate salt
well, but the others are truly freshwater fish.>
But I will add salt and remove some of the other residents and non-salt
tolerant plants if necessary.
<Would be my recommendation. Mollies deserve a tank of their own:
they're spectacular fish, and wonderful pets. But they are finicky
in freshwater systems. They need perfect water quality. You might
decide to medicate them in the quarantine tank, and when they're
healthy again, try them out in a plain freshwater tank. With luck,
you'll be okay. But if you find you're constantly having to
deal with Fungus and Finrot, remove the Minnows, Rainbows and Badis,
add a little salt, and maintain the system at SG 1.002-1.003.>
I've started to slowly raise the salinity of the quarantine tank,
and I'm off to the LFS to pick up the antibiotic and a hydrometer.
I believe we have Maracyn and Maracyn II available here (Canada), so I
A couple more questions, if you'll bear with me:
Which Maracyn product would be most effective against Columnaris?
<Maracyn rather than Maracyn 2 is usually used first. It contains
Erythromycin, which should work on Flexibacter Columnaris.>
If the Mollies recover, when would it be safe to place them into my
main tank (so that Columnaris does not contaminate that tank).
<Columnaris, like Finrot, is a disease latent in all tanks, and the
bacteria involved is presumably harmless most of the time. It appears
not because a fish "caught" the disease, but because the fish
weakened, and its immune system overwhelmed. So provided the other fish
are healthy, you shouldn't worry about cross-contamination.>
Re: Mollies with Columnaris and Ich
- Update 04/03/09
Thanks very much, Neale, for your advice. Just thought I would give you
an update on the Mollies. I used the salt + heat treatment for the Ick,
and the Ick has disappeared.
For the mouth rot, I couldn't find Maracyn at my LFS, so I used TC
capsules (tetracycline). The mouth rot hung around during the course of
the treatment (5 days), and then I had an ammonia spike (the packaging
on the TC capsules claims that they will not affect the biological
filter, but I suspect otherwise).
Unfortunately one of the Mollies died (oddly, it was the healthiest,
<Sorry to hear that; I wonder why?>
I subsequently performed 75% water changes for the next several days to
control the ammonia, used activated carbon to remove the tetracycline,
then added some nice filthy filter media from my other tank to
repopulate the nitrifying bacteria. Over the next several days, the
mouth rot on the remaining Mollies disappeared, but I'm not sure if
I can attribute it to the tetracycline or the water changes.
<It's a combination: the antibiotic kills off the bacteria, but
improved water quality allows the fish's immune system to repair
the damage and prevent re-infection>
Anyway, the remaining Mollies have recovered, and in a week or so, I
will remove them from quarantine and place them in my 40-gallon
Also, you were right, the salt did not seem to affect my plants
(Hygrophila polysperma, Hygrophila corymbosa, Rotala rotundifolia, Java
Moss, and Bacopa monnieri).
<Not sure about Rotala, but certainly the others are happy in
brackish water, let alone slightly salty/warm water of the sort used to
Thanks again for your help,
<Thanks for the update, Neale.>
Guppies, Columnaris? 11/6/07 Ok I have a 75 gallon fish
tank perfect ammonia ph Everything! <... Punctuation...> However
I have lost many female guppies to this weird disease, it only happens
to females and it comes over there belly like over there gravid spot up
to their back and its their scales that sort of puff up and lift off
their body yet don't fall out. <Yikes!> Eventually I separate
them and then after a while they die. I have given them a bit of salt
everyday and some quick cure <Toxic> I lost about 5 to 7 guppies
and for a while it went away, they had a billion babies ,and then all
of the sudden it came back I don't get it. I thought for a while it
was ich because they would flick themselves off rocks and stuff, but
why would it only happen to the girls and it isn't how the books
describe it. also I have one female that has been with me since the
beginning and about 2 to 3 weeks ago she got this round golden thing
under her skin on her back. It's so odd and now it's like
starting to bulge out of her back. please help I have searched every
here nobody can tell what it is. I love my guppies and don't want
anymore to die. thank you. <Your situation sounds very much like
"Columnaris" disease... see the Net, WWM re Chondrococcus...
likely Neomycin sulfate... Bob Fenner> Re: sick fish. Guppies,
Columnaris? Child? 11/07/07 Thank you I Have kept the
most recent sick guppy and the scales have stopped protruding yet they
are still white and a bit weird looking. I have not given her any salt
for a while and she looks better, <See WWM re salt use> I was
starting to think it was dropsy but I have never seen a guppy with
dropsy or only happening to females? <No> but I'll keep
searching. As for the fish that had the golden bulge on her back I
checked her out today and it was red and it looked like it exploded in
her back you can see a blood streak in her back stretching to her
belly, what happened! was it a sea tick or something ? <... no...
Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppydisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
guppies. Columnaris? 10/17/07 Hi, We have had quite a few
guppies over the past few months. We recently introduced some new guppy
fish and ever since they have been dying, most have developed a white
velvety/moldy substance on their sides. At first we thought it could
have been velvet disease however upon further reading we have come to
doubt this as velvet is described to be yellowish in colour and this is
pure white, we have also used velvet control treatment, however to no
avail. Also one of the females has developed large white rings around
her eyes which look like they could be some sort of fungal infection.
<Mmm, much more likely bacterial> I have searched the internet
and cannot find anything relating to this. <Look for the term
"Columnaris"... or the genus Chondrococcus... and "fish
disease"> We have a catfish, a spotted Plec and three black
harlequins in our tank which we have had sense the tank was first set
up which have remained unaffected. We have done tests on our ammonia
levels, PH, nitrate which have all been fine. Can you think of anything
which this could be and what is causing it? <Was likely either
introduced with some livestock... and/or favored by "stress",
some sort of deficiency...> We are going to completely change the
water tonight and clean the tank which we are hoping will get rid of
any infection in the water. Any advice would be much appreciated, Best
regards Emily and John P.S they have also had more babies recently,
will they be affected do you know? <Please see this piece:
http://aem.asm.org/cgi/reprint/17/2/333.pdf re Neomycin, Polymixin
use... Needs to be addressed ASAP. Bob
|Guppy Dying, Columnaris
6/24/07 Dear WWM, <Ws> Good morning. <And to you> I
just setup a new fresh water tank for my daughter. 200L, I get the
water ready 4 weeks ago and before I put in the new bought fishes,
I put in a few of my current batch of fishes from my other tank
(which I have it for >1 year). After confirming no problem, I
then put in 8 Guppies (2 male, 6 female), 4 gold fish (small one,
1" length). <Not good to mix tropicals and goldfish... see
WWM re> The tank is ok for first 2 days, then I put in some
stone/rock. The 3rd day, I found 2 male guppies died + 2 gold fish.
I notice another female guppy has discoloration at tail (the shape
is ok, no broken/rotten). It die on the same day (3rd day night).
<I see this and it's not good...> The discoloration is
somehow from about 1mm.sq. area propagate to the whole tail then
infect the body within 10 hours. On the 4th day, another one was
infected and die on the next day too. Today (5th day), found
another has discoloration again (attach photos). After reading some
of your articles, I put in some anti-bacteria yesterday, but
looking at I still get more infection, I quarantine the infected
female guppy and put in some para-guard (from Seachem), and now it
turn up-side-down. <Which antibiotic? Most will NOT treat for
this> The 2 gold fish is fine, and I put in another 2 new bubble
goldfish yesterday and didn't notice any abnormality too. Can
you advise? Thanks. Rgds, Ws teoh <This looks very much like
Columnaris Disease... see re this term and Chondrococcus on WWM,
the Net... Again, I would not mix these fishes... WOULD likely just
stick with the goldfish at this point. Bob Fenner>
Re: Guppy Dying - 6/25/07 Hi
Bob, thanks. my daughter (8 years old) very surprise that there
are "fish doctor" in the internet. Ha! Ha! She ask me
to thank you (she has been asking a few times to make sure I do
send out this message)... :) thanks a lot. Rgds, ws teoh
<Welcome my friend. Life to you and your daughter.
Treating Columnaris in Dwarf Gourami -
11/09/2005 Crew, <Hello, Jason.> Yesterday I purchased two
male Dwarf Gouramis who currently reside in a cycled QT of 10 gallons.
To my dismay, when I checked in on them this morning one of them
clearly had white fuzz/residue on its side. <Oh, dear....> After
a bit of research I concluded that this fuzz was likely Flexibacter
Columnaris, <Entirely possible.> a bacterial infection that, as
per my understanding, causes fin rot, body rot and mouth
"fungus". <Essentially.> Now, I have a Betta that
susceptible to fin rot, so I guess I am well acquainted with
Columnaris. <Mm, possibly.... there are many other things that can
cause fin rot.... bacteria and others.> My reaction was to treat
both Gouramis with Tetracycline. <IMO, a good reaction.> My
fears were confirmed later on when the white fuzz developed into red
sores on the side of the sick Gourami. Now both Gouramis are in the
corner, panting near the surface of the water. Is there anything to be
done aside from Tetracycline and hope for the best?
<Tetracycline is a good option. I would continue treatment with this
for up to two weeks.... Kanamycin sulfate would be another good option.
Perhaps my first choice would be Oxytetracycline in food. Be monitoring
ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate closely; maintain optimal water quality.
It would also be a good idea at this time to increase aeration to aid
these fish in breathing a little easier.> -Jason <Wishing you
Clown loaches 'n' Columnaris Hi - I
purchased 3 clown loaches about 3 or 4 weeks ago. They've seemed
fine until about 3 days ago. 1 of them has white around his
mouth. Could it be cotton mouth? How would I treat
this? <This sounds like Columnaris (mouth fungus, mouth
rot, other names). I would treat with a broad spectrum
antibiotic like Oxytetracycline, preferably in a medicated food, if
possible.> I had something similar about a year ago that started
with a Dojo and 14 of my 19 fish perished. I treated it with
Penicillin upon advice from a local fish store. I have a 29
gal tank. Testing yesterday showed everything was fine. <What were
your test results? Usually this bacterial illness is brought
on by high nitrates, perhaps a pH other than what the fish prefer, low
oxygen concentrations, etc.> Thanks SG <Wishing your fish a swift
Stubborn Columnaris! Hi, A few
days ago I sent a question regarding a stubborn case of Columnaris I
seem to be having. I didn't receive a reply, so maybe
you didn't get it. Anywho, what is the best/strongest
med to treat this with? I picked up some Ampicillex, which
was expensive, but was hesitant to use it because it was very
expensive, and other medications such as fungus clear tank buddies,
MelaFix, Aquarisol, and Kanacyn have not worked. It is a 55
gallon brackish tank, with 2 GSP's, 1 figure 8, 2 bumblebee gobies,
1 knight goby, and 1 green scat. All inhabitants except for
the BB's are still juveniles. 1 bumblebee has white
slime on the edge of his fins, and they are fraying, the scat and the
knight goby have a white sore on their upper lip. The scat
has a dot in the center of his eye, and a couple tiny holes in his tail
fin. ammonia and nitrite are 0, nitrate 20 or less, ph7.5,
SG. 1.005. I started using Ampicillex on Sunday, have seen
some improvement with the scat's eye, and increased activity with
the rest of the inhabitants, they seem happier, but the sores
aren't going away. Does this sound like
Columnaris? If this fails to work, is there a point where I
should give up on meds? If so, what else should I try?
thanks, Dave >>Hello :) Ampicillex, I assume is the same as
Ampicillin, which I have used with great success on bacterial and
fungal infections. It will kill your biofiltration, so take care to
test your tank daily for any traces of ammonia and/or nitrite, and do
water changes as needed. Re-treat every second day (following any
necessary water changes). You started treating on Sunday January 25th?
Three days is not a long time, you will need to keep medicating until
you see signs that the disease is clearing up. This can be a slow
process, I have treated stubborn cases that have taken minimum 2 weeks
before improvement is seen. Treat for at least 5 doses, in other words,
approximately 10 days, since you will be adding the Ampicillin every
second day. Be patient and test your water! -Gwen
Wooly Cotton, I think,
and Ongoing Problems I have done an extensive search about
Columnaris and have learned a lot. However, my specific
problems have not been discussed. I will try to be brief,
and appreciate any help you may be able to offer. I have a 29 gal
community tank, established about a year ago without significant
problems. The fish are: Betta, 3 barbs, 7 mollies
(2 adult, 5 babies) 4 small Danios, a Pleco and catfish. I
had the Betta in the tank the entire time. He had always
done well. One day I discovered a tiny spot of white fuzz,
kept an eye on it, and concluded he needed help because it was getting
bigger daily. I hospitalized him, did major Internet
searches and went to my fish dealer - and he suggested
BettaFix. After using BettaFix (Melaleuca) for one day I
noticed a HUGE amount of fuzz floating throughout the entire
bowl. I continued medication; but after several days I
decided I was doing something wrong (I could hardly see through the
water by now, just full of what can best be described as
LINT). I did a water change with most of his water (using
the tank water, I didn't want to shock him). I went to
the dealer again, explained the problem and he said to continue using
the BettaFix - I had not given it enough time. Highly
skeptical I continued the treatment and did a daily water change of
about 25% using FRESH tap water with a couple drops of TLC live
bacteria and Stress Coat. The fuzz in the water was reduced
- but obviously controlled, not cured. My Betta was hanging
in there, as long as I continued the treatment exactly as I
described. After 2-3 weeks he just couldn't hang on
anymore. I waited over a month, and did weekly 10% water
changes in my tank. Purchased another Betta. He
developed the white fuzz over the entire main part of his body within
48 hours, and was dead only a few hours later! My tank
maintains a steady temp around 75, the nitrates are in the
high-but-safe range, nitrites 0 - hard to tell with the color strips
but definitely under .5, my tap is very hard water - around 300,
alkalinity is blue - and I don't know what that means because the
bottle only shows 'high 300' at green - but I'm certain
it's above 300, and the ph level is around 8.4 (normal for this
area). I know that is high, but it is steady; I've been
looking into ways to lower it (I saw something about rainwater, what is
your opinion?) My other fish have been absolutely unaffected
in any way - even the babies - I have stable & happy fish! So in
conclusion two questions: 1.) Was it Columnaris
and how would have been the RIGHT way to treat it (your suggestions in
the site were spectrogram or fungus eliminator, right?); 2.) Do I need
to treat my tank for it if I'm to put another Betta in it? <
Bettas with other fish don't always work. The long flowing fins on
the Betta wiggle back and forth and become too tempting for many fish
like the barbs to leave alone. Typically I don't like to treat an
entire tank if I don't have too. Medications affect the beneficial
bacteria that reduce the toxic ammonia to less toxic nitrites and then
to nitrates. First you need to determine what kind of infection you
had. A true fungus does not attack healthy tissue. Damaged areas of the
fish that may have been bitten or scraped sometimes developed fungus if
the tank is not clean. So a body fungus as you describe sounds like a
bacterial infection and not like a true fungus at all. It could have
been Columnaris or some other bacteria. I have heard mixed results with
BettaFix and personally don't use the stuff. Some aquarists have
had favorable results but I am not aware on how the medication works
and have seen any scientific data on in. I assume that it is a
bacterial inhibiter but that is only a guess. I stick with antibiotics
that I know work. I like Furanace to use on bacterial infections or
erythromycin. Medications usually work better in softer water. Bettas
come from soft acidic still pools in southeast Asia. If the conditions
aren't right your Betta will become weak and have no immunity to
diseases. That's why the Betta will get sick while the others seem
unaffected. For info on changing water chemistry I would recommend you
to Marineland.com and go to Dr. Tim's Library and check out the
Discus pH shock/Columnaris Bob, I
have a 75-gallon tank, containing nine 2" to 5" discus,
several pairs of various Amazonian dwarf cichlids, a few Cory cats, a
7" diameter Guyana stingray (humerosa), and several other small
dither fishes. All were doing well together, besides the stingray
occasionally eating one of the smaller fishes, until I recently ordered
online four (of the nine) young 2" to 3" discus, which
quickly developed Columnaris. I do at least a 25% water change
twice a week. I use a Fluval 304 and an AquaClear 500 for filtration. I
have about 15 plants (mostly swords and Anubias), which I supplement
with a small CO2 system. I must have taken my previously good, stable
water conditions for granted, for a day after adding the new discus I
tested my pH: it was about 5 (the test didn't go any lower). The
ammonia and nitrites remained at zero, while the nitrates hovered
around .12 mg/L. The first night using 7.4 pH tap water, conditioned of
course for chlorine and whatnot, I managed to raise the pH up to 6. The
next day the older, larger discus also developed Columnaris; I've
heard it can be quite contagious to other tankmates, or perhaps they
developed it on their own as a result of pH shock. I believe that my
original mistake was not correctly measuring the proper amount of
discus buffer (to lower pH), which sent my normal 6.5 pH plummeting.
For the first five days I treated the tank with
tetracycline/hydrochloride, but the fish showed little recovery and one
of the new ones died (a red spot green). I don't think they liked
sitting in the dark all day and night long, due to tetracycline being
photo sensitive, so after three treatments-I believe it was 200 mg (1
pill) for every 5 gallons (I added about 13-15 pills every 1.5 to 2
days) I switched to using erythromycin, particularly Maracyn. They are
all eating frozen bloodworms, which I provide them a feast twice a day
(the stingray is a bottomless pit that I refer to as a vacuum
cleaner). After two days of treatment using erythromycin three of
the discus seem much better, and I know they appreciate the light. The
rest still look pretty ragged. My pH is back at a stable 6.5, and
I've added more Epsom salt than I normally use and also aeration to
aid in their respiration. I'm wondering how long Columnaris
typically lasts, and when I can expect my discus to fully recover. I
also am curious about the 5-day treatment Maracyn recommends,
particularly whether I should do partial water changes between daily
treatments. Surprisingly the stingray could care less about the
medicated water and is his same mischievous self. The other fish also
appear unaffected. . . . I'd like to know your opinion of my set-up
and my predicament. I hope I provided enough information. <
You first mistake was in not quarantining your new discus. If they had
been placed in a small clean aquarium the medicating would have cheaper
and more effective. The erythromycin is a good choice for this disease,
but the water changes help your fish recover. In about a week you fish
should be better. Watch out for ammonia spikes because the medication
may affect the good bacteria that breaks down the fish waste into less
toxic nitrites and nitrates.-Chuck>
Re: Discus pH shock/Columnaris
Thanks, Chuck. One more thing: After treating my tank with tetracycline
for 5 days and erythromycin for another 8 days two of my eight
remaining discus that had already seemed on the road to full recovery
are now resting at the bottom of the tank. Their colors have darkened
only slightly, and they don't appear to have anything new wrong
with them. Are there complications for extended use of
erythromycin? I've removed the medication, but they've now
stopped eating (they were eating during the medication). Also I've
been adding salt at a rate of about 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons, maybe
even a little more, which I heard may aid in their recovery. This has
gone on for a couple months. Could the salt be the reason why the
discus are behaving strangely? Something's up, my pH is 6.8,
ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate .6 mg/L. I don't know what the
hardness is. I have some plants in the tank as well, which seem fine.
Do the fish simply need to rest for a couple days? I've had discus
refuse food for weeks and then act normal like nothing ever happened.
Any ideas? (Tank specs: 8 discus, 1 stingray, 6 Irian Jaya red
Rainbowfish, several bottom feeders, 100 lbs. of sand, 2 96-watt power
compacts, 15 plants, CO2 yeast thingy [not
cylinder], no aeration, except current from AquaClear 500 and Fluval
304). Adam Michels < Nothing brings discus back faster than
water changes. I would do water changes as often as I could with soft
acidic water. Offer a variety of foods and clean the filter often. They
should be back at it in no time.-Chuck>