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mary

Help! I'm killing my fish - again.

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That's a bit of a joke heading - I really do try to be a good fish mommy, but I'm worried now. The situation:

 

A ten-gallon, which I cycled with flakes, doing a massive water change before adding my baby. The filtration is Ryan Coughlan's plant filter. Here are the parameters:

 

The tank's been running for about four months.

Current temp is about 70 F.

Ammonia - zero

Nitrites - zero

Nitrates - trace

pH 6.8

KH 80 (moderate)

GH 150 (hard)

 

These parameters have been absolutely stable (except for temperature, which has gone down slightly in the winter - I have no heater) every time I've tested. I've also confirmed them with drop tests from API. I normally do a 15 to 20 percent water change every week.

 

Inhabitant: Faramir fish, a baby comet I rescued from our local Petco in October. He is about an inch long. No gravel. Four Marigolds on top of the tank. Two plastic plants and one bio-rock in with the fish.

 

I have been feeding him Tetra flakes, morning and evening. I know they're not the best, but he is so little that he couldn't begin to handle pro-gold. Also, I have not been able to buy it - Rick is sold out.

 

On one occasion, a bit more than a month ago, I overdid it with the evening flakes. Afterward he was bottom sitting, and then he had a string of dangling feces. It was a bit bubbly, but the color of his food.

 

I saw more signs of constipation in the weeks following. I tried to feed him a pea, broken up small, but he wouldn't touch it.

 

In the past two weeks, the bottom sitting has increased, alternating with his gulping air at the top of the tank. He grazes on the algae in the tank when he has the energy. He seems thin, and his gills look a little swollen to me. It also seems he's been struggling to eat, even the flakes. He used to inhale them, but now he spits them out and then pecks at them. Also, he's not noticing his food right away, as he used to do. 

 

So, thinking he might have gill flukes, I dosed the tank with Prazipro (Hikari) on Tuesday. It seemed to perk him up, but the bottom sitting increased. Today, I did a 40-50 percent water change and re-dosed. He was sitting behind his rock with his fins clamped before the water change, and again just now.

 

His color seems a little pale to me, and, as I said, he's thin and has swollen gills. But otherwise there's not a mark on him. Since I added the Prazi, he doesn't seem to be gulping air as much. I intend to give him another big water change on Monday. 

 

Took a film - with my phone - of him swimming today, and also a somewhat blurry pic. I'll try to post these below if I can figure out how.

 

Oh - I do know the tank is small, but he is tiny, and I thought he'd be okay for awhile. You can see Ryan's filtration system by googling "groponix". I wish he would come up with a larger one for a 20 long or 29 - that would be ideal! As it is, I think it's a great system; it would be wonderful for a feisty betta that didn't mind all that space, or for a group of White Clouds. But I love goldies! And I really thought this would work for a baby, for a year or two, anyway. 

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You can continue the praziquantel treatment as directed in this thread.

http://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/forum/index.php?/topic/105076-schedules-for-the-treatment-of-flukes-etc-using-praziquantel/

The salt irritates the parasites, helps heal micro lesions left behind and also eases osmotic pressure for the fish.

If you could post photos, that would be very useful. Imgur is free and allows direct link to full sized images.

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Also, Rick is retired. There is no more ProGold. If you want a food that is small enough for the Faramir, then New Life Spectrum Thera+A 1mm pellets would be a good change from the flakes. 

I hope that Faramir gets well.

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There's someone on eBay selling Pro Gold or a good price. I'm not sure if it is Rick or not, but from what I saw they had about ten bags.

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There's someone on eBay selling Pro Gold or a good price. I'm not sure if it is Rick or not, but from what I saw they had about ten bags.

I wouldn't trust it unless I knew it was Rick.

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Thank you both! I hope so, too. Chai, I had not realized I would need to dose the prazi so long! So that was very helpful. However, I have a plant filter, and am scared to use salt lest it injure the plants and destroy the filtration. 

 

Chelsea, thanks for the tip about the food. I bought him API sinking goldfish pellets, because they have pea protein in them, but he couldn't handle those at all. I will look for the other pellets, and also try a pea again later this weekend.

 

A question for you both: Is it actually possible for a small fish to carry a burden of flukes for more than two months without showing symptoms? It didn't seem likely to me; it seemed they would have killed him/her outright by now. But - from the little I know, the symptoms match. And at least the prazipro wasn't going to harm either him or the plants. 

 

I will let you know how he does, and get a pic or film  up as soon as I can. Can I link to a youtube video here?

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Yes, it is possible he had flukes for so long and not show symptoms til now.

 

You can upload youtube videos.

 

What is your tap ph?  Your tank pH is low for GF . . .

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Fish normally have flukes.  If the fish is healthy and living in good conditions, it will usually coexist with the flukes.  Stress, illness, or injury can weaken the fish which will then show flukes symptoms like what you describe.  

 

Please fill out this form.  You have given some of the information, but please fill it out as completely as possible.  I particularly want to know your water change schedule.

 

Please copy & paste fill the following form and fill it out to the best of your ability when requesting help for Goldfish Problems:

Test Results for the Following:

* Ammonia Level(Tank)
* Nitrite Level(Tank)
* Nitrate level(Tank)
* Ammonia Level(Tap)
* Nitrite Level(Tap)
* Nitrate level(Tap)
* Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)
* Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)

Other Required Info:

* Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops?
* Water temperature?
* Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running?
* What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)?
* How often do you change the water and how much?
* How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change?
* How many fish in the tank and their size?
* What kind of water additives or conditioners?
* What do you feed your fish and how often?
* Any new fish added to the tank?
* Any medications added to the tank?
* List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank. Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment.
* Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus?
* Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.?

 

I want a picture of your filter.  Did you buy it or make it? I did go to the site, but I would like more detail on how it is constructed, the pump flow rate, and I want to see how the plants are growing.  I am completely familiar with aquaponics.

 

There are decent foods available in the big box pet stores.  Omega one is good as is New Life  Spectrum.

 

Is your pH consistent?  It is lower than is ideal for goldfish, and that could be a cause of stress.

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Um - okay. I really thought I gave all the answers in the original post. Unfortunately, I can't give you a flow rate in GPH, because all I would know is the rate of the air pump. It's not a strong current. I'm going to try to answer the questions I didn't before.

No ammonia in my tap water, as far as I know.

No nitrites,either. I will double-check re nitrates when I get back, because our city water is truly horrible.

The pH from the tap is 7.0.

I condition with vitamin C.

No medications have ever been added to the tank before the prazipro this week.

I typically change 20 percent of the water every week. (Note - I also top up about a gallon because I lose a lot to evaporation.)

The fish is about an inch long and is alone in the tank. Nothing has ever been added since I got him in October. I did start two more marigolds in the top part of the filter so that they'd still be going if the first ones started to die back. Maybe they are causing pH to rise and fall? or oxygen levels, ditto?

I had done a fishless cycle of the tank before buying him. I used goldfish flakes to do this, and it took about 6 weeks. The tank was fully cycled when I added him.

 

 

I have already described his unusual behavior and the progression. You may be right about the pH - I acclimatized him carefully over several hours when I got him.But plant filters like this do tend to run at a slightly low pH, and, when I myself got sick in late November and again in January, I wasn't keeping up with the water changes. It might then have dropped lower than it usually runs. Otherwise, I'm afraid it's only poor diet that might have stressed him. 

 

I have put the film I took today on youtube, and here is the link.

 

It's not a very high quality film, but it does show the odd swimming behavior, and also how big his head looks compared to his poor, skinny, little body.

 

Thanks for your help.

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The low pH is from not changing enough water.  We recommend changing a minimum of 50% of the water a week.  I know that Ryan says he hasn't needed to change water since he set up the system, but he doesn't say how he knows the water needs changing.  I assume he is using nitrate as a criterion.  Nitrate is not very toxic, so people mainly use it as an indicator of the accumulation of dissolved materials in the water.  This only works if you don't have populations of plants or algae using up the nitrate.  Goldfish thrive on large frequent water changes.

 

Plants growing in an aquaponics system will not lower the pH.  If you have space for more plants, fill them up.  An herb garden is very nice, and lettuce will work great too.

 

I think your fish has flukes, and possibly also some infection at the site of fluke attachment.  I recommend you follow this procedure for treating the fish.  You have already done one round of treatment.  I recommend you use salt to help with any infections.  You can use aquarium salt or any other salt that has NO additives.  Mortons Canning and Pickling salt is cheap, pure, and dissolves easily.  

 

I'd like you to get the salt concentration to 0.3% and keep it there for two weeks.  Information on how to dose salt is here.  While using this concentration of salt, you need to double the dose of prazipro.  

 

It is perfectly normal for fish to pout a bit with prazi treatment. It is usually an indication that they are infected with flukes and the dying flukes are causing discomfort.  

 

I also use ascorbic acid for dechlorination.  One of the limitations of this treatment is that it can lower the pH.  My water is a little basic and very hard, and I get no pH change when I add it.  I suggest you test a bucket of water for pH before and after you add the Vitamin C.  How much do you use?

 

 

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A few  more answers, Shakaho:

 

I tested the treated water before adding to the tank, and there were no nitrates. The pH was 6.8. Tap water is 7 on one strip; closer to 6.8 on the other. Ryan also told me, when I bought the system, that it was designed to run at about pH 6.8, because that was good for the plants and okay for most fish. I think he has some additives in the planting medium that feed the plants and also stabilize the pH at this level. I honestly don't think I've ever had a pH crash. If the low pH has been stressing my baby - well, I just feel awful about that. I don't think there is much I can do.

 

I had been using vitamin C tablets as dechlor. They are 500 mg tablets and I would cut one in quarters, crush one of the quarters, and shake it up in a gallon jug. Just now I got a chemical free D-Klor, made by Korman. I used that for the last big water change I did on Friday. It says to use 1 teaspoon for 10 gallons, so I used 1/2 for my five gallon bucket, and 1/8 for the gallon jug. Slightly over the recommended levels, but not very much so. Oh - GH and KH from the tap are the same as in the tank - 80 (only slightly alkaline) and 150 (moderately hard). 

 

This evening I added nine teaspoons of salt to the tank and intend to repeat this dose tomorrow morning and tomorrow afternoon - if Faramir lives that long. His behavior is really worrying me. I saw him swimming and darting a bit, but, when he stopped, he literally dropped like a stone and crashed to the bottom. His fins are clamped and he looks very unhappy.

 

OTOH, I did also get the recommended New Life Thera pellets, and he ate! He seemed to like them, and ate all three, which may have been a little too much. It took him close to ten minutes to find them all. But I was so happy to see him eat them and keep them down.

 

Just to clarify - should I double the prazi dose now, or when I get all the salt into the tank? I did some research, btw, and it seems marigolds are somewhat salt tolerant. So I'm hoping for the best, but I am worried. The poor little guy is so unhappy! When I think back, this has actually been coming on for awhile, and I wish I'd caught it sooner. 

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Oh - one more answer. This is Ryan's older system, not the new one. It came with a tetra whisper air pump slated for a ten gallon tank. That's what's driving the water flow. I was planning to upgrade the pump before this happened, and replace it with one of the rechargeable air pumps. I may still do that if Faramir fish comes through.

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Would you consider upgrading your test kit?  You haven't said what you are testing with except that the strips didn't agree on the pH.  We recommend the API Freshwater Master Kit.   You can buy it in a pet/fish store, but it will cost a lot more.  This kit is cheaper than the inaccurate and inconsistent strips, since it will do about 800 tests.  

 

You can easily raise the pH of your water into a comfortable range for goldfish with a little baking soda.  You have to start with a 5 gallon bucket of water, test the pH, then add a teaspoon of baking soda, give it a chance to dissolve and equilibrate, and test the water again.  If the pH is in the range of 7.2 to 7.6,  you have determined how much baking soda you need to add.  If it is over 7.6, tell me what is is and I will tell you what to do next.  If it is under 7.2, add another teaspoon of baking soda, retest, and tell me the results. 

 

Do you have prazi in the tank now?  How many days since it was added?  If you are part way through a prazi treatment, just slow down the rate of increase in the amount of salt to every 24 hours instead of every 12 hours.

 

Can you show a video of his current behavior?  

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I have always use the API drops before now. They worry me because they are highly toxic and I don't know how to dispose of the empty bottles. However, I had a master test kit left over from my last fish (who died suddenly after we lost power and the tank got very cold). When I tested with that, I got very inconsistent readings. PH from the tank read as 7.6, and from the tap as about 7.2. Can these tests expire?  I couldn't see an expiration date on this kit, but I know I must have gotten it in 2012 (when Toby died) or even earlier.

 

Yes, I have Prazi in my tank now. I first dosed the tank on Tuesday, and added a replacement dose after the big water change on Friday. He is due for a big water change tomorrow, I think, if I have that five day schedule correct. Then I'll bring the salt up to the full 0.3 percent. Then I'll redose with the Prazi on Tuesday, and go on from there.

 

Faramir is still eating, but otherwise doing almost nothing but bottom sitting now. He's dangling feces, also - a long, thin thread as long as his body. It's mostly clear, but the end is the color of his food. I'm afraid he may already have a secondary bacterial infection, and that I'm going to lose him. But I will do what I can against the flukes. And I'll try to pick up another test kit soon.

 

I'm working on getting pictures or another film, but it's difficult. He's so tiny, and he mostly lurks behind his rock near the air tube. I tried to film him today and will get that film up as soon as I can. Thanks for all your help.

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Where did you hear that the API test materials are highly toxic? Are you talking about the warnings on the instructions? Yes some components may be toxic in large quantities, but the quantities are very small and when you dump it down the drain become vanishingly small. Why did you not believe that the tank pH could be 7.6 and the tap 7.2?

Let's just see if the salt and/or prazi is bothering him. Do a full 100% water change today and see if he perks up.

Do you have any antibiotics?

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Yes, I was talking about those warnings. It made me scared to throw the bottles in the trash. I also gave myself quite a burn once testing for nitrates. As to the tank pH, yes, 7.6 would be quite normal for me. It's what I've always gotten when running the biowheels, but the plant filters have tended to run a little lower for me, because there's not quite as much surface movement. 

 

Are you sure about taking out everything? I only just today got the salt up to 0.3.

 

I don't think I have any antibiotics left. I will look tomorrow. In the meantime, I did get another film up. I'm afraid the quality may be slightly worse, but I got the scary behavior I was talking about. Once again, thanks so much for your help and your patience!

 

Here is the link: 

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Mary, in sorry I didn't respond.  I've been having computer problems and it crashed right as I tried to post.  I thought it had completed, but the post was lost.

 

The only reason for changing out the salt and prazi is to determine if those are causing the recent symptoms.  If these remain after a few days of plain water, it indicates something else is bothering Faramir and we need to treat that. 

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And i had meant to  respond, but I've had an awful allergic reaction to the antibiotic I was taking for sinusitis! The situation right now:

 

I did two big water changes, and all the prazi should be out of the water as of Tuesday. I did up the salt with the second water change, so he should be at 0.3 percent. I think I want to keep the salt in for the ten to 14 days Doc Johnson recommends, so that would be until next Friday, when I'll begin to take it out. So far, the plants are surviving. And Faramir is not bottom sitting or clamping at all!

 

Now, most of the time, when he "vanishes" in the tank, he is cruising around like a normal goldfish. He's pecking algae off the walls and seems eager to eat. I haven't seen that "crashing to the bottom" that I tried to film for three days now. Still exhibiting two behaviors I don't like:

 

1. He gulps at the surface sometimes, especially near the water inlet. I don't know whether he's trying to get air, trying to clear his gills, or trying to chase bubbles, thinking they are food.

2. His poop's still stringy.

 

But he seems a much happier little fish, and eats enthusiastically and holds his fins out. His gills also don't look so swollen to me.

 

As to antibiotics, I have some of Rick's bacti-bath left, but it's quite old - I think it dates from the time of Charlie Weasley goldfish. And, given my recent experience,  I don't want to give him any more meds unless he clearly needs them.

 

Speaking of needing meds - if he did have gill flukes, a week of prazi won't be enough, will it? Won't I have to redose?

 

Thanks again for all  your  help!

 

Mary

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Yes, you should do at least 4 rounds of prazi.  I recommend 4 days of prazi and 3 off for each round. 

 

Since he's feeling better, I don't think we need any antibiotics.

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Thanks! Did another big change today, added the salt (15 teaspoons for five gallons), and added about 7/8 teaspoon of prazipro. And - he didn't crash! (yet). No fin clamping; he's swimming and eating normally.

 

I am going to leave the salt and meds in the tank till Wednesday, when I'll do another big change and then replace the salt. Thank you so much for your help. I think I want to do a short "what I learned" sort of post over on the main page. One of the main things I learned from this is that you really do need to get the salt to the correct concentration. It seems like a TON of salt, but it can really help. Another thing - and I'd noticed this way back when I moved Gilbert, my first goldie, to a larger tank - is that bigger water changes are always better. I am going to keep them up from now on, especially since the tank is rather small.

 

Since he doesn't seem to be reacting (yet) to the prazi, should I still give him another dose next Saturday? He will then have had:

1 week prazi.

3 days off

4 days prazi

3 days off.

 

Thanks again.

Oh - I'm going to start taking the salt out gradually next Saturday. He should then have been on salt treatment for a minimum of a week and a half. Hopefully, that should be long enough to kill off any ich or other nasties.

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Here is the latest film, which explains why Faramir fish is named Faramir.  I wish the quality were better! He looks much better to me, but I don't know if it's clear in this film.

 

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Oh - just one new wrinkle. Faramir now has a brown blotch on his face. It looks as though someone gave him a black eye. Otherwise, he looks good! Is this a sign of healing?

 

I thought at once there could have been an ammonia spike at some point. Tried testing with the old drop kits and got:

ammonia: 0

nitrates: 0

pH: 7.6 or a bit under. The color is very hard to read - it's a sort of pale blue.

 

I am also soaking his food now, but I don't need to soak the New Life spectrum pellets for five minutes. They fall apart if I do. So I am just soaking them for 30 seconds to a minute, and that seems to help him chew them up fast.

 

Thanks, everyone, for the help! I am going to try to get a pic of the spot, and some "before" and "after" pics, later on.

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Still not succeeding with the pics, but Faramir Fish is doing quite well now. I have upped his water changes a bit and am feeding the New Life pellets. His blotch grew for a while, but is now almost entirely faded. He, too, seems to be growing a bit. :)  I'll post pics when I can, but I think he's through the worst of it, whatever it was.

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Great news!

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