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Help Sick Gouramis


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Hi, I am posting for a friend who keeps tropical fish. She has a 63 litre setup with 4 dwarf gouramis (after today there are only three), three cooli loaches, and three african dwarf frogs. Heavily planted. She runs this tank with a fluval 2 plus filter with spray bar. Her tank is fully cycled and has been running fine for over a year.

One of the Gouramis was dead this morning, and appeared very slightly swollen, but unclear on that one. The Gourami in question did have a black appearance, its colour being naturally red. She thought it might have been changing colour. Tested for Ammonia which read at zero. Thought perhaps ammonia burns, but this doesnt appear to be so.

The other three Gouramis seem to be lethargic and sitting on the bottom, and they seem to be gasping. Their fins are up and look fine apart from the lethagy and gasping. they are not off their food either.

Does ANYONE know what could be wrong? There is no ammonia, no nitrite. she hasnt tested for nitrate yet, but she did a water change and gravel clean a week ago (this is done weekly). The Ph has always remained stable, tap and tank Ph are much the same.

HELP!!!! Any suggestions wouldbe much appreciated by both of us. Many thanks in advance!

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hi diva

could be a few things.

darkening of the fish and slightly pot bellied could be internal parasites such as worms. do you know if she has added anything new to the tank recently?

the tank is overstocked but if it was a problem then you should have seen problems with the water chemistry. how often is the water tested as a spike in ammonia may have gone unseen which could also explain the darkening. knowing the nitrate level would help too.

fish sitting on the body can also mean a bacterial infection such as a kidney disease which shows as darkening and swollen body. was there any sign of reddening at the bases of fins that you are aware of or could ask?

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Hi Sandy.

Thanks for the swift reply. Much appreciated. She tested for nitrate today and it reads at 5.0. So it seems her water tests are ok.

Could have been an unseem ammonia spike. Can this just happen suddenly? What causes such a thing?

I imagine its likely to be bacterial infection. She has started treating them with Anti internal bacteria treatment. The other three Gouramis seem to be less lethargic than this morning, which is hopeful, ad the gasping has stopped. But you just cant tell with fish sometimes. Worrying little creatures.

She read.............and I too have read that you can have more tropicals in a tank than you can with goldfish. Is this true? She is now concerned about the overstocking you have suggested. Although she is very strict on gravel cleaning and water changing 50% on a weekly basis. Her gravel level amounts to a centimetre at most, therefore easy to gravel clean thoroughly.

Is the treatment possibly the right step to take? And ammonia spikes we would both like to know more about, and how to prevent them!!!

Thanks again for getting back to me.

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dwarfs need 5 gallons each.

a lot of people think its an inch per gallon but thats really only true for small fish such as the neon, and as they grow to 2 inches then they need 2 gallons per fish.

I'm more interested in the disease of fish rather than water chemistry but if the filter cant cope with the waste then the ammonia may build up until the bacteria grow again to cope with it. need someone with more knowledge to explain i think, i'm useless at this sort of thing :)

Her tank routine is really good and cant fault her on anything that way. Does she have surface agitation from the filter?

the meds will kill any bacteria in the tank and hopefully with her routine she wont lose any more.

Gouramis i think are quite hard to keep and any slight problem they seem to keel over.

what does she have left in the way of gouramis, it would be ideal if shes left with one male and two females.

tell her to keep an eye out for any other symptoms and post back if you have more questions.

sorry i cant be of much more help but the symptoms cover quite a few conditions, and maybe someone else has some more advice for you.

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I think what sometimes happens is that a tank is started with juvenile fish and the tank can accommodate the small fish. Then as they grow, the tank becomes overstocked.

It sounds to me like a bacterial problem. I would think she should step up her water change routine to a couple of times per week along with gravel vacs with careful attention of cleaning around the plants and removing any dead plant debris such as leaves and mulm. Also, regular maintenance on the filters by rinsing the sponges once per week.

Also, as Sandy mentioned, using an anti-bacterial medication will sometimes affect the cycle of the tank, so she should keep a close eye on ammonia and nitrite levels during treatment.

Please keep us posted.

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Thanks Sandy and touchofsky for your replies.

Late back to this site due to the necessary tank of reformatting this computer!!!

Just to make it clear that with each weekly water change/gravel clean she does rinse the filter pads in the tank water. I too find this a routine I stick to with each clean.

She also nets out any plant debris which may be floating around.

One problem she does have are snails. They have obviously been brought in with plants, and have multiplied considerably!! I help her pick them out daily, but some are so small they are barely visable. Not wanting to kill them, we are taking them to a friends pond.

Anyway....the three Gouramis seem much better, more active and not gasping. How do you sex Gouramis? Is it something about a males fins are more pointed? I think if thats the case, then she perhaps has three females. Is that a bad thing?

Strange how LFS when asked how many she could have with her cooli loaches and the forgs, and they said four dwarfs would be ok. Although LFS are not the givers of good advice usually!! I remember asking whether I should try a salt treatment, and the person in question looking horrified and telling me that salt is for marine fish!! LOL

Anyway...thanks for the advice.

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sexing dwarf gouramis is easy, the males are brightly coloured and the females a dull silver colour. if all were brightly coloured then they were males and that could cause tension and fighting to break out and the weakest to be harrassed to death. that could have been the cause of death because everything else she is doing is perfect.

for each male there should be at least two females, so i would suggest taking two males back and getting two females, and hopefully that should solve any problems.

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Hi Sandy.

Today, all the Gouramis look fantastic. They are acting totally normal again. Judging from your way of sexing, she has all males. Perhaps thats how one died. But the remainding 3 seem to look fine together. There doesnt seem to be any aggression. Obviously she will keep an eye on them. Thanks again for posting back. Cheers!!

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