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Guest asteriskadonis

Persistent Fin Rot, Getting Worse

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Guest asteriskadonis

Ammonia and Nitrite: 0 ppm

Nitrate level: 10 ppm

Ph Level: 7

Temperature: 73 degrees

Tank info: 45 gals, running for 3.5 years

Filter: AquaClear 300 (300 gph HOB) with biobags and activated carbon

Water changes: every 2 weeks, 60-75% with gravel vacs

Fish: 2 (one oranda, one redcap)

Additives: Prime, baking soda to buffer Ph

Feed: Homemade gel food, occasional fruits/veggies

Added any new fish to the tank: see history below

Problems: persistent fin rot, persistent slight red streaking in the redcap, occasional bottom sitting with the oranda

Current medication: none

I am having an ongoing problem with my goldfish, and would really like some help and advice, please.

In November of 2007 I bought a new goldfish and added it to my main goldfish tank after a two-week quarantine. Unfortunately, it turned out that this quarantine was not enough- soon after adding the new fish my two existing goldies (an oranda and a redcap) came down with external and internal bacterial infections, which I think were brought on my some kind of microscopic parasite infection (perhaps costia or chilodonella). Both goldies had red streaking in their fins, slight fin rot, a cloudy whitish coating especially around the head, and small red dots around the head and cheeks. The oranda had it worst, and soon developed pop-eye and slight dropsy symptoms as well, probably indicating a more severe internal bacterial infection. [After causing all this trouble, the new goldfish we added suddenly died in a freak accident involving the filter...]

To make a long story short: with the excellent advice of Trinket, after successive aggressive treatments of the fish and the tank with different parasite medications and anti-bacterials, raising the temperature and feeding metro-meds, the various problems cleared up relatively quickly: the red dots vanished, the cloudy white covering went away, the pop-eye and dropsy symptoms in the oranda receded completely, and the fin rot started to heal, especially on the oranda.

I was so relieved and happy, and really thought that I was out of the woods. Eventually, the oranda completely healed. However, the redcap didn?t seem to be getting over his slight fin rot, and he had a stubborn area of red streaking on one part of his tail fin.

I have kept the water pristine, doing weekly water changes and tests. Nitrates have been kept between 10-30. I had been hoping that the problem would resolve itself and that the redcap would eventually finish healing, given excellent water quality. But, after about 2 months of waiting and observing, the redcap is NOT healing from his fin rot, and has started to get worse in the past 3 weeks. The fin rot is getting steadily more severe: he has rips and holes now on almost all of his fins, and his tailfin is starting to get very frayed, with thin strips of it breaking off and floating around the tank.

Also, about three weeks ago, the redcap got a large-ish white pimple on his wen. I have had this fish for 2 years now, and know what normal wen growth spots look like- this is different. It is larger than his usual wen growth spots, and more like a boil- like something is erupting out from beneath his wen. The spot grows and shrinks; it almost went away once, but is currently getting larger again. I don't know what it could be- maybe columnaris flex.??

Can someone please help me understand what could be happening? Why isn?t my redcap healing? What should I do to help him get over this? Why has my oranda now started bottom sitting now and then? I am thinking about salting the tank to 0.2 or 0.3 and also maybe adding melafix, for starters. Do you think this is a good idea?

Edited by asteriskadonis

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Hello there - as Trinket last helped you and is familiar with the history, I'll let her pick up - but I just wanted to say that it would be time saving to post up a short review of the drug treaments you have run so far.

Also, just one other thing which jumps out at me

Water changes: every 2 weeks, 60-75% with gravel vacs

I would say this is too infrequent, and especially in the case of an unhealthy bac presence will allow the bacterial count to escalate far too high. I would aim for this amount weekly for a more hygenic tank maintenance.

I'm sure Trinket will be by soon.

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Hi.

I am sorry you are still having problems. Probably these go back to the last infection which if I remember right and having had a quick skim through the last thread started out as parasitic and then became systemic/ bacterial. Often the case.

Can I just ask for some more info on the spot. It is key. The columnaris flex spot looks exactly like a whitehead pimple that people get. It does not erupt. It does not grow larger than a whitehead and it does not contain pus that is released. It is often on the head and there is often one also on the caudal fin. Columnaris Fexibacter/columnaris flavobacterium is a group of 5 or 6 different strains and symptoms vary slightly.The columnaris strain that affects the fins badly in a dropping off way like this is almost always the columnaris flavobacter psychrophilum. However there are viral and other bacteria that can also cause extreme finrot.

A larger head spot might be a cyst. There are plenty of bacterial infections that can produce cysts. They are called cysts if they actually burst and release pus. Needless to say they have a habit of doing this when we are not watching and so diagnosis of the pus factor can be tricky. But the pus itself is poison and every time it is released back into the water the germs are allowed to multiply and the whole cycle is perpetuated. The swelling, release, reduce, swelling again pattern here is the clue.

I think what has happened here is your fish, weakened first by parasitic attack, were then exposed to bacteria brought inside by the puncture wounds of parasites. The strains of bacteria were many. The MMs tackled some but not all. Bacterial infections are extremely complex. There is the obligate/leader bacteria that is responsible for the main symptoms usually and has to be dealt with first and then there are the second opportunistic bacteria that ride in on the low immunity and lack of normal surface antibodies to keep them out.

So, what may have happened is that you did rid your tank of the parasites and the main group of bacteria. But in this extremely weakened state your fish were then at the mercy of the opportune bacteria of which there are very many strains and variations.

I am tempted to suggest you try a medicated antibiotic food for a gram positive bacteria. Along with 0.2% salt to assist with the balance of electrolytes always an issue with extreme finrot or necrosis like this -losing osmotic function is a huge adverse factor to

healing so the slat helps there. Don't use melafix. It simply is not strong enough-it is for minor abrasions not real embedded bacterial issues like this.

Can you get back soon about the look of the spot so I don't start recommending the wrong meds.

And the advice above about water changes is important. Bacteria multiply actually in the organic content of the water so it is very ,very important to halt this spreading via immaculate water and probably second daily 40% -60% water changes depending on feeding routine and filtration type/power.

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Guest asteriskadonis

Hi Pixiefish and Trinket,

Wow, that was fast! Thanks for your comments. I agree that I should be changing water more frequently- I aim for once a week, but usually it is more like once every two weeks. Because my tank is very understocked, I would have thought that I could get away with bi-weekly water changes, especially if they are over 50%, but at this point I am willing to try anything and would be very happy to be proved wrong. :)

Trinket: I'll try to give a better description of the whitehead pimple-like spot, but it is kind of hard to describe. When it first appeared, about 3 weeks ago, it looked like an ordinary small white wen growth spot, just like my redcap gets from time to time. However, usually those growth spots go away after a few days, and this one nagged around. Eventually, it grew bigger, both in terms of size (the spot itself grew larger than a wen growth spot) and length (when you look at the redcap head on, you can see that the white spot protrudes quite far out from his head, like a large bump). It is hard to get a close look, as the redcap always swims around very vigorously, but the spot itself looks similar to normal wen tissue (cauliflower-like, bumpy, textured, like normal wen growth) except it is white, instead of red, and it is enlarged and sticking out. It looks almost like wen tissue has turned white and has started to erupt out of his head, forming a large clump of white bumps/growths that, when not viewed close-up, look like a big whitehead/pustule.

I have to admit I don't know anything about cysts. The white spot originally went almost completely away about 1.5 weeks ago, and I watched the area closely, hoping it would not return. Where the white spot used to be, there seemed almost like there was a black dot running down through the wen. Then, unfortunately, the white spot returned and has now grown even larger than it was the first time. Also, there seems to possibly be another white spot on another part of his wen, though it is still very small, and doesn't seem to be growing.

In terms of white spots on other places, I haven't seen any, on either fish. That being said, on both fish, their fins, once they have healed, don't look quite right in some ways; they are notched, if that makes any sense, in some areas, like they healed with hooks or spurs sticking out. Also, it is hard to make out, but on the fins of both fish, especially the redcap, there seems to be a white-ish tint or areas where there is a white-ish dusting. It is hard to describe, and is very faint, so it might be nothing. But on both fish, in areas where fins have otherwise healed, the fin tissue isn't fully transparent like it used to be. I am sorry that I can't give a better description, and previous efforts to photograph my fish (after hours of effort) have only yielded fish blurs!

I will start to salt, and bring it up to 0.2. I'll hold off on the melafix.

In terms of previous meds, this is what I did back in November: treated the fish in-tank with a round of parasite clear tabs; then moved the fish to a hospital tank and treated with several rounds of Maracyn I and II as well as salting to 0.3 AND feeding metromeds for 31 days. While the fish were hospitalized, I raised the main tank to 80 degrees and treated it empty with another round of parasite clear, and also salted the empty tank to about 0.5%, for about 2 weeks.

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Guest asteriskadonis

Oh, I also wanted to add the following:

I have a UV sterilizer, and have set it up on the back of the tank, and am running it now during nights (not enough plugs to run the powerhead/sterilizer AND the hood at the same time, so in the day I disconnect the sterilizer and turn the hood on). Do you think that will help to make the water cleaner and maybe bring down my bacterial load, if it is too high?

Also, about the cysts and the pus- I observe the fish every chance I get, and I haven't seen anything that looks like it was pus or actual eruptions of anything coming out of the white spot. The spot looks hard, and is all one color (white). I don't know what cysts look like, though, so I guess I can't rule it out.

Thanks again for all your help guys.

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Yes, yes, a UV is a big plus for controlling microbes. What is the bulb size and flow rate?

Still trying to get a handle on progress. I've taken in the spot details...So the oranda is now bottom sitting (new) and the fin rot that was breaking off on the redcap is now healing? I'm confused on that point.

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Guest asteriskadonis

Hi Trinket,

Sorry about the confusion- it is hard for me to keep all the details clear as I write about my goldfish problems.

Hopefully this will help:

The oranda has been bottom sitting now and then for about 3 weeks; however, when you go up to the tank, she does perk up and act normally. The redcap, though his fin rot is much worse, is NOT bottom sitting at all.

The fin rot on the redcap is NOT healing, but is still breaking off more and more... For the oranda, back in November, her initial fin rot associated with the primary infections has improved, though not healed perfectly/completely. (Part of her tail fin seems smaller than it originally was.) At least her fin rot isn't getting any worse. As for the redcap, since November and the initial problems, his fin rot HAS been getting slowly worse. There are rips and tears on all fins, and the tail fin is slowly shredding and breaking away.

Hopefully this is clearer!! Thanks for bearing with me.

As for the UV sterilizer, it is a "Turbo-Twist 2," with a 9 watt bulb. I just measured the flow rate, and it is about 100 GPH. According to my sterilizer booklet, 55 gph or slower is needed to kill parasites, 121 gph or slower to kill algae, and 254 gph or slowe to kill bacteria. So although my sterilizer isn't having any effect on any parasites that might be in the tank (hopefully there aren't any) it is slow enough to kill all algae and bacteria.

I have the tank salted to 0.1% now and will raise it to 0.2% soon.

Thanks again for your help!

Edited by asteriskadonis

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OK. I've had a more leisurely read through your threads and I think we can assume that the finrot is a secondary, opportunistic bacterial infection. Probably the aeromonas, psedonomas type bacteria that live permanently in the tank and are no threat except when the fish is under stress.

Fin rot is almost always brought on by stress. I have one fish right now that is suffering from finrot in a cold water tank where I have no heater. The temperature has dipped to as low as 7 degrees in there..this causes stress and its the stress that precipitates the finrot. One example. Another is stress from disease and consequent medication, maybe in your case this one...when the fish is stressed it releases the hormone cortisol. The cortisol represses the digestive enzymes of the phagocytic cells and literally destroys their ability to ingest and anihilate the bad bacteria- leaving the fish vulnerable to attack from all kinds of resident opportunistic bacteria and sometimes parasites.

Although using the UV will help for future problems it won't really help the already affected tail. So I think you may need to do 3 things for best results here. 1) feed the fish a course of antibiotic food -this time Medigold may be the best one for this. 2) Swab the tail with a coating of hydrogen peroxide or iodine once only and 3) keep the water at 0.2% salt to protect the fish from farther diminished osmoregulation function stress.

I think if you follow these 3 steps AND increase the w/cs to a minimum once weekly, you will see healing. I would go ahead and feed both fish, simply because of the history and likelyhood that the same bacteria have affected your oranda but in a different way. I was going to suggest a gram pos type food med like penecillin first read through, but reveiwing the medication history I think the MMs you fed before do not contain the range of antibiotics that are in Medigold & that work on many of these opportunist tank bacteria and I think that's exactly what you have here.

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Guest asteriskadonis

Hi Trinket,

Thanks for the advice. Can I ask a few questions?

Edited by asteriskadonis

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First, how do you swab a fish's tail with hydrogen peroxide? My redcap is a pretty big/muscular little guy, as orandas go, and I know he won't like me taking him out of the water and rubbing H2O2 on his tail... Also, do you dilute the H202 at all? (We have some regular household-strength stuff at 3% concentration...) How do you hold the fish out of the water? H2O2 is kinda nasty stuff and this sounds scary to me!

Second, my tank temperature is 73 degrees. This is because we can't afford to heat our apartment over 60 degrees in the Boston winter (poor grad student budgets) and I am afraid that 60 degrees would be too cold for the fish during winter. I would LIKE the tank to be more like 65-68. Do you think that this higher-than-desired temperature could be causing stress on the fish? (I keep buying water heaters that SAY they go as low as 68, but in reailty they only go as low as 73-74, which is quite frustrating. Even expensive ones with supposed thermostats, which I am convinced are a scam!)

Third, so you think that the white spot on the wen is probably bacterial? The salt is at 0.2% now, and I think that the white spot is shrinking- it looks like it is shriveling up, in a way that is different from before when it simply got smaller/larger. I hope it keeps shriveling, the nasty white spot. :)

Thanks again for your help and dedication to my threads, I really appreciate it. I have been trying quite hard these past few months, and it does get a bit frustrating and depressing at times when, despite odds and best efforts, nothing seems to ever go right.

Edited by asteriskadonis

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I think if it was me I would start with the salt and the hp swipe only. And I would wait on the medicated food. That is because you say the white spot is receding in salt. Many of the opportune bacteria are very sensitive to salt (unlike many of the more virulent obligates).

So it may be this is all you need. Watch the tail fins closely to see if they are improving too. This is another good reason to stagger meds: it allows you to see exactly which one is working and which one is causing a good or bad reaction.

Using HP is simple if you keep calm. If you panic it's hopeless. If you can't do it calmly with no presure of time don't do it.

The 3% solution is the percentage recommended for fish as well as people so what you have there in the house is fine. It's the tail-so its the very easiest part to apply HP to.

Here's how I have done it. Get everything ready first. Pour some HP in to a small container of some sort -just enough to wet a paintbrush- and have this close and ready to apply: a new soft paintbrush,or you can use several earbuds clinched with an elastic band, something new/clean like this. Remove the fish to a LOW if possible clear container but any clean plastic or glass one will do as a quick temporary home. Filled with tank water to just a few inches or so deeper than the fish. Lay a towel on the floor (for splash) and place the container on the floor on the towel. Working on the floor means if the fish should wriggle a lot he won't fall far.

If you can be quick you don't need to sedate the fish. Especially the tail is easiest. Lift the fish out of the water in a way that stresses him least. If you can get just the tail out without a big wriggle and jump- great, if not, hold the fish with wet hands, so that he is just under the surface in your left hand (if you are right handed) allow the ends of the tail to leave the water and quickly apply the brush laden with hp. Wipe it downwards from the top of the tail to the bottom of the tail so most of the liquid goes on the ends. Don't let any get in the fishes gills or eyes (other end so not usually a problem with fin coating). Put him back in the container and then quickly return him to his home where he will be in salt and able to de-stress. Any drips/spills will be left in the container.

Some people dab the fins dry and add an antibiotic ointment like biobandage to seal. But you can use the HP on its own to good effect. It will have killed all the bacteria on contact.

I understand about the temperature (and being poor students). To get a lower one I have bought thermostats and heaters programmed for a tank size smaller than the one they are in which makes them slightly incompetant which allows a lower grade temp. I have the same problem. Heaters and thermostats drive me nuts and all seem destined to blow/have a short life or just give problems. It is true that bacteria thrive at higher + fluctuating temps (spring/fall weather) so stability is most important.

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