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Same Song, Second Verse


drkslvr

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I'm exhausted from fighting this battle, never quite knowing what I'm fighting against, and I'm sure that my goldfish is even more tired of it than I am. (After all, he's the one who is sick.) I finally decided to go for the drugs and treated the tank with antibiotics (a tri-sulfa mixture) begining 6/18 with peak dose 6/21, per the directions on the medication. Friday 6/27 I thought Tolstoy was all better. I left Saturday morning only to come back Tuesday and find him like this, worse than he had ever been in the first place:

2629032009_2868ac556d_o.jpg

Tolstoy is 2" long and lives in a 10 gallon tank running a 100 gph filter with three other, slightly smaller black moors. We've been doing 22% water changes every other day since the beginning of June, with the exception of the last three d

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Thank you ToJ. I just realized when I checked to read your reply that part of my post was missing. Here's the rest of it. It's kind of long, but just read whatever you have time for and skim the rest:

Tolstoy is 2" long and lives in a 10 gallon tank running a 100 gph filter with three other, slightly smaller black moors. We've been doing 22% water changes every other day since the beginning of June, with the exception of the last three days, when, because I was gone, we went from a 22% change the evening of 6/27 to a 53% change on 7/1 (today). Here was their water quality today before the water change:

Amonia: 0; NitrItes: 0; NitrAtes: 15; GH: 100; KH: 120; pH: 7.2

These numbers are all consistant with the values for the past several weeks.

At the end of May, Tolstoy's right eye began to look a little enlarged. It was actually the "telescope" beneath the eye that was swollen, not the actual organ, but I'll be refering to the whole piece as his eye for the lack of a better term. At the beginning of June, I noticed that he was also bloated, although not pineconing. Here are the symptoms as I recorded them when it happened: Serious panting, even in cooled water, No gill "clamping", No bloody fins or scales, No white or grey spots on fins or scales, Significant bloating, No apparent pineconeing, Lethargic, Uninterested in otherwise favorite food, Loss of color over past three to five days. However, I treated the tank with salt and he got better almost instantly, all except for the eye, which remained slightly swollen. With time, the eye regained the size it had had before the salt treatment, and even exceeded that size, eventually rupturing on the 16th of June. I'm not sure exactly when it ruptured. You can see the area where the torn tissue healed back together, leaving a white scar all around the eye, in the circle marked (1) in the picture. If you were wondering, yes, he can still see out of the eye.

After rupturing, they eye "deflated", but began to swell again immediately after it healed closed. This convinced me I needed to try antibiotics, and I chose sulfa drugs for their wide spectrum. Like I mentioned, I thought that the sulfa had done the trick, until I saw him today looking like this. He has slime on his tail (3), a piece out of one of his tail fins (2), and two scales missing (4). His eye does not seemed to have swollen again, and he is breating and acting normally. None of the other fish in the tank are showing any symptoms. I've been keeping records of both their water quality and the treatments I've tried, and would be happy to share them if you think they would help.

It's been constant frustration fighting this for the past month now. I really just want the battle to end and my fish to get better. I identified as a possible contributer to the disease the gravel in my tank, which was 2/3" to 1" deep. I thinned it this evening to 1/4" to 1/3" deep, along with cleaning again what I left behind. Although I had cleaned it several times recently, I'm to the point that I'm ready to eliminate any unnecessary risks. There are lots of potential next steps: switching to daily water changes, removing all of the gravel, trying the tri-sulfa again, waiting and watching. Although I may not be able to follow through on everything suggested, I'll certainly listen to any advice that you have for me.

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Oh drkslvr, I'm sorry everything has been such a struggle and even more sorry to hear that things are going poorly with little Tolstoy.

I am going to point to water quality as your main culprit here. Although your parameters are good, I'm quite sure you're aware of how ill-equipped your 10 gallon is for your 4 fish. I'm glad you thinned the gravel-- not only is it a possible breeding ground for dangerous anaerobic bacteria, it takes up space in your tank, which means less water for your fish!

Being overstocked is a constant stress for your fish. If you've ever lived in a college dorm room with a roommate, you'll know what I mean! Even if you have the cleanest roommate in the world, the mere fact that you're squeezed in there with two sets of belongings is just stressful. This stress makes it near-impossible to recover from illness, which is likely why you're seeing slimecoat and scale issues with poor Tolstoy.

Without any more information on the course of the disease, my recommendation to you would be to do daily water changes of 50% or more... I'm afraid 25% every other day is just too hard on your sick fish. While the processing of water changes is in itself stressful, water quality in the long run will preserve the health of your fish. I would also, after several days, remove all of the gravel-- be sure to do it slowly, in stages, so as not to shock or crash your cycle.

In the long run, the BEST thing you can do is to get them into better accommodations. I know this can be expensive and take up a lot of room, but if you really do want the ordeal to end, it is what must be done. Check Craigslist, your local classifieds, kijiji.com, or other classifieds website often to look for good deals on used tanks. The other possibility is to acquire a large rubbermaid tub (I got a 45gal one at wallyworld for $15; be warned-- they will need to be shored up to prevent bowing or bursting). Kristen (Acupunk) recently got an 85gal plastic planter.

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Alright. I have a friend at KU who has a 29 or 30 gal. with filter, hood, and stand that he's offered me for an amazing $50. I figured the cheapest I could get at the pet store was $150. His fish weren't sick or anything, he just decided to give them back to the LFS because they took to much of his time. The only reason I hadn't taken him up on the offer yet is because, speaking of roommates, I'm in a suite with three other guys from August until May, and I'm not sure how kindly they'll take to goldfish invading their space. But, it looks like if eleminating unnecessary risks is really my goal, the bigger tank is the only way to go. 30 really will be as high as I can go, though, because even if the other guys didn't mind having the fish arond, there is no way I would be able to carry a 52 gal. tank up 6 flights of stairs! :D Anyhow, time to start warning my roommates....

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Great! I am so glad to hear that you're getting a bigger tank.

I will second what Joy said -- no matter how meticulous you are with tank maintenance, you are always going to be fighting a losing battle when you have four goldfish in ten gallons. I bet you would have problems even if you changed 100% of your water every day.

It is wonderful that you are going to be getting 30 gallons, but at that you will still be overstocked. What kind of filter are you getting with the new (used) tank? Because it will still be on the small side for four fish, I would advise you to set yourself up with a filter that will turn over your tank volume 15 times per hour (450 gph). This may mean that you need more than one filter.

I would also advise you to go barebottom when you set up the new tank. This will provide more room for the fish and fewer hiding places for bad bacteria and parasites. It is always easier to start with barebottom rather than trying to remove gravel after the tank is set up.

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That's great! I think I do remember your first few posts complaining about your roommates... really, I had the snarkiest roommate in the world and still got away with a 20gal and a 10 gal.

Yes yes, Kristen has great advice (she always does!). If you can help yourself, make the tank as sparse as possible. Remember that gravel and decor take up space and decrease the actual volume of water in the tank-- so go barebottom, and skimp on the decorations. When you move them, keep the gravel you've got now and put it into nylon hose... that way, you can hang them on the inside of the tank for a week or so to help colonize your new tank with good bacteria, and it's super easy to get the gravel out again.

The more filtration and filter media you can get, the better. You'll still be a bit overstocked, so frequent water changes will still be a must-- but really, you should see a marked improvement in all your fish once you get them in there. Just make sure to stay on top of the cycle and watch for ammonia and nitrite spikes. One vital thing to remember is that medications and ammonia NEVER mix well-- if you need to medicate further, you must either have a cycled tank or pick up something to bind the ammonia, like Zeolite chips.

If money is an issue, try browsing the DIY forum-- there are several designs for making your own filters!

Keep us posted. When water quality is an issue like it is here, it's sometimes impossible to separate illness symptoms from water quality symptoms. That's why it's important to get your set up under control first.

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A little off subject, but not completely, as I'm still in the midst of all this. My tank cycle didn't seem to be bugged at all when I added those antibiotics. Was that a sign that they weren't working?

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Great! I am so glad to hear that you're getting a bigger tank.

I will second what Joy said -- no matter how meticulous you are with tank maintenance, you are always going to be fighting a losing battle when you have four goldfish in ten gallons. I bet you would have problems even if you changed 100% of your water every day.

It is wonderful that you are going to be getting 30 gallons, but at that you will still be overstocked. What kind of filter are you getting with the new (used) tank? Because it will still be on the small side for four fish, I would advise you to set yourself up with a filter that will turn over your tank volume 15 times per hour (450 gph). This may mean that you need more than one filter.

I would also advise you to go barebottom when you set up the new tank. This will provide more room for the fish and fewer hiding places for bad bacteria and parasites. It is always easier to start with barebottom rather than trying to remove gravel after the tank is set up.

Ditto

Ditto and

Ditto

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A little off subject, but not completely, as I'm still in the midst of all this. My tank cycle didn't seem to be bugged at all when I added those antibiotics. Was that a sign that they weren't working?

Interesting question. Fortunately I've never had to use antibiotics, but unfortunately that means I know very little about them. I know some are very hard on the cycle-- but I wouldn't say that just because it didn't interfere that it means they didn't work.

How are your fish doing?

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right now, better. No more scales lost, no more nicks in any fins, and it hasn't spread to any other fish. and the slime seems to be clearing up a little today for the first time since I posted Tuesday. but that doesn't change the fact that I'm set on the bigger tank. I just can't keep putting it off. from time to time i'm going to have to be gone two and a half days, and I can't let my goldfish have a near-death experience every time that happens. (i exaggerate a little, but you understand my feelings) anyhow, it's a process, not an event. it will take time to contact my roommates and convince my mom and get the tank and get it cycled and all that jazz, but I really feel good that i've started the ball rolling. it will be awhile till the goldfish move, but it will be a happy day when it comes. :)

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