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Big Open Ulcer On Snout


Guest JonL

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Hello:

I have a Comet goldfish (Goldie) with an open ulcer type thing on it's snout. It has been ongoing for about 2 1/2 years. I have had the fish for about 4 years. While I found water quality had been bad (high nitrates - needed better tank hygeine) it has been in the good range for the last six months. The water quality when this started problably was not good - high nitrates I suspect. Now the PH, nitrates, and ammonia levels are in a healthy range. The tank is 60 gallons, and it has been running for four years. It has been taken down for a few moves over the last 2 1/2 years. I have a Marineland Emporer biowheel filter, which is the correct size for the tank. I do approx 40% water change weekly. I use a gravel vacuum to remove the water so the gravel is thoroughly vacuumed when doing the water change. I use Wardley Essentials Chlor Out to treat the replacement water. Goldie was won at a school fair in 2004 and was about 2" long. Goldie is about 9.5" now. There are 5 other fish in the tank now. Two faintail goldfish about 4.5" long, a small Red Serpae Tetra, a small gold barb, and a Plecostamus thats about 9" long.

As I said, the problem with Goldie started about 2 1/2 years ago. For the first six months he would get a small white blistery type thing that looked to us like he must have bumped into something and then it would heal up after a few days. There was only one spot. That would come and go over a period of about 1 1/2 years. Maybe popping up about every 1 1/2 months. Then about a year ago a spot appeared but never healed, it just got worse and bigger over the course of a few months. It covers the front part of his snout from just above his lip to to about 1/3" before his nostrils. Its a large open ulcer type thing that looks raw and leaves whitish pink flesh showing. Some days it looks like it is going to heal up and then gets worse all over again. As I said, I found about 7 or 8 months ago I needed to keep the tank more clean and have been doing so. About 7 to 8 months ago I started treating (proper dosage, removed filter carbon, etc) with several different medicines at different times (no meds overlapping), and for extended periods with no luck. I started with Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Melafix - an Antibacterial fish remedy. That did nothing. Then I tried another Aquarium Pharmaceuticals med called General Cure - an anti-parasitic fish medication. That didn't work. Then I tried Maracyn in case it was body fungus. Didn't work. Then I tried Seachem Polyguard that treats for bacterial, fungal and parasitic problems. Didn't work. At first we thought it might be, then the ulcer opened up again. Like I said, sometimes for a couple of days it looks like it is healing up (less raw and ragged, little red spots within it seem to clear up a bit, looks to be on the mend - then a day later it looks as bad as ever. White mucousy looking material sloughs off, and the ulcer is open again. The ulcer has pretty much been the same size for the past 6 months. Goldie doesn't "flash" off anything, eats well, doesn't seem lethargic. I haven't tried treating with anything else for about 2 months. I haven't seen him crashing into things that might be causing a continuing wound. Wish I could attach a digital picture, but the only option I see is to provide a url link, and I'm not set up for that.

Love my Goldie, he's a good boy (girl? - I'm not sure).

Any ideas?

Thanks.

Jon

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Hello and welcome to the board.

Before we go any further I'd really like to have a set of water readings from you. It would be helpful to have actual numbers for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and PH - could you post them up? Hopefully you'll have droppers which are much more accurate that strips.

My first observation is that you have a very large pleco in with these fish which are, at their current size, quite overcrowded now. Plecos become increasingly carnivorous as they grow and are renowned for 'grazing' on goldfish slimecoat under cover of darkness. For this reason they are considered unsafe tank mates for Gfish. A lack of space will make this type of behaviour even more likely. It may be, that these periodic blisters or patches were evidence of attack. If the plec has been preying on the goldy at night, the constant breaching of the slimecoat will have allowed the possibility of bacteria to move in; if in addition you have, as you say, allowed water quality to slip, there will be extra stress on the already stressed fish and a large organic load just waiting for an opening.

Once you have tested the readings, I would recommend a very large water change (a) to reduce the bacterial load of the tank and (b) to change out any traces of all those meds - did you use carbon to strip them out at the end?

Is there any chance of a well-focussed pic? You could use Photobucket or any host site like that. It would really help being able to see the lesion.

Let's wait for the water results, then we can decide on a plan. It may be that Goldie would do well to be treated alone.

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First, :welcome

Now the PH, nitrates, and ammonia levels are in a healthy range.

Can you give us the exact readings on these, including nitrites?

The tank is 60 gallons, and it has been running for four years. It has been taken down for a few moves over the last 2 1/2 years. I have a Marineland Emporer biowheel filter, which is the correct size for the tank.

Just for the record, can you tell us how many gph the filter is?

I do approx 40% water change weekly. I use a gravel vacuum to remove the water so the gravel is thoroughly vacuumed when doing the water change. I use Wardley Essentials Chlor Out to treat the replacement water. Goldie was won at a school fair in 2004 and was about 2" long. Goldie is about 9.5" now. There are 5 other fish in the tank now. Two faintail goldfish about 4.5" long, a small Red Serpae Tetra, a small gold barb, and a Plecostamus thats about 9" long.

This is not good. You are massively ovestocked. For the fish you have, you should have at least an 80 gallon tank. Combined with 40% water changes, will create a potentially toxic water environment. Allowing detritus to accumulate in the tank, which is inevitable with this many fish, not only can cause ammonia, nitrites and/or nitrates to rise, but can also encourage bad bacteria to grow. And not that they add to much, the tetra and barb are tropical fish and shouldn't be kept with coldwater fish. Also, plecos besides growing huge, as you're seeing, can also develop a taste for the goldfishes' slime coat. If you removed the tetra, barb and pleco to a 30 gallon tank, your situation would be much better under control.

As I said, the problem with Goldie started about 2 1/2 years ago. For the first six months he would get a small white blistery type thing that looked to us like he must have bumped into something and then it would heal up after a few days. There was only one spot. That would come and go over a period of about 1 1/2 years. Maybe popping up about every 1 1/2 months. Then about a year ago a spot appeared but never healed, it just got worse and bigger over the course of a few months. It covers the front part of his snout from just above his lip to to about 1/3" before his nostrils. Its a large open ulcer type thing that looks raw and leaves whitish pink flesh showing. Some days it looks like it is going to heal up and then gets worse all over again.

This sounds like it could, yes, be an ulcer which usually is caused by an internal bacterial infection. That it has popped is also not good as that bacteria has now been dispersed in the tank exposing the other fish.

As I said, I found about 7 or 8 months ago I needed to keep the tank more clean and have been doing so. About 7 to 8 months ago I started treating (proper dosage, removed filter carbon, etc) with several different medicines at different times (no meds overlapping), and for extended periods with no luck. I started with Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Melafix - an Antibacterial fish remedy. That did nothing. Then I tried another Aquarium Pharmaceuticals med called General Cure - an anti-parasitic fish medication. That didn't work. Then I tried Maracyn in case it was body fungus. Didn't work. Then I tried Seachem Polyguard that treats for bacterial, fungal and parasitic problems. Didn't work.

It's good that you're attempting to keep the tank cleaner, but with the problems and the overstocking, ultra pristine conditions must be kept. Also, randomly treating symptoms with a variety of meds may only cause the problem to get worse, not better.

At first we thought it might be, then the ulcer opened up again. Like I said, sometimes for a couple of days it looks like it is healing up (less raw and ragged, little red spots within it seem to clear up a bit, looks to be on the mend - then a day later it looks as bad as ever. White mucousy looking material sloughs off, and the ulcer is open again. The ulcer has pretty much been the same size for the past 6 months. Goldie doesn't "flash" off anything, eats well, doesn't seem lethargic. I haven't tried treating with anything else for about 2 months. I haven't seen him crashing into things that might be causing a continuing wound. Wish I could attach a digital picture, but the only option I see is to provide a url link, and I'm not set up for that.

It's good that you've stopped treating Goldy with meds. When a fish has an internal bacterial infection, you must treat that with medicated food as well as treating the water. Normally, you need to remove the affected fish to a quarantine tank so that it doesn't infect the other fish, and that's still a good idea, but whereas your other fish have been affected, you will need to consider treating the main tank too.

You are going to need to set up a quarantine tank for Goldy. Because of Goldy's size, he is going to need a 20 gallon tank so that you can safely control the water quality. If you can't afford a real tank, a 20 gallon Rubbermaid type storage tub works great. This qt tank need a 200 gph filter and a thermometer also. I would suggest that you order some Medi-Gold immediately from GoldfishConnection. Medi-Gold I would also suggest that you start a salt treatment. Aquarium salt administered at 0.1% (0.1% = 1 tsp salt per 1 gallon water). 12 hours later, increase that to 0.2% salt (0.2% = 2 tsp salt per gallon water) and 12 hours after that, up the salt to 0.3% (0.3% = 3 tsp (1TBL) salt per gallon water). You need to do daily water tests and, based on those tests, do 50-90% temperature matched, dechlorinated water changes daily. Keep track of how much water you remove and re-add the salt proportionately, i.e., if you removed 75% of the water, you will only add 75% more new salt (at 0.3% salt solution: 60 gallon tank x 1 TBL salt per gallon = 60 TBL salt. 75% salt removed at water change = 25% salt remaining, or 15 TBL of salt remaining, thus, you will need to add 45 TBL salt after the second water change. Do you understand that math there? Make sure you pre-dissolve the salt in a bucket of tank water and pour it in slowly near the filter(s). Start feeding the Medi-Gold as soon as you receive it. Don't overfeed. Overfeeding is never good, but especially when you have a sick fish.

You should probably also get a salt treatment going in the main tank; however, I'm not familiar with the ramifications of salt on tropicals and plecos, so someone else may want to talk about that.

A Mod with more knowledge should be along soon to help you further.

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Lynda - this was a very helpful post :exactly but I'll make 2 provisos.

1)The pleco will not tolerate salt, so let's hold off on the main tank until we have readings and know if he can be moved.

2) Until we have a better sense of the water chem and what the 'ulcer' looks like we should also hold off with Medigold. Antibiotics need to be as closely matched to the most likely bacteria as possible in order to be effective. It may well be that this is the right med but we should always know about water before dashing for the antibiotics!!

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Lynda - this was a very helpful post :exactly but I'll make 2 provisos.

1)The pleco will not tolerate salt, so let's hold off on the main tank until we have readings and know if he can be moved.

2) Until we have a better sense of the water chem and what the 'ulcer' looks like we should also hold off with Medigold. Antibiotics need to be as closely matched to the most likely bacteria as possible in order to be effective. It may well be that this is the right med but we should always know about water before dashing for the antibiotics!!

That's why you're the Mod, Pixiefish! Thank you again for helping me too!

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Dear People:

Thanks for the input. I need to go get test kits as I have only brought in water samples to a pet store for testing. I need to verify the GPH of the filter, as it has seen about 7 1/2 years of continuous use with one impeller change 4 years ago. I don't know if it has slowed down.

Once the disease is corrected, does it make sense that Goldie and the fantails (which I believe was also a 60's rock group....) can all stay together in the 60 gallon, with the pleco (his name is Sucky), the barb and tetra removed? Buying an 80 gallon set up is not in the budget.

I have a 20 gallon high tank I can use for quarantine, which seems tight for Goldie, but should be OK for a short quarantine period (?)

Thanks.

Jon

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Once the disease is corrected, does it make sense that Goldie and the fantails (which I believe was also a 60's rock group....) can all stay together in the 60 gallon, with the pleco (his name is Sucky), the barb and tetra removed? Buying an 80 gallon set up is not in the budget.

Yes, that is a good arrangement. As explained, keeping all of them together isn't the best idea, so an 80 gallon wouldn't really be good even if it were in the budget.

I have a 20 gallon high tank I can use for quarantine, which seems tight for Goldie, but should be OK for a short quarantine period (?)

A 20 gallon is a fine qt tank, even if it is high. You won't want to put water to the top, so, that might reduce the gallons to 15 or so, but it's better than a 10 gallon! lol! Just make sure you test daily and do appropriate large water changes, especially as it is new and uncycled.

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