Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciated!

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Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciated!

Postby Butterfly » Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:42 pm

Hi there - I am new to the forum, and hoping to get to know everyone here. We have several aquariums running, ranging from 6g to 220g.

My question relates to one of our weather loaches. He was previously in our 220g with 5 other weathers and 23 barbs. He is now in a hospital tank and has been there for over one month.

We have no clue what is going on with him and, honestly, we are at a loss. I will try to make this long story short by providing some of his symptoms:

- pale colouring
- barbels appear shorter and less vibrant
- right fin is tucked in, and spine appears to be crooked at the fin area
- off-balance, especially when eating - he flops around, but eventually manages to eat some
- eyes appear cloudy at times, but always appear huge (I.e. Not bulging, just the same way a human eye would be dilated)
- spends a lot of time either wedged in between the glass and filter intake tube or draped over a floating plant. When not doing this, he sits on the bottom as usual

We have treated with Tetra Parasite Guard, half dose, for a little over a week, and we have been feeding peas. We have been doing daily WCs, about 25-30% each day.

Over the last month, he has not gotten any worse, but he really hasn't gotten any better either!

We have had him for about two years now, and he was pretty much full grown when he came to live with us, so unsure of his exact age.

Any ideas, suggestions, thoughts would be appreciated....thanks in advance!
Last edited by Butterfly on Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby mikev » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:05 pm

Two questions:

Did he have the problem from the beginning or it is a recent development?

Did you have any barb deaths in the tank in the last year?
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby Butterfly » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:12 pm

mikev wrote:Two questions:

Did he have the problem from the beginning or it is a recent development?

Did you have any barb deaths in the tank in the last year?


Hi - thank you for responding. This problem started a little over a month ago, he was doing fine before then. We moved him into the hospital tank about one month ago. We have not had any fish deaths in this tank since it has been up and running (about 2 1/2 years running now, same fish - no new additions).
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby mikev » Tue Jan 20, 2015 11:40 pm

One more question if I may: what do you feed your tank? Specifically, do you feed any live worms (tubifex, blackworms)?

(The question about barb deaths was a check on mycobacteriosis --- fortunately, not the case.).
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby Butterfly » Tue Jan 20, 2015 11:53 pm

mikev wrote:One more question if I may: what do you feed your tank? Specifically, do you feed any live worms (tubifex, blackworms)?

(The question about barb deaths was a check on mycobacteriosis --- fortunately, not the case.).


We feed A variety of flake food throughout the week. Frozen shrimp is fed once a week (Wednesdays), as well as frozen bloodworms (Sundays). We usually fast everyone on Saturday.

The peas are a new thing since he has been sick, and we feed them to him once every two or three days (peas are boiled for about 1 minute and then chilled and shelled).
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby mikev » Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:49 am

OK.... my sense of what is happening (no guarantee!):

Most of the symptoms you list in the original post are likely secondary -- something is affecting the animal and we see it manifesting in a variety of ways -- but one needs to know the cause. Cloudy eyes may be because of weakness or a secondary infection... barbel/fins problems again can be secondary infections...

Now, trying to guess the primary cause:
Mycobacteriosis: common, and very commonly results in an array of secondary conditions. But it is a disease that would affect (and kill) most barbs before any loach catches it -- exclude.
Parasitic infection: I cannot definitely exclude it but: 2 years is a long time, hard to believe that the condition took so long to develop... and the food you listed generally would not carry parasites. Another possible vector: if you introduced something new into the tank (plants in particular) within 6 months, you might have brought in parasites. You can try a more serious antiparasitic med (flubendazole) but I think the chances that this is related to parasites are not very good.
Next.. perhaps the non-secondary condition is " spine appears to be crooked at the fin area ". For reasons unclear crooked spines seem to be common with some loaches... I've seen a number of dojos like this... could be that they are prone to vertebra displacement...

Most likely you cannot do anything for the affected loach... this happens all too often :( ... but probably you should not worry about the other fish in the tank.

One more thing that may be tried but again chances of it working not great: hit it with a strong antibiotic, like kana. It is possible that there is tumor that affected spine, and tumors are usually bacterial (not cancer).... but this is a 10% chance.

As for the peas: I don't see how this can help.
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby Butterfly » Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:55 pm

mikev wrote: As for the peas: I don't see how this can help.

Ha! We actually started with the peas when we noticed he was hanging at the top, either draped over the floating plant or wedged in between the glass and filter - with the addition of the curved spine, we thought "maybe" a swim bladder issue (we have since ruled that one out though!! I am and have been reaching for any diagnosis!). We, however, learned that he really likes peas, so we continue to give them every few days (usually half a pea every three days or so) - I figure it can't hurt!

Mikev - I do appreciate all of your problem solving there - it gave me a lot to think about for sure. It is nice to see a run down of thoughts from someone else's perspective, for sure - so very much appreciated! I am going to look into some of the meds you mentioned, do some research and see if any are available in my area.

On a different, yet related note, my hubby thinks this might have been a physical injury of some sort, that may have led to a secondary infection. Not that this helps with a diagnosis really, but I thought I would throw his idea out there.

I hate to think that this guy will live the rest of his life out in a 10g tank, all alone. But, he cannot rejoin his buddies in the 220g until he is in tip-top shape. I know that he would die of starvation if he were in with any tank-mates, poor guy has such a hard time swimming and eating.
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby mikev » Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:18 pm

Meds that I mentioned:
Kanamycin: many stores have as Kanaplex by Seachem, or you can order from the Internet. Not costly, just watch the biocycle.
Flubendazole: more difficult, go here for ordering.

(I'm not recommending using either -- chances that they will not do anything, but there is a chance in both cases... say 10% each)

Peas: No harm in giving him something he likes....

Your husband's guess is what I've been thinking too: vertebra displacement due to perhaps trying to squeeze in a narrow place. But it is also may be due to some growth inside. Physical injury is more likely but you cannot do much about it... bacterial-driven tumor less likely but may be curable.

Too bad you cannot take an x-ray...

Good luck!

PS. And if he survives in the qtank for a couple of months, you can risk putting them back. Loaches are very good in scavenging, he will probably find enough....
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby Butterfly » Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:23 pm

Well, over the last few days, our baby's off-balance behaviour has increased and he now swims mostly in circles - frequently upside down - and appears to only be able to 'turn' right. Also over the last few days, we have thought we lost him several times as we would find him either laying upside down or on his side. I now don't jump to conclusions when I see him like this, but instead wait a few minutes to see if he rights himself (which he usually does after about 3-5 minutes). He continues to eat some, though still with great difficulty. When he does sit upright, his mid-section generally does not touch the bottom (i.e. it almost appears to float, while his head and tail areas stay grounded). My poor baby :(

On a different note, none of the local shops here carry Kanamycin, but one shop recomended API Triple Sulfa as an alternative....thoughts?
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby Butterfly » Mon Feb 02, 2015 10:18 pm

Since we were unsure of what to do, we decided to try the triple sulfa. So far, since treatment, our baby has been swimming normally, no more spinning, circling, flopping. He, however, tends to flop over on his side when he 'lands' on the sand. So, in a nutshell, some things have improved, others not so much. We are at a loss, and really want to help our little guy...any thoughts or words of support? We really just want to help him :(
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby mikev » Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:59 am

From what you are saying it seems that the antibiotic works. I suggested kana because it tends to be more powerful overall and there is less resistance to it on the average, so the chances are better, but if you achieved improvements with another antibiotic, great.

now... you definitely must finish the treatment cycle, check the instructions, if they say 4 days, do at least 4. If they say doing two cycles is ok, consider this (API's triple sulfa package says 4, and 2nd round is ok). Watch the biocycle. And keep in mind that full recovery may not be instant even if you kill off all the bacteria, there may be some damage inside that will take time to heal (or will never heal, let's hope this is not he case). Just feed the fish well and see how this goes.

Good luck!
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby Butterfly » Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:04 pm

We did the full treatment and everything seemed good, improvements were noticeable. We stopped treatment three days ago. Our baby, however, has now taken a turn for the worst today. He spends most of the time laying on the sand upside down, and yet, when he does right himself, he plays in the bubbles from the filter, and eats relatively well. It is heartbreaking to see him flopped over on his back...this cannot be comfortable and he must be feeling ill, obviously. Arghh! I just want to 'make' him better'!
Edit : his head area appears to be white?
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby mikev » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:37 pm

Describe white (head)... fuzzy?

It is possible that the problem is bacteria, you had a response, but one round of treatment was not enough...if this is the case, one should switch antibiotics. But it is also possible that he had a secondary bacterial problem that you dealt with (thus improvement) but this is not the main issue. No way to know.

You can still try kanamycin and flubendazole.
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby Butterfly » Sun Feb 08, 2015 12:02 pm

mikev wrote:Describe white (head)... fuzzy?

It is possible that the problem is bacteria, you had a response, but one round of treatment was not enough...if this is the case, one should switch antibiotics. But it is also possible that he had a secondary bacterial problem that you dealt with (thus improvement) but this is not the main issue. No way to know.

You can still try kanamycin and flubendazole.


The white area is not fuzzy, nor does it protrude off of his body in any way - it is more streamlined in with his colouring. The odd thing is, his head no longer looks white, but instead, there is a small streamlined white patch on his upper body now?! Very weird. We started up another round of the triple sulfa, and while there seems to be improvements in his behaviour, he is still unable to stay upright all of the time.

We just ordered some Kanamycin online, hopefully it arrives soon. Thanks so much for your help and support thus far - much appreciated!
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Re: Unknown problem with weather loach - any input appreciat

Postby mikev » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:30 pm

Without photos this is all guessing, but white area is possibly loss of coloration. Quite possibly what is described here. In my observations this is not a disease but a symptom common to a number of different diseases, the common factor is that the animal has been weakened to the point of not being to maintain proper functioning of chromatic cells (chromatophores). There is no treatment for it, one needs to treat the root cause.

The other thing that may be of some relevance: do consider deworming. I'm copying a post from Facebook US Cory group from yesterday

Several months ago I received several C. Semiaquilus that were wild caught. I also got two oddball/abarrent fishe that were more spotted and less black on sides. To the point, one of the odd ones was a little rough when they got here. I bought them with full knowledge of their condition. I isolated them and cared for them as wild fish with TLC. They ate fine and seemed to be doing well until last week. The larger became listless and somewhat "puney" looking. Then it stopped eating...no live food nor frozen delicacies garnered a response. I remembered my first mentor back in the 70s used Epsom salt on cories that quit eating.
I placed this fish in a gallon container with an airstone. In the water I placed two tablespoons of Epsom salt...and one drop of 37% formalin on a cotton swab, which I just dipped into the water for a few seconds. I watched the fish hourly...and after about 6 hours she passed two worm-like parasites. They were blood red and 3/16" long. 6 more hours and she was eating and now 3 days post, back in the tank and acting normal.


This is not to suggest repeating what he did, it was not a good approach but only point out that internal parasites are quite common, may manifest themselves in many different ways, may take months to reveal themselves, and -- btw -- way more common in loaches than in corydoras. So if you want to try to fight this out, go for the dewormer as well (the Epson salt idea.... the poster was lucky... not worth considering).
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