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Clown Loach Juvies Hiding & Have Dark Spots

Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 2:34 pm
by Ladysparky
I am new to Loaches and have some questions regarding the behavior (sleepy/lazy) and health (Dark spots) of my two juv. Clown Loaches. I hope it will help if I will first tell you about the fish, the problem and then give the tank info.

I bought these two Clown Loaches in June '05. At the time they were about 1.5" and now are closer to 3". They never had ich nor any other illness, that I can tell. I have witnessed what appears to be typical behavior (sparring with each other off an on, sleep together, hide/rest in very small spaces, laying on the side, 'hovering' side by side mid tank & generally being real busy bodies) as well as swimming frantically back and forth when the barometric pressure drops, which happened before a summer thunderstorm.

During the summer they would come out of their hidey hole and be busy all day long. They ate anything that wasn't nailed down. They would 'go to bed' before sundown...which at the time coincided with the tank lights (8 PM). As Fall approached and the days became shorter, I noticed they would go to bed earlier and earlier; always before sundown. That meant they were in bed before 4:30 PM. Then they started not coming out much at all. I rarely see them now. The other comes out more often than the other. This has been going on for about 6-8 weeks now. They are not as chubby as they once were, but are not emaciated, so they are eating and they do not appear ill, but this behavior has me concerned. I am even more concerned now with their coloring and some discoloration I noticed about 3-4 weeks ago.
When they come out of hiding their color (body and dorsal fin) is quite washed out. Their other fins remain quite bright. Sometimes they brighten up a bit if they are out swimming for a while, but all too often they are back in their hole before that happens. There also seems to be more black on their noses and I've noticed black spots (pin-head shape and size) on their body. The spots are few, numbering 3-5 per fish and are not clustered but random on the body. So if the spot is on a black stripe the spot is a darker black. If on an orange stripe it appears more dark brown. These spots haven't grown, spread or multiplied. They do not appear raised nor is there any other reddness, fuzziness or discoloration. So between their reclusive behavior and these 'spots' I am concerned.
OK, now for the tank info.
Size: 55 gal (48"X12"X22") mature tank (running non stop for 2 yrs).
Filtration: 2 Marineland 400's (each filter contain a carbon cartridge and a phosphate absorbing pad) Bio-wheels are 6 years old, 1 eheim 2236 (new as of 4 weeks).
Tank equipment: CO2 via fermentation (new as of 6 weeks), UV Sterilizer (new as of 1 week), heater, bubbler, 2-Quantum 15 Watt 11K Ultra Daylight T6 Lamps (new)
Furnishing: plain gravel and Laterite substrate, plants (rooted in peat blocks), terra cotta pots, slate, driftwood, 1 resin ornament.
Water parameters: Temp 79, Ammonia & Nitrite 0, Nitrates < 20ppm, pH 6.8, Water is moderately soft (~ 70 ppm) thanks to driftwood, CO2, peat and water conditioners, otherwise the tap water is closer 100-110ppm. I strive to maintain these values (including temp) without fluctuations even during water changes.
Water conditioners: Kordon's Amquel-Plus and NovAqua Plus, Instant Amazon, Kent Marine's Freshwater Zoe (Plant Vit's). I was using iron for plants but quit that when the spots appeared on the loaches.
I do a 15% water change every 3-4 days, to rid the tank of pleco poo.
Tank occupants (no new fish...last new fish were the Loaches):
1-10-11" common pleco, 1 dwarf gourami (there was 3...I lost 2 yesterday to what appeared to be an accident or pre-spawning aggression issue), 4 White Cloud Mt. Minnows and of course the 2 Clown Loaches.
Food (variety is rotated during the week): Zucchini, Organic spinach and lettuce, Wardley's Algae wafers, Tetra's Feeze-dried bloodworms, Hikari's sinking carnivore wafers, Marinelands Tropical Bio-Blend, TetraMin Tropical Crisps. I had Hikari's Tubifx worms, but nobody liked them.
There are no snails in the tank. I treat all new plants in a separate bucket, with potassium permangenate before adding to the tank.
I recently had a bout with black algae possibly due to old tank lamps...lamps replaced. Plants taken out of the tank, trimmed and treated with H2O2 solution (in a separate bucket) than 2 days later taken out again and treated with potassium permangenate. Still have some, but will trim and treat again. Hopefully the UV light will help.
I have noticed something that looks like these spots on pictures of these fish on the net. According the the pic captions these fish are healthy and no mention is ever made to these spots. So after all this if you tell me that Clown Loaches have 'freckles' and that they hibernate I'll calm down and quit fretting...otherwise I am at a loss as to what these spots and 'sleepy/lazy' behavior is all about. Thanks a lot for reading all this. I look forward to your help.

Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 11:42 pm
by chefkeith
Do you have any pics of your clowns with the black spots?

My clowns had a long terrible bout with a black spot outbreak that started back in February 2005 and lasted until September. What my fish had was not the same as the black spot disease which needs a snail and a bird to complete its life cycle. It was a different disease and there was no info about what my fish had and there still isn’t. Whatever it was or is, it seems like it might be becoming more widespread. Over the past few months several people have been reporting black spots.

Here are some pics of my fish-


More pics here - ... ck%20spot/

For bad cases like this, a wide spectrum med and antibiotic helped clear it up. I used Parasite Clear by Jungle Labs and Triple Sulfa for about 3 weeks. I also changed my substrate from sand to gravel in a few of my tanks.

For less severe cases, I think salt would help. Use about 2 teaspoons of salt per gallon of water for about 3 weeks.

Clown Loach Juvies Hiding & Have Dark Spots

Posted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:01 pm
by SondraT
I wanted to thank Ladysparky and chefkeith for their posts on this topic! I am experiencing the exact same thing in my 125g with sand substrate that's been going on for months now. I have seen this before in my previous tank for a short time, but it seemed to clear up on its own. Like others, I have searched the web for information fitting my loaches' symptoms and have found only one other reference besides this that exactly matches what I am seeing. chefkeith, thanks so much for the photos you have posted here and in your photo album and for mentioning the medications you used. That is very helpful! After not losing a loach in many years, sadly, I did lose one smaller loach to this and another even smaller one was struggling for some time but now seems somewhat better. It's strange as the spots will seem to fade on some fish certain days and get worse on other fish at the same time, but never go away. In general, I am seeing more hiding and more aggression between the loaches. Nothing major, but you can definitely see it. Reluctantly, I may try adding some salt and see how that goes. Thanks again!

Posted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 5:47 pm
by andyroo
This is an illness?
Geeze.... I figured it was either a skin tone or abrasion associated with scrapping, as it seems to come on after an evening of heavy clicking.
Doesn't seem to occur on the other loaches- at least not in the same way.

Posted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:37 pm
by chefkeith
In my case, the black spot problem finally went away after I figured out that the spots were caused by water chemistry issues and sudden TDS changes that occurred during water changes.

There hasn't been any re-occurring outbreaks of the black spots since I stopped doing large water changes, removed some leaching rocks, and stopped adding fertilizers to the water.

I don't advise adding salt. It may help clean the black spots temporarily, but when the salt is removed, you might get the black spots back if the water changes were done too fast.

Posted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:38 am
by andyroo
That might explain it- spots started in earnest once the plants disappeared. Anybody want a headstander? Lovely, healthy, voracious...

Clown Loach Juvies Hiding & Have Dark Spots

Posted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:41 am
by SondraT
Thanks for your replies, this is very helpful! This is what I suspected was the problem all along so it's great to have your input, chefkeith! What I was seeing just didn't fit any disease that I had heard of or could find. It always looked and felt like it had to be either the water chemistry in the tank or something in the replacement water. I was also wondering if I should be suspicious of my (pool filter) sand, but had used that in my previous tank and it seemed fine. Still, I was prepared to remove it if need be but didn't want to further stress the loaches unnecessarily. I too noticed a long time ago that my loaches don't respond well to large water (tds) changes so I tend to avoid them. I think that's unfortunately how I got in this situation to begin with..too few/small water changes causing my nitrates to climb too high. That, and the cleaning of my two canister filters too close together, which I normally avoid. I proceeded with water changes, but I "cleaned up" the tank too quickly I think which resulted in a 0.5-1.0 ammonia reading. I added the max dosage of Prime which visibly helped the loaches to be more comfortable. I've slowly tried to stabilize the tank, which is now nitrites 0, nitrates 20, ammonia 0, PH 7 for approx 2 weeks or so now. They are still covered in spots though. I did not want to use salt or treat for something that does not exist, so I've been watching them very closely to see if they improve. Some of their fin tips appear burned though (from the ammonia I assume). Will these heal on their own or is there something I can do to help them along? Thanks so much again to everyone for their replies/comments..huge help! :D

Posted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 1:53 pm
by chefkeith
It will take many many months for the spots to fade away naturally. You'll just need to keep the outbreaks from reoccurring. IMO, the affected fish probably developed a glandular problem caused by large water changes. Small frequent water changes is the best solution. Daily 10% water changes would be my suggestion, but I know that would be too much work for most people.

I now do 24/7 continuous drip water changes that are done automatically. It is basically a hose that drips water into the tank, and an overflow where the excess water goes from a hose to a floor drain. Building a drip system can be fairly simple or very complex. The 1st drip system I built for free out of spare aquarium parts. I have some past threads here about the drip systems.

Clown Loach Juvies Hiding & Have Dark Spots

Posted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 2:32 pm
by SondraT
Thanks, chefkeith! Yes, I've read some about the automatic drip systems. I thought perhaps that wouldn't work for me as my tank is in our living room (can't have extra gear sitting around), but I may look into it again. Glandular type problem sounds about right. I realized after my last post that I never mentioned what I believe to be the original cause of my problems. My husband had designed a semi-auto fill system for the aquarium so I could get the water from my Rubbermaid storage barrel up from the basement to the first floor where the aquarium is located. Once he got that working I was able to change and fill larger amounts of water at one time. This is where the spots on the loaches began, with these larger water changes. They were acting strangely so I backed way off. Then over time, the nitrates which went untested out of habit :oops: shot up. I've been playing catch up ever since. Thanks so much again for your input and ideas, they are much appreciated!

Posted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 7:43 am
by Keith Wolcott
My experience is also that the spots are caused by water chemistry issues. I use R.O. filtered water and twice I have had some black spots. Each time I realized that it was time to change my carbon input filters on the R.O. filter. After changing the carbon input filters the black spots disappeared. Thus, I suspect that some chlorine (and maybe other things, although the TDS was still at just 11 ppm, so not much) was getting through my filter system. I have since shortened my filter change schedule a little and have not had any problems.

Posted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:04 pm
by sorce
Hey, I don't consider myself an expert. But as far as observing goes, I watch my fish at least 2 hours a day. I've seen black spots come and go in minutes. I really don't think this is a disease, as much as a display.

There may be a "black spot " Disease.
But there are Black spots.

bloodworms for thought!!!