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do loaches shed

Posted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:41 am
by dawn
My female loach, Bubbles, is shedding. is this normal? just noticed it today.
My second loach, Sherbert, has about 6 red sores on him, which I just got rid of one sore with tetricycline two weeks ago. My filter is old, I was thinking about getting a 2nd small filter to put on the opposite side of the tank but should I just get a new one, could that be the problem? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
dawn, the loach lady

Re: do loaches shed

Posted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 11:25 am
by Diana
Loaches should not shed their slime coat in a noticeable way. All fish do shed slime coat, as a normal process of renewing it. But it is shed in such tiny bits you usually cannot see it. To shed slime coat in large enough quantity that you can see it is not normal.
This suggests a skin irritation from water chemistry, parasite, or other irritant.
The red markings that you report also suggests some kind of skin irritation.

It is also known that some Loaches will shed slime coat when they are caught. For example, when you buy them, or move them to another tank. The slime coat that is shed in this event seems to be toxic to other fish, so if you are moving Loaches (even if just placing them in a bucket temporarily) keep them separate from other species. This won't include any red spots, though.

Here is what I would do:
A) Find the source of the problem (a few possibilities are listed here) and correct it.
I am suggesting smaller water changes for most problems because fish that are already stressed for any reason can be further stressed by big water changes. Small (10% to 25%), frequent (daily) water changes can correct less urgent problems with less stress to the fish. More urgent problems can be corrected with larger water changes, but make sure the new water matches (GH, KH, pH, TDS, Temperature) what the fish are already used to. I have done 100% water changes with minimal stress when they are done right.

1) Test water chemistry. Make sure it is in the right range for the species. Most Loaches prefer slightly acidic conditions, but will handle a wide range of pH that is roughly neutral (about 6.5 to 7.5). You can check the species info here:

2) If any of these parameters: GH, KH, TDS, pH are out of the optimum range then do small, frequent water changes that will gradually alter these parameters into the correct range. It is OK if it takes a week or more to alter these. Too fast a change might make it difficult for the fish to adjust.
If any of these: NH3, NH4+, NO2, NO3 are not correct (any ammonia or nitrite at all, or nitrate over 10ppm) then do much larger water changes (perhaps 2 x 50% back to back) to get these values under control, then investigate why these are too high. Deep vacuum the substrate. Clean the filter media, do not throw it away. This is where many of the beneficial bacteria live. You may need to repeat this big water change the next day if these parameters are still not low enough.
If the temperature is not in the correct range for your fish then raise or lower the temperature a degree or two each day until it is in the right range.

3) If you suspect there is some irritant in the water, then a large water change and add activated carbon to the filter.

4) If you suspect some kind of parasite or infection, then I would still start with a big water change (including vacuuming the substrate and cleaning the filter media) then treat with the appropriate medication. If Tetracycline sort of worked, but the problem still exists you might change medication. Many fish diseases are caused by Gram negative bacteria, so a medication that targets Gram negative bacteria would be my first choice. Some Loach owners have seen problems when they use Melafix or Pimafix, but I have not seen these problems. These meds are useful only at the very beginning of the disease, while the disease organisms are still on the outside surface of the fish, not after it has entered the body of the fish. For external parasites there are several over the counter medications that can work. Combine whatever medication your fish need with water changes to keep the parameters in the optimum range.

As for adding another filter, that is OK. It will increase the water movement, probably leading to increased oxygen levels, and better water circulation. Most Loaches live in rivers and streams with good water flow.

Re: do loaches shed

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:39 am
by dawn
thanks for the information. I decided to put all three loaches in a smaller tank with tetricycline for 3 days, which cleared up the skin issues. while they were being medicated I did a full water change took everything out of the tank boiled it to sanitize it and washed the tank out completely. I took the all the sand out and rinsed it until I felt it was clean enough. When I put them back you could see how happy they were, happier than i've ever seen them.

I can't thank you enough for the information. :)


Re: do loaches shed

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:51 pm
by Diana
When you boil or otherwise sterilize 'everything in the tank/system' make sure to re-introduce beneficial bacteria. Otherwise the tank will go through another nitrogen cycle. This can be very stressful to the fish.
You can add any bacterial supplement that includes Nitrospira species of bacteria. Do not waste money on any other product.