My alpha clown loach needs your medical knowledge

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connor
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My alpha clown loach needs your medical knowledge

Post by connor » Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:32 pm

Hello *@*,

my alpha clown loach is sick for several months now and quite frankly, I have no clue what else I could try anymore. Perhaps someone of you has a bright idea what to do now.

I will try to be as detailed as possible. Sorry for the large pictures but I want to give you the best information I can.

What I observed:
The white spots appeared over night about 3 months ago. Back then my ancistrus pair was breeding in one of the tubes the clowns usually slept in. The male ancistrus guarding the eggs was making sure everyone who tried to snatch one of the eggs was going to pay for it, so a lot of loaches were dinged and scratched at this time, but they usually healed up pretty quickly (days).

So when I saw my alpha clown like this for the first time, I wasn't worried because it looked like patterns of the ancistrus gill spikes, which are approximately spaced like the white dots on the body of the loach. Unfortunately they didn't heal or change since then. They are basically the same today. From what I can tell there aren't any new ones and the old ones don't go away or change either.

This is not ich or velvet. None of the other fish in my tank are affected, so I think I can categorically rule out anything contagious (3 months!).

- As you can see from the pictures the fins are quite torn apart and there's also some mould on them and on the gill plate.
- The lateral line organ is looking quite visibly pronounced (white).
- The eyes have a palish ring not present in the other loaches.
- Body colour is alot paler compared to the other (healthy) clowns.
These symptoms appeared shortly after the initial showing of the white spots.

The white spots themselves are clearly raised from the skin, like a pustule. Most of them are on the back third of the body, some on the middle third and none in the front third.

Behavior:
My alpha eats normally but obviously doesn't feel well. She's clamping her fins a lot of the time and when other loaches approach she submissively tilts to the side. She also isn't trying to enforce her alpha status anymore (most of the time). There's also more than usual scratching to be seen.

What I tried:
- I netted her out 2 times to give her a 6 hour bath in eSHa "Exit" and eSHa "2000", medicaments used to battle ich, velvet, skin lesions, mould and the like
- The bath immediately got rid of the mould and secondary infections but had no effect whatsoever on the white spots
- Unfortunately all the secondary problems came back just days after putting her back into the community tank
- I added 0.5 TSP of salt per gallon to the tank for a week. No effect.

Frankly, I didn't know what to do anymore and just watched for the last 2-3 weeks, hoping the fish would overcome this problem by itself. I was doing very large weekly waterchanges, too.

It doesn't look to me like she will manage to heal this -whatever it is- by herself, though. Any ideas of what else I could try would be greatly appreciated by me and my alpha clown!

Thanks for reading this,

Connor


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Diana
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Post by Diana » Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:58 am

Hi conner, Sorry she is not well, yet. I remember you asking about this before.
Seeing the picture I thought about Hole in the Head, also called Head and Lateral Line erosion, or Hexamita. I do not know if Loaches get this, it is more common among Cichlids, but is not exclusively a Cichlid issue. The spots all over are not like this, but the infected looking lateral line is what made me think of it.

Here is a site with a lot of fish diseases listed. Is there any way you can get a scraping of one of the white spots and look at it under a microscope? The page at this site with bacterial issues includes what the bacteria look like under a 'scope.

http://www.nationalfishpharm.com/fish_d ... rders.html

See especially F, J, K.

You might treat her in a quarantine tank. You can feed her medicated food, and medicate without worrying about the nitrifying bacteria, if need be. It can be less stressful for her there, too, with no other fish to argue with over food or resting places.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

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ckk125
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Post by ckk125 » Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:38 am

looks like bacterial infection...try using yellow powder..hope it helps.Good luck
Chen

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chefkeith
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Post by chefkeith » Tue Mar 11, 2008 2:01 am

I'd quarantine that fish. You should never keep unhealthy fish in the main tank.

In the Q-tank, keep the water parameters very consistent. That means no large water changes. Do 2 or 3- 20% water changes per week.

Doing large water changes after a salt treatment is not a good thing. The osmotic change and stress put on fish will slow down recovery.

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worton
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Post by worton » Tue Mar 11, 2008 2:25 am

Hey,

sorry for silly question but what is your Ph and hardness? I've seen a lot of synos with this very similar symptom. Eventually fish get totally white and die - it takes about a year though. And it really doesn't matter that all other loaches are ok and that it never happened before. This is something what happen to fish which are generally hard species but are suited to live in slightly acid, soft water. Lot of riverine synos done in rift lakes cichlids tanks :/.

If I am right you should put this fish in Q tank (suited to size of fish since it will be there for a while) slowly take your Ph and hardness to lower levels (RO or rainwater is the best way). Using some fishtamins also helps.

Hope it helps and I hope I'm wrong :].

Regards.

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Tinman
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Post by Tinman » Tue Mar 11, 2008 5:18 am

Is your gravel clean, looks like a bio problem so a clean enviroment is key. Lose the gravel slowly to see if this is the problem and then replace it with sand.Have you removed the bog wood to clean under it? Your water may be to hard as stated already. What are your parameters? What is your water change schedule?If this has been in there three months all are affected that will be in the tank so a QT is too late IMO.Carbon filter your incoming water on water changes .What is your incoming water like? Hard water is rough on these fish.They need soft water to thrive.

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chefkeith
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Post by chefkeith » Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:30 am

Have to agree. Only other time I've seen these goosebumps on a clown loach is in hard well water where the TDS was around 500.

I'd do a bare bottom q-tank with some pvc pipe for the loach to sleep in. Good clean water is best way to help a fish recover from frayed fins and tailrot.

If you have hard water, over a few weeks time, cut the tap water with RO water to soften it up. It needs to be done slowly or else you'll shock the fish and slow down its recovery.

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connor
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Post by connor » Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:10 am

Thanks for your help so far.

Tap water parameters are:
NO3: 0
NO2: 0
°dGH: >7 and <14
°dKH: 3-6
pH: 7.0-7.2

Tap water generally is of excellent quality where I live.

My water change schedule was 60% every 2 weeks, right now I do 60% every week (I was doing a VERY slow water change after the salt treatment). My gravel is quite clean (3000 L/h flow, 300 L tank) .. not much chance for dirt to lie around.

Personally my best guess is still that those are infected wounds caused by altercations with the ancistrus. This would explain why the spots don't go away, why there are no new spots and why the other fish are unaffected, too.

My quarantine tank is only 25 L / 6 gallons, that's why I'm a bit hesitant to put my alpha loach in there for long. Since I'm out of other options now I think I may set it up later today (using water from the large tank and then going for daily 10% changes).

For treatment I was thinking about using eSHa 2000, which was always working well for me. It contains:
6.3 mg ethacridine lactate (Rivanol)
1 mg proflavin
3.2 mg copper 2+
0.26 mg methyl orange

Any further suggestions are welcome .. especially recommendations for other drugs.

-Connor
'I ought never to act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law.'

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chefkeith
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Post by chefkeith » Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:20 pm

Water quality can't be kept well in a 6g tank. You'll need something larger. Something more like 15-20 gallons should be used for quarantine.

You should take the likelyhood that the fish won't ever recover fully and that this quarantine might be long term. These kind of problems can be impossible to get rid of.

For meds, I especially wouldn't use anything with copper in it. You need to be real careful with any med. Many of them can become toxic, especially copper.

I've had to quarantine recovering fish for many months at a time. If you're serious about quarantining, you may want to consider having a few extra q-tanks and extra filters for emergencies and such.

I'm currently housing 1 clown loach in a 20g barebottom q-tank. This problematic clown has been quarantined for about 1.5 years out of the 2.5 years that I've had it. I think it's retarded or something. Whenever I move it to the main tank it starts to waste away, then I have to quarantine it again to fatten it up. I doubt I'll ever put this clown back in the main tanks. I'm setting up my vacant 95g tank for it now so that it will have a bigger permanent home.

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shari2
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Post by shari2 » Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:34 pm

Do you use activated carbon in your filter? There are some anecdotal accounts of carbon contributing/causing Hexamita. I'm not sure that's what it is, however, but removing carbon would be an easy step to take.
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newshound
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Post by newshound » Tue Mar 11, 2008 3:14 pm

if you don't have a Qtank you can 'rent' one from places like walmart. I did this for almost three months once. Just using the tank not the equipment. One of my larger tanks started leaking bad and one can't just get a loach friendly tank up north quickly. So I had to make due until I could get a tank with alot of floor in it from out of town.
drain your pool!

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Tinman
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Post by Tinman » Tue Mar 11, 2008 3:55 pm

This is good advise from all. I would bare bottom this tank for now. There is no downside and you will be clean which is the key first .I would still leave the fish in this tank and do 10% changes every three to four days or so to ease this slime coat issue by reducing the severity of changes in your tank.This will let your tank stay level and quit changing so much so often. Many small changes are better than a few large except in a few rare occasions .
You should see improvement after removing the gravel maybe a third a day every other day or so as CK said slowly in a week or less and activity increase also right away which will show you that you are improving things.
This will leave filtration alone and as your not really set up to run a high quality QT a better situation for your captives.. Wish you where closer you could have several old breedere tanks I have piled up. You might start a sponge filter in this tank should you decide to resort to a QT in a few weeks given time to prepare. 8) ps I also keep an extra heater running set the same so when I QT I just move the heater ,filter and dump some tank water in, all set up instantly upon need. :D

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connor
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Post by connor » Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:39 pm

Thanks again to everyone for the help.

@shari2
I never used carbon in my filter.

@Tinman
I cleaned my small QT tank and set it up an hour ago. The alpha is already moved and very active. It was a breeze to catch it:
1. Startle the fish a little
2. Grab the PVC pipe with the loach inside
3. Done :) Took less than 1 minute .. LOL :)

@chefkeith
You are most probably right about the smallness of the tank. Anyway this is all I have right now and I think it's better than leaving the loach in the large tank. What percentage would you suggest for the daily water change?

I know about the problems that can be caused by copper. I'm using eSHa 2000 for years now and never lost any fish to it, but I'm very reluctant to use it in my main tank because of the problems with residual copper becoming trapped in the gravel. Right now I'm going with the recommended dosage of 1 drop per 2 gallons.

The alpha loach is very active and even seems to like the tank a little bit .. at least there are no more other fish constantly trying to nibble at her fins.

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chefkeith
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Post by chefkeith » Wed Mar 12, 2008 3:03 am

The change % depends on how much you are feeding the fish. If you feed moderately and keep the nitrates under 20, then the fish should do fine.

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worton
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Post by worton » Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:02 am

Hey,

how is your loach doing? :)

Regards.

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