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Columnaris Treatment - Help Please

Posted: Tue May 28, 2013 2:28 pm
by EmilyMarie85
Hello everyone. I think have an outbreak of Columnaris in my 210g.

The tank is 210g with a 30g sump. I do weekly 40% water changes. It's stocked with clown loaches (5.5"-9.5") and assorted rainbows.

At first, it was just one rainbow. I thought she had a fungus infection, I put her in QT and started treating her with Maracyn 1 & Maracyn 2. Treated for a week. She did get noticeably better, but was still obviously ill. So I started hitting her with another round of M1&2... until I noticed 2 more rainbows coming down with what looked like the same thing. I pulled them out and added them to my QT tank. Did a bunch of reading, now I am pretty sure it is Columnaris. I am still dosing the QT with M1&2 and I have ordered Kanaplex (I plan on medicating the food) and a UV sterilizer to put on my 210g. Not really the ideal way to finally purchase one I know, but I have been meaning to do it for a long time and this justified it for the husband.

I read on another forum that Columnaris is sensitive to salt? Not sure if that is true or not, but I went ahead and dosed the QT tank with 1 TBSP per 5 gallons and the 210g with 1TBSP per 10gallons (slowly dosed over a few hours), as I also read the salt will help improve the gills that are affected by the disease? Does anyone know if either of those are true or am I wasting my time with the salt? I also put the temp on the QT tank at 78, as (I guess) Columnaris thrives in warmer water.

So I am wondering....

1. Am I doing this right? I have never had Columnaris before, and I am not 100% sure how to proceed. There is SO much information out there.. several different medications and treatment applications... what has worked for you?
2. Should I treat my 210g with the Kanaplex even though no other fish are showing symptoms at this time? Not to sound mean, but what I am really worried about are my clown loaches. If I lose a few rainbows it will suck, but I'll get over it. The clowns are my biggest priority. I am not sure if treating them is a good idea or not, since they are more sensitive to meds? ... =/ What would you do?
3. Should I pull all the rainbows out and treat just them? Even though the other rainbows aren't showing signs? Or would the stress that would cause them do more harm than good?
4. Should I lower the temp on my 210g from it's current 81 degrees down to 78 (or lower?) while I treat with salt?
5. Am I doing it all wrong and should be going about this another way?

I moved recently (purchased a home), so I think that stress may have been what brought this on?

All fish, including the 3 rainbows in QT, are active and eating. Any advice is greatly appreciated, I am really worried about my fish :(

Re: Columnaris Treatment - Help Please

Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:20 pm
by Diana
Columnaris is a Gram negative bacteria. It is not a fungus.
It is sensitive to most aquarium antibiotics. Some medicines cross over and treat both bacteria and fungi.
If you have been treating with the proper dose of Maracyn and Maracyn 2 without results...
a) it is not a bacteria... or...
b) it is resistant to the active ingredients
... so switch medications. Kanamycin is a good idea.
c) You forgot to remove the activated carbon from the filter
d) You are running UV on the medicated tank, and the UV is breaking down the medication.
e) There is a high level of organic matter (decomposing waste) in the tank, and the medicine is latching on to that and not so much to the disease organisms.
Columnaris is most active in water with higher nitrates, so keep up the water changes. Get the NO3 under 20 ppm for sure, and a lot lower is better.
It is more active in warmer water, so get the temperature under 76*F.
I have not heard that salt is specifically good or bad for Columnaris, but it can help the fish, so a low dose is a good idea.
Low dose = 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons. For fish that handle salt better it is OK to double that, but I would not do that for Loaches unless you find out they have something that salt will actually cure.
If you have some fish that tolerate medications, and some are sensitive to certain medications, and want to use those medications, then separate the fish into as many tanks as it takes to treat each species according to what they can handle.

Other diseases that look like Columnaris:
True fungus: Can attack tissue that is already compromised by injury or other problem. Rarely attacks healthy tissue.
Excess slime coat: Something is irritating the fish like the wrong pH or salt or ammonia... something that makes them produce more slime coat and it is shedding. I am always suspicious about adding 'Slime Coat Enhacers' to the tank. Read the label on your water treatment products (dechlor, other).
Velvet: Not really that similar, but it can make the fish look different, especially on the dorsal surface.

What I would do:
Move the affected fish to a bare bottom hospital tank.
Add salt according to species. (1T/10g max for salt sensitive fish)
Add floating plants. Light to keep the plants healthy.
Add one or two rocks that the fish can use to feel a bit more secure, but I can still see and clean around.
Treat with medication that is in the water, but not UV.
Treat with medicated food and UV sterilizer on the tank.

Re: Columnaris Treatment - Help Please

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:58 pm
by EmilyMarie85
Thank you for your help.

I originally thought it was fungus but then after research landed on Columnaris. I will try to get some pics, I might be way off I have never had Columnaris or fungus before. I tried to get pics about a week ago but had a hard time getting good ones. And then my camera battery died, it was pretty pathetic really :(

I should have been more specific.. The 3 rainbows were moved to a bare bottom 10gallon QT tank. There is no carbon or UV sterilizer on that tank. I did add the salt, and I have continued to treat with Maracyn1&2. The M1&M2 seem to keep things under control, but they aren't significantly better. The Kanamycin just arrived today, so I am going to switch over to that. I have some small rock caves in there for them, I will add the floating plants and a plant light.

For the main tank (my 210), I purchased a UV sterilizer that also arrived today. I am going to install it as soon as I get home. No other fish have showed signs, it is still just those 3 rainbows in QT.

I use Prime for a dechlorinator, I don't add anything else to the water on the 210.

Re: Columnaris Treatment - Help Please

Posted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:32 pm
by EmilyMarie85
Update: Installed the UV sterilizer on the 210g. No other fish have shown any symptoms and WOW what a difference it has made in my clowns. I have noticed much better coloring and they seem more active.

The 3 rainbows in QT are the same. Not getting any better, not getting any worse. Still eating. I added the plants and the light and they seemed to like that... I think I am going to try switching the Kanaplex from the water column to medicating their food before trying another medication (?)

Re: Columnaris Treatment - Help Please

Posted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:37 pm
by Diana
If you can get the medicine inside the fish it is much better, so if they are still eating, and will eat medicated food, go that route.