Clown loach turning albino?

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Clown loach turning albino?

Post by fishman » Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:16 pm

I have 6 clown loaches 2 of them are about 3 years old the others are 2 years old and are happy and healthy.
For the last 6 months one of them has developed lighter pigmentation or spots all over his body. It as though he is turning albino. The others are fine.

We moved to a new area about 12 months ago. Since then, the bigger one has been eating more and his tummy sometimes rubs on the stones at the bottom of the tank. He acts fine and doesn't seem to be in any pain or disomfort so we don't think he's sick. But we can't figure out what is causing the spotting.

We don't think it's a fungus because the other ones are fine and his colouring is healthy and bright. Please view the photo and thanks in advance for any help and/or advice. =)
The water temp is 25C pH is 7. I dont have any way of measuring amonia, nitrates or hardness.

This is how he looked 4 months ago

This is how he looks today

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Post by chefkeith » Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:21 pm

Looks like a glandular problem. Probably the clown lost it's ability to produce the black pigment or a melanin. In the 1st picture it looks like the gland was malfunctioning and sending melanin everywhere. In the second picture it looks like the gland shutdown it's production of melanin.

I'm not sure this can be fixed.

One major cause for the glandular imbalance is osmotic shock. This happens when the water chemistry is altered too quickly for the fish to acclimate. Water chemistry changes can upset the melanin producing gland.

If I had to guess, probably when you moved, the water chemistry changed, and triggered this condition. Some clown loaches are more sensitive than others to water chemistry changes.

Just a few questions-
How large is the aquarium?
When you moved, did you move from hard water to soft water?
What was your water change schedule before you moved and after you moved?

What are the water parameters of the aquarium and the source water? It important to know both because they should be nearly the same. The water parameters in question are gH, kH, TDS, and nitrates.
Why is it that you have no way of measuring them? You really need to figure out a way to get some test kits or a TDS meter. BTW, the pH doesn't tell you much.

Are there rocks or gravel n the aquarium that could be leaching? Some can breakdown over time and alter the water chemistry.
Last edited by chefkeith on Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Emma Turner » Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:11 pm

Hi fishman, welcome to the forum. :D

I have never seen anything like that before, but would guess at reasons similar to what chefkeith has mentioned. Fish have pigment containing cells called chromatophores, which are grouped into different classes depending on what colour they produce. In this case it looks like the fish has lost the ability to produce melanophores (which are responsible for making black or brown colours).

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Post by mickthefish » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:28 am

i'm a bit confused over this, fishman, were the pupils red before the change?.
same as Emma i've never seen this happen before with any fish.
i think Keiths explanation for it is feasable but would that change the pupil colour if they were black before.?


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Post by Dutch » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:48 am

So you would say that this fish is obviously bigger than the rest? The fish eats a lot more/gained more weight than the others?

If that's the case than I would say the fish has a problem with it's melanocortin system, possibly a problem with a pro-hormone called POMC (Pro-opiomelanocortin).
He doesn't seem to be turning albino because he seems perfectly capable of making dopaquinone and its subsequent product pheomelanin which makes the red pigmentation. But dopaquinone has another product which is eumelanin and that's the dark pigment the fish is loosing. In any case, albinos lack the capacity to produce dopaquinone all together.

The symptoms indicate a problem in production of eumelanin, but I think that combined with a more rapidly increasing weight they are very similar to the symptoms displayed by people with POMC mutations (red hair, obese). But it's not a mutation or the fish would never have had the color in the first place. Possibly the fish could have a failing pituitary gland, maybe as the result of a tumor.

It's pure speculation, but maybe it will help to solve the puzzle.

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Post by JWhipple » Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:06 pm

Holy Michael Jackson, Batman!

Wow - that's got to be one of the oddest thing's I've seen!
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Re: Clown loach turning albino?

Post by kathelune » Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:11 am

What kind of skin problems do people with albinism have? I'm doing some research for a project on genetics, and I was wondering what sort if specific problems do people with albinism have. I know they burn easily and are at risk for skin cancer, and obviously they are pale, but is there anything I'm missing?
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Re: Clown loach turning albino?

Post by Duncan » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:37 am

im in luton, interested in the albino pleco... how many do you have? sizes? and what do they grow to maximum 6 inches isnt it? Let me know a price, if right will take 1.

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Re: Clown loach turning albino?

Post by Yo-han » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:24 am

I had a axolotl ones who had the exact same thing happening, I thought it would die but it turned all white. A year later it started to develop brown pigment again, but after a few months lost it all again. Never been able to find the cause (I always thought it was a food nutrition deficiency but the other one was doing fine). They are both still alive a few years later...

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Re: Clown loach turning albino?

Post by jollyllp » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:57 am

Hi, my clown loach is becoming very dark in colour all over esp the head, He is rarely swimming at all and struggling to stay on his belly. He is falling to his side or on his back. He doesnt want to eat even when the food is right in front of him. His pals are fine and swimming everywhere and havent gone dark at all. Is this a prob with his swim bladder?

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