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Which option would you choose?

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Which option would you choose?

Post  petes80 on Tue 31 Oct 2017, 19:16

Hi All

It's been a while since I posted, but this is the only site I every get any response from so I hope to get some useful advice from you great people again. For info, I saw the "Anybody out there" post and it does seem a much wider problem than just this forum. The Practical Fish Keeping forum is also a ghost town and full of spam! I was quite surprised as I thought that was one of the biggest UK fish forums out there.

Anyway, onto my problem. I'll try and keep this as short as possible so as not to bore you all! Some of you may remember I had some issues with sick fish that started with my Angels and spread throughout my platies and other fish. In short, in the year and a half that I've had the tank (which was bought second hand), every single fish I've had has got sick with the one exception of my bristlenose ancistrus. And out of them, every one of them has died except for one of the 2 Angelfish. The Angel only survived because I took him to a vet and they injected him with antibiotics...twice.

Over the time, I have tried pretty much all off the shelf medications and none have worked.

I'm now left with the Angel and ancistrus, 2 of the original fish that i had in the tank from the beginning. I feel I have 2 options open to me:

1) Keep the tank as is with just the 2 fish. Adding anymore will certainly be a death sentence so I'm not willing to do that right now. However maintaining a tank for just 2 fish for potentially a number of years seems rather silly.
2) Strip the tank down, disinfect and start again from scratch. The main downside to this is I guess I will have to give my 2 fish away as I don't have anywhere to put them for the few weeks it would take to clean, set up and cycle a new tank. After all I've been through, I've grown quite attached to these 2 fish so would like to keep them.

What would you do? or do I have any other options?
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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  Pterophyllum on Wed 01 Nov 2017, 11:57

There are considerable restrictions on what can be sold over the counter without a prescription, but there are still good, over the counter, medications. Unfortunately when you're having problems it can be difficult to find the right one, often the root of problems can be water quality and often treatments that are used to cure one issue can affect the water quality and lead to other problems.
So, whilst you're right to be concerned about introducing new fish, I don't think you're necessarily going to have problems. Since neither of your surviving fish are showing any symptoms at the moment, whilst there is a risk that they're "carriers", it's also quite possible that they're cured.
Personally I would leave it at least a month from when the last fish died, I'd do a series of 20% water changes & thorough gravel cleans, daily or every other day, for about week. I'd then introduce a couple of new fish from a source you're confident are healthy. Ideally fish that are different families from the fish you lost. If those are still fine and healthy a month later, then you could slowly rebuild stocks with reasonable confidence.

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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  petes80 on Wed 01 Nov 2017, 20:13

Thanks for your reply. I know it shouldn't be a water quality issue because I've probably done about 100 water tests (with proper liquid test kit) and also taken water samples to 3 different LFS and every time it comes out good. Also one of my efforts to cure things was to simply do nothing in the hope that the sick fish at the time might die but the rest wouldn't get stressed and impacted by the medications and hopefully wouldn't then get sick. Of course that didn't happen and others got sick too.

I'll do what you suggest and wait at least a month to see if anything develops with the 2 remaining fish. The Angel isn't eating as enthusiastically right now but that could be because the last 2 gouramis that I had in there died quite recently and now essentially he's on his own.

I think it must be something in the tank where every time I add new fish, it infects them. However the one odd pattern with this is that new fish don't get sick and die at the same time. It's usually a staggered thing where on average one dies per month. I did wonder if perhaps the Angel was bullying the other fish into submission but I've never seen any evidence of this.

I would love to keep fish successfully but so far in a year and a half, I don't think I've gone more than a week or 2 where I haven't had a sick fish. It's quite demoralising and stressful and if I can't solve what's happening I will have to give up at some point. I wanted the aquarium to be a nice happy addition to the household, not a constant source off stress and sadness!
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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  Pterophyllum on Thu 02 Nov 2017, 12:49

It's worth remembering that just because your water checks out Ok with test kits, it doesn't necessarily mean that your water is good for your fish, it just means that the aspects of water quality you can check for using those test kits are OK, other things can find their way into the water and wouldn't show up when tested.
This PFK article is quite good at covering many of the more common issues http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/features/articles/2016/12/13/toxic-shock-the-everyday-chemicals-that-can-kill-your-fish?rq=chemicals but other factors I've encountered are :-

Tanks which have been resealed with bathroom rather than aquarium sealant (in one case because the manufacturer of the aquariums was sold a duff batch of sealant)
Dodgy aquarium ornaments with toxic paint.
Coral sand purchased with bits of metal in it which were slowly killing corals.
Alcohol poured into the tank by a party guest who didn't want to drink any more.
A pond where the window cleaner, unbeknownst to the owner, used to wash his bucket out in it!

It might also be worth asking yourself if there's something you're doing on a monthly basis (either inside or outside the tank) that's causing problems. Extra big water change once a month, cleaning the filter, feeding a special treat food etc. etc.

I realise you may already have covered all or most of these, but it's worth highlighting for others having similar issues.

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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  petes80 on Thu 02 Nov 2017, 13:21

Yes I understand that. I have read through that article a number of times and there's definitely nothing external getting into the tank. I have a dedicated bucket that I use just for water changes, we don't use any cleaning products near the tank and certainly haven't had enough parties over a year and a half for beer to be regularly put in the tank haha! In fact we have a 1 year old son so have not had any parties in the last year :-(

The only external factor that could be having an impact is our cat. Unfortunately it is not possible to keep him away from the tank 24/7. When we are out of the house or asleep, we can't keep him away. He does like to watch the fish and occasionally chases them which involves him hitting the glass near where they are. They mostly swim away when he does this. I can imagine this would stress the fish out somewhat. It's possible the Angel has been there long enough for it not to affect him, and the ancistrus is not really involved in this as he is rarely on the glass. Even if he is, he's never phased by the cat.

If the issue is the cat, I guess I have no option but to keep the tank as is until such time I can establish a solution to keep him away.

Obviously I bought the tank second hand so I don't know what sealant, chemicals etc might be carried over from the previous owner. In the short term, I might replace all of the ornaments and gravel. Is it possible to do this in one big hit? I could remove all ornaments and all the gravel in one go leaving a bare tank and then put the new gravel and ornaments in so that there's no cross contamination from the old to the new.
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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  Pterophyllum on Thu 02 Nov 2017, 18:07

Provided you're not using under gravel filters, it should be fine to replace the gravel in one hit. If I was doing this I'd get separate container(s) to store the fish and water, drain it down (having switched off all electrics!) remove & replace gravel, then refill with the saved water. I'm not saying you should do this, but it is something to consider as a potential source of contamination.
I doubt the cat is causing the problems you've had, but obviously it's something to try to discourage him from doing. If you've read the PFK article you know of the dangers of flea treatments.

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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  wildreddeer on Mon 06 Nov 2017, 22:35

Hi there,

I hace been reading your post with interest. I see that you are getting expert advice from Rob. He Knows his stuff.

I am very surpriced that you don't have and I highly recommend you get yourself a hospital tank set-up. They always come in handy and you never know when you will be needing it. As you have just found out. And they dont have to be very big as it is normally one or two fish that need hospitalizing.

I have one rcommendation for you, very simular as to what Rob has told you. And that is to take all your gravel out and give it a good clean and inspection. Make sure you have no undisirables in it. Leeches, worms, bugs etc.. At the same time clean the tank out and rub salt into the edges. Leave it there an hour or so before you rinse it out but do not be bothered about any salt that may be left as it will not harm the fish.

If you have any plants I would get rid of them, along with any snails, as they may be hording pest, germs Etc.

In emergency situations I have Topped up my tanks with warm water at the right temperature, added Prime to the water and re-introduced the fish.

I'm not telling you to do that but it has worked for me on many occations in my career.

Hope you find this of use.

Good luck with the fish.

Phil
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Last edited by wildreddeer on Mon 06 Nov 2017, 22:36; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Not the worlds best speller)
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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  petes80 on Fri 10 Nov 2017, 19:40

Thanks for your very helpful replies. I did think about a hospital tank set up but everytime I went to get some assistance from the LFS they said I shouldn't do it for various reasons. I always got such conflicting advise that I just didn't know what to do.

Unfortunately shortly after starting this thread, my one remaining Angel has developed the same symptoms that took the previous fish. It looks very much like dropsy and I have put in 2 doses of Interpet Anti Internal Bacteria treatment but as always, it isn't making any difference and he's just getting sicker and sicker. He has now stopped eating altogether. If he's still alive on Sunday, I will do a 30% water change and add another dose in, but based on my track record with sick fish, I fully expect him to die within the next week.

Assuming I will be unsuccessful, that would leave just the BN in the tank so I will give him to the LFS and strip down and disinfect the tank completely.

We're looking at moving house within the next 6-9 months so I'll probably wait until after the move and set up from scratch again with new gravel and ornaments...if I can stomach giving it another go.

I love animals and really enjoy looking after fish, but when one after the other keep getting sick without ever being able to figure out why, I don't know if I can go through that again Sad
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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  Pterophyllum on Fri 10 Nov 2017, 23:44

Sorry to hear your news.
fingers crossed for you, but if not, then I think your proposed course of action is best.
Fishkeeping is a wonderful hobby, but when, despite your best efforts, you can't get to grips with a problem it can be very demoralising.
Hopefully starting fresh will enable you to experience the joys rather than the frustrations.

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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  wildreddeer on Fri 17 Nov 2017, 21:03

Just thought of something else.
Mind you it's like closing the door after the horse has bolted. But this happened to me and I learnt the hard way.
Later in life, when I started to get aches and pains, I tried allsorts to get a good night sleep. One night my wife gave me some miracle cream to try. It is made from a herb called meadowsweet. I was gobsmacked, it actually worked. I have been using it ever since.
It was not until some time later, when like you, I was losing fish left right and centre. I could not find a reason for it. Then it occurred to me what it was. It was the cream I had been using. Since then I have always made sure I clean my hands and arms before cleaning out my fish tanks. Ever since then, alls been fine.
Thought I would just tell you this tale encase you have been doing something similar.
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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  petes80 on Sat 18 Nov 2017, 19:55

Yes I did think about that, but I don't use any products like that and clean my hands/arms before doing a water change. We even stopped using any spray cleaners in the same room. The only thing we do have on a regular basis is Yankee candles, but the research I've done seems to suggest these shouldn't cause any problems.

I did wonder if the food could be an issue. I've always tried to keep things mixed up with flakes, pellets and frozen live food like bloodworms. However as I've never had that many fish in the tank at any one time, I don't get through the pots of food that quickly. Therefore the pots can last months before replacing. Could it be the food is going off?

On the subject of feeding, should you feed fish with dropsy? My Angel is still alive, and I'm still putting in anti-bacterial doses every 3-4 days. He hasn't yet deteriorated any further but also hasn't shown many signs of recovery. I'm thinking if he keeps going like this, he's actually going to starve to death! I have put in a tiny bit of food every other day or so and he sometimes eats a little if it floats past his face, but won't enthusiastically seek food like before.

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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  Pterophyllum on Sun 19 Nov 2017, 15:09

Personally I wouldn't use anything with a strong or pungent odour anywhere near a fish tank, and that would certainly include fragrant candles.
It's not surprising that a sick fish loses it's appetite, think how you feel when you're not well, and I really wouldn't worry about the fish starving, it's surprising how long they can go without food.
If the condition is dropsy, with the scales on the body sticking out like a pine cone, then feeding the fish shouldn't cause any problems.
Dropsy is actually a symptom of kidney failure, and one thing that can help considerably is treating with salt (aquarium or cooking, not table salt, table has iodine added which is toxic). You'd need to treat away from other fish, starting at the rate of 1 teaspoon per imperial gallon ie about 1 gram per litre. After 24 hours, if the fish is still looking swollen you can add a 2nd dose, and if necessary a third dose a day later. Basically kidney failure leads to water retention, increasing the salt level in the aquarium water helps to restore the fish's osmotic balance by drawing excess water out of the fish. Once the swelling is reduced and the osmotic balance is restored, the fish's own immune system has a better chance of fighting the disease in conjunction with the continued use of antibacterial treatments.

If however, the fish isn't suffering from dropsy but bloat, ie swelling, but not with the scales sticking out, then continuing to feed can be positively harmful. In the case of bloat, see my reply to your original post ...

http://www.uk-angelfishforum.org.uk/t947-angelfish-sinking-like-a-stone

Good luck



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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  petes80 on Mon 20 Nov 2017, 18:30

Great, now out of nowhere the tank has started leaking!
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Re: Which option would you choose?

Post  Pterophyllum on Mon 20 Nov 2017, 22:02

It never rains, but it pours.

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Re: Which option would you choose?

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