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Old 04-01-2014, 01:50 AM   #1
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Euthanizing beloved fish?

I have a Jack Dempsey, who is 13 years old. She has been my first fish, my favorite fish. About a month ago she started developing hole in the head. My water was perfect. Her appetite was good, I couldn't really find a reason for it other than old age. I removed all activated carbon, and have been treating her (metronidazole) for the past 3 weeks, all the while maintaining good water quality. I've been rearranging my stock between my 4 tanks, and getting new fish, all tied to decreasing stress on my JD. The sites of infection never made it more than a few mm, but as one would go away another would pop up. Tonight I noticed one spot has pealed away to an open bloody sore, and another one is developing, basically her head is riddled with tiny holes and infections. She does not swim anymore, just stays on the bottom. Her appetite is still good, and she will swim to get food. In fact she seams like she still has a lot of life in her. But at this point I feel like it just going to get worse. I found a 30 gallon tank full set up for $100.00 and was thinking of getting it to put her in so she can be totally alone.
Tonight me and my girlfriend were talking about it, and she rightfully is concerned that it is a lot of money to spend on an old fish. I've never had a fish this old before, and I don't really want to see it get worse and worse. Is there something else I should try? Would moving her into her own tank be worth it? I'm worried the stress of moving into a new tank would make her worse. I also have to think about my other fish in the tank, I don't want them to become sick as she gets worse, or continue to expose them to heavy doses of medicine.
Tonight is the first time we talked about Euthanizing her. And I don't know what to do. She's old, she's sick, treatment isn't working, and although she still has a lot of life in her, it doesn't appear she will get better. This is the first time in 12 years she's been sick even. Should I wait until she can no longer eat/gets worse? Move her to a "hospice" tank, or just let her go? I've spent about $80 just on medication over the last three weeks.
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:06 AM   #2
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Here's a pic, you can see the active infections, and the left over holes, as well as how swollen her head is. Click image for larger version

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Old 04-01-2014, 05:43 AM   #3
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That's a tough call man but I can see both sides of the issue. 13 years is a good run but I too would have a problem 'just letting her go'. Maybe you three could meet in the middle and install a temporary divider in her current tank and see how she progresses?
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Old 04-01-2014, 04:25 PM   #4
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I just found a 30g breeder on the classifieds with everything for $40. I'm going to get it.
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Old 04-01-2014, 04:26 PM   #5
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Now I just have to worry about transporting a tank without jacking up the bio, and having to recycle it.
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:38 PM   #6
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Good luck!
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:26 AM   #7
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Working out, she loves the new tank, didn't take her long to settle in at all, and being the only fish in it she just swims around tell she gets tired then takes a nap. Good to see. I imagine she doesn't have much of a run left, but this works for now.
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:20 AM   #8
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That's awesome!

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Old 04-03-2014, 12:00 PM   #9
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What do to use to check the water parameters?


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Old 04-03-2014, 12:14 PM   #10
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I use the Tetra 5-1 strips for a quick check, and the API master test kit for precise testing.
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:39 PM   #11
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Poor old girl. I feel for you. I had a spawning pair of managuense cichlids and the male was my buddy.

Hopefully she pulls through.
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:41 PM   #12
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It's already a lot better. I think the treatment is having an effect though not much, but giving her own tank she at least looks happy again. And then when she does go I have a new 30g to work with.
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmunroe View Post
What do to use to check the water parameters?


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That's what's been the most frustrating is I can't for the life of me figure out what caused it. The parameters have been perfect with my weekly maintenance. I even have a 21watt UV filter which is supposed to be strong enough to kill parasites. No other fish in the tank showed any signs of illness. I just figured it was old age, and a weak immune system. Maybe she has cancer. She is 13 almost 14. And the fact the first 2-3 weeks of treatment didn't do much at all kinda supports that.
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Old 04-03-2014, 02:34 PM   #14
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This is a pickle for sure. There are conflicting feelings that are both justified as this fish has passed the "normal" lifespan of the species yet is not as old as others kept in aquariums.
I offer you this insight:
You didn't mention what meds you were treating with so hopefully this is new info for you.
Since the fish seemed to respond in a positive manner after the move, this sounds like it's more an environmental issue from the original tank than an age issue. At the advanced age, this fish may have felt harassed by the younger more active fish in tank which is why it has stressed out and fallen victim to this condition. HITH or HLLE can be treated with Hexamit ( to attack the leading causative "bug" , Hexamita, of these conditions) as a first option followed by Metronidazole if the Hexamit fails to work. ( There are multiple causative pathogens.)
While this condition is common in larger Cichlids, age, really is not the issue but seems to be because with age, other issues come into play such as long term dietary deficiencies and dirtier tanks. Prolonged exposure to higher nitrate levels is also believed to be a cause of these conditions. Once again, it's from a time standpoint ( mistakenly referred to as age) that is the culprit. This article may help explain: Hexamita: Fish Hole in the Head Disease
Since the fish is doing better in the new tank by itself, I would try these 2 meds and add vitamins to the food and/or water to see if this can bring "her" back to a healthier status. At this point however, you should be prepared for both endings.

For what it's worth, aged fish don't necessarily come down with diseases and may just be found dead in the aquarium. At this age however, should all else fail, you can take solace in the fact that you kept this fish for this many years and more years than the "norm." That is an accomplishment that needs to be recognized. As my Vet friend told me as I was losing my Monkey after 22 years, "It's unfortunate that we humans keep pets that do not live as long as we do. It makes us have to go through the death phases more than those who do not keep pets." In my case, my "guy" was estimated to be 24.5 to 25 years old as I got him not as a baby so his actual age was not known only guestimated. This was a similar age that they live to in zoo type settings. I couldn't ask for a better outcome. I think you can say the same

Hope this helps


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Old 04-04-2014, 08:31 AM   #15
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Do more water changes.. Especially since it's in a smaller tank. Feed a good quality pellet as the staple of the diet, and get some Boyds vitachem liquid vitamins and soak food with it a couple times a week and feed this.


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Old 04-04-2014, 11:14 AM   #16
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Thanks. What I have been doing now: finally got my Seachems Paraguard in the mail (best stuff ever). Since it is in a new tank, my goal is to keep Nitrates between 0-20ppm. So far it's going well, 10% WC everyday.
She gets great nutrition, and has a good appetite. I feed her NLS pellets, a quality homemade flake food from my speciality fish store. Pro-biotic loaded live worms (fish go crazy for them.) and the occasional treat.
I have never seen any vitamin packs , or vitamin water supplements like that, but I'll check them out.
I definitely think all the activity in her old tank was stressing her out, didn't help it's in a high traffic area of the house.

She's been in the new tank 3 days now, and she seems better every day. Her sores are still there, but there aren't any new ones. Right now she had 3 sites. I'll keep updating as she changes. I am very excited to finally have my Paraguard. I do not understand why stores don't carry it, every time I have used it it WORKS GREAT, without even removing the carbon. It's filter safe, plant safe, invert safe, treats EVERYTHING (**** near) and doesn't discolor the water. I hopefully have my secret weapon, and she got a few days break from medications.
Even if she only lives a short time, I'm glad I moved her into her own tank, she really does seem happier.
Thanks for the support.

Kurt Cobain was wrong, I can tell what my fish are feeling.
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Old 04-04-2014, 11:53 AM   #17
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I just wanted to say that you are an amazing example of a caring and kind fish keeper. I think it's great what you're doing for your sweet fish and I've been crossing my fingers for you as I follow your story!
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Old 04-04-2014, 02:11 PM   #18
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Euthanizing beloved fish?

Honestly, it would be easier to just put her in the freezer, but I know I'd miss her. Few fish are as amazingly colored as a female jack Dempsey, and watching her grow from 2 inches to over 10, and color up. And come up to the glass when I got home screaming for food, I don't want to lose her quite yet. And she's my daughters favorite fish. I have traded out, sold, lost many fish, but this one was my first, and I don't want to lose her just yet, and I don't want to start over with a juvi again.
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Old 04-04-2014, 02:31 PM   #19
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In her prime: Click image for larger version

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Old 04-04-2014, 03:07 PM   #20
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She is a nice looking fish for sure. You should do 50% daily water changes. 10% is hardly enough to help and clean water always was and always is the best medicine. As for liquid vitamins. It does say to add to water, but don't. Soak food such as freeze dried krill with it then feed. And for the love of god DONT USE FREEZING for euthanizing if you need to do it. It's outdated and not humane. Use clove oil. 3 drops per gallon, mix in bucket with tank water then add fish. They simply pass out. Then add an alka seltzer tab to remove oxygen from the water. The fish will not know a thing. Or keep adding a few drops of clove oil every 5mins after the fish is unconscious. Wait for a half hour or so after breathing has stopped and you can at that point consider her gone.


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