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Old 09-27-2006, 09:27 PM   #1
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Help diagnose this infection.

A lady whose aquarium I've been maintaining bought fish from Wal Mart and didn't quarantine even though I've told her multiple times to do so. I even set her up with a small tank for this purpose that I guess I should take back. Anyway she calls me and says all her fish are dying and growing a white film. I've attached a pic to see if I can't figure out what it is. Please let me know if you guys have any ideas. It appears the fins are rotting and the film grows in small clumps mostly toward the rear of the fish.
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Old 09-27-2006, 09:31 PM   #2
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What are the test levels in the tank? How often is water changed?
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Old 09-27-2006, 09:39 PM   #3
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As I said it's not mine and I only keep reef aquariums. I know very little about FW and I don't have the kits to test hers. She's an old lady who likes aquariums. I've set her up on weekly WC's of RO/DI 5 gal at a time. This is a 55 gal that is about 5 months young. Her filtration is a small hob unit with cartridges and that's it but she keeps it clean weekly. She has no algae problems nor does she overfeed and her water is crystal clear. That doesn't mean a whole lot without tests but that's the best I can give you. This problem occured when she added some unquarantined....whatever species that is in the pic from a walmart tank....which I've told her is bad news over and over. They are experiencing the worst effects but I suspect that's because they've been infected longer. Her other fish are now showing small signs. She wants me to fix it and I've told her I'll do my best. Thanks so far.
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Old 09-27-2006, 09:42 PM   #4
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Those are tiger barbs. It could be ammonia or fin rot. Either way really clean water and water changes will go a long way to fixing it.
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Old 09-27-2006, 10:04 PM   #5
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http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/di...columnaris.htm

I'm thinking it's columnaris, a bacterial infection. You say the fin damage is mostly toward the rear fins, and a sure sign of columnaris is "fuzz" or lesions around the mouth. But the lady also says all the fish are dying, which may suggest columnaris. I had a fish once with a particularly bad case. The only symptom he had was the "saddle back" wound where his dorsal fin rotted away.

The article has some good treatment suggestions. I would personally stay away from copper and use an antibiotic instead to treat. It may be hard if the tank isn't at your house, but you could put the fish in the QT and use antibiotics.

Columnaris, like other bacterial infections, are probably brought on by poor water conditions or another type of stress. Like Rich says, water changes will help a lot too. Do you use 100% RO water in the 5 gallons of water that you make for her? That's fine for a SW tank since your salt mix adds back in the necessary electolytes, but in a FW tank, tap water is better. If the tap is not suitable for some reason (well water that's high in nitrates, for example) you can mix half tap and half RO. Start off slowly by mixing a 5 gallon jug with half tap and half RO and have her do water changes with that mix. That will acclimate the fish slowly. 5 gallons is not much for a 55 gallon tank, so see if she can do a 5 gallon change twice a week to try to improve the water conditions.

The article suggests aquarium salt (not reef salt) can be added. That is a good procedure for a sick tank, but for this tank, if it is using all RO water, I would be careful - the fish aren't used to the electrolytes that the salt will provide.

Before you get started with medicine, I would verify the water parameters. You can take a water sample to the lfs and they'll test your parameters. Ask for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. pH wouldn't hurt, either. That way you know your starting point. Ask for the number results and not just "It's fine" or "it's high". Good luck!
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