Parasites in my community aquarium...

Florida Fish

New Member
I've been in the hobby for about 30 years and only have had a few sentinel events - unfortunately with Hurricane Irma heading dead on to my house, I had my latest disaster, I was lucky in not loosing electricity (and I have a 12volt back up system if it did) but I noticed the day before the storm hit what looked to be velvet or some sort of parasite disease on my fish. I noticed this on a Friday and was not able to get meds until the next Tuesday. My LFS recommended 'Quick Cure' which is formalin and methyolate blue. I was told to use it per stated directions for 3 days and then water change and start a new cycle of dose. So far I have been using Quick Cure for about two weeks. No more spots but still occasional rubbing of the fish on decor.

I guess it's working because the problem is clearing up somewhat - well after a 80% loss. My corals are artificial and I have a thin sand bottom.

My question is since this isn't a reef tank and I am medicating the entire tank how long will it take until my aquarium is free of this disease. It's a small tank a 32 gallon Coral Life cube with a UV sterilizer. I had 'velvet' once before in a 24 gal reef and I used a reef-safe (sort of??) med and I was good to go for more fish in about a month.

My second question is should I keep using the Quick Cure or move to a copper product? When I first began in the hobby (and before I had UV) I used Copper Safe as a preventative.

I think the mistake I made on this 32 gal was my old 24 reef tank was getting old (set up for 10 years) and I wanted a change and a move to fish - I think even tho my water quality was high and I nearly had a zero nitrate level I put too many fish in at one time (over a month's period) - and, in doing so maybe I picked up more 'bugs' then the fish's population immune system or UV could handle.

Anyway if anyone has been in a similar situation please chime in!
 

Florida Fish

New Member
No, right now my fish have nothing on their bodies. At the height of the disease even though most of the fish got effected, only a few had outside parasites. I would guess it's velvet, but without a microscope and some knowledge of dif parasites it's hard to know what exactly it really is. Alot of fish died without signs of disease on their bodies. Unlike ick which is the size of grains of salt on the fish, these that had the disease with external parasites were extremely small 'light' colored spots over the entire fish. The last time I had velvet some years ago, the parasites looked more like 'flour' and were whiter then what I saw, as well this time I did see (on a few fish) something a bit more longer like you would imagine a parasite to look like. As well once the parasite left the body it would leave a darker temporary scar which I know is consistent with velvet (maybe other diseases as well). Currently the fish that are sick are hiding, breathing harder and are not eating - they do swim around a bit then re-hide. They have been this way for a while with no external signs of disease. I know for most parasites the cure is the same, just the cycle of the egg's hatching are longer or smaller depending. Now if it's flukes or a secondary bacterial outbreak that is a completely different treatment plan, so I have been wondering about that as well, but I think with gill flukes you see some of them at the gill, my fish don't present that at all. It seems as well my fish are more active during the day and seemed to be more stressed evening time. I did a freshwater dip on a butterfly fish that had external parasites, it removed the parasites but the fish was too weak already and died hours later after the bath. Years ago I had a 90 gal tank did FW baths on fish like tangs with ick and that was successful to the point where I didn't have to treat the tank (which had UV). With this outbreak I have also done some helpful steps like raise the water temp a bit, lower the salinity and feed with garlic and Dr G's medicated anti-parasite caviar.
 

lmforbis

Administrator
Staff member
If you are truely dealing with velvet I’d recommend copper. It may just be too late for the remaining fish.
I would treat in a hospital tank. Sand and rocks absorb the copper and make it very hard to keep it at a therapeutic level. Additionally they will leach copper back into the water. It is a toxin and you only want to use it for treatment not all the time.
Diseases are running rampant in the wholesalers systems. It is important to quarantine all new fish after you have irradicated the disease from your current set up. I believe the fallow period for velvet is 6 weeks.
In my opinion UV sterilizer are not effective against parasites and can kill off beneficial organisms.
The best practice is to start with a disease free tank and then prevent disease from getting back in by following proper quarantine protocols.
 

Florida Fish

New Member
Well remember my tank is currently not a reef tank. All the corals are artificial and right now the only thing filtering it are bio-balls, ceramic noodles, Purigen and foam blocks - no carbon. Maybe the more porous of the media I should remove - I read about foam filters being used in QT tanks. I am doing a 20% water change twice a week now with the problem. You bring up a good point about sand, I can siphon out all the sand and yes I think that will help. Matter of fact the artificial coral gets a freshwater bath and cleaning about twice a month, so in a sense I pretty much have a QT aquarium as it is for the existing sick fish with just some minor changes, and as well the artificial corals can be removed and PVC piping used for hiding hangouts. I have been lucky over the years in picking up healthy fish. Where I live in South Florida it's a HUGE hobby and there is around 100 salt water aquarium stores in the area so there is less time in handling the fish from the locations caught as they go directly to our ports and then to the local wholesalers so the fish are under less stress. I have heard that most fish have diseases latent in them and it's the stress that makes the diseases grow at a rate the fishes immune systems are overwhelmed and the fish get sick just as we humans. At the LFS in South Florida you have a huge selection and you have an opportunity to really check out your fish and how rapidly it eats, it's personality and check out it's health as well put a deposit on it and watch it in the store for a while, I see alot of people buy fish online if I did that I would have a QT tank without giving it a second thought. When I first started in the hobby I had a QT tank and still had issue with disease from stress of being entered to the display tank - so that's when I have bought a UV and really haven't had many issues that effect the entire tank. Only once in the 30 years in the hobby did I have velvet before. What is interesting about our hobby is that each tank we have and each person's experience is always different. When I had my reef tank - 24 gals no less, I was literally farming for sale montipora, duncans, zoo's, frogspons as well as having sponges and gorgonians live for years, not to mention an unrealistic fish load (some fish I had for 7-10 years and still have) and that all ran with a UV! So you never know. My main fish store says that most UV's pass too much water thru them too fast to be as effective as people think they are. And yes they certainly aren't therapeutic for curing disease as you mention. Tell you something interesting, prior to my tank getting parasites, I DID notice my UV's flow was low and it needed cleaning. I was busy with work and put off doing that and the tank was doing excellently. Well yes a total 'woulda, coulda shoulda', but after my fish did get sick and I went to clean my 7 month old UV I noticed the glass sleeve around the lamp itself was BROWN!! So in reality the thing wasn't effective at all! Got a new UV that uses LED's. We'll see how that works out. I'm thinking now as well all new fish should get a freshwater dip. Being I have no live corals or rock, I am thinking at this point since it seems the Quick Cure is working, I will use it until the problem goes away, remove it with a Poly Filter and Chemi Pure, then I will run Copper Safe (maybe with no sand) while I am restocking my tank and once my fishload is stable discontinue it. I've used Copper Safe years ago, it's really not something you would treat fish with but it's a good preventative for a fish only tank.
 

silverado61

Well-Known Member
If you have any invertebrates, including but not limited to, Snails, Hermits, Urchins and so on, your putting their lives at serious risk by using copper in your display.

Footnote: "Freshwater" dips, by definition, put your "saltwater" fish through a significant amount of stress. Also, freshwater dips have not been proven to eliminate all parasites or diseases on saltwater fish (Quote: Only the strong survive). IMHO, putting all your fish through a freshwater dip raises their stress, thereby lowering their resistance to whatever the dip leaves behind.

As with UV lights, a freshwater dip is not the "beat all, cure all" for diseases or parasites. It very well could open the door for whatever is left behind.

It's like playing Russian roulette rolling the dice. Sooner or later it's going come back and bite you in the rear.

But that's just my opinion.

Quick question: You mentioned having been in the hobby for 30 years. Is this all in saltwater or is some/most in freshwater? No offence intended. Just curious.
 
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lmforbis

Administrator
Staff member
Copper safe is very good at treating disease (ich and velvet). Copper is toxic to fish and shouldn’t be used except to treat a disease.
Anything made of calcium carbonate will absorb copper. Possibly ceramic filter media as well. Make sure you have an appropriate test kit for copper safe, API. it is best to slowly raise the copper level over 3-4 days.
 

Florida Fish

New Member
silverado61, your points are spot on - I have no inverts of any kind in the aquarium, and yes about FW dips and UV, none of those things are effective in all situations for all fish or all problems. Like all facets of science much of it begins as an art as some things work sometimes for some people that eventually needs to be backed by proof to make it a science and repeatable. What's good about these forums is you hear much of people's 'art' in the hobby and it leads to figuring out what works (or doesn't) in one's circumstance.

When I met my to-be wife in 1984 she had a twenty gal 'high boy' tank EMPTY with water and a bubbler at her apt. I quickly adopted it and made it a freshwater community tank, later when we were married she made it a goldfish tank lol. However in 1985 I got my first saltwater tank. Most of my fish have lived 5-11 years so I can't complain! My pride and joy was a blueface angel that I bought on consignment from a fish store - the previous owner had it 2 years and I had it 11 more. I will include an exclaimer lol, a 90 gal tank I had was the victim of a power company power surge which blew up the old fashioned HUGE fluorescent ballasts and caused a major house fire - I was out of the hobby for about 5 years after that, but got back into it beginning with mini reef tanks- the first was a 6-gal, that I thought I would be happy with clown and anemone and a chunk of calerpa. Haha not for long, but I loved the nano size tanks because I could have a museum looking reef and yes it was still expensive and involved to upkeep but not like wall to wall live corals on 90 gal or larger. Having had a larger tank I was 'over it' in wanting large tanks. I still have one of my nano's - it was a custom made acrylic 10 gal (I bought second hand) I use as a table top aquarium in my kitchen - it houses a pair freshwater angels and some glo-fish tetras. I keep telling my wife it would make a perfect seahorse tank, but so far the angels have been there 7 years and are going strong!

Imforbis - thanks for your input on copper safe. Back when I used it many years ago less was known about the hobby and less medical options. I guess my LFS recommending Quick Cure felt it was easier on the fish as well in the end if one has a all fish tank like mine with no real anything but fish you can take your chances not using QT but in stocking a tank buy a new fish every month rather then week. Again my entire problem came about because I noticed the disease as spots on the fish on a Friday, and due to being hit with a hurricane couldn't get ANY sort of treatment meds until the stores opened the next Tuesday. I'm sure if I would have treated right away I would have had less of a problem. Right now since the Quick Cure is working, probably best I stay with it and then once I have no more odd activity by the fish or scratching, keep dosing with the Quick Cure a bit longer without going to copper. My LFS says to dose one more week with Quick Cure after you see the last signs. I think it should be longer - maybe I won't dose after a week of all clear, but yet I won't take out the Quick Cure (with a poly filter or carbon) for a week longer. No med can be doing the fish's liver any good. Today no fish have visible parasites on them and most are eating - but a couple are occasionally rubbing.
 

Florida Fish

New Member
Well Beth, originally I saw very fine spots on the fish bodies and fins, not on all the fish but the initial fish that died some had visible parasites and some didn't. I had a pretty good handle on things with treatment for about 2 weeks then I had another small outbreak (this weekend) where a couple of fish had spots again. These spots are so fine and small you really need a magnifying glass to see, what you see first is fins that look cloudy. I guess even in treatment several ( OK MANY) cycles of the parasite need to be treated. I'm assuming the parasites don't leave the fish as fast as published so everything is delayed. The fish that are doing the best are fish 5-10 years old that have built alot of immunities living in captivity a long time. However even at best there are still issues. In the day the fish seems to be almost normal but as evening comes, they get a bit skittish, hide more, breath faster (wonder if that is due to parasites in them or damage/healing of their gills from recently past parasites) and like to hangout by outflows. The UV I have is a submersible type that is a power head attached to a UV lamp, so a couple position so they get the water flow from that. This morning they are all out so that is a better sign. I have a hunch I'll be treating for a while to come. I'm thinking maybe another source of water flow may not be a bad idea for the fish's comfort. In the last chamber of the tanks built in filter where the pump is I do run air with an airstone.
 

beth

Administrator
Staff member
It may be ich or, more rare, saltwater velvet. Did you add a new fish recently that may have introduced? It is difficult to treat with meds in a tank that has sand, rocks, etc since a good deal of meds get absorbed by same.

Chloroquine is a very good choice for treating both ich and velvet, but it's difficult to obtain. If you have a vet that will give you a script for Chloroquine Phosphate, 60mg/gal, one single dose. The med you are using is not effective for velvet. This will be your best shot if you have a vet to prescribe.

Copper is also effective, but you will need to treat for longer and you must main therapeutic levels in the tank (hard to do with sand in tank). I would use Seachem's Cupramine as well as their copper test kit that is compatible with Cupramine.

http://www.seachem.com/cupramine.php

Prior to beginning new treatment, run carbon in your tank and do a water change to help remove other meds. Add as much circulation as you can that does not disturb fish. This is crucial as your water is depleted of oxygen from the formalin.
 

Florida Fish

New Member
Yes it was a new fish that caused the problem - this is a new larger tank then my previous smaller reef tank, I moved the fish from the reef tank over and of course added a few more as I had space and all was doing so well. Unfortunately I went against my better judgement and put a few new fish in within a couple of weeks. Water quality and nitrates no issue all good, however too much too fast and I am sure cooties got in the tank in amounts the fish populations immune system and UV could not handle, as well new fish still getting their strength back after going into a new tank with taxed immune systems so they perished faster. Right now since things are on the upswing with the majority of fish improving daily, I will continue a bit longer with my current treatment as I don't want to stress the fish that are doing good more by changing meds. However if I see it worsen or a recurrence in a month, I will remove the current meds and use Cupramine with a tester which I hear good things about. Thanks for the heads up about formalin depleting oxygen. I remember once in my early reef keeping I picked up an amazing coral beauty still in the bag from the wholesaler (again against my better judgement) and within a day a textbook case of velvet just on him. He died, I took him out and NO other fish caught it because, well prob luck but as well good immune systems and counts the UV could handle.

Chloroquine is sort of a wonder fish med that hasn't taken on much of a following, in humans it treats malaria and rheumatoid arthritis! It sounds to me like it kills parasite ON fish as compared to copper for formalin killing parasites in the free swimming stage.

Thanks for everyone's input. I learned that I need more oxygen, remove my sand, Copper Safe is not a good idea to permanently run as a prophylactic, and esp go slower in adding more fish and most importantly have FISH MEDS on hand when there is a local disaster and one can't get to the stores for days.
 

beth

Administrator
Staff member
Quarantine all new additions. Can't say that too many time to aquarists. Adequate QT will eliminate communicable diseases from the display tank.
 

Florida Fish

New Member
I think I will start QT on new fish - sort of like driving with no insurance you can drive for a long time but someday something bad will happen!!
 

beth

Administrator
Staff member
With fishkeeping, it doesn't take long for a problem to show up when you don't QT first. Be sure to follow correct QT procedures. 3 weeks min at least for observation. Look at your fish min 2x a day with a magnifying glass to assess their status.
 

lmforbis

Administrator
Staff member
Chloroquine phosphate would be my med of choice if I could get it. It needs an RX from a vet. It is a single treatment and does kill a lot of bad stuff.
 

beth

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, unless you have a good relationship with a vet willing to treat fish sight unseen, then you're out of luck. Don't get it anywhere else but script from vet. Not ebay.
 

Florida Fish

New Member
So Beth, I know a hospital tank is a bare bones thing with a bubbler foam filter (which I have) and alot of water changes. As for a QT tank what is the minimal size if I have small fish acclimating one at a time and as well is this just a tank where water is monitored & changed alot like a hospital tank or should it be a fully cycled system with a filter with some non porous bacterial media.
 

beth

Administrator
Staff member
I used a 20 gal long with my reef tank. All my fish were on the smaller side. Worked well. You have to cycle the tank. I used some rubble LR to do that and just feed a bit of fish food every other day. To maintain the cycle, continue with the pinch of fish food every other day and an occasional water change. Just before you plan on adding fish, spend a couple of days prior doing a water change, cleaning up, testing water, etc. I actually used an eclipse hood which has its own filtration and lighting. Also added a small powerhead to make sure good circulation was going on at the bottom of tank. I used fake coral for fish which worked well enough to add some more space for bacteria and fake coral doubled as a stress reliever for fish.
 
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Florida Fish

New Member
Very good thanks! Someplace in my history of small reef tanks I think I had that Eclipse! Wish I still had it. Thanks for the tip about food to maintain the cycle! That was the one question I forgot to ask as the last thing I want to put with small (and may expensive) fish are the cheap damsels ppl use to cycle and maintain a tank! I actually have a damsel in my DT, it's a Talbot, had it now for about 5 years (and yes it's surviving this latest crisis) he bothers no one and no one bothers him!

I'm thinking about putting another powerhead in my DT to keep a 'cube' of water more oxygen saturated. I believe my tank a 32 gal cube with built in back filter like a Red Sea (it even has an area for a refiguim) has a 265 gallon per hour pump. I supplement it with that submersible UV I have from Cobalt that has a powerhead in it but I think I want one more head. On my former reef tank I ran air - don't want to do that as I don't like the look and the salt is destructive. One of the coral stores I shopped at is run by a marine biologist, as well they maintain high end reef tanks - they tell me Florida homes are so airtight and our a/c systems keep recycling air in from the 'inside' of the house and very little fresh outside air gets exchanged so that fish can become very oxygen depleted! Right now I do run an airstone in the last chamber of the filter compartment where the pump is and as well I have a airstone style protein skimmer in the first chamber. I'm trying to keep my new tank looking like a living room piece and not a science experiment so I try to hide all these things under the hood or behind my artificial corals and keep wiring to a min.
 
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