Discus very slowly geting ill, one at a time??

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Ranger

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Jun 20, 2001
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Hi All,

Started keeping discus about a year and a half ago and have been doing well with the advice from this forum EXCEPT for one problem. I have been continually fighting some type of infection or parasite that is slowly killing off my discus one at a time.

I have read through many of the treatment and disease posts but not really winning on this.
I almost always seem to have one discus that is sick, the others are growing and do great. The sick ones are emaciated (knife forehead), getting thinner and gaunt in their bodies, withdrawing, but still eating.

Seems like typical symptoms for worms, but I have been treating for worms. I will put them in a quarantine tank for weeks, sometimes they stabilize or improve, than a few weeks later back to quarantine when conditions worsens again. This can go on for months, and then when one dies, another one starts to get sick, usually the one at the bottom of the dominance order.

I have treated with praziquantel, for tape worms (which seems to help a little). FENbendazole for nematodes. (I would try FLUbendazole but don’t know where to get it here in Washington state). Metronidazole (No stringy white poop, but just trying everything at this point). Even tried kanamyacin briefly. I have put the medications directly in the tank as a bath, mixed it with food, and used solvents to dissolve . Done all this more than once, and sometimes together.

I have a sick discus in quarantine now. Just starting to tail stand (which they do near the end) but they still want to eat. I just tried treating with kanamyacin and Neomycin Sulfate because I haven’t tried that yet, but not sure if this is bacterial, nematodes in their organs, or what.

All the tank parameters and husbandry are good, lots of water changes, 50% twice a week, (more on the QT tank) stable pH; like I said other Discus are doing great. Whatever it is I think it came in with a fish over a year ago.
Any ideas or suggestions…..?
 
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discuspaul

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As you've no doubt heard, a picture is worth a thousand words - can you post a full tank shot of your discus tank, and if you have it, a pic of the discus you now have in QT for treatment.

One important question for now: What is/was the source, or sources, of all your discus ?

One small note: I highly doubt that, whatever the problem is, it didn't come in with your first purchase of discus a year and a half ago - It doesn't work that way - if it did, all your fish would have been affected a long time ago, much more quickly - and you wouldn't likely have any left by now.

I strongly suspect it's a water quality issue that has slowly affected the fish.
 
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myswtsins

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I'm not a discus person but I didn't see any test readings. What are the main tanks parameters? I know discus like super clean water. I know some people do sizable water changes daily! If they are getting better in QT but sick again in the main tank, something must be wrong in the main tank, right? Good luck! And Paul knows his stuff, he'll help you.
 
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Ranger

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Thank you for your replies.
Here are some photos of the main tank and the sick fish in the QT tank. I don’t think the photos can show much more than what I already described: Emaciated, Knifed Forehead, tail-standing, but still eating. No other external symptoms such as lesions or flashing. Just seem to be slowly starving to death.
Already mentioned water changes before: so here are the others: temp. 86F, pH 7.1 and steady: Nh3 0ppm, NO2 0ppm, NO3 0-5 ppm, kH and dH 1. The fish don’t always get better in the QT tank.
Rationally if there was something wrong with the main tank wouldn’t we expect to see some symptoms or illness in all the fish together instead of one dying at a time over the course of months. As I mentioned before, all the other Discus are doing great and growing.

Hypothetically can we just assume that the husbandry in the main tank is sufficient, unless there is reason to suspect otherwise, and focus on the disease problem? I don’t mean to be blunt or rude, it’s just that I post this disease question on many forums and I get the same questions about tank husbandry. I answer the questions but then nobody really has any suggestion about what the infection or parasite might be, or why the variety of medications have not worked. No suggestions on how to treat it differently or ways to do a better diagnosis. I appreciate your help but it just feels redundant and I just keep losing one fish at a time really slowly.
20160226_182746.jpg 20160226_182817.jpg 20160226_182904.jpg 20160226_183004.jpg 20160226_183513.jpg 20160226_183612.jpg 20160226_183630.jpg
 
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myswtsins

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Most of us know what it is like to have sick fish. Only some of us know what it's like to try everything in our power to help them and have nothing work and no one can give you answers. I've been there and I know a couple others on here are fighting tough battles with we don't know what right now, it sucks! So I understand your frustration, we will help however we can!

We have to ask all these questions though to get a clear understanding (and a picture is worth a thousand words). Just cause you posted it on another site WE don't know. lol Just like if you call tech support they will have you do all the dumb little things first just to eliminate those easy possibilities and those first steps usually solve 90% of problems anyways. Poor husbandry does cause a lot of discus problems so if we can eliminate that it helps narrow it down. Test results are a quick way to see that, especially considering you only do 2 WCs a week, that's about the bare minimum I've seen people do. But your nitrates are pretty low so that's good.

Maybe someone else can help you without additional questions, so I will leave my questions for later, cause I'd have a lot of them and not many answers probably. ;)
 
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discuspaul

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I don't mean to be blunt or rude either, but the look of your tank and the shape, color, and overall condition of your discus lends me to repeat my original question: what was the original source of your discus ?.
It appears they were not good quality in the first place, and they certainly are not now.
And given what I see here, I also question your husbandry, which has obviously led to the condition of that discus in your QT tank - which is in extremely poor condition and will not survive much longer.
Your QT tank appears filthy btw, no proper maintenance is being done there it appears - so the fish cannot survive no matter the medication.

There is no disease involved here - just poor water quality occasioned by an improper tank set-up, and a lack of sufficient tank maintenance to make for a healthy discus environment.

I cannot tell if your plants are real or not, but whatever they are, I fail to see how you could keep that tank very clean with vacuuming (If it receives any), and particularly given the type of substrate that you have in the tank.
Also, the 3D background you have in the back of the tank can be, and probably has been, a harbor for the development of all types of harmful bacteria.
It's been known to occur many times with décor like that in a discus tank.

I don't mean to be offensive, but if you wish to save your remaining fish ( if you feel they're worth saving) from a similar fate to that of the fish in your QT tank is facing, the following needs doing:

Start all over, place your fish in a temporary holding tank, bucket - whatever - with fresh water changed daily, along with heat & filtration, and completely redo your main tank. Remove the substrate, plants, and the 3D background, wipe it all down, clean it up, then re-home the fish, and give them large (50% or more) daily wcs for a couple of weeks at least, in order to provide them with a healthy environment so they may begin to acquire good health.

This is what healthy discus and a healthy environment should look like:

Compare the look of the fish to yours.



 
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fishorama

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I'm not sure what suggest...from your pics, your white discus looks both emaciated & with a bulging belly. My "guess" (& it's only that) is some kind of intenstinal parasite. You've done the "usual" TXs, Prazi, metro, fenben, assuming with follow up dosing. I don't know what else to suggest.

What is the water flow/filtration behind the "rock" wall? It looks very nice, but is it trapping something? Do you siphon behind it? Vacuum the substrate? Where were your fish from, as Paul asked? Do you use ferts for the plants (are they real?)? What is you filtration & cleaning schedule of the media & method of cleaning it?

Sorry, no help, just more questions.

Edit: I see Paul has addressed most of my issues with your tank in a no nonsense, non-gentle way. Listen to his voice of experience!
 
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Wild West

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I am sorry your fish are sick Ranger Ranger , you have been a member here for a very long time! I am old school.....I would give the gravel and/or any filtration media a good cleaning and see if that helps? I assume you have a source for R/O water since you have had them for so long? Please check in again SOON:)
 
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Rbishop

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Curious...is that a divider in the QT tank? What's on the other side of it?

Besides the husbandry issue that I agree with Paul on, I would suspect something leaching from that background that affects the weakest fish first. As the group gets smaller I think the deaths will occur quicker.
 

discuspaul

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I'm very sorry, Ranger, to be so blunt and risk offending you, but there's really no way to sugar-coat your situation. Unless you do a drastic make-over as I suggested, your fish will continue to perish one at a time.
If you want to keep discus, and do it correctly to keep them healthy & thriving, I strongly recommend you somehow re-home your remaining discus, and restart a fresh discus tank with quality discus stock obtained from a known reputable source for supplying healthy, well-shaped discus.
That's your remedy, not more medicating.
 
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