Flavobacerium Columnaris treatment in goldies

  • Get the NEW AquariaCentral iOS app --> http://itunes.apple.com/app/id1227181058 // Android version will be out soon!

Flaringshutter

Befriend a feeder!
Original poster
Oct 17, 2006
1,870
0
0
Southern California
This is meant to be an informational thread. I just had an outbreak of Flavobacterium columnaris, what used to be known as Flexibacter columnarisaka "mouth rot" or "cotton wool" disease. I searched the forum and was unable to find much information on this bacteria, so I think my experience could be helpful to others, especially those also keeping snails, as you will read:

I've done some research and determined the causes.

First, I haven't been able to get to the store for fresh veggies for my snails lately, so I've been feeding them algae tablets. These are messy and are not always eaten promptly, polluting the water. This bacteria thrives on organic waste and often outbreaks arise as a result of poor water quality. Although I have attempted to vacuum thoroughly a few times each week, algae wafers are inherently messy.

Second, I have been working on raising the pH and kH for the snails that live with my goldfish. Columnaris also likes a high pH.

Finally, my tank is usually around 73 degrees in the winter. However, lately the weather has been warm and the temp has climbed sharply above 76. Columnaris likes water above 76, ideally, and outbreaks often happen after a beriod of sudden warming.

I am sure it is not body fungus, as that often has a stringy appearance. Columnaris, on the other hand, has an almost moldy appearance, white patches rimmed in red. It also appears close to the mouth (hence the nickname) or on the head. On all my fish, it appeared between the eyes on the "forehead." It can be hard to diagnose, as it is sometimes just a patch of dullness or a slightly pale patch on the fish, not a bright white patch.

For an excellent description of columnaris, look here:

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/columnaris_disease.php

Fortunately, my fish seem to have the third strain - ASJ3 - that the article describes, not the least harmful but third on the list of four in terms of virulence. Appearing as small white patches on the head, with no other physical symptoms. Fish have little appetite, but are still eating some, and spend much of their time at the surface gasping for air. Classic symptoms of stress and illness.

Here are two helpful sites about diagnosing, preventing, and treating this infection:

http://fishvet.com/columnaris.htm

http://network.bestfriends.org/friends_of_fish/news/5401.html

Here is my treatment method so far:

I immediately performed a 40% water change and thorough gravel vacuum to remove detrius and uneaten food. Since they stopped eating before the disease showed itself fully, the bottom was covered in their uneaten food. They showed a slight improvement following the water change.

I have removed the snails to a 10 gallon tank just for them, as the chemicals used to treat the bacteria are lethal for snails. Since I will be returning the snails to the tank after the goldfish have recovered, I will not be using a copper-based medication. Although they are excellent medications, copper clings to aquariums even once carbon is replaced in the filter and can still kill snails even months after treatment, even if the tank is scrubbed.

Maracyn - erythromyacin - has been helpful for many aquarists:

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=4838

Although Columnaris is a gram-negative bacteria, and erythromyacin is specifically for gram-positive, the latest version of Maracyn is a broad-spectrum antibiotic and has been useful for treating Columnaris. Some aquarists recommend Maracyn with Maracyn II, as Maracyn II is formulated for gram-negative bacteria as well.
I have begun a treatment of Maracyn, without Maracyn II. If the fish show no signs of improvement after two days, I may add the Maracyn II. Remember to remove carbon before treatment.

I am using aquarium salt as recommended - heaping tablespoon per 5 gallons of water - to assist in recovery.

If they show signs of not improving or worsening, I may do some salt baths. Here is a great article describing the use and proper method of salt baths in disease recovery:

http://www.pondarama.com/html/salt_fix.html

I have also changed the angle of the filter return to assist in aerating the water. This is important, both for the comfort of the sick fish, and for defeating the disease. Columnaris thrives only in stagnant water. Well-aerated, moving water helps defeat the bacteria.

Finally, as they are still eating a little, I am feeding small pinches of Jungle Labs Medicated granules, an antibacterial pellet food.

Results so far:

I began my treatment yesterday and the fish are already showing marked improvements. Tonight, before I add the second dose of Maracyn, I will perform another 40% water change. Pristine water is your best ally against Columnaris.


Its worth mentioning that once this disease shows itself, it is highly contagious. It's a good idea to disinfect buckets, nets, etc. before using on any other tanks.

I will post photos of the fish's lesions soon, and keep updating their condition here.
Hope this is helpful for some of you.
 

kj5kb

KEEPER OF CATS, FISH AND CATFISHES
Mar 1, 2007
1,513
1
38
54
Spring Hill Kansas SW of Kansas City
Real Name
Don
Sounds like you are doing all the recommended stuff...

FWIW, I had good success with API Triple Sulfa in treating what appeared to be columnaris in platys (white "mold" on fins) I also used low doses of melafix to try to stave off secondary infections and promote healing.

if GF are large enough to pick up, maybe topical treatment?

A q-tip with hydrogen peroxide to clean and a dot of panolog ointment (effective on gram + and -). A cooperative vet may be needed to get panolog (it's a dog/cat med, much like neosporin). The ointment is in a plasticized base and is somewhat waterproof.

Panolog worked for misc 'unknown' fluffy white spots (too big for ich) on my goldies...

--Best of luck! --Don
 

THE V

Hiding from my children
Nov 25, 2007
1,931
2
38
Washington
Real Name
Mr. Incognito
I had an outbreak of this when I was just beginning to learning how to take care of my goldfish. I had a pleco in the tank with them and was feeding him some algae disks. It was in Minnesota and I had been doing this all winter long with no problems. Then when the weather warmed up I got a major outbreak. I lost half of my tank as I was slow to diagnose the problem.

I finally cleared it up with a dosage of salt, nitrofurazone & furazolidone and several 1/2 water changes during the next two weeks.
 

Lupin

Registered Member
Sep 21, 2006
21,430
6
0
Lupin Information Super Highway/Goldfish Informati
thegab.org
Real Name
Paul
This is an excellent thread. Have you thought of using your blog as well besides this one?

It is also worth mentioning that I have noticed columnaris progresses better in higher temperatures. Almost all diseases related to bacterial infections act like that.
 

Flaringshutter

Befriend a feeder!
Original poster
Oct 17, 2006
1,870
0
0
Southern California
Thanks everyone for your replies!

if GF are large enough to pick up, maybe topical treatment?

A q-tip with hydrogen peroxide to clean and a dot of panolog ointment (effective on gram + and -). A cooperative vet may be needed to get panolog (it's a dog/cat med, much like neosporin). The ointment is in a plasticized base and is somewhat waterproof.

Panolog worked for misc 'unknown' fluffy white spots (too big for ich) on my goldies...

--Best of luck! --Don
I have seriously considered topical treatments. Many sites recommended terramycin, and I've found it for sale in a few places on the web as a concentrated powder antibacterial. It has quite a few uses - for livestock in their water, cats and dogs as an eye ointment, even for birds.

The only reason I hestitate to try a topical is that I would need a sedative. I have clove oil on hand for anesthetic/sedative use, but with columnaris raising their need for oxygen, I'm nervous about sedating them. I suppose if I used a powerhead and bubbler to oxygenate the clove oil-treated water, it could work.

I'm keeping a close eye on their progress, and the lesions seem to be much improved today. Their appetites are returning as well, always a good sign. If they regress I will try the salt baths, and I will definitely consider trying a topical antibiotic.

Thanks for the Panalog recommendation. Upon doing a bit of research, I've found quite a few sites that mention Neosporin alongside Panalog. I have lots of that on hand! Perhaps I will try some topical application of Neosporin.

This is an excellent thread. Have you thought of using your blog as well besides this one?
I have, but I wanted to put this here since the coldwater section doesn't have nearly the amount of useful stickies as the general freshwater and we get lots of "help my fish is sick" questions. I wanted to be sure it was highly visible and hopefully more helpful as a result.

I may start using the blog, though. I'm excited that we actually have that feature on the site now!
 

Lupin

Registered Member
Sep 21, 2006
21,430
6
0
Lupin Information Super Highway/Goldfish Informati
thegab.org
Real Name
Paul
I have, but I wanted to put this here since the coldwater section doesn't have nearly the amount of useful stickies as the general freshwater and we get lots of "help my fish is sick" questions. I wanted to be sure it was highly visible and hopefully more helpful as a result.
I actually think this topic is very useful on both sides (being tropical and coldwater) so I just thought I could another tidbit. If you have more topics about treatments, you are more than welcome to post them in the Articles section for everyone's convenience.:)
I may start using the blog, though. I'm excited that we actually have that feature on the site now!
It's very useful to keep your treatment progresses up to date and you can even link your blogs here for further updates.
 

Flaringshutter

Befriend a feeder!
Original poster
Oct 17, 2006
1,870
0
0
Southern California
Here is an update on the progress of the fish.

The lesions have shrunk to the point that I don't believe I could get a clear photo of any of them at this point. They have regained their appetites and are eating the Jungle pellets ravenously. All of them are noticeably... well, perkier.

I have been treating with Maracyn and salt exclusively. I have not performed any water changes since my initial 40% change, due to the success of the treatment so far.

Today I attempted to apply Neosporin to the lesions on their faces. I believe that Panolog may be a better choice of antibiotic ointment, since Neosporin is petroleum-based and does not like to stick to fish.
I netted each fish - and let me say a black net helps immensely in keeping them calm - and moved the net to the surface, where I was able to wedge it under the glass half-top so the wire frame of the net is above the water but the majority of the net is still in the water, holding the fish just beneath the surface.
I gently scooped my hand under the fish and eased it up toward the head. They were very wiggly until I had my hand just under the "chin" at which point they calmed down completely and just sat there while I dabbed on Q-tips of Neosporin. I tried drying the lesioned areas off with a paper towel before applying the ointment to see if it helped it to stick, and it helped a little.
It would be easier if the antibiotic was in a powder form. I may invest in a powder antibiotic to keep in the fish first aid cabinet.

I will keep you all updated on their progress.
 
Last edited:

Flaringshutter

Befriend a feeder!
Original poster
Oct 17, 2006
1,870
0
0
Southern California
I have found another helpful link.

It's from a koi club - i love koi clubs. Since koi are relatively expensive, large fish, the research and information devoted to keeping koi healthy and happy is just immense. Koi clubs and sites are invaluable in keeping goldfish. No one takes goldfish seriously, but they're so closely related to koi that most of the information meant for koi can be applied to goldfish as well.

Anyway, here's the link. Page 2 has a great article on topical treatments. It is a pdf.

http://www.saltlakekoiclub.com/Nov_rev.pdf
 

Buckdog

Comet with an attitude problem.
Jun 2, 2007
191
0
0
So.Cal. Inland
Thanx for the research on this, Flaring. I appreciate it when someone pounds the pavement for all of us - especially on Golds. I'm going to print it and file it in my ever growing pile of "fish papers".

I'm glad someone recognized that the koi sites are a wealth of information that can be crossed over to Golds too. Koivet.com was the first place I looked when I was stressing over some problems with my fish.

By the way- stay tuned. I may have a big new tank coming...
 
zoomed.com
hikariusa.com
aqaimports.com
Store