Rummynose Tetras dying

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MR10

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Original poster
Jun 7, 2019
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Houston, TX
Hello

I introduced 30 rummy nose tetra 2 weeks ago and I am down to about 18. I believe due to whirling disease but I came here to debunk or support that (and what to do about it.) I am sorry my first post has to be about diseased fish but other fora I am active on don't seem to be as active as AquariaCentral. Here are the answers to the basic questions:

1. What is the size of your tank?
125 gallon

2. What are your water parameters? State the brand of test kit used.
API master, tested daily for the last two weeks. pH 7.5 - Ammonia 0.0 - Nitrite 0.0 - Nitrate <0.5
Tested last week: GH 9 - KH 6

3. Is your aquarium set up freshwater or brackish water?
Freshwater blackwater biotope

4. How long the aquarium has been set up?
Two weeks. Tank previously was setup as an African Cichlid tank. 4 weeks ago, the beneficial bacteria were transferred to a 2.5 gallon tank where I kept them alive with Dr Tim ammonia drops for two weeks before introducing the new fish.

5. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?
8 Corydoras Sterbai (originally 10)
1 Apistogramma Agassizi
19 Rummynose Tetra (originally 30)
20 Ember Tetra (originally 22)
4 Otocinclus

According to AqAdvisor this is about 55% stock level. I think I lost two Sterbai and 2 Embers in the acclimation process / stress the first 2 days. The showed no signs of how the rummynose behave.

6. Were the fish placed under quarantine period (minus the first batch from the point wherein the tank is ready to accommodate the inhabitants)?
All first batch.

7. What temperature is the tank water currently?
80F

8. Are there live plants in the aquarium?
No, only driftwood and botanicals from tannin aquatics. The refugium has watercress growing in it to keep nitrates down.

9. What filter are you using? State brand, maintenance routine and power capacity.
The tank has a sump with a 700gph return pump. The sump contains in this order: fine filter floss, coarse filter floss, 1 liter of SeaChem Matrix, 1 Brightwell filter brick, 1 Brightwell NO3 brick, 2x Eheim Jager 150W, tray with miracle mud 2, watercress.

10. Any other equipment used (aside from heater and filter which are two very important components of the tank)?
There is a Gyre 3k circulation pump that gently circulates the water in the tank.

11. Does your aquarium receive natural sunlight at any given part of the day? What is your lighting schedule (assuming you do not rely on sunlight for our viewing pleasure)?
Only a sliver of evening sun.

12. When did you perform your last water change and how much water was changed? How often do you change your water? Do you vacuum the substrate?
Sunday, first water change, 15%. Have not vacuumed the substrate yet as the circulation pump keeps it mostly clean.

13. What foods do you provide your fish? What is the feeding schedule?
AM: Northfin Community 0.5mm placed on the bottom for the corys about 1/16 teaspoon. Fluval Bugbites for the other fish about 1/8 teaspoon.
PM: Northfin Community 0.5mm placed on the bottom for the corys about 1/16 teaspoon. 1 cube of PE Calanus thawed for the other fish.

14. What unusual signs have you observed in your fish?
First sign is the rummynose leaves the school. Seem to always go towards open space in the lower center of the tank where it hangs out for about a day. At this point they still eat when fed. Next day disorientation starts, followed by twitching. Yesterday I caught a rummy that was frantically twitching. It died shortly after I caught it. Today I caught one that was starting to twitch that survived for an hour or so mostly floating upside down and bent. Previously I've removed some dead ones, one that looked severely bent sideways, as if it snapped its back.

I also noticed in the two fish I caught alive the gills were very red but I am not sure if that is normal for a rummy. I've attached a photo and have a video of the rummy I removed this morning.

15. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? If so, what treatments did you use? State your reasons for planning ahead of proper diagnosis.
No

rummy.jpg
 

the loach

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Aug 6, 2018
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Are you sure ammonia/nitrite was 0 at all times? Date on the test kit isn't expired?
pH was checked before the lights go out, or when they just went on?

The main problem I'm seeing is that you changed biotopes in a running tank (even if there were no fish for a month). It is one of the reasons I am always stating here.... do not mix fish from vastly different biotopes (also temperate/tropicals). Fish aren't sterile and carry bacteria and viruses that may be harmless for them, but not for fish from very different biotopes.
Without having the fish examined in a laboratory, it's not possible to tell what exactly the cause is.

Ps... the new setup with all the roots does look very nice.
 

MR10

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Original poster
Jun 7, 2019
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Houston, TX
Thanks for the reply.

I used a brand new test kit and have measured every morning, including the two weeks I had separated the bacteria to work on the main tank. so I am fairly certain the ammonia and nitrite never read more than zero, except after "feeding" the bacteria. Nitrate climbed to 70 in this setup, so I know the cycle was not broken.

The tank was dried out completely to do work on the filter and clean everything. All sand was also removed and rerinsed.
 

the loach

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Aug 6, 2018
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When you say you 'separated the beneficial bacteria' I assume you mean you put the filter media in the 2.5 gallon tank.
It's not just nitrifying bacteria you're transferring, there are other organisms, bacteria and viruses in there as well. With very different biotopes this can cause problems (like using koi pond media in a tropical tank).
You may want to test the pH just before the lights go out... just to be sure.
 

OrionGirl

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It's incredibly unlikely to be whirling disease. This is a parasite that infects juvenile salmonids, impairing bone/cartilage growth, resulting in misshapen fish that can't swim properly because of the deformity, so 'whirl'. The parasite is found in blood worms, which thrive in muddy substrates like a pond. Fish that you've had for less than a month aren't likely to become infected and stunted enough for it to be lethal, even if they were salmonids.

Bright red gills usually indicates ammonia burn or infection. How long were the fish in the store before you bought them? The fact that this is impacting just the smaller tetra-like fish leads me to believe it's an issue from the source rather than a problem in your tank.
 

MR10

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Original poster
Jun 7, 2019
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Houston, TX
Thank you for responding.

It's incredibly unlikely to be whirling disease.
Bright red gills usually indicates ammonia burn or infection. How long were the fish in the store before you bought them? The fact that this is impacting just the smaller tetra-like fish leads me to believe it's an issue from the source rather than a problem in your tank.
I will call the store when it opens to find out if they were ever fed tubifex worms and how long they were in the store. That will help ruling out true whirling disease.

I am already ruling out ammonia burn because I added ammonia drops for a week to the filter media while it was in a separate tank. Every morning the ammonia read zero again and nitrates kept climbing. I moved the filter media back to the display tank when I introduced the fish and kept measuring daily. There have been no ammonia or nitrite, in fact nitrate is now also zero because of the watercress growing in the sump.

The tank also has ember tetras in it, which are doing much better than the rummy's. The rummys that died do seem to be generally the smaller ones.

Fish that you've had for less than a month aren't likely to become infected and stunted enough for it to be lethal, even if they were salmonids.
This is helpful. I didn't know it often is not lethal. What I read was that, depending on how much of the parasite entered the nerve system, death could be faster or slower. Which sounded in line with one or two dying every other day (assuming they were infected by tubifex worms at the store or importer).


Just for peace of mind, I removed all rummys and put them in a spare tank to monitor. I am not sure if I am going to medicate since I still am not convinced of what the treatment could be.

Some people have said it sounds exactly like what happened to their rummy's and that it is "just a bad batch" but I wouldn't expect fish to start swirling erratically and getting disoriented, seemingly at random.

Could it be the pH, despite the store keeping them at the same pH / same city water?
 
Last edited:

OrionGirl

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Fish can't read pH. A sudden change in pH can be stressful, but seldom fatal.

It is not whirling disease. Promise.

Ammonia burns to the gills could have happened at the store, or in transit to the store, and is slowly killing them off.
 
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Sploke

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I have found rummynose tetras to be particularly sensitive/fragile. I had a school of about 10 in a 55gal a number of years ago. These fish were being added to a medium planted tank that had been established for over a year, and still went through close to 20 fish to get a school of ten survivors. I don't recall if the symptoms were similar to what you are seeing, but they just seemed to be less hardy breed.
 

MR10

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Original poster
Jun 7, 2019
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Houston, TX
I called the store and they claim they have not been fed tubifex worms at any point, which should rule out whirling disease. I will just monitor the ones in quarantine for a few days unmedicated.
 

MR10

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Original poster
Jun 7, 2019
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Houston, TX
No more deaths or weird behavior. I've re-introduced the quarantined ones to the main tank. Thank you everybody for your input.
 
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