I thought that this could be a useful post for some to avoid what I have just dealt with in one of my African Cichild tanks. It is also a "shout out" to supporting your LFS such as April's Aquarium where free expert advice and discussion were key to solving my particular issue.
I am not one that is really into using pharmaceuticals to solve fish health issues. My exception is when there becomes accute problems which if you practice good tank maintenance rarely happen. Most of the time isolating sick fish in a clean tank cures many situations ... just let their immune system do what it needs to do. However recently my breeding males H. fryeri (2 males / 8 females) decided after years of co-existance it was time to sort it out and fight ... this lead to one of the brothers dieing basically instantly, and brother 2 badly damaged. In the second fish these wounds became quickly infected and gave sickness a foot hold, it spread like crazy in the tank. Fins were being shredded, blood lines along fins became visible, grey patches on skin very evident (skin barrier compromised) and white ulcerated patches were evident in some cases. The second male died within a day, all other H. fryeri in the breeding group became infected. The infections pretty much infected the Haps only, but a couple Red Zebras showed infections where they may have had wounds. I started water changes probably a day late and made the decision I had to go to pharmaceuticals. My go to is a Maracyn based product, it has worked well in the past for the limited infections I have dealt with ... it had little or no affect, in fact fish may have gotten worse.
This is where help from April & Karen really kicked in.
In discussing my Angel breeding with them a month or so earlier they had mentioned a website AngelsPlus they told me it was not only good for on-line products but good information as well. "These guys have been breeding Angels for 50 years, they really know what they are doing". As I searched the internet for solutions to what might be going on in my tank, what was this rampant infection? the AngelsPlus web-site popped up again ... as April and Karen said it IS a great source of information ... really the best I found. They clearly provided an answer to what I was dealing with ... the Maracyn product was treating for "gram positive" bacteria only but what was dealing with was probably a "gram negative" pathogen. Through the web-site and returning to April's for further discussion the the successful treatment was found ... infection arrested, those fish that did not die are now recovering
Treatment in this case
- Kanamycin [SeaChem - Kanaplex] based antibiotic - absorbs through the skin and effective on 'gram negative" bacteria
- Combined second Nitrofurazone + anti fungal medication - stops the primary and secondary infections such as fungus or other bacteria
- Practice good tank maintenance
- Have a proper isolation tank ready ... if I had done that with the 2nd male my issues would have been way better controlled. I have fixed that problem now ... breeding net cages in a separate tank, easy and cheap
- Support your LSF if it has folks like April & Karen that really know what they are talking about
- Join VAHS another great local source of information, community & moral support
- Remember pathogens have their own ecology and multi-treatment may be necessary ... by only treating "gram positive" bacteria, I gave "gram negative" & secondary infections an advantage
- Have medications on hand just in case ... saves a bunch of time
- There is always something more to learn about fish keeping - that's why it is a great hobby
- The infection was pretty species specific - Haplochromis, so there was a genetic component
- Synoditis, Pseudotropheus, Pleco sp. in that tank unaffected by pathogen or treatment
- Isolated Red Zebra in the same tank continued incubuting eggs no problem and all fry are healthy
- Except for one surviving female I lost the H. fryeri breeding group but have 40 of their fry in a separate tank that I can grow up so not all is lost