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having some issues in my tank. thus far it has affected firemouths, angels, and now it is hitting one of my geos.

symptoms are usually i will approach the tank to feed, though it can happen other times as well, and a fish goes absolutely bananas. it swims around the tank erratically at high speed. then it just goes belly up not moving with all find hyper extended and the fish completely rigid. now sometimes the gills start working again, and in 5 mins the fish is back upright, 10 or so and it looks ok. i just cant work out what this is. no other symptoms i can see at all. pretty much all of the fish that have been affected by this have otherwise seemed to be in prime health.

so far have lost around 12 fish, and really dont want to lose too many more if possible. currently have the sick geo isolated in a float, but twice tonight she has had one of these fits, andi have pretty much written her off at this stage. just looking to try and stop others from meeting the same fate.

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My first thought was you must be one ugly dude.....you even scare your fish!!!

Alternatively it sounds like "whirling disease"

I've had no personal experience(but then I'm Good looking! :lol3: )

Treatment on some sites recommend strong antibiotics which aren't available other than via a vet

This is a quote from a fish disease diagnosis program

C). All the fish, or just closely related species, dart about, jump and hit the walls of the aquarium and other objects. Colors fade

Possible cause......A toxin is in the water.

Has any medication been given recently?

Solution....Do several partial water changes. Filter the water over fresh activated charcoal. Test the tank landscape for toxic substances.


The fish have Whirling disease Treat the fish with: Quinine Sulfate.

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Myxobolus cerebralis is a myxosporean parasite of salmonids (salmon, trout, and their allies) that causes whirling disease in farmed salmon and trout and also in wild fish populations. It was first described from rainbow trout in Germany a century ago, but its range has spread and it has appeared in most of Europe (including Russia), the United States, South Africa[1] and other countries. In the 1980s, it was discovered that M. cerebralis needs to infect a tubificid oligochaete (a kind of segmented worm) to complete its life-cycle.[2] The parasite infects its hosts with its cells after piercing them with polar filaments ejected from nematocyst-like capsules.

Whirling disease afflicts juvenile fish (fingerlings and fry) and causes skeletal deformation and neurological damage. Fish "whirl" forward in an awkward corkscrew-like pattern instead of swimming normally, find feeding difficult, and are more vulnerable to predators. The mortality rate is high for fingerlings, up to 90% of infected populations, and those that do survive are deformed by the parasite residing in their cartilage and bone. They act as a reservoir for the parasite, which is released into water following the fish's death. M. cerebralis is one of the most economically important myxozoans in fish as well as one of the most pathogenic. It was the first myxosporean whose pathology and symptoms were described scientifically.[3] The parasite is not transmissible to humans.

I don't know... Maybe not whirling disease... Sounds slightly different to Gav's description.

However, I do lean towards thinking that it is a parasite of some sort. Either that, or a toxin. At first I thought about the potential that the fish may have been spooked - but this is highly unlikely to happen to 12 fish at different intervals!!

I'm thinking that, if anything, the following plan could help a little...

1. 1/2 tank water change

2. Recommended course of Waterlife Sterazin (will not harm catfish if any present)

3. 1/2 tank change after course complete

4. Recommended course of Protozin (will also not harm any catties)

I'm just clutching at straws here - so feel free to correct me if you disagree...

My heart goes out to you, Gav - what an awful thing for you and your fish to go through!


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have experienced whirling disease in the past, mainly in tetras, but this is different. generally the fish have nothing wrong, and if it had not happened to a few now i would suspect spooking as well. but whirling disease i can definitely rule out

i have suspected a parasite, but left that out of the original description to try and get as neutral a response as possible. so far i have quarantined all fish going in to this tank, and none have had any issues in the 3 to 4 week quarantine period. the other suspiscion is a toxin.

on the toxin front, the only thing i have that could be an issue is my substrate. its black gravel from aqua one, and looks to be man made. i wonder if perhaps this is something that the fish are picking up and a residue is the problem. i have never actually had a man made substrate before this and my lack of knowledge could perhaps be why i am blaming it.

so far there has been 7 of 8 firemouths, 1 geo, and at least 5 angels that have died in this manner. most seem to be those that dig or actively eat off the substrate. the cories i have seem to have had no issues, however i do seem to have lost some over time. so far the rummynose, black widows and cardinals seem unaffected. my discus also have not had symptoms i have seen though I have lost two while away on weekends for completely unexplained reasons, so perhaps they could also have suffered from this.

there is something in the tank thats nasty as i simply can not keep a bristlenose alive in that tank for more than a day, and that includes when I keep them in a floatie. they just turn over and die. this includes fish that i have spent as much as 12 hours acclimatising to ensure their survival. this applies to bristlies from 3cm up to males approaching full size.

the biggest issue is that is a BIG tank (1800x1200x750mm) and its not one i will put any medication in to that will permanently damage or colour the silicone. it simply cost me too much. at this stage i am contemplating just emptying it and starting over. i just dont want to lose further fish to something unknown.

it would be a pain if it was the substrate as it was acquired at considerable cost.

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I would be very surprised if it was the substrate - a large company like Aqua One would take steps to ensure that their aquarium products are indeed safe to put in an aquarium... They could potentially stand to lose a lot in reputation and business if one of their products was deemed toxic to fish. That being said, it's not an impossible cause...

Don't worry about applying Waterlife medications - they go in with a little colour, but as they disperse, they are not even noticeable and definitely unable to stain the aquarium or its furnishings. The two medications I mentioned are effective against various parasites and protozoans.

Is there perhaps any corroding metal in the filtration system or tank? BNs and other loris are hyper-sensitive to copper, for example, and as with any heavy metal, high enough concentrations of copper can kill any fish.

What about the atmosphere in the room around the tank? Is there a gas main nearby that might have a tiny leak (I don't know if that is a possible toxin, but just throwing guesses as they pop up).

Did this begin happening after any kind of change or new introduction to the tank - no matter how minor?


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on the toxin front, the only thing i have that could be an issue is my substrate. its black gravel from aqua one, and looks to be man made. i wonder if perhaps this is something that the fish are picking up and a residue is the problem. i have never actually had a man made substrate before this and my lack of knowledge could perhaps be why i am blaming it.

I would have some concern over the gravel , reason being i know of someone that has purchased the

Red Aqua One gravel and that dyed their turtle pink, and is still a on going issue between the person and AO so cant really say much :zipit:

3 months after changing the gravel out the turtle still has the dye impregnated in the skin and is slowly getting a bit more energy back,

although this is a different scenario it does give food for thought :thumb

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i grow up a lot of angels for a mate. around the last time i got angels, i also got some firemouths. if anything came in it was with one of those two groups, as before that I never actually saw it occuring. having said that however i did have unexplained deaths prior to that, however I never actually saw them dart around.

for copper or metals, cant see any way that could get in there. filters were new eheim pro 3s, with eheim filter material. tank only has the substrate, anubias, driftwood and heaters in it otherwise.

now on gas, the tank does have a gas peniS coming out of the wall near it. i would be surprised if that was the issue, but i can easily get someone to check that.

i have looked further in to the substrate, and spoke to where i got it from. I am on particularly good terms with them, and they have used the same substrate now for several years with no issues at all. possibly i got a bad bacth, possibly not. its meant to be totally inert, so you would think it should be safe. eaglemans comments though do make me wonder.

on the medication, i guess i am reluctant to medicate 1600 litres unless i know for sure it will do something. i do lean more towards the idea that it is likely a parasite or protozoan doing this, so its probably going to be the ultimate answer.

i guess alternatively i can move stuff out to my quarantine system, all but empty the tank and aggressively overdose the remaining water to kill any remnants in the gravel and filter while dosing up my quarantine system to clean out the fish as well. if the medication is nice to the tank i certainly have less concerns about using it.

in terms of not using my driftwood though, i have a *lot* of wood in that tank, most with anubias on it. not re-using over $1000 worth of wood and plants is an idea i am not particularly keen on ;)

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Very well and methodically thought out Gav!

To determine if the gravel may be a cause, I would recommend taking some out, washing and drying it completely, then pop a healthy fish from an external source and the prepared gravel int o a quarantine tank that has has no contact with the main tank. If nothing adverse happens to the fish over whatever length of time, it would prove the gravel an unlikely cause...

Considering that the problem coincided with the introduction of some firemouths and angels - coupled with the fact that these are seemingly worst affected by the problem, seems to point to some sort of biological nasty.

I can assure you that none of the Waterlife medications will stain tanks, furnishings and silicone - and I'm not on their payroll...lol

Keep us updated on your progress...


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I agree with Andrew the waterlife will not stain.

The problem the person has with the gravel is obviously a dyed gravel, the black shouldnt be dyed but made from silicate ??

The addition of the 2 types of fish, in the end could also be the clue

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