One of my Malawi Cichlids (Ps. Saulosi Coral) has developed a serious problem. The past few days I have noticed him doing some sideways swimming, which I thought was normal, because they tend to do that when there is another fish above them and they want to start a fight. Anyway, tonight I came through the door and there he was, at the front of the tank, like a psychotic acrobat, doing 2 - 3 rotations per second.
He stopped for a few minutes, but even whilst still he was completely vertical, with his tail pointing to the top of the tank, then rolled on his side, then started the crazy acrobatics again. Seriously, it's like nothing I've ever seen or would have expected. First thought were that it's a swimbladder problem, but reading around the net I've seen stories of parsites etc eating away at the brain. What do you think it could be? Any thoughts? I am really worried, I don't want him to die he's my favourite fish. Should I take him to the vets? Please help!! :'(
Readings are Ammonia 0, NitrIte 0, NitrAte 30 - 40. (Still struggling a little with nitrAtes but I wouldn't have thought this would have caused such a serious problem).
OK, quick update. He stopped spinning for a while and started swimming normally again for about 20 minutes. I netted him out and put him into a quarantine tank (filled with 100% tank water from the main tank to minimise shock). As soon as I let him loose in the quarantine tank he started doing that crazy somersault thing again (spinning on an axis about his gill area) and after a couple of minutes settled down and corrected himself. He's under a rock now and looks OK.
From what I've read about 'whirling disease' (Myxobolus cerebralis parasite?) it doesn't look good, not for him or his tank mates. I'm really worried. I can't seem to get anything right. I have had to euthanise one fish a couple of months back with dropsy symptoms, am I going to have to euthanise this one too? :'(
One more thing to add - there were 4 fish added to the tank about 3 weeks ago. They were quarantined for 2 weeks and none of them showed such behaviour. I added 2 catfish and another fish 3 days ago, but the fish in question was already showing signs of this before adding the new fish (although at the time I wasn't too concerned but it seems I should have been).
Only other thing to add is that I did about a 35% water change today... he started somersaulting about 4 - 5 hours after the water change.
Hexamitiasis sometimes hits the brain too. I assume your on top of the stats and have already sussed out stuff like thermic shock, photoshock electrical problems, and have sussed if the fish has taken a beating recently from another, cos frankly myxo is obviously around at the moment, seen it around in forums elsewhere too, and youve had recent fish aquisition, though I would like to know the species you brought in.
Pic of the fish can help, and have you seen any blackening scales, blanching fish, or any sensory pore enlargement on the pits of any of your fish, or any scratches, or trailing slime from the lateral line of any of the cichlids? Any white patches and circular lesions on the skin of any catfish such as synodontids?
Lastly what has the sick fish been eating for the last few months, (roughly in relative proportions of diet by percentage would be nice, but I know thats tricky to work out, but ballpark will do me) its a long shot but some neurological problems (cos thats what I suspect it is, be it parasitic or nutritional)can be caused by thiaminase and vitamin deficiency issues.
Odds on its probably going to be hexamitiasis or myxo, and the cure is the same, high dose metronidazole of a prolonged period for the entire community, but we'd better make sure all the ticks and crosses are in the right place before you do that because theres a cycle risk.
3 weeks ago I brought in two electric blue Johanni, two Chipokae, and one female Saulosi.
Sick fish in question had a small circular wound (which I thought was a bite). Today after further inspection I can see a black spot further along his body. The small female Saulosi that I introduced a few weeks ago also has a small black dot near the tail of her body, but she has had this since I got her and I assumed it was just an imperfection maybe caused by bad breeding or something.
Sick fish has not been quite right for a couple of weeks really, hanging around the corner of the tank. He has been eating as normal though, but the diet has been changed over the last couple of weeks - they used to be on Hikari Cichlid Gold Pellets, Algae Wafers, Vegetables, Frozen Cichlid blocks, Frozen Vegetable blocks, etc. Now I have replaced the pellets with a mixture of flake, freeze-dried brine shrimp, an just a few pellets, as they much prefer the flake over the pellet. Frozen blocks are only fed once a week.
I do have a UV steriliser, been running since I got the tank and is on a slow steady trickle.
I'll try get a camera because mine has broken. Might have to be a crappy camera phone pic I'm afraid...
The catfish appear fine with no markings or trailing slime.
Just to add, when you say photoshock are you talking about lighting? My lights are pretty bright and are on for two 4.5 hour periods per day.
When I did that pretty big water change yesterday the tank water thermometer went from about 24 degrees up to 25.5 degrees over a couple of minutes. I put a little more hot water in the mix than usual, although hardly that much difference. Could that have caused it?
This afternoon his swimming pattern is 99% OK, with the odd waver. He seems to get confused occasionally after swimming to the surface of the water he finds it hard to get his bearings when swimming back to the bottom, and once or twice I have seen him do a little roll but he very quickly corrects himself, so there's a vast improvement in his buoyancy. I have not seen him doing any insane acrobatics since last night.
Colour-wise he has gone very dub-dominant, by that I mean he has gone from a purple/black stripe to a more pinky purple colour with orange tints and feint black stripes. Females of this species are orange, so the colouring doesn't worry me as I've seen him very quickly turn this colour before when confronted by bigger fish. It is his way of saying "no thanks I'm a lover not a fighter"... I think...
His appetite is still there, I fed peas yesterday and today I gave him some flakes which he readily demolished. Should I maybe hold off the feeding for a couple of days?
Those black marks I mentioned seem to be gone, or at least they are feint enough so I can't see them. The small lesion is actually along his lateral line. It seems more like a scar now than a wound. I still think this could be a war wound...
Could a bite from another fish along his lateral line have caused this behaviour? Or am I being too optimistic about the whole thing and maybe these intermittent symptoms are typical of this parasite?
Nope its not optimistic, its a possibility, a fish in physical shock from injury can lose orientation, and be afflicted with a sort of "hyperstimulation syndrome" where repeated shock responses are more likely, though usually for a short period, you only have to drop one to find that out.
Just keep a close eye, if more symptoms show, go for the treatment.
Been watching and his condition has just kept improving. There are no noticeable wobbles whilst swimming and now he can even swim perfectly well vertically both up and down. The marks on his scales are gone, and I think the wound has completely healed and the scar faded, or completely gone as I can't see it. He's still hiding a lot but most of my fish seem to do this when they're on their own in the quarantine tank. I've also noticed their colours tend to fade, which I imagine is from not having any enemies or potential mates in the tank so they don't need them.
What do you think I should do? He's been five days in quarantine now. Keep him quarantined for a while longer just in case?