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Mycobacteriosis/Fish TB?

Kazarak

New Member
My male Apistogramma Baenschi has been acting strange and slowly building some symptoms associated with Fish TB. He has a bulging soar on his side and what looks like a second one just starting on the same side but closer to his face just in front of his gill. His body appears to be darkening throughout. He has had clear/translucent poop that doesn't affiliate with the vibra bites he eats at all. He is getting swollen in the body. He has been acting strange as well just sitting in one corner of the tank towards the top just staring into the corner. I have also seen him just drop to the bottom of the tank on two occasions and hang out for a few minutes sitting almost completely still and then he goes back to normal type behavior. On top of all that I didn't know about fish TB being zoonotic and I had my hand in the tank with a small cut on it so that's exciting. I can post some pictures on here if you'd like to see what I'm talking about. Anybody have any thoughts?
 

MacZ

Active Member
Fish TB is - broadly speaking - quite rare. Of all the suspected cases I read about on forums in the last couple of years only - I'm estimating here - 10% tops were actual fish TB.
The only symptom you name that is almost always associated with it would be the soars. The other symptoms are also associated either with intestinal parasites (clear feces) or bacterial infection (swelling). The behavioural changes come with a lot of different diseases and parasite infestations and are pretty much non-specific.

Chances are you are dealing with a combination of parasites and bacteria.

Can you please answer the following questions?

What is the water temperature?
What is the entire stocking of this tank?

How often do you change the water?
How much of the water do you change?
What do you use to treat your water?
What do you use to test the water?
What are your parameters? (exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”)
Ammonia:Nitrite:Nitrate:pH:KH:GH

How often do you feed your fish?
How much do you feed your fish?
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods?

How long have you had this fish?
Is it wild caught / tankbred?
Did you get it from a Petstore/Importeur/LFS/breeder?
If wild caught: Did you do quarantine? And if so: Did you deworm the fish?

And yes, pictures (not just of the fish but also the whole tank) would be very helpful.

About the possibility of contracting fish TB as a human: It's nothing you should underestimate, but also nothing that is so highly contagious that you have to see a doctor immediately.
 

Kazarak

New Member
Ok, here goes.

Tank Size: 20 gallon long
What is the water temperature? 76 Degrees Farenheit
What is the entire stocking of this tank? A. Baenschi 1 male 1 female 1 that I think might actually be a male, 6 green fire tetras, snails

How often do you change the water? Weekly
How much of the water do you change? Approximately 30% (50/50 RODI/Tap Water)
What do you use to treat your water? Seachem Prime per instructions on bottle
What do you use to test the water? API Freshwater Kit
What are your parameters? (exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”)
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0 (50% water change yesterday and I think the Salvinia is soaking it all up)
pH: 7.0
KH: 3
GH: 6
TDS Pen: 98


How often do you feed your fish? Daily, he eats primarily vibra bites but he gets some flake food that the tetras don't eat fast enough and he sometimes nibbles on blanched cucumber that I put in for the snails.
How much do you feed your fish? I stick to the they can eat it in about 30 seconds rule. I'm not very specific about amount. I break up approximately 10-15 vibra bites and that goes to the three apistos in the tank.
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? No I don't. I am working on a moina culture so they get some live food on occasion.

How long have you had this fish? I have had this male since June so a little over 5 months
Is it wild caught / tankbred? I was told he was wild caught
Did you get it from a Petstore/Importeur/LFS/breeder? Local fish store
If wild caught: Did you do quarantine? And if so: Did you deworm the fish? The store I buy fish from does a mandatory 2 week quarantine for all freshwater fish. They do a really good job of it so I don't quarantine fish from them and I only buy fish from them.

Mike, I would separate him if I had somewhere to put him without other fish in it.


Another point is the dark body coloration I have been seeing I am convinced is due to stress. I did a larger than normal water change last night (50%) and his color lightened up when it was done. He doesn't look that bloated but to me I feel like he looks "fatter" than normal and I don't think I have been feeding him that much. I have treated once with Prazipro, the tank has had two doses of Metroplex since Thursday as well as two doses of Paraguard to the tank since Thursday. I think I agree with you and I am starting to think this is more bacterial/parasite given the opportunity to thrive due to stress. I will see what I can do to reduce stock in the tank and give him some time to recover. That being said what would you recommend as far as how do I eliminate Myco/TB as a possibility so I don't feel so nervous about moving the stock of this tank?

A little more about this fish in general. When I got him he went into a 16 gallon that was my first aquarium ever. Everything seemed to be going well but I did have a period where the tank was overstocked and crowded. I reduced the stock and things seemed to be going well. The original female was added in august and for their time in that tank they got along just fine. That tank cracked in September one month to the day after adding the female and I had to emergency move everyone to a conveniently empty 20 gallon long that I had recently set up but wasn't cycled. I put all the cycled media from the broken tank in and the new one caught up quickly but most of the issues I have started noticing with this fish have started since that emergency move. I started to notice some aggression problems with him and the previous female so I removed her. I was considering trading them all in and going in a different direction but since they had what seemed to be several other females available I decided to try introducing two different females and watching closely to see who paired up and then removing the third. Well I am fairly certain one of those is actually another male so I would like to remove it but now there are concerns about putting it in to another tank given the potential diseases we are discussing. I have a previous thread about his initial injury/lump on his side. I believe it originated from aggression with the first female and could easily have allowed disease to effect the fish It is closed now but is a lump sticking out on his side and not completely healed although it does look better. Now all of the changes I have done have probably just stressed the poor guy out even more. I should have listened to previous advice given on here before and separated them a few weeks ago. I still have a lot to learn and I should have done as advised. Alas here we are and I am trying to do my best to make the right moves going forward to get things going in the right direction. I appreciate you guys' help.

Sorry if this is way more information than you wanted but I figured I should be thorough.
 

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MacZ

Active Member
Ok, though there are some things about the conditions (feeding, waterchange schedule), you might want to change in the future to prevent infections, I'm a bit indecisive about what exactly this is.
Just one thing you should know from the start: IF this turns out to be Mycobacterium you will have to cull the whole tank and in any case should prevent any cross-contamination with other tanks. So whatever equipment you used on this one you should not use on other tanks. That also means: Keep the stocking as it is. It's not a high stocking density, not perfect with the three Apistos, but in this case just keep everything as is.

The stress you put the fish under with all the meds is a thing I'd like to adress first, especially as dosing meds without any kind of clear diagnose is the worst course of action possible. All meds are poisons that kill organisms in a certain dose and put quite some strain on the fish. The more specific the diagnose, the more success you have, due to using a very specific med. Also, as far as I know the meds you used are underdosed anyway, which means using them usually only breeds more resistant bacteria strains. It doesn't seem like you dosed them with a plan. At least I can't see one.

Now for the symptoms. The only thing I can see, that points to Myco, is the open sores, that contradictory look quite superficial. Otherwise the fish doesn't look super deteriorating as I would expect with Myco. So I presume it's a bacterial infection, but not necessarily Myco. The fact that the waterchange seems to have had positive effect gets me to think it might be "just" some bacterial infection and the sores are from injuries.

About the things you might want to change: Wildcaught fish should at least get 70% frozen foods and live food as often as possible, otherwise they easily succumb to trivial infections tankbred fish just shrug off, due to nutrient deficiencies. Up the waterchanges to 50% weekly. Also add Indian almond leaves and alder cones if you have those. Try to lower the pH, maybe with peat moss, that usually pushes down the amounts of pathogens in the water additionally to the waterchanges. And raise the temperature to 26°C.

Waterchange schedule for the next 7 days: 50% every other day starting today. Make sure the temperature fits.

If there is no betterment during/after that or if it even gets worse think about putting the fish down. Should any other fish show similar signs Myco becomes more likely.

I hope this helps and if you have any questions, just ask. :)
 

Kazarak

New Member
Alright to explain the meds as far as my rationality. I had been doing some research on what it could be my first suspect was Bacterial Gill Disease. One website said to treat Metroplex and Prazipro together. I didn't fully understand it but I am new to this so I didn't really question it either. The store I get my supplies from recommended adding the paraguard into the treatment course. I have been dosing per instructions other than the paraguard though. I have treated every other day with the metroplex and Prazipro is supposed to only be one time dosing. I didn't suspect Myco until Sunday when I was looking into it more. I'm not disagreeing with your opinion on the meds I just wanted to explain a little further. What would you recommend for treatment medicine wise?

I was watching him really closely yesterday and I did start seeing him "cough" as well as he was repeatedly taking bites of sand and then running it through his gills and I was thinking this might be a way of trying to scratch an itch in his gills? I have read the "coughing" is a sign of Bacterial Gill Disease and it also fits most if not all of the other symptoms I am seeing from him.

I will look into using frozen foods for sure and I am hoping the moina culture really starts to thrive and feed live more often as well. I am trying to lower the PH on this tank currently but I need to add the leaves. My tap water comes out at 7.8 so doing the 50/50 gets me to 7 and I need to start adding leaves to get it down further.

I will do my best on the water changes but I don't have my own supply of RO/DI water and I'm not sure if my source is willing to fill me that much water. At the least I'm confident I can do twice weekly.

I appreciate the help with all of this and if there is anything to make me feel optimistic his behavior does seem to be improving as he did not stare into the corner at the top of the tank yesterday at least not that I saw.

Thanks again!
 

MacZ

Active Member
Alright to explain the meds as far as my rationality. I had been doing some research on what it could be my first suspect was Bacterial Gill Disease. One website said to treat Metroplex and Prazipro together. I didn't fully understand it but I am new to this so I didn't really question it either. The store I get my supplies from recommended adding the paraguard into the treatment course. I have been dosing per instructions other than the paraguard though. I have treated every other day with the metroplex and Prazipro is supposed to only be one time dosing. I didn't suspect Myco until Sunday when I was looking into it more. I'm not disagreeing with your opinion on the meds I just wanted to explain a little further. What would you recommend for treatment medicine wise?

I was watching him really closely yesterday and I did start seeing him "cough" as well as he was repeatedly taking bites of sand and then running it through his gills and I was thinking this might be a way of trying to scratch an itch in his gills? I have read the "coughing" is a sign of Bacterial Gill Disease and it also fits most if not all of the other symptoms I am seeing from him.

I will look into using frozen foods for sure and I am hoping the moina culture really starts to thrive and feed live more often as well. I am trying to lower the PH on this tank currently but I need to add the leaves. My tap water comes out at 7.8 so doing the 50/50 gets me to 7 and I need to start adding leaves to get it down further.

I will do my best on the water changes but I don't have my own supply of RO/DI water and I'm not sure if my source is willing to fill me that much water. At the least I'm confident I can do twice weekly.

I appreciate the help with all of this and if there is anything to make me feel optimistic his behavior does seem to be improving as he did not stare into the corner at the top of the tank yesterday at least not that I saw.

Thanks again!

About the meds: I find it often interesting to hear people's reasoning behind it. Going by the products you name, I am pretty sure we live at least one continent apart, here in Europe most of the stuff is not available, partially not even via a vet.
But one thing is very important: Don't mix them. Use one, remove it and use another. My go-to is actually just doing frequent waterchanges and adding more tannins and humic acids. Antibiotics are impossible to get here and I see them not as necessary, as I rather lose one or two fish than bringing the whole cycle and the whole tank into danger. Improving conditions often works better and is less risky. Takes patience and care, though.

That cough and chewing sand is absolutely normal behaviour. Apistos are in fact little earth eaters. The "cough" is just removing stuff from the mouth that gets stuck. The sand chewing is feeding. I've just seen mine do that a few minutes ago and the fish is evidently in best health. I often drop a piece of food tablet in, and the fish chews the sand at the landing spot for hours to get even the last bit out.

I know the problem of not having an own RO/DI supply. I still have to buy DI at the hardware store, but I finally got the money together to get my own RO unit (this year is not a good one to work freelance). There are models in the 50,- range that work fine as plug&play, only need new filter cartridges once a year and have enough output for tank volumes under 200 liters. So longterm you might want to get a unit.
Talk to your source. Say it's an emergency (which it is) and try to at least get two waterchanges with 48h inbetween done.

If the behaviour and symptoms improve I'd try and abstain from meds for the time being. Good luck and you're welcome, but really only thank me if it actually improves. :)
 

Mats

New Member
5 Year Member
About the meds: I find it often interesting to hear people's reasoning behind it. Going by the products you name, I am pretty sure we live at least one continent apart, here in Europe most of the stuff is not available, partially not even via a vet.
But one thing is very important: Don't mix them. Use one, remove it and use another. My go-to is actually just doing frequent waterchanges and adding more tannins and humic acids. Antibiotics are impossible to get here and I see them not as necessary, as I rather lose one or two fish than bringing the whole cycle and the whole tank into danger. Improving conditions often works better and is less risky. Takes patience and care, though.

That cough and chewing sand is absolutely normal behaviour. Apistos are in fact little earth eaters. The "cough" is just removing stuff from the mouth that gets stuck. The sand chewing is feeding. I've just seen mine do that a few minutes ago and the fish is evidently in best health. I often drop a piece of food tablet in, and the fish chews the sand at the landing spot for hours to get even the last bit out.

I know the problem of not having an own RO/DI supply. I still have to buy DI at the hardware store, but I finally got the money together to get my own RO unit (this year is not a good one to work freelance). There are models in the 50,- range that work fine as plug&play, only need new filter cartridges once a year and have enough output for tank volumes under 200 liters. So longterm you might want to get a unit.
Talk to your source. Say it's an emergency (which it is) and try to at least get two waterchanges with 48h inbetween done.

If the behaviour and symptoms improve I'd try and abstain from meds for the time being. Good luck and you're welcome, but really only thank me if it actually improves. :)
Hej. Har du provat ektoson salt,kan hjälpa.Mvh Mats
 

MacZ

Active Member
Hej, og nej, jeg brugte det ikke indtil nu. Jeg vil ikke rekommenderer saker jeg har ikke brugt.
Okså, hvorfor svar jeg på Dansk til Svensk?

You tricked me. :D I speak a bit of danish and understand some swedish.
 

Kazarak

New Member
About the meds: I find it often interesting to hear people's reasoning behind it. Going by the products you name, I am pretty sure we live at least one continent apart, here in Europe most of the stuff is not available, partially not even via a vet.
But one thing is very important: Don't mix them. Use one, remove it and use another. My go-to is actually just doing frequent waterchanges and adding more tannins and humic acids. Antibiotics are impossible to get here and I see them not as necessary, as I rather lose one or two fish than bringing the whole cycle and the whole tank into danger. Improving conditions often works better and is less risky. Takes patience and care, though.

That cough and chewing sand is absolutely normal behaviour. Apistos are in fact little earth eaters. The "cough" is just removing stuff from the mouth that gets stuck. The sand chewing is feeding. I've just seen mine do that a few minutes ago and the fish is evidently in best health. I often drop a piece of food tablet in, and the fish chews the sand at the landing spot for hours to get even the last bit out.

I know the problem of not having an own RO/DI supply. I still have to buy DI at the hardware store, but I finally got the money together to get my own RO unit (this year is not a good one to work freelance). There are models in the 50,- range that work fine as plug&play, only need new filter cartridges once a year and have enough output for tank volumes under 200 liters. So longterm you might want to get a unit.
Talk to your source. Say it's an emergency (which it is) and try to at least get two waterchanges with 48h inbetween done.

If the behaviour and symptoms improve I'd try and abstain from meds for the time being. Good luck and you're welcome, but really only thank me if it actually improves. :)
Alright I've been doing more water changes as recommended and I have added some alder cones/leaves to the tank as well. He did have a fungus pop up on the sore yesterday so I did a paraguard bath and that took care of that. As I have been trying to research this in general I think I had another thing I came across and that is Lymphocystis. It's the only thing I have found so far that explains the appearance of his soars. Do you know much about that? I have done some reading and it seems like water/food quality can play a huge role in that. And then potentially a parasite as well causing some of the bloating/clear poop. I'm going to keep up with the frequent waterchanges and try to use better food in general and see how we do from there. His behavior has improved significantly but the "sore" on his side is largely unchanged. I think I am heading in the right direction.
 

MacZ

Active Member
Lymphocystis tends to appear even more pronounced and much more on the outer surface of the body. To me it doesn't look like it and it wouldn't change much as it's also a disease without any remedy. You might want to stop looking through fish diseases for some days and just focus on improving the conditions further. I once researched diseases too much and got into a spiral of anxiety. I know it can be a brain tease to find out, but sometimes it's hard to tell and in more cases than you might think we will never know what it is.
 

Kazarak

New Member
Lymphocystis tends to appear even more pronounced and much more on the outer surface of the body. To me it doesn't look like it and it wouldn't change much as it's also a disease without any remedy. You might want to stop looking through fish diseases for some days and just focus on improving the conditions further. I once researched diseases too much and got into a spiral of anxiety. I know it can be a brain tease to find out, but sometimes it's hard to tell and in more cases than you might think we will never know what it is.
Well, thank you for all your help. I think it's time to put him to rest tonight. I have been keeping his water as clean as I can and feeding the best food I can get. As he deteriorated further I restarted medications but as of tonight he is only breathing out of one gill. The sore would continue looking like it was healing and then pieces would keep dying and falling off of him. I am still not sure if it is/was myco but I looked into having a necropsy done and it will be $550 which I can't afford so I don't know what to do at this point. Just wanted to give you an update and say thanks for the help.
 
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