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Nothing but Problems or Where is the Pleasure?

Discussion in 'Talk to Tom Barr' started by The Rockster, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. The Rockster

    The Rockster Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,

    It seems perhaps we are not cut out to keep a planted tank. :(

    The latest issue besides reoccurring BBA, is our discus seem to be sick and dying.
    The sympthoms mirror those of "Discus Plague." Darkness of coloring; fins clamped; slime coat missing; white spotted sides; lethargic;flashing; pectoral fin splitting; hanging out near surface, in tank corners, in a tight pack;and swimming in "unnatural" positions.
    So we did water changes, setup the diatom filter, and called our breeder (Wattley).
    We were told to use ParaGuard by Seachem, at half dose (due to the Clown Loaches being sensitive to the meds).
    As yet-day 3 of treatment- no improvement at all...........and its a sad thing to watch.
    Unfortunately, the tank is in the living room...............
    any help would be greatly appreciated.............

    I think what ever sickness or disease we have was brought into the planted tank with the new plants we bought to replace the BBA affected ones. Although we have a QT tank (which is occupied), we never thought of dipping the new plants, nor do we have any experience doing it.
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Some find pleasure is solving problems:eek:
    Most do not.

    I think it might be slightly too high CO2, not enough O2.
    They are strongly linked, you cannot talk about one and fish, without the other.

    Many discus people add too little current.
    They think less is better.
    This is counter to the demands of a big old cichlid that is over fed.
    When you add plants, that greatly reduces flow even further.

    So you end up with a high bioloading, no flow, and low O2, then you add high temps on top of that.

    This is more likely why the fish have poor color............

    Then you can add more CO2 if you resolve those issues above.

    Which will help plants, no BBA etc.

    Plants will also produce more O2, which will help fish etc.

    Using no more than say 2w/gal of light (assuming T5's) will also help more, and have better color for viewing fish.

    Less light= less CO2 demand= less nutrient demand.

    Focus there and with more O2/filtration etc.
    Nice driftwood displays with a nice mat of floating plants is the last option.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. The Rockster

    The Rockster Guru Class Expert

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    I love to solve problems, and am rarely a fatalist. As a fisherman, I usually am extremely patient. However, after changing to diffusers, adding powerheads, switching to a "siesta "photoperiod", and purchasing new plants,(which is where I think I got Discus Plaque from) I am now possibly watching $400.00 of fish die, in my living room, after spending thousands of dollars. If that wouldn't depress or frustrate someone, they aren't human.

    "I think it might be slightly too high CO2, not enough O2."
    I run a curtain of air for 8 hours at night, after the Co2 turns off.. It seems to clean the scum and the water.


    "They are strongly linked, you cannot talk about one and fish, without the other."
    The fish seemed to get sick when I turned up the Co2. However, they never gasped at the surface, and the d/c never went to solid yellow. I watched the tank and daily turned up the Co2 to about 4bps.

    "Many discus people add too little current."
    I just installed two Korilia 2's powerheads (600x2)

    "This is counter to the demands of a big old cichlid that is over fed.
    When you add plants, that greatly reduces flow even further.
    So you end up with a high bioloading, no flow, and low O2, then you add high temps on top of that.
    This is more likely why the fish have poor color............"
    According to Wattley it is due to the mucus coat being consumed by bacteria, and that dark color is always due to stress.

    "Then you can add more CO2 if you resolve those issues above.
    Which will help plants, no BBA etc.
    Plants will also produce more O2, which will help fish etc.
    Using no more than say 2w/gal of light (assuming T5's) will also help more, and have better color for viewing fish.
    Less light= less CO2 demand= less nutrient demand."
    I use the siesta photoperiod for only 8 hours(CF) a day(4 on-4off-4on) at 2.1 wpg, and still am getting new BBA.

    "Focus there and with more O2/filtration etc.
    Nice driftwood displays with a nice mat of floating plants is the last option."
    I am nowhere near my last option. I know of a few people that keep planted tanks with discus, with no problems. If they can, so can I.

    I was hoping you could suggest some remedies for the fish's apparent illness. We have zero experience with fish's disease, and are looking for those that due. I have been following your postings for years on the Krib and AC, and know that you had kept discus in the past.

    Perhaps I could have avoided this possible fish kill with a good "plant dip"?
    Do you know of a good, safe one?
    From our research, any plant (although healthy) kept in a tank that also had this affliction, could be a carrier of this disease.
    What is your opinion on this?
    Why aren't plant dips spotlighted, if in fact, introducing new plants is a possible source of tank contamination?

    Above all,
    thanks for your patience..........and being here for the average hobbyist.
     
  4. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi Rock,

    I never kept discus (yet) and am no disease specialist, but I do live relatively close by and would be happy to stop by and lend whatever I can to the situation.

    Or even a phone call to hear everything out loud......

    Let me know and best of luck to you.

    I know there are many discus experts/keepers on this site and I expect them to chime in........
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Dark color is a sign of stress, that much I have noted.

    At 45ppm they will get stressed even at high O2 and with good water quality.
    So that is the limit.

    For many without good flow and plant health, maybe 15ppm is their limit.
    Hard to say since there are a lot more issues with adding CO2 than a few more bubbles per second.

    101 ways to mess something up, only a couple of ways to get it right.

    The color shift has nothing to do with bacteria and the coat.
    It's the respiration stress.

    You can also count the resting breathing rate and take a few averages and a number of readings/reps.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. The Rockster

    The Rockster Guru Class Expert

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    We are really "blown away", by your offer, and kindness.
    You are very welcome at our condo. That being said, we would not want to waste your time or resources.
    However this problem has not yet hit "critical mass point ", ie. no fish deaths.I have kept discus for 8 years,(with silk plants) without one bout of sickness or disease. Yet when I "google" Discus Plague, the symptoms match my fish, and the outcome is scary. The possibility of an airborne, incurable, plague killing our fish, in our house, would be a great plot for some horror movie..... The only addition to the planted tank, has been plants, purchased at Beverly's in Pembroke Pines. So we are guessing that is the source.
    Perhaps T.Barr is correct and we have gassed the fish!

    Luckily for us, we have help from you all, and Wattley Discus (Gabe)

    Rarely do I vent or get frustrated, prematurely. However the original thread might be one of those times. We think of these fish as our pets (equal to our cats and parrots) and too watch them suffer can be unnerving..........I am responsible for their situation.
     
  7. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Well, I have some spare Koralia IV and stuff not used if you want one of them to help with 02...........

    'Waste my time'. Thanks for the thought, but I waste plenty and I would not consider this a waste at all.

    Let me know. If I can help I will. Maybe I can spot something....

    I would for sure lower the c02 for now. You can always eliminate algae and get new plants....

    Just PM if interested and we can go from there.....
     
  8. The Rockster

    The Rockster Guru Class Expert

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    I lowered the Co2 last Friday.

    I have like 20 times the amount of circulation needed for this size tank.Net of 60 gallons: 2 Eheims Pro II & 2 Korilia II=1754 gph-(overly optimistic)+ a Diatom Vortex XL filter
    .
    Let's see what develops........give the meds time to work.

    Been feeding them color bits soaked in garlic for breakfast...........they won't touch them now. They still are eating some live CBW (California Black Worms) for dinner.

    Take a gander at this:

    Discus Black Disease Plague
     
  9. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Rock,

    PM sent. Article states it can be 'cured' with time and 'not to worry', but thought there was a good deal of fear mongering in it as well. Just my opinion.
     
  10. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Stress

    Hi,

    I want to say your feelings do you proud, you are exactly the kind of people who should keep pets, and planted tanks are no different.

    I will even forgive your use of my picture, for your avatar.;)

    I sometimes have a way of offending people (Evil Plant Monster:eek: ), generally I don’t mean to, so if anything I say offends, that is not how it is meant. Sometimes the written word can seem harsher than intended, I have nothing but empathy for your situation.

    Take Gerry up on the offer. I wish Gerry would come to my house. An extra set of experienced eyes isn’t going to hurt.

    See Disclaimer: I am no expert. That fact has however never stopped me from weighing in with observations based on my experience.

    I am with Tom Barr (who does have an annoying habit of being right more often than seems fair), what you describe I would attribute to stress rather than some amorphous ‘Discus Plague Syndrome’.

    I had a severe case of stress in a tank with eight adult Discus. That resulted from an incident involving one or two autistic children, the caregiver lost control of the situation and we really didn’t have a plan in place to deal with that situation. I honestly thought we were going to lose the discus, a lizard or two and some upset birds.

    The stress the Discus exhibited seemed all out of proportion and seemed to feed on itself. Finally, one of the brighter handlers here turned down the light; and rigged up a divider, a privacy fence, in front of the tank. I have never kept discus tanks intensely lit, though they are hardly dark, most two watts per gallon or less. It took a week or two but everyone calmed down, as far as we could tell no permanent harm.

    Over the years, I have seen this stress induced ‘syndrome’ a few times. I have never kept wild caught discus and frankly, our domesticated discus just don’t seem as fragile as often advertised.

    I think the danger with stressed critter or for that matter plants is the weakening of the system, immune in particular.

    I suggest a couple of things in addition to dialing back the CO2 and remember not to get focused on a causation whether CO2 or mystery plant ailment or strange airborne invaders (don’t laugh, our tanks are subject to airborne assault) until you know for sure.

    First, I would cut the lighting dramatically for a few days. Without directly covering the tank, provide a ‘quiet zone’, minimal movement and keep birds, dogs whatever other critters you may have away.

    Second, add circulation, as Tom Barr observed we have this notion of placid discus tanks, I think we seriously underestimate the amount of flow even in slow moving rivers. Add some aeration, a cheap air pump and stone if there is any question of oxygen levels.

    Third, if you are going to follow a dosing regimen, follow the regimen, remove the Clown Loaches to another container, any appropriate sized food grade container, I like Sterilite, Cheap at WalMart, you can toss when done to avoid the risk of contamination. While at WalMart get a cheap hang on back, HOB, filter and a cheap air pump and check valves, air stones if you don’t have them around. Toss in those silk plants and other objects

    Forth, remove the Clown Loaches permanently even if you don’t dose. They just may well be the stressor. While the antics of those Clowns may be amusing to us, they can be downright disturbing to other, more docile inmates. 72-gallon tanks are simply too small for these boisterous, raucous and highly social, growing to 16 inches.

    Fifth, counter-intuitive as it may sound, large water changes help.

    Sixth, I think you have a lot of light even without the ‘Discus factor’, light drives the system, reduce the light, your life will be simpler.

    I do wish you well, whatever you decide.:)

    Biollante
     
  11. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Maybe the third time is the charm on this post....

    I have one discus who turns nearly black EVERY time I change the water. It's definitely stress behavior and he's good to go a few minutes later as if nothing ever happened. Any boisterous fish in the tank won't help. Especially if they're more active at night. People get cranky and sick when they can't sleep and this may also be a factor here.

    You mentioned a change in CO2 method I think. You may find your method is more efficient than you think even if the drop checker never hits yellow. Especially with discus. For now, just reach down and turn the tank valve OFF. You can mess with CO2 later after you get things stable.

    Discus Mantra = Water Change, Water Change, Water Change.

    Any issues with discus you can as a general rule first do a 50% Water Change and then start figuring things out. The ER does this with diabetics. Feed them juice if they come in all wonky. If it's low, the juice snaps them out of it, and if it's high, the juice likely won't cause any additional harm. Same thing here.

    Jack Wattley had an article recently where they did multiple 90% changes daily in a fry tank. All other factors were held constant. The fry in that tank were double the size of the other fry in the control tank. Seriously consider some large water changes DAILY for a while. I have my discus on tap water. Drain the tank, throw in some Seachem Prime and refill from the tap. Get the temps close, or maybe a touch warmer from the tap and it's all good.

    With these kinds of WCs you may find you don't have to dose anything to the tank. Tap water may provide enough ferts and the massive changes may provide enough CO2 as well.

    -
    S
     
  12. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Additional thoughts....

    Baths and dipping.

    You could try salt baths on your discus. Throw a couple TSP of salt per gallon. Place fish in for up to 30 minutes. Pull fish out if he gets to a point where he can't float upright. You could also try other meds, but follow the doses. Do not be surprised if the slime coat completely comes off the fish. Another smaller Water Change may not be a bad idea.

    Plants can be dipped in several things like Potassium Permanganate which I have been completely unable to find. I use a brutal bleaching method instead. Make a solution of 1 cup bleach to 20 cups water. Place any stem or delicate plants in there for no more than 2 minutes. Rinse and declorinate well. More durable plants get 3 minutes. Not kind to the plants and you can expect to lose some, but it's an option. If it doesn't kill the plant it should at least kill any algae and snails on it.

    -
    S
     
  13. The Rockster

    The Rockster Guru Class Expert

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    Well,
    The largest Discus is dead. RIP Fred. He was part of our family for a few years. We are trying a one hour dip with Para Guard for Kirby. He seemed to be getting over whatever caused this, although still not swimming well. The third discus seems better.
    It's been suggested that I am "under filtered", for discus, due to their size, and resulting bio load. I really don't understand that.
    I bought over sized Eheim cannisters. They both are rated for tanks larger than I have (60 gall -net) Eheim 2128 & Eheim 2028.(pump output=277x2;filter circulation=198gph X2-app).We do weekly water changes, and tri monthly filter changes (staggered). I got out the test kit, and all tests were good.
    What are the signs of under filtration?
    Mon-Tues, I added a Diatom XL Filter.
    Now I have discontinued XL, and have added Mag 350.
    I am thinking of getting a new Marineland c530 Cannister, if it would solve my problem.
    However, I am not sure, that is/was the problem. I think its bacterial. I have not added any fish for many months, only replaced plants.
    Any opinions?

    Thanks for all your help---
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I run about 10-20x the tank volume for filtration.
    This means good filtration, canister/wet/dry/UV etc.
    I'd suggest a UV for $$ fish also. Run during day time only.

    Might take Gerry up to isolate the CO2 issue, but.........this might not have anything to do with plants or CO2 etc.

    Water changes always help both Discus and plants.

    With 10-20x the tank volume moving around, this is NOT a simple bare tank. This is a planted tanks with scaping etc, wood etc. This greatly reduces flow and provides plenty of regions for the fish to get out of the current. Fish get lazy in a small glass box, they need exercise, they have more vigor and eat better when they do.

    Current is greatly reduced by plants, roughly 10X as much in a dutch style planted tank.

    So keep that in mind, I shoot for 82-84F for the temps.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. The Rockster

    The Rockster Guru Class Expert

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    I have an oversized UV filter installed..............We have been running it at night, occasionally ................so not to affect iron dosing or increase the water temp (running lights and UV together) PerSechem's instructions, (on their site), we have discontinued usage while dosing their meds.

    In the summer time in FL, in central a/c, with lights on, we are averaging 86 degrees temp.
     
  16. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi Rock,

    So sorry to hear about the fish :(

    The reasons I advised adding more filtration are as follows:

    1. During our conversation you mentioned that the Eheims were quiet but not that powerful and that if the tank is stirred up a bit, that it does not filter quickly.

    2. You then followed up with your own thought that the E models you use you read the ratings incorrectly and they were lower than you thought.

    3. You have large (5") discus and you said the clowns were NOT LESS 4".

    I like the Eheims but think they are rated optimistically. You have large fish that produce a good amount of waste.

    Plant growth/algal issues.

    During our talk you mentioned that you were NOT really dosing any macro/micro nutrients. A little seachem I think.

    Since you are injecting c02, these macro/micros play an even greater LIMITING role.

    I would advise switching to an EI dosing regimen for a 100 gal tank size and go from there. Do some more water changes as we have all suggested :)

    Get some more plant growth in there too. I can supply you with some quick growers I think :)

    Get your fish health issues fixed first.

    Hope this helps.
     
  17. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Sorry For Your Loss

    Hi,

    I am sorry to hear of your loss, they really do become part of our lives.

    I think what Gerry and Tom Barr have said is the base cause.

    Please don't think me rude, but did you do any sort of post mortem on Fred. Is there anything you can share about his condition?

    Biollante
     
  18. The Rockster

    The Rockster Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,
    We think the fish kill is over. We lost two big discus, we had for years.
    So, I am rethinking the events and causes.
    Thanks to all who helped!!!
    Actually, I think that you all are right.
    I think I gassed the fish with the new dual diffuser Co2 dispersion. Wattley discus told me that when the fish are gassed, they first get brain dead, and then flash around.............like mine did. I sat and watched, the fish, and they never gasped at the surface. The d/c never went yellow. I timed the bps to no more than 4. I adjusted the bps once a day in the am.
    That being said, I also don't have a lot of faith in my 4degree Kh water. I will purchase lab certified, instead of DYI.
    I believe, I have a bacterial problem, which would probably factor in somewhere. Proof, is the gel like substance that builds up in the mouth of my d/c after being in the fishtank for about 4 days. We will activate the UV filter, from now on.

    I have been on several websites, trying to get the stats on Eheim Cannister Filters. Not all are the same numbers, some list pump flow, some circulation, with and without media. Numbers vary from 177-275, not allowing for inline add ons .(UV's etc. and partially plugged filters). My filter specs rate these filters for 90 gallon and up tanks (each) Much like mphs for new trucks and cars, they are overly optmistic. So I will get more filtration.
    I need to switch to EI dosing, I have been using Seachem Ferts, and there dosing strategy, yet have obvious nutritional deficiencies. Judging by the plants. I will do this after I have used up most of my 2 litre bottles of ferts.
    Anyway, thanks for all your help.........future, past, and present!
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Low filtration, low O2, muck, poor plant growth(algae) can and will lead to higher bacteria.

    UV helps, but not if you do not have it on more.

    Do not worry about Fe and UV, not one person I've ever talked too/nor my own observations has seen any practical evidence in a planted tank any adverse effects there.

    Some use 2X week 30-50% water changes for Discus.
    This works well if you use EI also, you dose generally after water change only, maybe an added trace addition as well in there also.

    This keeps things really clean.

    For dosing, you can modify EI also.
    Target 15ppm instead of 30ppm for example.

    You can run it leaner if you do more water changes and keep tighter tabs on the effective ranges. Dry ferts are cheap. The added salts/GH will help the fish also.

    KH you do not want to add, but the dry ferts are in fact salts, and have a similar effect to NaCl. I'd get at least a Rena XP3, better yet, a small Wet dry and a hang on pre filter skimmer etc. Add all the equipment, heaters etc down there.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     

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