Sick Oscar

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Sick Oscar

Postby Indy0529 on Fri Feb 29, 2008 6:49 am

My Oscar (the oldest fish in my tank) appears to be sick. He just lays on the bottom and does not move. He hasn't eaten in about a week. No spots or other outward signs. Water quality is good. I have had him for about 6 years. Any idea what could be wrong with him?

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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby cichlidfish on Fri Feb 29, 2008 2:02 pm

Anything else in the tank worth noting other than the oscar? You could try doing water changes to gradually introduce completely new water, use some salt and/or maybe some anti-bacterial/fungii medication. Also, try various kinds of foods, they might make the effort to open their mouth for some type of food if its close to them. Anything that could have introduced any disease? Again, only thing one can do without knowing exactly which one is to treat generically for a broader range and just make sure to keep optimum water quality, oxygenation (enough water current, movement at surface), and temperature. And start looking for any visual signs that start to appear or you may have missed.
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby Indy0529 on Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:27 pm

It has been over two weeks now and no change. He is still on the bottom and will not eat. I have tried changing food but he still won't go for it. I have added salt and no change. He even let the salt land on him and didn't move. He apprears to be gasping. I put in air stones to give him more oxygen. He also appears to be listing to one side. I will try Melafix next but I am not sure how that will help. Is there a broad spectrum antibiotic that could help him? I am getting ready to change the entire tank in case there is something in the gravel or ornaments that is making him sick. The remainder of the fish appear fine. The tank may be a little overcrowded, but it has always been that way. Should I put him in a hospital tank for now? It would be much smaller (20 gal). He is about 10" long.

Not sure what to do. He was pretty active until just recently.

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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby DanRad on Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:43 pm

What size tank is he in? What are ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate readings?
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby cichlidfish on Mon Mar 10, 2008 11:22 pm

What size is the original tank? Usually its better to remove the fish into a smaller 'treatment' tank because it will be much less hassle to cycle water out during treatment, switch to different treatment additives, medicines etc and the smaller treatment tank will require less medicine. What is the temperature of the tank? If the temperature of the tank is on the low side I recommend raising the temperature during treatment to over 80 (under 84, say 82) but make SURE to have a lot of water circulation and a strong air pump or a couple of them with air stones. In other words the water should be VERY WELL OXYGENATED, can't emphasize that enough. The warmer the water, the less capable it is at holding oxygen. Don't forget the water treatments for removal of chlorine, chloramine, etc during water additions/changes. And as DanRad says, would be good to have those readings as well as pH etc..

Do you have a picture of your tank? That would help, do you have gravel in the tank? What was previous diet you fed it? How much?

For a broad antibiotic try and get some good ol' Tetracycline.
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby Indy0529 on Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:21 am

He is in a 120 gal tank. Like I said it may be a little overcrowded (the fish grew bigger than I anticipated). But it's not extremely overcrowded. 8 fish total length 56". Temp of water is 78 degrees. Ammonia 0, Nitrite .25, Nitrate 5.0, Ph is 180 ppm. I do 30% water changes weekly. Gravel bottom, I am getting ready to change the gravel because it's dirty. Food is TetraCichlid Cichlid Sticks and I feed once daily, very little. I have Plecos in the tank and they make a mess if I feed too much. I have two 4" airstones and two power heads running in the tank. Two filters, one cannister, one Emperor. I had just cleaned the cannister filter before he go sick. I had a little bit of a bacteria bloom from the new filter media, but nothing serious, it cleared up in about a week. Do you think maybe he is just getting old? I have had him for about 5-6 years. I am affraid if I switch him to a smaller tank it will take too long to cycle the tank. I don't have a tank up and running, I would have to get a new one. The shock to a newly cycled tank may be too much for him, in his condition.

Fish in tank:
4 Severum - About 7" each
2 Plecos - About 14" each
2 Oscars - About 10" each (one is the sick one)
1 Clown Loach - About 2"
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby Indy0529 on Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:12 am

I just noticed he has scraped the scales off of his belly. I am sure this is from sitting on the bottom and the little moving around he does. The Bully fish (there is one in every tank) now figured out he is sick and is picking on him. I went to my Local Fish Store and their Oscar's are doing the same thing. They called it "Lazy Oscar Syndrome." I think it is more serious than that.

Listen to me, I'm acting like this is one of my kids!
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby DanRad on Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:31 pm

This may or may not be his immediate problem, but your nitrite reading would indicate that you likely had a bit of a cycle happen. He could very well be reacting to the high nitrogen levels. In that tank, with those fish, I'd recommend upping your water change regimen to 60 or 70% weekly as a minimum. Just be sure you're at approximately the same temp with the new water as what's in the tank, and add dechlorinator. I also recommend not changing the gravel -- that's where a whole lot of your useful bacteria live. If it's dirty, use a gravel vacuum on it. I'd also avoid antibiotics for the time being -- they'll mess up your bacteria even more. I'd also add some salt, to help de-toxify that nitrite. The behavior you're describing is consistent with ammonia/nitrite poisoning. Do at least a 50% water change right away, and monitor that nitrite.
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby aussie_oscar on Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:37 pm

You said you had cleaned your filter? How did you do it because if it's a biological based filter how you clean them is incredibly important to how well they work.

No matter what everyone has some form of biological filtration, whether they realise or not. Even though a filter may remove debree and alter the chemical composition such as having carbon filters, they can still be primarily biological.

Here's how it works; when a fish excretes nitrogenous waste, depending on temp and pH, some of it becomes ammonia(an ionised bit) and some remains amonnium(the un-ionised bit, less toxic). Together they are called TAN, Total ammonia nitrogen. When the TAN passes through the filter a bacteria named Nitrosomonas sp. feeds on it, and in excretement they give you Nitrites. The nitrites pass through the filter again and a second bacteria called Nitrobacter sp. feeds on these nitrites and excretes Nitrates. Nitrates can be absorbed by plants and algae but generally needs to be removed through water changes. It is toxic but only as it affects the growth of fish.
The bacteria multiply and build up on the filter from when you first turn it on. It takes 6 - 8 weeks before the bacteria is properly functional as a filter. There's other bacteria that do other filtering but this is the main important bit.
A biological filter should never be cleaned out unless:
1. It has become clogged with debree which is affecting water flow, or
2. No oxygen has been getting to the bacteria.

The bacteria are aerobic, which means they rely on oxygen. As long as the water is oxygenated through whatever the bacteria stay that way. Most common way to deprive them of oxygen is to turn the filter off so that water stops flowing through. The water becomes stagnant and the bacteria become anarobic, giving off toxic excretement.

To clean a filter you always clean it in the same water as the tank. For sponges just squeeze them in lightly and release, don't wring them out. For other bits suchs as bio balls and gravel and grit put it in a container with tank water in it, stir the bits around lightly and pour off half of the water. Then add the bits back to the filter.

If the filters aren't cleaned gently you lose too many bacteria which have developed to the perfect amount to filter your tank water. Even cleaning like this should have you feeding lightly for a few days. If a filter is cleaned in tap water you lose all the bacteria that have built up and it takes another 6 - 8 weeks for bacteria to re-establish.

Even though a filter may look foul, it's probably doing the best job any filters' ever done.




Another thing I'll suggest is he's being picked on if everyone else is fine. Oscars sulk and don't eat when stressed, bullied, moved etc. I shifted four 10" oscars not long ago and they didn't eat for a week because of the move. When they did start eating it was very gradually.
Seperate him and make sure you give him a preventative(half dose) of ICH remedy. Also give a preventative dose to the fish in the tank. Leave him for a night and on the following night before lights out try a square of frozen beef heart or something. Next day try some live food and see if he chases it around to eat it, or at least eat it when you're not looking. It's hard for someone to tell if a fish is eating leftovers with others in tank, and fish have no interest in stale food, so at least with something live you can see if he's keen on eating when you're not looking.
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby Indy0529 on Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:48 pm

Thanks for all the help guys, but the Oscar was dead when I got home tonight. Now I just have to watch closely and make sure whatever he had he didn't pass on to my other fish. I will continue to use tetracyclene sp? to be sure.

Again, thanks for all the help.
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby cichlidfish on Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:59 pm

Sorry to hear that :(
Hopefully the others will escape, personally, and I'm not saying I have hard facts backing this, I'm against using gravel with 'big' fish. I'm not so sure the kind of bacteria that is encouraged to grow in that stagnant water layer with little oxygen etc is the wanted kind....I've used it for smaller tanks and small fish but my big tanks with large fish I liked to keep it pretty bare with maybe just very thin layer of pebbles they can move around, slate, etc...I was never one to care too much about 'saving' all the bacteria possible, reusing filters etc...I found that even in 100% brand new water and very clean no good or bad bacteria (and with proper water additives and parameters) the fish were very happy and healthy. (Try using dividers if you have bullies picking on weaker fish.) I also always did bigger water changes than most recommended, around 50%.....and daily cleanup of uneaten food and waste (before it grows fungus/mold all over), which is hard to do if you have gravel...
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby aussie_oscar on Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:13 am

Not if you use the gravel as a filter. Water isn't stagnent. I have them in all my tanks except of substrate spawners.
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby Indy0529 on Wed Mar 12, 2008 6:20 am

Actually, I find that the bigger fish like the gravel, especially the Oscars. They like to dig and make holes to lay in. I am changing the gravel more for appearance than anything else (but it is also dirty). I really think if I use 50% old tank water and don't clean the filters it should be fine. I always use a dechlorinator (sp?) every time I change water. Also, if I move the rocks around it gives the fish something to do when they move them back to original positions.
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby aussie_oscar on Wed Mar 12, 2008 7:40 am

I'm lazy when it comes to water changes. I don't use a de-cholrinator I just fill up the bath tub the night before. Chlorine's a gas so it leaves the water withing 24 hours. The other part is chloramine as well. I don't know what the water is like in US but chloramine is also found in the water. Dissappears after 24 hours too.

Silliest thing people can do is use warm water, warm water will have copper in it which is toxic to fish.

Wow, I like talking.
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Re: Sick Oscar

Postby cichlidfish on Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:42 pm

That's ok, we like listening or make that reading ;D
IMPORTANT though, as far as i know, some cities use Chloramine or other similarly bonded chlorine which does not evaporate from the water like regular chlorine in there....so you should use the neutralizing solutions if you're not sure there's just simple chlorine being used by your city. As for the copper, is there any other reason other than implying more copper is dissolved into the water (from the pipes) with increased temperature? (because i mean, far as I know, if its pure, both hot water and cold water is "H2O" ;D )
Well, for the gravel issue, to each his own :) I know oscars like many others like to dig etc, but they also like to crap ;D I know I can keep a cleaner tank without gravel since I've tried it, so I only gave them a very small layer of smooth rounded pebbles for them to play with such that I can still easily clean entire area. What can I say, when it came to tank rearrangement the oscars usually lost, and I got my way :cool: (I recall trying some plants, very 'briefly'...)
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