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I've had powder blue dwarf gourami for about a year and a half, in a 20 gallon tank with 2 danios and 2 dojos. This gourami has always been a bit strange, preferring the bottom of the tank and usually eating the dojos' sinking wafers rather than flakes or crisps like a normal guy. But we humored him since he remained healthy.

About 6 months ago we got 3 black swordtails (2 female, 1 male). They seemed fine at purchase and for a month afterwards--then one died, next month another, finally the last one died about 2 months ago. They all had the same progression of symptoms--loss of color (including a grayish tinge to the scales along the top half of the body),then slow weight loss, crookedness of spine, lethargy, labored breathing (final days) and finally death. Various methods I tried were melafix, then "parasite clear" tablets, extra tank cleanings, and quaratining. The last fish seemed to get better for a couple weeks, but then went downhill fast. I really could not diagnose the problem, so my attempts to save the swordtails came to nothing.

Meanwhile, during the whole 6 month fiasco, none of the other fish (danios, dojos, gourami) showed any signs of catching whatever the swordtails had. I thought we were in the clear, but in the last month, gourami seemed to be slower, eating less, and had some dark/red bumps on face. After I returned from a 3 week winter break, during which the co-owner of the tank fed them every other day, I noticed that the gourami seemed pale, lethargic, had lost weight, and now hid inside the bell decoration virtually all day, things that the co-owner and I both agreed were distressing. Over the last week, he has not been eating much. His spine looks curved downward at the tail, which seems stiff. The front of his head seems sunken in. Yesterday he did not eat.

Today he was sitting on the bottom, upright, but clearly resting on the bottom, with pectoral and pelvic fins sticking straight out as though to brace himself. He has a lump on the right side, toward the back, and lists to the left. I immediately moved him to the quarantine tank, which I treated with parasite clear and stress coat. He does not have labored breathing, but he also is not going to the surface at all for air. (I read recently that products like melafix can damage labyrinth fishes, and am now regretting the melafix use a few months ago--wondering if that is a contributing factor).

Picture below (you can see the lump on his side). I have always been very diligent about water changes and water conditions, and the danios and dojos are still healthy so far. I would really appreciate advice in both diagnosis and treatment. Thanks.

Andrea


 

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It may just be coincidence and the gourami is getting old. Older fish display loss of color, appetite, and sometimes get "cancerous" look to them like a bump or a crook.

Can you describe your water conditions more and you water change schedule/condition of the tap water. Things like pH, nitrate, hardness, temp...etc would help. It sounds like your gourami was never typical. They tend to stay near the top and eat from the top.

Loss of appetite and swelling could also be constipation believe it or not. Maybe try another kind of food flake or try a live food source from time to time, just to change it up. Him eating food at the botom meant for other fish could be the problem. Bloat is another possiblility. How does the feces look?
 

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It may just be coincidence and the gourami is getting old. Older fish display loss of color, appetite, and sometimes get "cancerous" look to them like a bump or a crook.
I guess that could be it, but I was really hoping he'd go longer than a year and a half...he wasn't full size when I got him.

Can you describe your water conditions more and you water change schedule/condition of the tap water. Things like pH, nitrate, hardness, temp...etc would help.
Temp is consistently 75F. The tap water is hard, usually 150-250ppm, zero ppm nitrite, 5ppm nitrate, less than .5ppm chlorine, around 80 ppm for KH, and pH 6.7. Water conditions are typically zero ppm nitrite, well under 20ppm nitrate, 150 ppm GH, zero ppm chlorine, 100ppm KH and 6.8-6.9 pH. In the past I have tried to keep the KH and pH higher, but they would always end up fluctuating quite a lot, which I felt was more stressful than just letting them be and just treating new water during changes with a light dose of pH neutralizer. I do 25% water changes once a week, sometimes a week and a half in between if the gravel seems pretty clean. Every couple months I pull out all the decor and do a really good cleaning plus 35% water change. We used to have an undergravel filter, but it was always filthy (tons of detritus stuck underneath that the siphon couldn't lift out, led to cloudy water), so I switched to a 20gal Aqueon Power Filter, which is much better.

Loss of appetite and swelling could also be constipation believe it or not. Maybe try another kind of food flake or try a live food source from time to time, just to change it up. Him eating food at the botom meant for other fish could be the problem. Bloat is another possiblility. How does the feces look?
I feed them every other day, alternating tropical flakes and crisps, plus alternating protein wafer with algae wafers for the dojos. I always feed the flakes or crisps first, to encourage him to eat those--sometimes he'll grab a bit if it's close enough--I think the danios intimidate him. He normally poops fine, a couple stringy ones once that I saw. This morning he looked perkier in the quarantine tank, and has been grabbing at tiny bits of detritus and food that drift by, but he still won't take any flakes or crisps. He's moving around a little and came to the surface to exchange air a couple times while I did a water change, probably because the surface was only a few inches above him.
He did have a really long, like 4 inch, string of clear poop hanging this morning...And he's still sitting on the bottom and listing to the left side (he has to keep righting himself--it's kinda funny in a really sad way). Overall he looks less like he's dying and more like he's just chronically ill. I'd really like to move him back to the main tank soon because my quarantine tank is small and requires a lot of monitoring to keep it stable. He's always been strange and I think I may just have to accept that he's gonna be short-lived, especially if he keeps trying to act like a bottom feeder...:)

Anyway thanks for your help. If he still looks good tomorrow I will probably move him back to the 20 gal.
 

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You give very good answers..I like that!

I did some more research and came up with this: Fish Tuberculosis

Physical signs: Various presentations, hard to make certain diagnosis without necrospy or lab culture. Includes: wasting away, shrunken stomachs, occasionally skin infections, spinal curvature deformity in advanced cases.

Behavior signs: anorexia/refusal to eat, lethargy, hiding behavior, "hanging", clamped fins, loss of appetite, general constitutional signs.

Try a strong antibiotic such as kanamycin sulfate or streptomycin. I think it is harder to find Kanamycin but look for it in various brand name medicines. Otherwise I do know that Seachem specifically makes Kanamycin.

TB maybe?
 
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