View Full Version : The root cause of sick fish

01-28-2003, 07:56 PM
Hi everyone,

I just wanted to talk about an article that I had read a long time ago but re-read a few nights ago which brought the subject back to my attention. I now want to raise this issue to the public forum so experts and beginners like me can talk about it and perhaps just be aware of it if nothign else.

The article was in Diskus Brief magazine (out of print, translated from German magazine) it is entitled "Practical Infestation...To Treat or Not to Treat" and appeared in the Volume IV - Issue I - 1998 publication (don't quote me on that, I think that is right, I have to go home and double check). I have read about this topic in many places such as www.dph.nl, but of late, I have lost sight of it's message and I am trying now not to lose sight of it ever again.

Basically the author was bringing up the point of how hossyists these days are bombarded by a plethora of medications and are prescribing highly potent drugs and administering this chemical warefare to their unsuspecting fish, without proper diagnosis. Basically it goes on to say that we sometimes administer strong medication without having an accurate diagnosis of the problematic disease or parasite in hand and we go by observing many common symtoms of colour change, lack of appetite etc. I know I have many times in the past go on gut feeling or just plain "they show this so therefore it is that" diagnosis and went ahead with 400mg per 10gal dosages. Needless to say I know I have administered stuff in the past that made absolutely no difference whatsoever to the health of the fish, and thought afterwards, "ooops"... Guilty as charged!!!

The good news perhaps is that most likely we are on target as the disease that we are trying to treat is a very common problem and can be very easily diagnosed and can very well be treated by the drug that we are administering, the drug that is administered also covers the disease that was mis-diagnosed, or by sheer luck/fluke whatever.

This is not the ultimate goal of the article however as what the real underlying message of the article is in regards to why the fish develop accute problems in the first place. The author highlights how strong, healthy adult fish living in good environmental conditions will never develope problems with gill flukes or intestinal nematodes even though they are very present on the gills and in the stomachs of the adult fish. I tend to believe him as I don't get sick often even though I know that the common disease of influenza is in my bloodstream as we speak but I am not showing symtoms or signs of illness. It is only when I am run down, bombarded by stresses, recive poor diet and perhaps continually subjected to cold/unpleasent weather.

Well that is exactly to root cuase of most if not all the reasons why a discus gets sick. Outside contaminations aside (no new fish added to the aquarium) then the only other plausible reason why they would get sick is environment, stress, poor diet and just plain run down! marvellous thought and reasonning in my bookt. Now I remember why my signature on this forum says what is says!

"We are aqua-rists not fish-arists, we take care of water, fish take care of fish"

I think it was Jim Quarles who said something along the lines of that (don't quote me on that one either), but it is so true. If you take care of their environment, namely the very water that they live in as starter, change 30%, 50%, 80% of their water every day with good, clean, stable water and keep it like that day in day out, there should be no reason why the discus should suddenly get sick. Often, sadly they do just plain get sick, but many times the root cuase of all disease is stress related. We must always ask why they are sick, not how are they sick and target the root cuase not treat for symptoms.

After all Disease means exactly that, Dis - Ease. (not comfortable).

Hey I knew all this before but I lost sight of it along the way and I am glad to be re-aquinted. This is an enlightening experience for me all over again.

I am taking immediate steps to bettermy discus' environment starting this weekend. Lately and throughout my discus keeping hobby I have been doing 30% daily water change using stored, ph stable, heated and 24h airated water. I thought this was adequate and it is (come see my fish now they look great after their disease spell, full colouration, begging for food). However recently I have found out that some of you do more than just 30%, and it's logical and not too much more effort for me (god I love my pump!) I will drive 40km to pick up an industrially manufactured plastic bin (made to size) from an injection moulder outside of Sydney. Then I will be able to do 50% water change every day (it's a start). Looking forward to it and I know my fish will too...

Comments? Please do

Chong :thumbsup:

01-30-2003, 07:08 AM
why go all that way for a bin. Marine life at punchbowl have them. They get their salt water delivered in 44 gal drum. David will even drill a hole in the lid for you to pass the cords thru.

but to add my 2 cents worth ...... i personally dont do WC every day and my fish are just fine.
I know breeders that only do 20% daily. and others that only do 2 wc weekly.
I think the type of filtration you have and general housekeeping you do plays a part in what WC you do.

eg/ you can do your 50% wc daily but if you bring in fish and dont quarantine,then a lot of good your wc are going to do.

So IMO, filter and tank maintenance is just as important.

01-30-2003, 09:07 AM
A lot of it really has to do with the capacity of your tanks as well as the amount of fish you have in there as well as how big they are...

I will call punchbowl. The problem is that I have a space that is only 40cm wide, which means that for a 80L or 100L tank I need to get a square one to fit into that space. I am posting my space problems in Water Works section in a few minutes time.


01-30-2003, 02:53 PM
Hi chong:
Do you have room for a water storage container under your tank inside the stand? Maybe a smaller tank like a 25 gallon..

01-30-2003, 06:31 PM
Nope, the stand is an old style stand and it is partitioned into 3 separate sections. The only think I could fit in there would be something the size of the largest Eheim cannister filters, or a square bucket. The area underneath is basically useless...


02-02-2003, 02:27 AM
Great advice Chong!!! I think the beginner needs to know that if you buy small discus and want them to grow to their potential- then daily water changes are a MUST!!! I also do 50% water changes and wipe down the floor and sides DAILY!!! There is a big difference in merely surviving and thriving!! I also wish I had found Simplydiscus before I bought discus because I started out with a beautiful gravel planted tank. My fish did okay for awhile and then I started seeing problems. I then found Simplydiscus, and started reading, reading and reading.

Its hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but just from my own experience, when I started following advice from others on Simply, is when I started seeing my fish thrive. Yes, it was hard to go bare bottom- but my fish thrive now and I rarely have to medicate- I eliminated ALOT of my problems!!!

When I started doing daily changes, my fish grew like crazy, and would come up to greet me and wiggle in front of me- they were so happy. They stayed perked ALL the time and I clearly saw a difference in their behaviour and health when I went bare bottom. I also, got a pair to spawn and am on my second batch of babies now. It is a very rewarding experience knowing that I had babies! TWICE!!!! Go figure- I never dreamed of getting to this stage...

So my advice to beginners is if you want to eliminate sick fish and you are not real sure of discus- go bare bottom, water change your little guys everyday so they grow really big, and feed them the right foods and your hard work will pay off. It did for me....

Weezy ;D

02-02-2003, 06:51 PM
Actually Weezy that brings up another point. I read in the Diskus Brief Magazine (1995 Volume 3 Fall edition to be exact, but don't quote me) A reader wrote in to the brief in regards to a home built Nitrate filter. Basically a few issues back there was an article on how an Author for the brief uses a huge 1.5 metre tall home made PVC Nitrate cannister style filter to get rid of nitrate. It keeps Nitrate at well below acceptable levels something like( 0.5mg/l?). This meant that he did not have to change water often and did it 30% every 2 weeks. Not sure if he sucked out food and feces but I am guessing he does.

He reported that his fish have been doing well for some time (like 6 months of whatever) but when his fish came to lay, he lost 2 batches of fry. He thinks it could be bacterial since he seldom changes his water, but the editor seems to think it could be many factors.

Anyway what the article doesn't cover is the actual state of the actual fish. I am willing to bet they are not as happy or growing as large and colourful as what you describe on some of your fish.

On a side note, my fish trusts me so much that at feeding time they vitually will lay on my hand in the water! I have been doing this for a week now, he lets me pat him and almost pick him up out of the water with my hand! hehe it's a fantastic feeling... They are also on a growth spurt at the moment... Bare bottom is the way to go for starting out.


02-02-2003, 07:05 PM
good to see you continued where i left off - told you they were great fish... i miss them.http://smilies.sofrayt.com/%5E/q/depresse.gif
but there're back with dad now so i'm sure they're happy.