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Thread: Whirling Disease

  1. #16
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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    Alight, this describes a viral encephalitis in Blue Tilapia, which is a freshwater cichlid.

    "The disease was initially observed in inbred gynogenetic line of blue tilapia larvae (Oreochromis aureus) and could be transmitted to larvae of other tilapia species. Based on the clinical manifestation (a whirling syndrome), we refer to the disease as viral encephalitis of tilapia larvae."

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...42682210000103

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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    Quote Originally Posted by DJW View Post
    Alight, this describes a viral encephalitis in Blue Tilapia, which is a freshwater cichlid.

    "The disease was initially observed in inbred gynogenetic line of blue tilapia larvae (Oreochromis aureus) and could be transmitted to larvae of other tilapia species. Based on the clinical manifestation (a whirling syndrome), we refer to the disease as viral encephalitis of tilapia larvae."

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...42682210000103
    It would be nice if some scientist was interested enough to scan the of brains of some whirling discus with an electron microscope to see if they could find a similar herpes virus.

    I can see the incentive to do the research in tilapia. They are a major food source and there was a huge financial incentive for them to do this research.
    There's not any financial incentive with discus. It would be strictly an academic endeavor to know if whirling in discus is a viral encephalitis.
    It wouldn't surprise me at all if a herpes virus encephalitis was discovered to be the cause of whirling disease in discus.
    Last edited by smsimcik; 01-22-2018 at 08:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    Matt, I am really glad to see the others are doing better now. Between the weirdo and the Hex you really got put through the ringer. Good to see the dust is finally settling. This was a really interesting post. I am continually surprised by the lack of knowledge we have about these fish. Maybe someday there will be more studies on the brains of these guys. It seems that their brains are very vulnerable to insult, injury and stress in their environment- seemingly more so than most fish that are kept domestically. I guess if they were easier to keep we'd being seeing them in fish bowls on the desks of secretaries all over the world . I guess I am glad they still come with a little mystery so they remain enough of a challenge to build a hobby around. They keep us on our toes and caught in admiration when all goes well in their world.
    "You can't trust water: Even a straight stick turns crooked in it." -W.C.Fields

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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    I know it is not Myxobolus cerebralis (the protozoan actually shown to cause whirling disease in trout, salmon and other fish). I actually am a microscopist, and a neuroscientist and scoped some of the fish and found no sign of Myxobolus (we do have this protozoan in many of the streams near us, and I do a lot of trout fishing, so I could have contaminated my tanks, but this disease is not supposed to often affect warm water fish).

    It could be a virus. I actually also was an electron microscopist in the past, and could look for viruses in the brains, but have never had the free time to do the scoping when the fish had the disease, and I never really thought about a virus in the past. There were too many other diseases I did know about that I though might be the culprit. I had not seen the Shlapobersky et al. paper until today (thanks DJW). If I knew of a treatment for this herpes virus, I might find the time to look for it.
    The paper is from a group in Israel, so I'm not sure how the disease would get to Utah, but I guess it could be more common than we think.

  5. #20
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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    Quote Originally Posted by Alight View Post
    I know it is not Myxobolus cerebralis (the protozoan actually shown to cause whirling disease in trout, salmon and other fish). I actually am a microscopist, and a neuroscientist and scoped some of the fish and found no sign of Myxobolus (we do have this protozoan in many of the streams near us, and I do a lot of trout fishing, so I could have contaminated my tanks, but this disease is not supposed to often affect warm water fish).

    It could be a virus. I actually also was an electron microscopist in the past, and could look for viruses in the brains, but have never had the free time to do the scoping when the fish had the disease, and I never really thought about a virus in the past. There were too many other diseases I did know about that I though might be the culprit. I had not seen the Shlapobersky et al. paper until today (thanks DJW). If I knew of a treatment for this herpes virus, I might find the time to look for it.
    The paper is from a group in Israel, so I'm not sure how the disease would get to Utah, but I guess it could be more common than we think.
    Wish I hung onto him in the freezer, could have sent him to you lol.

    Thanks for the discussion all, I only had 6 fish in a 55gal, not the perfect ideal size, but not what I would call overcrowded either I am hoping if it is a virus its more like a mad cow type thing, where they would have to consume the other fish to pass it along - as the others still seem to be fine (better than ever actually after clearing the Hex...poor guys). My other thought is just a brain injury, these guys are pretty adept at slamming face first into hard objects so maybe a concussion/laceration of the brain/swelling of the brain.

    Interesting that many others have experienced this and mostly on younger fish, he was not full grown but at ~a year old when he died was getting pretty close. None of my fish have ever attempted to spawn, not sure what age that starts...I have two that appear to be a pair but no egg laying ever....yet!

  6. #21
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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenene View Post
    Matt, I am really glad to see the others are doing better now. Between the weirdo and the Hex you really got put through the ringer. Good to see the dust is finally settling. This was a really interesting post. I am continually surprised by the lack of knowledge we have about these fish. Maybe someday there will be more studies on the brains of these guys. It seems that their brains are very vulnerable to insult, injury and stress in their environment- seemingly more so than most fish that are kept domestically. I guess if they were easier to keep we'd being seeing them in fish bowls on the desks of secretaries all over the world . I guess I am glad they still come with a little mystery so they remain enough of a challenge to build a hobby around. They keep us on our toes and caught in admiration when all goes well in their world.
    Thanks Jenene, you of all people know how hard I work to keep their water the best it can be!! I was pretty surprised when my guys came down with Hex, but apparently even the best keepers seem to have an outbreak of it from time to time. They sure liked their sauna there for a week or two, I know I appreciated the nice warm water when its so cold out haha. Dont think the BN pleco liked it all that much but he lived! I didnt see much point in taking him out if I were to reintroduce him and he started an infection back up again...

  7. #22
    Registered Member smsimcik's Avatar
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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    Quote Originally Posted by Alight View Post
    I know it is not Myxobolus cerebralis (the protozoan actually shown to cause whirling disease in trout, salmon and other fish). I actually am a microscopist, and a neuroscientist and scoped some of the fish and found no sign of Myxobolus (we do have this protozoan in many of the streams near us, and I do a lot of trout fishing, so I could have contaminated my tanks, but this disease is not supposed to often affect warm water fish).

    It could be a virus. I actually also was an electron microscopist in the past, and could look for viruses in the brains, but have never had the free time to do the scoping when the fish had the disease, and I never really thought about a virus in the past. There were too many other diseases I did know about that I though might be the culprit. I had not seen the Shlapobersky et al. paper until today (thanks DJW). If I knew of a treatment for this herpes virus, I might find the time to look for it.
    The paper is from a group in Israel, so I'm not sure how the disease would get to Utah, but I guess it could be more common than we think.
    Alight, you sound like the perfect candidate to start scoping discus brains for herpes virus. A scientist with an electron microscope and the expertise to do the research. You just need someone to supply you with enough some affected fish.

    You asked how your fish in Utah could have gotten infected. If it is a virus, and more widespread than we thing, it's likely the fish were already infected when you bought them.
    Herpes viruses particularly, can lie dormant for months before a stressor of some sort causes the virus to become virulent.
    Last edited by smsimcik; 01-23-2018 at 10:00 AM.

  8. #23
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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    Hi Guys,
    I always hesitate to add my speculations to discussions like this. I don't think what we are dealing with is a Virus, but its just as likely a guess as my own. I have no hard facts on this. I just have my observations like everyone else here to go on. I will go out on a limb and mention though that I really think we aren't dealing with a pathogen. I haven't seen any evidence that shows its contagious. We haven't had fishrooms crashing or even multiple tanks in most cases where people report this. Again, I could be way off.. maybe there is a viral component. I'm not a microbiologist and have been out of a lab for far too long.

    My thoughts on this are its not a pathogen at all, its a condition. Gas Bubble Disease. Its very well known condition that causes embolisms in fish when there is too much dissolved gas in the water. As Discus keepers we very commonly do huge water changes. Many of us "age" our water, which stabilizes it , but we are blowing off gases like CO2 there.. It can still be over saturated with other gases if you use too much air .. More isn't always better.

    What got me on this train of thought was what happens here if I don't age my water... I do have alot of gas in my water.. Co2 mostly. I can easily create condition where I have a tank full juveniles darting and crashing and spinning out of control and dying, I have many times and thats why I limit myself to 30% tap. Its more pronounced in the smaller fish and I initially attributed to the dissolved gases covering their gills and irritating them or suffocating them. I did notice though that in my adults the response was varied. Some fish in the tank handle it fine. Others freak out and dart.. I have had some adults die in hours of a huge water changes. Again, thats why I use the 30% unaged wc now as a max, more with aged is fine. ... But this is when it gets interesting. The skittish darting doesn't end in a day....when the tanks water has aged over time.. It persists for several days.. which tells me that it may be internalized... and gas bubble embolisms.. also called gas bubble disease fits that. To further my point, I also noted in several fish that I could sometimes see small bubbles in their eyes and over time they would fade. .. possibly gas bubble disease? maybe, If this was to happen in the brain or other sensitive areas..I can see what may happen here.

    So what else do we know. Its seems we see a spike in the winter.. thats generally when water is cooler and holds more gas .. But we also see a spike attributed to wilds and not just any wild.. this seasons wilds. Though its possible they are carrying a native virus, or picked something up from other fish, Its also possible that they have gas bubble disease from a combination of pressure changes in the airplanes and oxygen used in the shipping bags. > keep in mind Discus do not come from oxygen rich fast moving waters.. There may be combinations of factors that cause the condition here. When we see it Domestics... Its possible its from something similar if they are new stock,or recently imported. It can take days to weeks for the gas embolism to disappear.

    I admit its a speculation on my part but when I seen what I have here with regards to water changes... If I stop doing water changes or drastically reduce them, the fish show no more symptoms after several days. It may very well be that our knee jerk reaction to do more water changes because our fish may be sick could actually be compounding a condition.

    I would suggest anyone that has fish with this issue, get the fish to Dr. Smith here.. http://www.vetmed.vt.edu/people/bios/smiths.asp
    He has an interest in Discus and is currently researching them and Cryptobia....who knows maybe that organism is involved... if not he may be the one that can look into your ideas on Virus, maybe even mine on Gas Bubble Disease. This Pathologist was a speaker at NADA 2016 and Is really very knowledgeable. It would be very worthwhile I think.


    An option though rather indirect would be if you are having fish exhibit this condition, Try the no water changes or drastically reduced water changes for a week and see what happens. If its a virus, it will probably not matter either way. However, ifs its Gas Bubble disease as the Gas bubbles subside..the fishes behavior should drastically improve,Not sure the effect over filtration would have on this so thats a variable I can't account for.

    Like I said, I have nothing scientific here but you may want to consider it and apply it to your conditions..

    hth,
    al

    Gas bubble disease in fish..

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9289892

    http://www.agriculturejournals.cz/pu...les/216031.pdf

    https://en.wikivet.net/Gas_Bubble_Disease


    http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2014/8/fish

    https://bettalatethannever.jimdo.com...ubble-disease/

    ....................................Theres a ton of information out there on This.......................
    Last edited by brewmaster15; 01-23-2018 at 12:10 PM.
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  9. #24
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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    Thanks Al, I had some across similar takes on this when reading into this, I talked some with Hans as well and he as well noticed (from several different sources of fish) that this seems to peak in the winter, just based on reports he hears.

    Water under more pressure will take on more gas as well, I had wondered if I was over saturating my aged water with O2 by storing it in a barrel, but so many people do this I would think it would have been noticed by now, plus the water is not stagnant at the bottom under more pressure, the air circulates the water as well...

    Regarding the dissolved gases, I DID see the one that died do some sort of 'gasping' movements, which at first made me think he was choking. Its hard to describe but it looked similar to when they 'stretch' their mouths out - like a yawn... I have seen others do this just once, like a yawn, but the one that died would do it rapidly, looking like he was choking or trying to dislodge something from his mouth. He did his darting randomly, but it also seems like you could almost trigger it by feeding - he would eat but would start acting funny, like he was passing out, then just start darting around.

    I do large water changes on my Mbuna tank with unaged tap, I jam some filter material in the end of my python to reduce the amount of micro bubbles but the fish usually are coated in bubbles, I have observed them closely and they do not seem to be bothered by it so I have continued on them - Discus however get aged water just due to reading about them being more sensitive to micro bubbles and also wanting to run my change water through a Nitrate adsorbing resin prior to use for them as I have ~8ppm at the tap.

    If it helps, here is my procedure for the discus:
    55 gal tank (~47 gal actual volume)
    33 gal BRUTE trashcan for storing water, stores approx 30 gal
    I do water changes: TUE, THUR, SAT, SUN
    I airiate the water the whole time it is in the barrel
    I turn on the heater 24 hours prior to use, heat to 84F
    I run the water on recirc through a Nitrate adsorbing resin, bringing Nitrate from ~8ppm to ~1ppm
    I recently made one change, but this was POST the death of this fish, I started adding 1/4tsp of Seachem American Cichlid salt, just (IMO) as some extra insurance against HITH if it is indeed a lack of minerals...

    I have an airstone inside my sponge filter, and my filter output is through a homemade spraybar that points at about a 60 degree angle up towards the surface, creating lots of agitation

    Noted behavior:
    They sure seem to love the fresh water, I had always heard discus hate current, but they all go play in the water coming out of the pipe even though it shoves them around when they do so.

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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    I suspect it may be more than one disease or condition. The worst die-off I have had was in the summer. The fish did die in a coordinated fashion, first a few at a time, then more and more. The die-off did spread to other tanks. I have well water, and I use 100% RO water from the well. I add minerals back to the water to get the appropriate TDS for fry and adults, and breeders. I age the water over night because there is CO2 in the water. I have no gas bubble problem when I do this. I have suspected food as a possible problem. I recently tried some Mysis shrimp in my beef heart mix and some of the young fry seemed to get sick on it. Also, they got sick on probiotic flake food. (Whirling in both cases). I suspect food was actually not the problem, but can't be sure. It occurred to me that the virus article mention the possibility of bovine source of the virus. Of course, what is beef heart? Maybe the timing of the disease is related to how cows are treated in the winter?

    I do know that zebra fish are being used like fruit flies to try to figure out causes of human diseases. I have seen larval zebra fish also spin around when neuro toxins are put in their water, and some show other stress signs (lethargy, darting, ect.). So the whirling and spinning may be caused by many disorders. Hopefully, we can figure out the most common if we talk and work together.

    Al Light
    Last edited by Alight; 01-23-2018 at 04:03 PM.

  11. #26
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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    I had suspicions whatever it was (if a virus, etc) came in through food. But that was only because he seems to almost always wirl at feeding time, could have just been the feeding freaked him out, not sure. I was feeding a homemade mix that has shrimp and salmon in it and was thinking maybe something came through there.... I bought good stuff!! from the seafood counter that I would have eaten myself (if cooked lol).

    I think the feeding/wirling was just a coincidence however since I caught him on camera doing it daily when no one was even home, in the middle of the day when we had been at work for hours...

    Interesting that you had this happen on well/RO water - I am guessing you did not have to use a dechlor product? Or were you still for heavy metals (however I guess those would have been filtered by RO?))

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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    No chlorine or chloramine in my well water. I had the water tested and no bacteria, nitrates or heavy metals in the water. It is a very deep well (most are in Utah). The water is moderately hard (200 ppm) before RO treatment. Very low after treatment (less than 4 ppm).

    If I keep the number of fish low, I seem to have no problems. This is hard to do when I get large batches of fry (sometimes more than 300), and this is when the problems start. Once started, crowding is not needed for deaths to happen. I have to sterilize every thing, treat all fish with levamisole, Praziquantal, and Metronidazole, and then things are OK again. I treat all of the fish, even the adults that I never have problems with. The problems seen to fit the description in the publication DJW included above. The fry seem to start dying after about a month, with increasing numbers of deaths if I don't treat with levamosole and Prazi. If I do, all is well for a time, and then another dying spree happens about a month later. If I treat again, the fry seem OK for the duration. This would be when they are more than 3 inches and on their way. I have not lost any fry that I have grown out to adults after they get to 3 inches. Levamisole not only kills off nematodes and some other parasites, but it also strengths the immune system. So it may be this action, not the killing of pathogens that stops the deaths. So, the virus or whatever, may still be there, but unless badly stressed, the fish get stronger and stronger as they age. Just recently, I gave a friend 50 2.5 inch fry. They were raised in two 20 gallon tanks, 25 in each tank. I had about 3 die in each tank before ending up with 50 (it was a small hatch--the female ate the fry and I didn't remove her until too late). I treated both tanks and all seemed well. However, one of the tanks had a problem with the heater, and got quite cold (65 F) at one point. The fish in that tank looked bad for a while, but none died. They ended up smaller than those in the other tank when I gave them to the friend. 2 of them looked pretty bad, so we culled them right then. 2 more from that tank died before he got home with then, and all together, 15 of the fish from that tank died in less than 3 days. None in the other tank died. Now all of the remaining fish are doing very well. So, maybe stress is a major factor in this and maybe the virus or whatever, is always present, and if the fish get stressed enough, they have big problems.

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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    Andrew Soh goes over something like this here. #330
    http://forum.simplydiscus.com/showth...=suddenly+sick

  14. #29
    Registered Member Bizarro252's Avatar
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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    Quote Originally Posted by shime View Post
    Andrew Soh goes over something like this here. #330
    http://forum.simplydiscus.com/showth...=suddenly+sick
    Very interesting, Thank you. I PM'd Andrew with a quick summary and linked him here, hopefully he will stop by
    My group did (as sure as I can be without a microscope) have Hex right around this same time, which as far as I understand is a flagellate.

  15. #30
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    Default Re: Whirling Disease

    Hello all, Long time since I participated in this forum or any other forums, sorry. Facebook seems to be an in-thing😬. Anyway, after looking at the video, it seems to me this is not whirling disease but the last phase of a dying discus.
    Cause may be wide-ranging....from gill infestation, poisoning but definitely not flagellates Nor is it bacterial or viral. A post-mortem needs to be carried out.

    ****Whirling means the discus spinning around in circle.....for about an hour or two...finally dart..then spin again and may repeat the act till it drops dead.

    Thank you
    Andrew

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