Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

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Since this board has been up, we have found there are several questions that routinely get asked in order to help diagnose problems. If you can have that information to begin with in your post, we'll be able to help right away (if we can!) without having to wait for you to post the info we need.

1) Your water parameters - pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrates and salinity (if appropriate). This is by far the most important information you can provide! Do not answer this with "Fine" "Perfect" "ok", that tells us nothing. We need hard numbers.

2) Tank size and a list of ALL inhabitants. Include algae eaters, plecos, everything. We need to know what you have and how big the tank is.

3) Feeding, water change schedule and a list of all products you are using or have added to the tank (examples: Cycle, Amquel, salt, etc)

4) What changes you've made in the tank in the last week or so. Sometimes its the little things that make all the difference.

5) How long the aquarium has been set up, and how did you cycle it? If you don't know what cycling is read this: Fishless Cycling Article and familiarize yourself with all the information. Yes. All of it.

We want to help, and providing this information will go a LONG way to getting a diagnosis and hopeful cure that much faster.

While you wait for assistance:
One of the easiest and best ways to help your fish feel better is clean water! If you are already on a regular water change schedule (50% weekly is recommended) a good step to making your fish more comfortable while waiting for diagnosis/suggestions is to do a large water change immediately. Feel free to repeat daily or as often as you can, clean water is always a good thing! Use of Amquel or Prime as a dechlor may help with any ammonia or nitrite issues, and is highly recommended.

Note - if you do not normally do large water changes, doing a sudden, large water change could shock your fish by suddenly changing their established water chemistry. Clean water is still your first goal, so in this case, do several smaller (10%) water changes over the next day or two before starting any large ones.
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vanderfran
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Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

Post by vanderfran » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:10 pm

Hello Everyone -
I keep dwarf puffers and seem to have a reoccurring issue with them. Everything seems fine and stable and then (seemingly) all of a one of the fish will start to act off. It will start to not really eat much, then it will start to hide more often, hover stationary, at first in the lower third or the tank, then middle third, and then at the top third of the water column. Coloration starts to change, becoming darker and higher contrast (spots darker and more defined). Often breathing a bit more labored. No apparent wounds. No apparent bacterial infection and other DPs in the tank are not affected. No apparent presence or indication of parasites, that I can tell. This lasts on the short end for 3 - 4 days, but seems to always be a week or less and they die.

I was going to write up this question as preventative knowledge, but I have one right now that is on its second day of not eating and it starting to hover right near the surface in some vegetation (odd behavior, especially for this specific fish).

Any thoughts?

Tank details:
Parameters (at least as close as my dipsticks get): pH - about 7.5, GH - seems to be between 60 and 120 (always struck me as a huge categorical change between those!), KH - around/between 40 - 80, nitrite - 0, nitrate - 20.
Tank info: 10 gallon, 1 bristlenose pleco, 3 dwarf puffers, 1 amano shrimp, 3 - 4 ghost shrimp that have avoided getting eaten, MTS in the substrate. Heavily planted (peacock moss, Italian corkscrew val, java fern, anubius nano). Internal overflow filter with mechanical and bio filtration, and a pump moving about 100 gal/hour with a diffuser on the return.
Feeding, water, etc: There are ramshorn snails in there that they eat at and each day or so I break open one or two of them so they get more. Every week or bi-weekly they get frozen blood worms. They eat snail eggs around the tank and the baby snails that make it and they find. When I am gone for more than a day or two they get ghost shrimp that they chase down and eat more slowly over time. I change about 45-ish% of the water weekly-bi-weekly. I do maybe once or twice a month put a dose of Flourish in there.
Changes: Only things I can think of is I took one of the larger ghost shrimp out and added the Amano instead. I put Flourish in the other day, but same dose and not more often than I have.
History: Running for maybe 5 or so months. I used a bottle of fast-start bacteria, old media from another tank, and after a week or so added fish.

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Pufferpunk
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Re: Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

Post by Pufferpunk » Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:03 pm

Is it possibly the Flourish?
You are getting sleepy... you only hear the sound of my voice... you must do water changes... water changes... water changes... water changes...

"The solution to pollution is dilution!"

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Iliveinazoo
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Re: Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

Post by Iliveinazoo » Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:40 pm

It could be the flourish if you are over-dosing but it sounds to me like a case of the fish whittling themselves down, i suspect that the least dominant fish is being chased and stressed by the more dominant one(s) and slowly weakens due to stress and less opportunities to feed.

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Re: Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

Post by eieio » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:52 am

10 gallon tank grossly overstocked, should have no more than 2-3 in a 10 gallon under the best of circumstances!!!
Pleco would be compromised by itself in that tank.
Test strips are very inaccurate, need liquid test kit.
I'd be willing to bet that you have an ammonia problem with such a crowded tank.
Plecos and snails are ammonia factories.
On top of that, MOST DPs seem to have internal parasites, which are triggered by weak fish due to unhealthy water conditions.
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Re: Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

Post by vanderfran » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:53 am

Hi All -
Sorry for the slow reply - I didn't see the topic post and so I missed the replies.

I am guessing Flourish isn't overdosed as I put in less than they recommend much less often than they recommend (tracked down some pipettes to measure out real small doses). I also thought it could be a case of fish bullying, but I had been watching it and providing possibly offending fish their food in different parts of the tank at the same time. Doesn't mean it isn't that, but I was working to decrease that issue at least during feeding when it is probably most problematic. The struggling fish in this case was the largest, too, but again it isn't always about their size.

Seems to me that grossly overstocked is a bit of an overstatement. It was probably on the higher end with 4 fish (including the pleco, which is the smaller brislenosed variety), but given the dense plant growth, the numerous forms of bio filtration going on in the tank (filter, substrate, plants, etc), and the water changes I don't think this is the obvious issue. Not to say it isn't the/an issue, just not the obvious issue. Also, no argument that test strips are not highly accurate, but I do highly doubt that they are so inaccurate that they don't register any nitrite in an ammonia-polluted tank.

But I am wondering if the issue is a little bit of all of this. I always put the Flourish in after a water change, but maybe I didn't this time, so that and ammonia, like eieio points out, stressed a fish that already had parasites. I am nearly certain the Flourish was not before a water change, and the fact that the tests (even if inaccurate) are stable makes me think parasites. Always just seemed to come out of the blue, which again makes me think it isn't directly water quality per se. This fish did pass away. After it died it did have a small bulge on one side of its belly. Wasn't floating, so probably not air or something like that. With that in mind, I am wondering if this is the cyclical problem - parasites get passed on, stresses the fish to a point that they stop eating and accelerate their death which is when it begins to be notable.

I add all this detail just in case someone else out there either knows more specifically what I could check for or what the issue may be, or also in case someone else out there has been seeing similar issues. Might as well document it for diagnostic purposes. I have pictures of the process and can add them later.

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eieio
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Re: Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

Post by eieio » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:25 pm

vanderfran wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:53 am
Hi All -
Sorry for the slow reply - I didn't see the topic post and so I missed the replies.

Seems to me that grossly overstocked is a bit of an overstatement.
but I do highly doubt that they are so inaccurate that they don't register any nitrite in an ammonia-polluted tank.

But I am wondering if the issue is a little bit of all of this.
With that in mind, I am wondering if this is the cyclical problem - parasites get passed on, stresses the fish to a point that they stop eating and accelerate their death which is when it begins to be notable.
I stand by it - grossly overstocked. Three in a 10 gallon is max.
10 gallons of water minus the volume of sand, rocks, décor, etc leaves less than 10 gal of water.
No liquid test kits = no measurement results. You don't know the parameters.

form my post above:
"On top of that, MOST DPs seem to have internal parasites, which are triggered by weak fish due to unhealthy water conditions and stress."
"Plecos and snails are ammonia factories."
you asked for advise, there it is (again)
Last edited by eieio on Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Pufferpunk
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2 T biocellatus
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Also kept:
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Re: Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

Post by Pufferpunk » Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:15 am

You are getting sleepy... you only hear the sound of my voice... you must do water changes... water changes... water changes... water changes...

"The solution to pollution is dilution!"

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Re: Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

Post by vanderfran » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:47 am

eieio - I did ask for advise and am grateful for it, please don't take my response as not taking it or anything. I am merely trying to increase the diagnostic specificity some, and while it may be a clear case there are counter reasons for why it may not be. That is all. You have me curious about the test strips now... seems unlikely they are that unreliable, but you seem confident enough that you have already compared them.

Pufferpunk - thanks for the direct link. I have started the treatment for the remaining ones. Do you all find that you need to periodically treat them for parasite prophylactically? Because, again, there really were not strong noticeable indicators of parasites (not eating, listless, bulging belly, discoloration, white/clear poop) prior to a fast onset of a problem. Also, do you all treat all food (snails, etc?) before feeding them? Like a rolling quarantine cycle for the food sources?

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Pufferpunk
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Posts: 30799
Joined: Tue May 31, 2005 11:06 am
Gender: Female
My Puffers: Filbert, the 12" T lineatus
Punkster, the 4" red T miurus
Mongo, the 4" A modestus
2 T biocellatus
C valentini
C coranata
C papuan
Also kept:
lorteti
DPs
suvattii
burrfish
T niphobles
Location (country): USA, Greenville, SC
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Re: Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

Post by Pufferpunk » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:37 pm

Yes, it is always a good idea to QT all live foods or freeze them before feeding out. I defrost in vitamin-enhanced water. I have only found it necessary to treat 1x, unless new "iffy" tank mates have been added. I did read that the SW burrfish needs lifetime treatments.
You are getting sleepy... you only hear the sound of my voice... you must do water changes... water changes... water changes... water changes...

"The solution to pollution is dilution!"

vanderfran
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Re: Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

Post by vanderfran » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:53 pm

Pufferpunk wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:37 pm
Yes, it is always a good idea to QT all live foods or freeze them before feeding out. I defrost in vitamin-enhanced water. I have only found it necessary to treat 1x, unless new "iffy" tank mates have been added. I did read that the SW burrfish needs lifetime treatments.
Dang QT strikes again... Seems [is] obvious when you think about it. Too bad thinking is secondary. :)

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Pufferpunk
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Posts: 30799
Joined: Tue May 31, 2005 11:06 am
Gender: Female
My Puffers: Filbert, the 12" T lineatus
Punkster, the 4" red T miurus
Mongo, the 4" A modestus
2 T biocellatus
C valentini
C coranata
C papuan
Also kept:
lorteti
DPs
suvattii
burrfish
T niphobles
Location (country): USA, Greenville, SC
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Re: Confusing reoccurring problem, DPF

Post by Pufferpunk » Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:44 pm

But DPs really don't need live food.
You are getting sleepy... you only hear the sound of my voice... you must do water changes... water changes... water changes... water changes...

"The solution to pollution is dilution!"

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