I went to Petco today to pick up two of the 20g long aquariums to divide for all my boys. Of course I had to stop and look at the fish and I found this poor little guy. I'll have an extra spot in the tanks, so I had to get him. He's labeled as a halfmoon. Sorry the pictures are blurry, my camera refused to focus.
Anyway, does this look like fin rot? What are some treatment suggestions? He looks like he's in pretty bad shape.
I would start with just clean, warm water. Do frequent water changes to remove toxins, ammonia and bacteria in the water. That, along with some good nutrition, may allow his own immune system to clear it up.
If you start to do this, and it looks like the rot is getting worse, then you could either use a small amount of aquarium salt, or use a gram-negative antibiotic. However, both salt and antibiotics put stress on their systems, so I'd try just using lots of clean, warm water first.
I agree good water is #1 given it is not uncommon to see ammonia burn...did you by chance test the pH and ammonia levels of the water he came in? If pH is above 7 and ammo level is high, that's almost surely the cause, although it does not necessarily mean there is not some sort of infection present. I am also a huge fan of Nitrofuracin Green because of its effectiveness in expediting healing, preventing secondary infection of various types, and how little it stresses fish relative to other treatments. If you wind up doing an actual specific antibiotic-only, certain Maracyn, API, and Junge products are well-suited as are medications such as doxycycline, oxytetracycline, and some of the sulfa drugs containing trimethoprim, although I look at Nitrofuracin Green as ideal for something like this given its wide spectrum, low concentration dosing, and tolerability. It can be bought or self-mixed.
I actually didn't test the water. I thought about it right after I dumped it out. Not that it's a real indicator, but the water looked pretty clean. There was no food or waste at the bottom. Though regarding pH, the water here is pretty high (around 8),so the water that he's in now probably has a high reading.
Right now I've got him in a 1g kritter keeper floating in a heated tank (around 80). Does the temp need to be higher or lower than that? Also, should I do 100% water changes daily?
I actually have Maracyn I and II, but I want to use medications like that only if clean water and some salt don't help.
Thanks so much for the advice guys. I feel sorry for the little fella. I want to try to get him well.
Since he's battling fin rot, you'll want to do very frequent water changes (especially since you're keeping him in the 1 gal container). If he isn't overly stressed by them, then yes, do 100% daily changes. If he's stressed by water changes, do daily partial ones.
Does your tap water contain any ammonia or chloramines? What water conditioner are you using? Prime will temporarily convert ammonia to ammonium. This will be helpful since your tap water's pH is high.
80F is OK. If you can lower it a degree or two, that would be better. Bacteria thrive in warmer water. If you have a nonadjustable heater, that's OK - the frequent water changes will keep the bacteria levels low.
At this point, I'd just try lots of clean, warm water. (No salt or meds right now.) Good nutrition will help strengthen his immune system. Also, high humidity in the tank may help him breathe more easily, and has a calming effect. (Since it's summer, you probably already have high humidity levels in your house. If not, you can put plastic food wrap over the top of the QT tank. Be sure to leave at least several inches of air for him though!)
I use Stress Coat, but I have some Prime. I'll add that when I change the water again. The heater is adjustable, so I'll lower it to 77–78. I'll see if he seems stressed when I change the water. He's mostly just been lying at the bottom of the tank but when he does swim, he seems to get around okay.
Thanks again for the advice. I'll update on his condition.
Personally, I medicate long before using salt, generally with the newer medications which are not nearly as harsh as other treatments. Also, with severe fin damage, the chances of secondary infection are higher and a preventive treatment using a medication that helps prevent development of the most common infections are often a lifesaver.
The first thing I do with suspected fin rot is to determine whether it is most likely bacterial, environmental, or physical damage...if it is physical damage such as heater burn, biting, or environmental such as ammonia burn, I treat with nitrofuracin green because of how well-tolerated it is and how wide-spectrum it is. Ammonia can literally burn fins off, but that does not mean they are necessarily infected. It essentially prevents secondary infection from developing so the fishy's immune system can heal. It does not harm biological filters, it is beneficial (rather than harmful) to DO levels, and the actual amount of medication used is very little. It is low stress. At one point I was buying the stuff by 5 pound buckets. For most things, IMHO it is the best choice by far. NG + good water + time essentially allows fish to make a comeback with minimal stress so they can concentrate on feeling better. Many koi owners make a paste with it and apply it to koi sores using something like a popsicle stick. If a fishy with messed up fins is QTd and dosed with NG and the fins stop getting worse, then further action really isn't needed and the fins will heal over a couple of weeks provided the water stays clean and the fish eats.
Let's say it is not ammonia burn and presumably bacterial or it shows some other signs, such as streaking of the fins or continually shrinking fins despite the water being good. I like doxycycline and have used it on thousands of fish. I've seen many delicate fish with septicemia and columnaris make strong comebacks on it. Bactrim, also known as TMP Sulfa and TMP/SMX is another I really like and have used extensively...Maracyn makes a formula that is very similar. Both doxycycline and TMP Sulfa are exceptionally effective against columnaris, where most other fishy antibiotics are generally not. Minocycline may also be effective for columnaris but I've not used it a whole lot.
Sometimes the underlying cause of bacterial infections are hard to find, and sometimes symptoms reflect different diseases than they indicate via symptoms. Given fish can't talk, the process is rarely easy. Because of this, I prefer wide spectrum antibiotics and ones that have less resistance. Bactrim and doxy are both used to treat MRSA...they generally kill the more resistant pathogens fish get. Doxy's also unusual in that it is incredibly water soluble, is less affected by light than most antibiotics, can work in a variety of waters, and fights fungi and even certain protozoa, which has led me to it being my preferred antibiotic.
Mardel (one or two...can't remember) contains minocycline. It's also a wide spectrum antibiotic and it's good stuff. While I prefer doxycycline, minocycline is a very good choice. It's one of the best one can find in actual stores with good availability. Both doxycycline and minocycline are generally well-tolerated and are fast acting, but they do tend to trash the biological filter given the wide spectrum of activity means it will kill virtually all bacteria, including good ones. Generally I've used doxy in QT tanks given if I am using doxy, it means something is bad enough for me to use that over nitro green, and TMP when an entire tank needs to be treated as it is not quite as bad as doxy on the biological filter (but it will still hit it hard).
The other reason I favor broad spectrum over narrow is because if you use a narrow spectrum antibiotic and it turns out the bacteria is not affected by that antibiotic, you then find yourself potentially having to do another round of medication which can add to stress. Kanamycin is a great antibiotic and for certain diseases like fish TB, it is probably the best choice and good to have on hand...however, kanamycin's range of activity is much more narrower than many other meds on the market, and things like doxy, oxy-tet, TMP sulfas, minocycline, etc. offer effective choices capable of treating virtually all bacterial conditions that affect our fishies.