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Old 11-06-2010, 05:52 AM   #1 
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Glasgow
Help! Cotton Mouth Emergency!

Hope someone can help me!

So I'd been away for a couple of days and my dad had been looking after my fish. I come back to disaster!

So, I'd added a few female guppies to my tank and they had been doing great. Yet I'd been told while I was away that one had died which was very surprising to me as it had been in great health. I came back today to find my betta with a big, swollen white mouth and the same on one of the other guppies. I also found that my female killifish was dead. Gutted!

So, I'm pretty convinced it's cotton mouth. I'd added the guppies only about a week ago so I reckon they were the "stressed" ones who brought it into the tank. I also reckon my betta was stressed with the new arrivals though he seemed alright. Also, the killifish came in with them so I reckon they might have been stressed also. They settled in fine but now this has came up.

I heard you can treat it with copper based medicines and aquarium salt? However, I have the following dilemmas, I hope someone can advise me on the right thing to do!

1. I have platy fry only about 3 days old. They're in a breeding net in the aquarium. I don't have another tank to move them to... could adding copper medication kill them?
2. I have three-line corys, so I don't want to add the aquarium salt in case I kill them (all my corys are currently fine, though I heard they are susceptible to cotton mouth?
3. I have 5 amano shrimp which would be killed by any copper based medication I believe, as well as an assassin snail (the only benefit would be it would get rid of my pest snail population.
4. Finally, my tank is pretty much fully stocked now; I wasn't planning on adding any more fish. So, would medication wipe-out the good bacteria in the tank? This would be a total disaster for me as I don't want to cure my fish of cotton mouth only to kill them with nitrite poisoning! I've only just recently managed to get the water to a good quality.

Hope you guys can help!!
bd1wdd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-06-2010, 03:28 PM   #2 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
First I would get all the sick fish out of your tank and QT to treat and make a 50% water change on the display tank.

Copper based medication I would be really careful with using-not just for the reasons you posted but the long term effects it can have too-I wouldn't recommend adding it to your tank ever......but that is just me.....

Once you QT the Betta and guppies in separate container- I would lower the water temp slowly to the 76F range, add an airstone, add aquarium salt 1tsp/gal with slow increase to 3tsp/gal and start making 100% daily water changes on them with the aquarium salt.

Now for the questions-how big is the tank, how much and how often on the water changes and when was the last one, filter, live plants, water temp, additives used, how many fish, how long has the tank been set-up?
Do you have any water pram numbers for-ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH-if so post the number

*Note-if your nitrate level is 40ppm or higher or it has been awhile since your last water change- make smaller percent water change so not to shock your fish and make things worse.

Good luck.....bugger to come home to sick/dying fish.....
Oldfishlady is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-06-2010, 04:24 PM   #3 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Northern Virginia
Yes, definitely remove all of your sick fish immediately. This is for the safety of the sick fish as well as the healthy ones--it is instinct for animals to prey on the weak individuals, and your other fish have a greater chance of not contracting the disease if the sick ones are removed sooner.

If you don't have a quarantine tank, go to walmart or target and purchase a large rubbermaid/sterilite plastic storage bin. These bins are very good for this purpose and they are extremely cheap, only about $3 for a 4 gallon bin. Lowering the temp and adding salt in the QT tank are good first responses.

You should definitely avoid treating the main tank with anything--especially copper and antibiotics. Based on my personal experiences with using copper sulfate, I've come to the conclusion that it is basically useless. It certainly will not help a severe bacterial infection like columnaris. If you want to have a good shot at killing the bacteria, you need to get a broad spectrum gram negative antibiotic like Kanaplex, Maracyn-II, or Triple Sulfa. You should also read this guide before using any antibiotics:

Good luck. And I think OFL typoed 40ppm when she meant 4ppm.
Adastra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-06-2010, 04:58 PM   #4 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
No, it is 40ppm on the nitrate-you can shock the fish with sudden nitrate changes-since this poster was away and we don't know when the last water change or reading are on the tank-we can only assume or I should say I can only assume that this is a large community tank and the OP was on vacation or something with the tank being left for someone to care for-unknown if water changes had been made or just feedings-sick fish and deaths can raise the ammonia and nitrite but often people forget about the dangers of nitrate and shift with nitrate and pH for that matter........

High nitrate can affect the immune response-fish can live in high nitrate tanks without problems- but once you add new fish from a low nitrate tank they can be shocked, get sick- the original fish in high nitrate with a compromised immune response get sick-the hobbyist make a big water change trying to save the fish- causing a sudden drop in the nitrate and all the fish get sick or die.....the myth-"the pet shop sold me sick fish" and "a water change killed my fish" came a sense the water change did it- but not for the reason you think....neglected tank with high nitrate and most likely low pH on top of it all.....crashed.......
Oldfishlady is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-06-2010, 05:56 PM   #5 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Northern Virginia
I need to stop coming on this forum hung over, rofl. I'm sorry--I could have sworn we were talking about ammonia because of the new fish added and the time that passed without water changes, etc.. which doesn't overly make sense either since the fish would be dead right off with that reading, but hey, we're all entitled to make fools out of ourselves now and then, right? ;3

Totally my bad. Carry on. <3 <3

Last edited by Adastra; 11-06-2010 at 06:05 PM.
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