Antibiotics and disinfectants for TB and other baddies?
I've been having trouble with seemingly healthy bettas suddenly dropping dead, and I must wonder if an especially nasty bug has played a part; my plan of action now is to move my live plants and snails to another tank and disinfect the heck out of everything.
Per this source, KanaPlex and calcium hypochlorite are a good tag team for TB; is this the case, and would it be effective against other serious bugs? I just want to cover all bases.
Actually, if it is truly a Mycobacterial infection ("Fish TB"), then hypochlorite solutions are not particularly effective. (Neither is Kanaplex.)
Mycobacteria have a waxy coating that protects it from disinfectants, including "calcium hypochlorite" (which is actually just another form of bleach). It can even survive in distilled water for a long time.
(Note: As for the source that you cited, there are some things mentioned which are at odds with other sources I have read. For example, they appear to think that calcium hypochlorite will more effective than bleach (sodium hypochlorite). However, from a chemical perspective, it's the hypochlorite that's the disinfectant. With regard to Mycobacteria, hypochlorite in either form isn't highly effective. Whether the cation portion is calcium or sodium makes no difference. And there are other things in this article that are at odds with other published articles that I've seen.)
As for other bacterial infections, that are NOT Mycobacteria.... Bleach (both sodium hypochlorite and calcium hypochlorite versions) are highly effective at killing many disease-causing bacteria. If you want to disinfect your tank, you can use bleach, then rinse well, and air dry for at least several days. I particularly recommend air drying outside in the sunshine. UV light (including that found in sunlight) is very effective at killing bacteria - including Mycobacteria.
Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 05-11-2013 at 01:00 AM.
Okay, now that I've read a bit more on mycobacteria [edit: I went through all 22 pages of that popular thread], I think I should back up a bit. (I was in a jumpy state earlier and got a little ahead of myself in my posting.)
First, I should clarify that I've been keeping one betta at a time as of late.
I'm not 100% convinced it's mycobacteria, or even mostly convinced--it could've been any number of things, really. I just want to cover as many bases as I can on possible infections.
This was my first tank with a deep layer of soil for plants--some of which could've shed dead leaves that I missed--and it did get pretty compacted, which might've led to toxicity. It's somewhat uncommon, I've read, but with a newb like me? Yeah, a possibility. (I'll be dumping this substrate and going with an inch or so of inert play sand. My past plants would've balked at that, but I think my current anacharis will forgive me.)
The first fish had been treated for fin rot and a possible swim bladder condition a few months before his untimely end (hospital tank, Maracyn & Maracyn-Two combo, daphnia/fasting for the swim bladder); he still kept sinking, a problem that developed after he came to me, but he otherwise looked pretty well after treatment. Then he suddenly died one day. Maybe something nasty was still knocking around in there that KO'd him and the next fish. Who knows now?
The next betta's death was a bolt from the blue--heck, I'm still looking for her body! She just freaking disappeared one day, and, given bettas can only survive so long without food, she's gotta be gone. She wouldn't eat for a little over a week after I got her, but she had good fat stores and eventually started chowing down. A common occurrence in new bettas, I'm told.
She kept eating regularly for a few more weeks after that (a large pellet/day, each the size of her eyeball, as she was a very young, small fish and I didn't want to accidentally overfeed her), her fins, eyes, and body in general looking well, and then she David Copperfielded herself one day. Completely gone. Believe me, I checked every place she could be hiding AND around the tank and floor, in case she managed to Houdini her way past the hood. I'm guessing she's buried in the planting substrate. Sigh.
It was Betta #2's apparent good health and sudden death that prompted me to believe that this could've been SOME sort of nasty bug, but, as I said earlier, it could've been any number of things. I guess the lesson here is to be more tidy and alert.
My question about the plants and snails (MTS) is probably better put this way: from what I said above, does it sound like mycobacteria is even a distinct possibility here? In your (more experienced) opinion, would it be worth it to try medicating them in quarantine and reintroducing them to the cleaned tank?
[EDIT that came too late to go in the previous post] It would be helpful of me to note that I kept pretty steady water parameters:
Tank size: 10gal
Alkalinity: 6-7 degrees
For the most part, I kept ammonia and nitrite at 0ppm and nitrate below 10ppm; I specify "for the most part" because I did sometimes get a little lax on cleanings for Betta #1, which I do think was a big contributing factor. I did kick my butt into high gear for Betta #2. Hardness was stable until I moved; I don't have artificially softened water, but it is notably softer here than at my previous residence. This occurred during my time with Betta #1.
Mycobacteria is present in many places, including soil and aquatic environments. Like many other pathogens, it's opportunistic. So an organism that's healthy is less susceptible. But if something happens (anything to lower the immune system, such as stress, a cut or injury, age, etc), it can take hold and cause illness.
I wouldn't do away with the plants or snails, as they create a healthy ecosystem... I know that there is a procedure to 'disinfect' (or quarantine) live plants. I assume the same is true with snails. However, my guys all live alone in unplanted tanks. I suggest asking people in the "Betta Fish Bowls, Habitats, and Accessories" or "Planted Betta Tanks" forums. They'd be able to tell you how to disinfect/quarantine the plants and snails.
Neither of your fish had what I would consider 'classic' symptoms of mycobacterial infection. From what I've seen on this forum, suspected cases of myco tend to be either a wasting disease where the fish gradually decline over time, or else it appears to have no symptoms other than an incredibly fast progression (fine, to lethargy, to gray fins and body to death - in about 1-2 days).
Your first betta could just have had something that wasn't susceptible to the Maracyn/Maracyn 2 combination. Maracyn contains a gram positive antibiotic. However, many aquatic illnesses are gram negative.... And Maracyn 2 contains a gram negative antibiotic, but many organisms are resistant to it.... Or he could have had a parasite, which wouldn't be treated with an antibiotic... Etc.
As for your second betta, yes, many bettas won't eat at first, but it sounds like she got past that stage. It might have been illness, or it might have been a fatal injury, or something else. Could she have had an encounter with the filter?
Your water parameters look good. You're obviously aware of what needs to be done to maintain the water quality. This is a good thing.
I don't see anything in your description which leads me to believe that you're having an outbreak of something particularly nasty. If it was a particular disease, I'd expect to have seen both fish have similar symptoms, which doesn't seem to be the case. Since you have snails and plants, I do suggest asking about quarantining in the other forums, though.
If this were my tank, I'd go ahead and get another betta. Select one that looks healthy. He/she should be active and inquisitive. (Sometimes, they make eye contact and pick you out!) Then, post pictures so we can see him/her.
Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 05-11-2013 at 09:21 AM.