Yeah, try LFS or look online for the aquarium peat substrate. You can just add the teabag straight to the water (or try and put it near the filter stream) and either leave it overnight or just leave it for an hour or two. Either way won't hurt. And totally understand about the fin rippage thing. He's too gorgeous to risk damaging those fins.
Is he still gasping? If he seems okay and not in any distress, maybe try the teabag for now and do the water change as you originally had scheduled. Too many changes in the water he's in (chemical-wise) might stress him out even if the actual act of changing water doesn't.
Thanks you rock... I feel more at ease with tea bag in.
I actually think he already looks better... maybe the use of prime in wc, the salt and the bit of teabag? Still likes to take a huge long gulp of air with gills out. But maybe less often? Or maybe he is just winding down for the night as I have his tank off and lights dimmed...
Anyway I truly feel I have done all I can, and thought that I haven't has caused the most distress...
Gonna check the ph again in an hour or so and plan on WC tomorrow with distilled.
And getting the items you recommended for sure. Calling LFS tomorrow and if they don't have it, gonna order asap.
*blushes* Aww, you're welcome. I'm just glad I can help. He's a gorgeous guy and he came from such a long distance, what a little trooper. Maybe he has "jetlag" somehow? I sure hope he gets better for you soon.
Thought I would post a follow up for anyone that searches this topic and reads this thread.
I got the water parameters all ideal (with the use of RO pwcs), removed plants and added aquarium salt and his finniage was growing back in nicely, but he was losing scales within a few days of the last post. There were already areas I thought were simply incomplete dragon scaling on the belly when I got him, but there appeared more "missing" on the top.
On the advice of my LFS I used API general cure. Within moments of adding the proper dosage he began to flip out of the water in violently snap at his body. Then small white things began appearing and coming out of his body. In short, he did in fact have gill and skin flukes. He clearly had them before shipment, but probably did not present themselves badly until after the high levels of ammonia in shipment.
He never did do any obvious flashing, nor was there white film or many of the other indications of gill flukes other than air gulping. But it goes to show that flukes can and are present in expensive fish, and that fish can have pretty heavy infestations without many overt symptoms or current bad water parameters. Since treating the API general cure (prazi medication) he rarely ever gulps air (although there is indication that he is missing at least part of a gill on one side from ammonia burn). And he is doing great!
Wow. Poor guy, no wonder he seemed uncomfortable and like his gills didn't work! Thanks for posting the update, lessandler, the information will definitely be helpful to anyone doing a search for similar problems. And I know I will definitely keep your guy's case in mind as a reminder that not all fish react the same to diseases/illnesses. Poor guy, all I can say is yuuuuuck. I'm so glad he's doing much better now. Yay!
Also wanted to mention since I did mention the breeder and transhipper by name, that after contacting them, the breeder immediately offered to send me another fish free of charge (although I don't think I want another from him to be honest) and the transhipper just said it was the fault of the breeder (which considering the parasitic infection is probably true).
Despite this nightmare... I probably will get another fish off aquabid (albeit from another breeder) but he will be going in an already cycled, better filtered aquarium AFTER his stay in a quarantine tank I am also cycling. So if I need to treat for parasites again I don't have to disturb the cycle by removing the carbon and plants. Definitely a lesson in preparation!