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Whirling/Myxosoma Disease FAQs

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Whirling behavior, crooked spines... can be caused by several factors. Bacterial, genetic, nutritional,  physical trauma

Quick questions re: likely whirling disease Myxosoma     7/2/18
Hi Crew! I hope you are all well. It's been a while, everything has been going pretty smoothly here for quite some time. So it was quite a surprise for me to come home to find a previously fine Rosy Barb whirling like a maniac. I did some quick reading before removing and euthanising the poor fish as he seemed to be in a hopeless state. The following is not my video, but my fish was making this exact motion almost constantly (I have included a link to the website I used to crop the video, hope this works for you).
After doing some further reading I think there is a good chance that all of my Rosy Barbs could be carrying whirling disease.
<That would seem likely. If just one fish affected thusly, could be physical damage to the nervous system, genetics, or some other non-communicable disease. But if one fish after another exhibits these
symptoms, with days or weeks between them getting sick, it does seem likely they've been exposed to something contagious. That said, fish will behave this way if exposed to some types of poison, such as weed killer, so if various fish behaved this way all at the same time, then an environmental cause would be more probable.>
While I don't feed live Tubifex, these barbs were originally feeders and were probably farmed in conditions conducive to the parasite living and spreading. Further evidence to support this idea is that one of the original fish had shortened gill plates, and many of the offspring have a combination of shortened or bent spines, short gill plates, and deformed skulls. I'd always put this down to poor genetics or poor conditions when they were fry but now with the whirling behaviour it adds up to a different picture. I don't keep these fish at a tropical temperature, their tank is heated to around 22 and it has been bitterly cold lately so the tank may have been getting colder than that at night.
<Exposure to sharp cold can cause tropical fish to lose motor coordination.
Do be aware of that. Given then are subtropicals, short exposure to mildly cooler conditions is actually quite good for them compared with continual heat, but prolonged exposure to, say, below 15 C is probably not good.
Could manifest itself in various ways, including developmental problems. On the other hand, outdoor maintenance even at mild temperatures could allow the intermediate hosts to become established in the tank or pond.>
I have had these fish for 3 or so years now and I think this also fits with whirling disease being a chronic disease with degeneration over time. Do you think this is a plausible fit? I'm in Australia and most of our fish are imported from farms overseas.
<It is possible, yes.>
I find myself wondering if it will be necessary to cull the rest of my barbs to halt the spread of the disease, or perhaps move affected fish to my outdoor pond to live out the rest of their days. I am not sure if they shed the parasite while living or if it is only released and spread upon death. I have a few guppies, Corydoras and Platydoras also in the tank and I have had trouble finding out which of these fish may be susceptible since so many articles about whirling disease are about salmon and trout.
<Since the Myxosoma parasite cannot directly infect other fish (so far as I know) then maintenance indoors, in an aquarium free of parasites and their hosts, such as worms, should break the cycle. Culling may be useful of course where some fish have poor quality of life or no chance of survival, but if otherwise healthy, the offspring of such fish in particular should be fine.>
If it has spread to my other tanks via shared equipment, I have rasboras, yoyo loaches, penguin tetras and peacock gudgeons which I am again not sure if it is possible or likely that they will be infected.
<Do directly, unless live Tubifex are present, which is easily avoided by use of a new tank and/or use of a vermifuge medication.>
Some of my reading suggests that maybe catfish do not catch or are not affected by this parasite so if I turn up the heat a bit and convert that tank to a catfish only tank, would the parasite eventually die out? Or even if I removed all the of fish, would it still persist due to using the Oligochaete detritus worms in the tank as a host? I suppose what I'm really asking, is can I avoid stripping this tank down, disinfecting everything and cooking the rocks/substrate? Could it be a matter of watch and wait, and remove affected fish as they become obvious?
<See above.>
Thanks for your help over the years, fish keeping has become a major hobby for me and I have even started to enjoy when things go wrong as there are so many fascinating things still to learn, challenges to overcome and practices to improve on.
Bronwen from South Australia
<And thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Firemouth cichlid with whirling disease       2/12/15
<Your msg. has been deleted due to size. Re-do>
Fire mouth with whirling disease       2/12/15

Hello there. I have a 65gal community tank with a 5 year old fire mouth cichlid, bumble bee cichlid, blue Molly, Chinese algae eater and a few feeder guppies.
<Avoid these last... they and feeder/comet goldfish almost always carry transmittable disease>

I woke up to feed as I do every morning and I notice my male fire mouth swimming in circles. I didn't take much of it was leaving for work. But when I came home for lunch and notice he was still doing it continuously. I try to Google his symptoms and came up with whirling disease.
<More likely a helminth (internal) at play here>
I instantly removed him to a QT tank. I am worried for my other fish. I an treating them to some salt and turned my heat up to 82°f. I have been watching them intently for signs if infection. So far so good eating and swimming bit more then I can say fir the fire mouth who won't or can't eat and I wonder if he gone blind he put up no fight to catch. But only been one day. I do regular water changes 20% every 2 weeks with a gravel pump. Is there any suggestions you may be able to provide.
<See WWM re the use of such "feeders". A grave mistake>
On top of his spinning in circles he also stagers backwards and leaning on glass/decor as if he was drunk.
<Not much chance of recovery... is it worth trying to treat. See WWM re flukes, and bacterial treatments.
Bob Fenner>
re: Fire mouth with whirling disease       2/13/15

Sad thing he was euthanized early this morning. But I have move my concern to my main tank. Been keeping a close eye on them. I removed the remaining guppies to a 3gal tank I have. Just 1 bumblebee cichlid a blue Molly and a Chinese algae eater remain in the 65gal tank. Still no signs of infection.
And eating swimming good.
<... BobF>
re: Fire mouth with whirling disease       2/13/15

I was curious after removing the possibly infected guppies. If there was no dead carcass for spores to release. Should I be OK?
<Can't tell from here. BobF>
Fire mouth with whirling disease /Neale        2/13/15

Hello there. I have a 65gal community tank with a 5 year old Firemouth cichlid,
<This won't work well... How to be clear (again) on Firemouth cichlids...? That throat-expansion trick with the red colouration and blue eyespots is a bluff. It's essential for Thorichthys species because they have special jaws adapted to sifting sand. It's why they are correctly kept in tanks with a sandy substrate, not gravel. But because they sift sand with rather delicate jaws meant to extract prey (such as worms) carefully, they can't engage in fights with their mouths. Most other cichlids do "tug of war" with their mouths, but Thorichthys don't because it'd be too dangerous for them. They easily dislocate their jaws, causing problems for feeding and breathing. In short, Thorichthys species shouldn't be kept with other cichlids except perhaps the least aggressive (Rainbow cichlids, for example). Mixing Thorichthys with more aggressive cichlids usually ends up badly. Now, let's read on...>
bumble bee cichlid,
<Not a "community fish"; one male will easily dominate 55 gallons, let alone cohabit with community fish.>
blue Molly, Chinese algae eater and a few feeder guppies.
<I hope not as food. Feeder Guppies are notorious "parasite bombs", including such nasties as Myxosporea that cause "Whirling Disease"... While I'd be happy to add Feeder Guppies to a community tank (after appropriate quarantining, of course) adding them as live food is extremely unwise.>
I woke up to feed as I do every morning and I notice my male fire mouth swimming in circles.
I didn't take much of it was leaving for work. But when I came home for lunch and notice he was still doing it continuously. I try to Google his symptoms and came up with whirling disease.
<See above.>
I instantly removed him to a QT tank. I am worried for my other fish. I an treating them to some salt and turned my heat up to 82°f.
<What will either of these actions help with? Salt/heat together are a treatment for Whitespot. But I don't think this sounds like Whitespot. In most other situations, adding salt is either pointless or going to make things worse, and likewise raising temperature. More salt means more osmotic stress, and more heat means less oxygen in the water. Do either of these sound therapeutic? If I'm labouring this a bit, it's because we have to avoid the politician's mistake of thinking "doing something" is better than "doing nothing". Politicians are very good at identifying problems, be they problems involving schools, foreign governments or whatever else that's caught the eye. But they then decide that they have to do something, anything, because being seen doing something means they're tackling the problem. What politicians almost never do is sit back and wait awhile. They don't collect data (just opinions) and they don't have the least interest in waiting for previous "fixes" to bed down or get troubleshooted. In other words, when we see a sick fish, we mustn't think doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing. It's almost never a good idea. There are two really obvious sources of problems here: wrong tankmates and exposure to feeder fish. Physical stress and trauma (even if you didn't see it happen) could well send a cichlid "loopy", in which case removing it to a better environment is the thing to do. Alternatively, if it's exposure to parasites, then identifying the parasite and choosing the correct medication is the way forward. As a reminder, all medicines are poisons, so you use them judiciously, not at random. Also more general the medicine, the less likely it is to work. So anything sold as a cure-all is more likely to fail than a specific medication tailored to one specific disease.>
I have been watching them intently for signs if infection. So far so good eating and swimming bit more then I can say fir the fire mouth who won't or can't eat and I wonder if he gone blind he put up no fight to catch. But only been one day. I do regular water changes 20% every 2 weeks with a gravel pump.
<Are, a third obvious problem... gravel. Not unknown for sand-sifting cichlids to choke on gravel, or at least, damage their gill filaments. Do review the needs of fish before purchase, and recognise that cichlids as diverse as Pseudotropheus crabro and Thorichthys meeki aren't compatible, and need tanks designed around their needs, rather than a "hope for the best" approach.>
Is there any suggestions you may be able to provide. On top of his spinning in circles he also stagers backwards and leaning on glass/decor as if he was drunk.
<You offer no data at all with regard to water chemistry and temperature, so let's recap those. Firemouths are classic Central Americans, so medium-hard water with a basic pH is what you're after; aim for 10-25 degrees dH, pH 7-8.2. Like most fish from alkaline waters, they're particularly sensitive to pH drops, so at the very least, check the pH, since acidosis can cause "loopiness" in cichlids. All cichlids are acutely sensitive to dissolved metabolites, not just ammonia and nitrite (which should be zero) but also nitrate (which should be as low as practical, ideally below 20 mg/l and certainly no higher than 40 mg/l). Review, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Whirling disease in feeder fish, Anglers   11/11/11
Hi all,
I have a frogfish (a. Pictus) and I acclimated half a dozen mollies to full saltwater (35 ppt). Now, 3 of the mollies exhibited what looked like what I have read on this website as whirling disease.
<Mmm, rare... likely some aspect of the adaptation to seawater...>

I promptly removed them and euthanized them and buried them in the garden.
My questions are: could this disease be spread to my frogfish?
<Doubtful; highly>
None of the infected mollies died, and from what I've read (all be it limited) the main way whirling disease is transmitted is when the infected fish dies (or Tubifex worms which are a non-issue for me). Also, the
infected mollies were females, and I have about a dozen tiny fry swimming around. Does this disease pass from generation to generation?
<Myxosoma? Don't think so>

The frogfish has not been given any mollies because of this development.
<I'd train this Angler on frozen (defrosted) sea food items... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/anglerfdgfaqs.htm
Any and all assistance is greatly appreciated.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Spinning Barb Crew: I have a rosy barb that began spinning wildly in the tank. I took him out and moved him into a tank by himself. My pet store told me that he probably had an intestinal infection and would probably die. He's still alive after a few days and stopped his wild spinning but now stays in a corner near the heater, doesn't seem to be eating, gasping. I've also noticed he mostly swims in place and drifts backwards quite a bit, and when I tried to put a live plant that he might eat into the tank, he started pinging around the tank then cowered in the corner gasping. Any suggestions please? <The spinning is not good. Keep him in the QT and watch his old tankmates. Sorry to say, but Whirling Disease is usually fatal. If he does die make sure you bleach the tank and anything in it. I would destroy the plant. Just not worth the risk. Don> 

Spinning Barb pt 2 Thanks for the reply Don. The others in the main tank seem fine by the way, and eating heartily. He stopped whirling and is swimming about a bit more but always returns to the heater and cowers there with mouth agape bobbling with the movement of the water. We had noticed the area from his nose to his head has darkened and along his spine also.  Any ideas what that might be? He was a beautiful vibrant pink before but became quite dull when he got sick. My daughter is doing everything she can to see that he makes it. And won't give up on him, salt, keeping the water at 82. Is there anything we should/could be doing besides waiting and observing? He started whirling a week ago, and is still here. What do I need to observe to know when he might be better and if it becomes safe to return him to the main tank? <I'm sorry to say I do not have any tricks to try here. Please read this thread from our forum and the references within.  Don>

2/25/06 freshwater fish with curvature of spinal column   2/26/06 My husband and I have a 28 gallon tank with numerous freshwater fish including platys, mollies, Danios, algae eaters, and a Pleco.  The chemical levels in our water are within normal ranges.  Two weeks ago we noticed one of our younger mollies swimming frantically in a tight circle.  As we looked closer, we saw that his body was twisted in crescent shape.  We immediately removed and euthanized him.  Since then every few days we have noticed other fish with similar curving of their spinal column.  In addition, they seem to have what looks like Ick spots on their body, their fins are torn and infected, and they seem to be more lethargic than usual.  We are treating them with Ick treatment, but it does not appear to be helping any of the symptoms. <Won't> We have lost one Danio, five mollies and three platys.  Every time we found a diseased fish, we immediately removed it.  Our research has suggested that they may have tuberculosis, but they did not have the majority of the symptoms listed for tuberculosis.   <Not likely TB/Mycobacteria, but another... perhaps Myxosoma... M. cerebralis...> Is there another disease that would cause these symptoms?  Do you have any suggestions for treating this?  We appreciate any insight you can offer.  Thanks. <Is and possibly. I would read re Myxosoma on the Net, take care to wash your hands thoroughly after they've been in this tank. Bob Fenner>

Whirling Disease? I have a school of shiners from Mississippi River in my 10 gallon tank. Two of the fish started to show signs of spinal deformations and they twist and whirl when swimming. <Yikes....  Not a good sign, at all.  Use strong caution, here - do *not* return any of these fish to the wild - if they have a contagious disease (and it sounds like they do), it could impact other wild fish very negatively.  As you describe this, the first thing that pops into mind is "whirling disease".  This illness is caused by a myxosporidian parasite known as Myxobolus cerebralis.  It's usually seen in salmonids (like salmon and trout), but has been seen in other fish as well, even goldfish and livebearers.  The parasites infect the tissues around the inner ear and the cartilage of the skull.  It causes the fish to swim in circles, sometimes frantically, or to swim nose-down tail-up, spinning like a top.  It is usually fatal, though some fish will survive and thereafter always have spinal/skeletal deformities.  It is also untreatable, I'm sorry to say.  If this is what your fish are exhibiting, I would strongly recommend euthanizing the sick fish, or at the least remove them to a separate tank to prevent spread of the disease to your other fish.  If the fish die in the tank of healthy fish, the healthy fish run an *enormous* risk of catching the illness - hundreds of thousands of M. cerebralis parasites may be released by an infected dead fish.  Also, if the fish die, do *not* flush them, for the same reasons.  Perhaps bury them at the roots of a favorite plant, so they can "live on" as life given to the plant.... or maybe I'm just sappy and sentimental.  anyhow, I know this is a huge amount of bad news, and I am sorry to be the bearer of it....> Other fish (guppy, neon, Danio and other four shiners) seem to be fine. The fish had been in my tank since September and had been given general tropical fish flakes. <They may never catch it, either, if you act now and remove the infected fish.> I also noticed that the shells of snails started turning whitish and have some abbesses, just don't look healthy. do I have some nutrient deficiency in my tank? <Ahh, this is a much easier, and happier answer.  You are probably lacking calcium or some other mineral that the snails need for healthy shells.  You can buffer the water with a calcium carbonate solution, but this may increase your pH, as well, so do so only with caution.  I'd also like to mention, since dosing my tanks with iodine for my freshwater shrimps, I have noticed AMAZING changes in the snails, as well - the went from pitted, white, eroding shells to rich, brown, faster-growing shells.  The change is very obvious on the larger ones, you can actually see the cutoff point where their shells began to grow healthy.  I use one drop of Kent Iodine (this is marketed for saltwater tanks) per every ten gallons of water in all my freshwater tanks containing shrimp.  The snails get it by default.> What to do?   <Just as above....  and do further research on "whirling disease", especially here:   http://www.fishdisease.net/cgi-bin/search.cgi?ps=10&q=whirling+disease&t=&Submit=Search .  Again, I'm sorry I don't have better news for you.> Thanks for your help,  Claudine <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Bent fish I have had 2 fish die in the last week that are bent into a u-shape at death. Is this a disease of some sort? I have a 30 gallon tank with 4 serpae tetras, 4 platys, 1 molly and a Chinese algae eater. The water has been tested and levels are normal. The tank gets a 20 percent water change weekly. Any ideas?  <If the fish just plain die without warning and all the other water parameters are normal then I would start looking at diet. I am thinking of vitamin deficiencies. Try some live or frozen food for a while and see if it makes any difference. Sometimes flake or pellet foods sit on the shelf for a long time and lose some vitamins over time. This is less likely to happen with frozen food. -Chuck>

Whirling Disease 09/04/2008 Hi, I woke up this morning and went to feed my fish... 20 gallon tank - 3 Danios, 3 albino Cory cats, 3 Otos, and a Betta. Freshwater - Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites all 0. pH 6.8. I did a 20% water change yesterday. Temp 78. <All sounds fine.> ... when I looked in the tank, one of the Cory Cats was whirling and zooming around the tank. Then just stopped and lay on the bottom of the tank. I immediately separated him into a quarantine tank, where he whirled around again, and now is dead - about 30 minutes start to finish. From what I have read this morning, sounds like Whirling Disease. <What fish farmers call Whirling Disease is caused by a particular parasite by the name of Myxobolus. Now, this parasite can only get into a fish via its food, specifically live Tubifex worms. Unless you've used Tubifex worms (does anyone these days?) then it is extremely unlikely you're actually dealing with Myxobolus. Similar symptoms -- loss of co-ordination, nervous swimming -- can be caused by a variety of other things, including poisons and poor water quality. Because Corydoras are air-breathers, they are especially sensitive to things in the atmosphere, such as bug sprays and paint fumes.> My question is this - what is going to happen to my other fish? I took the cat out before he died, but only minutes before this happened. Should I remove the other Corys just in case (I just got them and the Otos on Saturday)? I didn't quarantine them first b/c I only have a 2.5 gallon tank to do that in - I wasn't sure if that was okay to keep them in for a few days. Should I do another water change? Do I remove all of the other fish? If I have to do this, what do I do about cycling the tank to keep the other fish safe? Or do I just wait and see what happens? Please advise. I'm having a nervous breakdown right now.<Right now I'd sit and review things. Do you use Tubifex worms? Has anything potentially toxic been used in the house?>Thanks, Amy <Cheers, Neale.>

Whirling fish film  2/21/08 My daughter and I are having so much trouble and now a fish is acting funny. We saw it roll just like a barrel once. Could you send us the clip so I can compare it to what is going on here? thanks Tammy <Sorry, we don't keep movies and other attachments. If you're having problems, do please read around the Freshwater section. Almost all problems with fishes come down to either inadequate filtration, overstocking, or the wrong water chemistry. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm Cheers, Neale>

Whirling Disease 10/24/06 I have a 150 gal. system w/ 4 mollies (1.3.0), 4 guppies (1.3.0), 4 silver dollars, 3 Japanese shrimp, 3 sm. Plecos, and 1 sm. clown loach the temp is pretty constant at 85 F <hot> and the chemical tests read 0 NH4,0 NO3,0 NO2, etc... Top off water is treated for chlorine/chloramines and I use a wet/dry pushing 600+ gph from undergravel jets, a power head for aeration, as well as several air stones. My last water change was performed last month...I know I'm lazy, but I've never had a problem in this tank like this. I lost a male sailfin Molly yesterday in about 1-2 hr. He suddenly started whirling and jerking and was shortly doing so upside down. I found a female guppy on the sand substrate in the same contorted position...upside down. Does this sound like a swim bladder infection to you or do I have an epidemic on the rise? <Whirling Disease.> Thank Branon Rochelle <Sounds like you have Whirling disease (Myxosporea).  Quite virulent and lethal.  Best to separate fish that show symptoms from others as quickly as possible.  Check out  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/whirldisfaqs.htm for more.> <Chris>

Myxosporea?  Myxosporidians? - 03/14/2005 Hi Bob, <Actually, Sabrina with you today.> I have read/searched through WWM and have been unable to find much regarding Myxosporea. <Mm, try "Myxosporea", "Myxosporidea", "Myxosporidian"....  And try via Google, as well.  And, especially, try here:  http://www.fishdisease.net/ .> I had 3 black phantom tetras, 3 cardinal tetras, a male Betta and a Pleco in a 10 gallon tank.  (probably slightly overcrowded but frequent (25% 5-6 days) water changes has kept the water quality very good. <Can't attest to bioload, as I don't know the tank size.> Anyway last week  I had a fish (bp tetra) start showing all of the swimming signs of Myxosporea but none of the other symptoms.   <Myxosporea are simply a group of Sporozoans, protozoan parasites of fish....  I wonder if you're thinking of the Myxosporidean Myxosoma cerebralis, or "whirling disease"?  I'm not certain that tetras are susceptible to this....  Uh, in any case, what were the symptoms you saw?> He succumbed to wounds sustained in an attack by the Betta which I happened to witness (lost an eye, severe fin damage).   I was not quick enough to get my net and rescue the poor fish.  Anyway now that I have carried on for a while I was wondering how I should deal with this so as not to start an epidemic and lose all of my fish to this slow but fatal disease.   <Are you seeing any symptoms of any sort in any of your other fish?> I have a 3 gallon "hospital tank" plus another 1 gallon jar that could hold the Betta if need be.  I am fairly new at this hobby and do not want to fail miserably within the first year.  Thank you in advance for the help and keep up the good work on your site.   <And thank you for your kind words.  Hopefully a little more information will shed some necessary light, here.> Scott (Ottawa, Canada) <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Re: Myxosporea?  Myxosporidians? - 03/18/2006 Thank you for your advice so far. <Any time.> Yes whirling disease is definitely what I am seeing. I saw it in the one fish that has passed away.   <Do you mind describing exactly the symptoms you've observed?  Have you had an opportunity to see whirling disease in other fish?  Are you absolutely confidant of this diagnosis?  Again, I've not seen this in tetras, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.  My hope, here, is that the "whirling" you saw was just the fish damaged or sick to the point that it couldn't swim properly....  was listless, and just going where the water took it.  If you ARE seeing Myxosoma cerebralis, that's much worse.> I believe another tetra has a cyst growing just before his tail. <Disconcerting for sure.> If you have any ideas on how to combat this infestation it would be much appreciated as I have found very little on the internet (other than disinfect and start over). <A tough question, with no good answer, I fear.  In all honesty, I would remove ALL affected fish to a separate quarantine system, break down the tank, sterilize....  perhaps even employ a UV sterilizer on the system....  At a minimum, I would drain most or all of the water, clean the substrate, and start "fresh", and maintain *pristine* water quality to maintain the health and well-being of any unaffected fish.  As for those exhibiting symptoms, there really is no effective treatment at this time.  Sadly, there really is nothing you can do but make them as comfortable as you can.  I do hope the symptoms you are seeing are of something else.> Thanks again, Scott <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Health/Disease In Selectively Bred Fish - 11/07/2005 Hi there, <Hello.> I'm a beginner to keeping fish, having started with a tropical 30L BiOrb (just 1 plastic plant and 1 cave-esque decoration along with the provided media) in late June this year. My first 3 fish were balloon mollies; one died from dropsy <.... a comment, here; "dropsy" is not a disease, but a set of symptoms.... what *causes* those symptoms is what you need to explore. In some cases, it can be as simple as constipation. In others, it can be a nearly-always fatal bacterial infection.... and there are other causes, as well.> in a QT tank shortly after escaping the boiling fate the other two shared thanks to what I've been assured was a faulty heater. <Yikes!> My next fish were another balloon molly and a guppy; to this pair I added a balloon molly and a swordtail. The first molly died after being sucked through the siphon tube (my fault - I now watch them like a hawk when siphoning) <I have had a similar experience with a female Ameca splendens - heart-stopping.... to me.... but the fish did fine.> and today the other molly and the swordtail died from whirling disease in the QT tank. <Oh, gosh, yikes!! Scary.> I spent some time watching all three of the fish last night, and they all seemed fine - then this morning the swordtail and the molly were clearly sick, the swordtail very much so, so I quarantined them immediately. When I returned from work some 7 hours later, both had died. The guppy is okay so far (as far as I can tell) and I've performed a 50% water change. The ammonia and nitrites had been 0 for over a week and were 0 this morning when I quarantined the swordtail and molly. Nitrates are at about 25 ppm (my LFS tells me that due to being in a hard water area I'm unlikely to get it any lower than this) and pH is usually around 7.8 - 8.0. I've chalked the dropsy incident up to my own inexperience (I made some maintenance mistakes early on) but I don't know how my fish got whirling disease, which in turn means I don't know how to prevent it happening again. <Mm, difficult to impossible to prevent, aside from maintaining optimal water quality.... These fish likely had the disease prior to purchase.> I also don't know if there's anything else I can do to try and make sure my remaining guppy doesn't get it. I've read what I could find on your site and Google about whirling disease, but I couldn't find any preventative measures anywhere (my apologies if they're listed). <There are none, really, aside from removing affected fish immediately, and maintaining pristine water quality.... excellent, high-quality foods.... in general, bolstering the health of your fish as best you can.> Presuming my guppy remains healthy, how long should I wait before adding companions for him?  <A few weeks, at an absolute minimum. And quarantine any newcomers if at all possible.> I've noticed that it's the most selectively bred fish I've chosen (5 balloon mollies and a swordtail) are the ones that have died. Is there really this much of a difference in susceptibility to disease?  <Yes, there really is. A decade or so ago, male bettas were expected to live several years. Now, they're so inbred that even breeders of "high-quality" bettas claim that a couple of years is all you can hope for. In short, yes, any fish that is highly inbred or line-bred or selectively bred is much more susceptible to disease, genetic disorder, etc. Especially fish that are bred to be mal-formed, in my opinion.> I'm sorry this e-mail is so long, but I wanted you to have all the information you needed. <Thank you for your attention to detail.> Thanks in advance for all your help - I love keeping fish and I'm learning all I can, but things are still going wrong and it's very upsetting. <It's a tough learning curve, but you're getting things right - you'll get there, no worries!> Regards, -Victoria <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Calling All Midwives!  Dalmatian Molly Expires After Giving Birth 10/15/05 Hi, I have a Dalmatian Molly who gave birth last night to about 45 fry. About 8 or 9 where dead. <Dead upon birth? This may be an indication that something went wrong with the pregnancy....> The mom seemed fine last night and most of the day today, but this evening she began flopping around and spinning in circles constantly. She has not stopped for a few hours now. I am really concerned.  <I am, as well.... isolate the mom from the rest of your fish, and use the Google search bar on our homepage and search for "whirling disease".... also look on the 'net for this term, as well, and see if the symptoms of this match your fish. If so, there is really not much you can do but make her as comfortable as you can.> Does this mean she is going to die from the stress of giving birth?  <It may be entirely unrelated if it is "whirling disease".... However, also be sure to test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate; maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, with water changes.> This is her 4th batch of fry and she seemed fine after the other 3 litters. HELP! <Try researching whirling disease, and keep your water quality optimal. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Whirling disease video clip I recently lost a young balloon molly to this menace, I managed to take a 30 second video clip of the behavior, and thought it might be of some use to your site. the file is 7.39MB, in .mov format, and I am unable to alter it to bring down its size with the software I have available to me. if you have any interest, let me know, and I will include it as an attachment.  <Please do send this along to my personal addr: By Bob Fenner and I'll do my best to make it available to the public.  Bob Fenner>,<Unfortunately could not figure out how to do... even w/ JasonC's help. RMF>>

Unknown fish with whirling disease My fish started swimming around like crazy, really fast.  He bumped into the sides of the aquarium a lot. <It would be very helpful if you tell me what type of fish you have.  If it is in a freshwater, brackish, marine tank.  Knowing what other tankmates and it's living conditions are often sheds better light on what could be causing problems.> Then, one of his fins stopped moving.  He then started swimming in circles and upside down and then on his side.  He started swimming crazy again and actually jumped out of the aquarium.   <Since I'm not sure what type of fish this is it's really difficult to know if this is something that is due to infection or possibly environmental.  This sounds like a fish could be infected with Myxospora, which is commonly called the whirling disease.  It's actually a Protozoan that effects the fish.  Symptoms of Myxospora are Loss of equilibrium Swims in a whirling motion Bodily deformations Nodules and boils appear on body Dark coloration on posterior third of fish The disease progresses very slowly over a period of months. Affected fish slowly lose their ability to maintain a normal position in the water and will whirl and/or swim with their head down. In some cases respiration increases.  Sadly if the fish is infected with this it is incurable.  The standard thing to do is euthanize the fish.  There are medicines on the market that is suppose to help fight this protozoan but, I have not heard of any cases were the fish survived more than a few weeks to a month after treatment.> We put him back in and then he was motionless at the bottom of the tank.  He was upside down.  We took him out and placed him in a separate container with tank water. What's going on??? I hope he doesn't die.  Any information will help.  Thank you. Theresa <We had some a pair of our Koi in a breeding aquarium contract this.  Sadly the fish never recovered from it.  The problem is that the condition stresses the fish, and a stressed fish doesn't eat.  The fish usually wastes away if it can't right itself.  For questions in the future please be sure to give all the info you can so we can help you more.  Type of fish, tank size, tank mates, filtration, water parameters, tank temp.  All of these can offer info for us to help you. -Magnus> UV STERILIZER and FW disease Hi Bob. Have a problem and need a little advice as it involves more than just changing water. :) <Okay> My largest tank, a 55, right now has 3 Big Spot Plec's (all around 5 inches), 1 Bristlenose at 4", 4 Cory sterbae and about 15 smaller dither fish. (Do I need to state my readings? OK. 0,0,15. I do lots of water changes!) <You know you and I like those> I keep losing the dithers with the bent spine of fish TB. Couple of Zebra Danios, a few White Clouds, one Cardinal Tetra. I also have 6 Rosey Barbs (2M, 4F) in there. The female Rosey have looked like they're gravid since I got them 8 months ago. Now all the females are starting to show the bent spine. The males both look normal and healthy. <... not good... can be a few things... I'm fearful it's Myxosoma, not nutritional, environmental... given the fact that the cats appear unaffected. Are you familiar with whirling disease?> I know I should break down the tank, put down all the fish and start over, but frankly with my prize Big Spots in there it's just not going to happen. In speaking with Sabrina about this she mentioned she knows of no report of catfish getting TB. (Can you add anything to this?) So the plan is to put down all the dithers, healthy looking or not, and add a UV Sterilizer. <Siluiiforms can indeed "get", perish from Mycobacterial infections... but these would be long gone by now if this were the causative agent.> Does this seem like a good plan of attack to you? My thoughts are that the catfish, being bottom dwelling, mud sucking scavengers have been provided one hell of an immune system. Nature is good that way. By ridding the tank of the reservoir of infection in the dithers and running the UV I hope to clear the bacteria. <Maybe... do you have any such problems with similar groups (Cypriniiform/minnows) in other of your systems...  using the same water?> Right now I have two tanks running. The 55 and a 10 with my breeding Bristlenose. I have 35 two week old fry in the 10 right now along with the parents. So I have to do something soon. Plan is to get a 29 and/or 20 and set up the Big Spots for a breeding attempt. Then use the 55 as the grow out tank. Would greatly prefer not to have to break it all down and recycle, but must have a healthy, cycled tank for all these fry. So I'm leaning towards the Sterilizer. <I am not such a big fan of UV's for home, even breeding systems. Not that much to gain. If bacterial in origin, the microbes will be passed in the system by the fishes eating other dead, dying fishes> If you think I'm on the right track, can you recommend a brand, size. I think the 55 is the biggest tank I'll have. Would also want it to be able to go on a 20. The dream tank of Zebra Plecos would be next after getting the Big Spots settled in a 29. Can't/won't even think about the Zebras until I'm sure I'm healthy, tank wise. Don <If it were me, I'd spend the money on another or larger tank, another trashcan/carboy to store pre-mixed water, or a reverse osmosis unit for making water, and hope that if this is indeed a biological vector, that its virulence dies out. Bob Fenner>

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