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TOPIC: Rescued oscars not doing well

Rescued oscars not doing well 1 week 4 days ago #70049

  • Effy
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I am a veterinary student who rescues reptiles and aquatics as a hobby. We recently rescued 2 large oscars (~10-11 inches) and one large pleco (about 11 inches) from a situation where they had been living in almost black water for 3 years (Living together for a total of with filters that have not been changed in a LONG time. They are in a 100 gal tank they came with and have two quiet flow 55/75 pumps (estimated for 90 gal tanks each) one is new and one that they came with. Both oscars have HITH disease pretty badly and were not eating anything we offered when they first arrived. We did a 50% water change when they arrived and transported the other 50% of the water from the old tank. We have done 25% water changes every day for about 1 week when they first arrived until water levels were showing no ammonia. We treated them with general cure from API for HITH disease and do a 50% water change every week to maintain no ammonia in the water. The HITH disease is starting to heal and they have gained an appetite back, but not quite a normal appetite. They will only eat the marine pellets the previous owner was feeding and they refuse to eat any of the krill, squid or other frozen/thawed food they are offered.

It has been a month since they were brought to the rescue and we are doing another dose of general cure today (4/14/17) after a 50% water change, and after 48 hours and a 25% water change they will be dosed again (per instructions on the package). The one oscar is doing ok, he is swimming around and exploring/ being active, but the other oscar is acting very odd. He goes from being slightly aggressive to the other oscar to being sluggish and gasping for air on the bottom of the tank. The aggression has just started this week and we are already preparing a new 100gal tank for him to be moved to to avoid aggression. I was just wondering if these symptoms are anything obvious that I am missing. This is my first time owning any cichlids and despite researching a lot of websites and forums and speaking to aquatic veterinarians I have not found an answer to what is going on. If this is something obvious or something that I am doing wrong please let me know. I am willing to do and pay anything to keep these guys happy and healthy.

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures on me at the moment. My roommate texted me at work saying the one oscar is starting to gasp for air and so I started looking for solutions as fast as possible. I can post images of both the oscars and the tank if that would help later tonight. I know the ammonia is at 0ppm and the water temp is a little lower than I would like (resting at ~71-73 deg) and they are 100% fresh water. Please let me know any advice you may have as far as care or treatment I can give them. Like I said I'll do anything to keep them happy and healthy.

As far as I can tell they do not show any other signs of distress, no pop eye, no more ick, no bloat, no parasites (Besides healing HITH) and no excessive slime or discoloration. Thanks for taking the time to read all of this.
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Rescued oscars not doing well 1 week 4 days ago #70050

  • beretta96
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:welcome:

Good on you for being the kind of person you are!! :greet:

Since you seem to have successfully navigated them through the concerns of osmoregulatory shock - high volume, LARGE water changes, as often as you can provide, is the best thing for them. That's going to be the best thing for their HITH and will also give them the best chance to have any medicines work effectively - along with recovery in general.

You didn't mention it specifically but given your background I assume you're using a water conditioner when you perform water changes?? Also, have the filters completed their cycle yet?

The fact they are eating is a good sign that you're helping them turn the corner.

It's the collective experience of the seasoned Oscar keepers here that Oscars who've lived in terrible conditions like yours, normally begin to expire at 3-5 years due to the effects of having lived in such squalid conditions for an extended period.

The aggressive Oscar that gasps on the bottom of the tank....is he eating? What do his gills look like? Once you can upload a video, it will increase the likelihood of getting optimal assistance. His aggressiveness is likely his natural instincts coming out. Many Oscars can naturally be quite aggressive to their tankmates especially in confined areas. A 100g tank is a bit confined for two Oscars the size you have.

I would also slowly (1 degree / day) raise your water temp from 71-73 to the 82-84 range unless you notice signs of stress that are inconsistent with what you've seen at their current temperature settings.
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Rescued oscars not doing well 1 week 4 days ago #70051

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Thanks beretta96 for commenting. When I do a water change we typically let the water sit for at least a week with plenty of aeration and movement to help any unwanted chlorine/ chemicals to leave the water before we add it, so I do not add any water conditioners. Should I start using some conditioners, or is my method an ok method? I have other aquatics and have not had any issues with the water in my area, but here is a link to a water report in my town www.cstx.gov/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=21021 . And as far as I can tell the tank has cycled. The ammonia and nitrites stays pretty low, hardily ever getting above zero with the amount of water changes we do, and the nitrates are at trace amounts.

That is my biggest worry- that maybe they have just reached the end of their lifespan due to the terrible conditions they lived in for most of their life.

We will be purchasing a few heaters to increase the temperature, and I am hoping that will help them feel better. I will post a video and some pictures either tonight or tomorrow (sorry for not being able to post them right away, we are also medical fosters and have about 23 dogs currently that keep us fairly busy)

Thanks again for the help. I will get on the videos and pictures as soon as possible!
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Rescued oscars not doing well 1 week 4 days ago #70053

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Aging the water like you do should be fine with respect to removing the chlorine in from the water. Doing water changes directly from the tap, with the use of a water conditioner like Seachem Prime, will enable you to do more frequent, large changes and minimize the amount of ammonia and nitrites to which they're subjected.

If you're getting any nitrite readings, I'm pretty sure that's a sign your filters are not fully cycled. Nitrites only come as a result of the bio-excretions from the nitrosomonas colonies that have built up in your filters. Since you have nitrite readings and age your water, you shouldn't have any ammonia or nitrite readings if your filters were fully cycled. Since you are getting both, it leads me to believe your filters aren't fully cycled. Your filters are pretty small compared to the bioload emitted by your two large Oscars and a similarly sized Pleco. When the opportunity presents itself, you should install a more appropriately sized filter(s) on that tank....it will eventually enable you to have a fully cycled aquarium where there is no ammonia or nitrite in the tank whatsoever. Nitrates will build up until you perform a large water change when the nitrate readings reach 20ppm - which should be after 2-3 days with the way your 100g tank is currently stocked.

23 dogs!! Wow!! We just got a couple puppies over the course of the last few months after having to euthanize our long time family dog. The puppies are quite fun!! My heart went out to the one we just got. She was adopted by a family after having been born at the local no-kill shelter. She was with her adopted family for only four months before her new home was destroyed by a tornado. The owner, who previously had three other dogs, was unable to keep her as they were in temporary housing until their home was rebuilt. As a result, they took her back to the shelter and asked them to house her unless she had a chance to go to a nice family before their home was rebuilt. I was honored they considered us a suitable home. Now that we've come to know her personality, she was completely depressed after having been "abandoned" at the shelter....poor thing. There is a special place in heaven for folks with your kind of compassion Effy. :-)
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Rescued oscars not doing well 1 week 4 days ago #70056

  • Ernie14
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Well done on the rescue, great job.
I would agree with beretta if you are getting ammonia and nitrite readings filters are not cycled. You mention you have had them for about a month, cycling can take about 8-10 weeks so would suggest keep up with your current water change schedule.
Are you using API Master test kit for water testing?
Definitely suggest a water conditioner particularly whilst you are cycling.
Btw a warm welcome.
150 gallon 2x Tiger Oscars
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Rescued oscars not doing well 1 week 3 days ago #70060

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Thanks for the suggestions beretta96 and Ernie14 I really appreciate the help! I will buy a water conditioner asap. Do you recommend any specific filters? This is the largest fresh water tank I currently have set up and I am used to large salt water tanks, but am not really familiar with large freshwater pumps/ filters. Should I add an additional filter the same size of the two I currently have or should I replace the two I have with better filters? When I move the other one oscar to the other 100 gal tank (after it is cycled) what kind of filters would you recommend for a large oscar living alone?

Ernie14 yes I am using the API master test kit for freshwater, we ran out of the drops in the kit so I am waiting for a new one to be delivered (any day now) and I can do a water test then and post what the results are on here.

Here are links to videos and pictures of the tank. I included a 5 gal bucket next to the tank for a size reference. The oscar that I am worried about is the albino one (Named "Auskar"). He is the one showing aggression as well by bumping into the other oscar (Named "Oscar"), but I have not seen any dramatic aggression such as fin nipping or hard ramming. We feed them on separate ends of the tank so they usually don't fight when we feed them. And like I mentioned we are getting them separated into separate tanks as soon as the second 100 gal is cycled.

This is a picture of the tank from the previous owner. They lived in water like this for 3 years of the 5 years total they had them drive.google.com/open?id=0B0m6CUBg8XxlTk...TEVZVzhLcXpMUzRGRTRJ

This is just a video of the front of the tank now. The water has not cleared up 100% since we first got them and had to transport half of the dirty water.
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92Btd240VFpZTzk4b28

This is a video of the back of the tank
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtMWV1RWI2NXh1MEE

This is a picture of the back of the tank (front of the tank is covered partially by wall) with a 5 gal bucket for size reference
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtRmYyY2RMZl95U28

This is "Oscar" with some shots of the HITH that is actually looking a lot better. The holes were much deeper when we first got them, and Oscar was much more affected by HITH so I included extra pics of that fish.
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92Btb1gwMm1Wd2d4bk0
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtQUZTN2Iyd21fTjQ
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtXzA4S1Rac0l3Mjg
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtLTg1aHQ3ai1uUjQ
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtS3VjY09PYkF0YUU

This is some pictures of "Auskar" and his HITH
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtMm5rLUpqU2lsVmc
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtdjlZLVBKYXJhVjQ

This is a video of "Auskar" breathing/gasping. His mouth is also somewhat red but it has always been that way so I am not sure if it is a sign of illness or just how he is colored.
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtaG1XbVllSjR6djQ
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtMGFSSTJtUGJmb1k
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtNmVGSTE0WXRZcVU

This is a video of the aggression "Auskar" shows to "Oscar"
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtanlEV3dBdEhiemM

This is a video comparing the two oscars breathing
drive.google.com/open?id=0B5BG67vq92BtWFI2T0JDWVVOa2s

The pleco is not visible is any of the videos because it usually hides in the center black log. It is a little bigger than the log and it's tail sticks out the back of the log about an inch and a half.


Do they oscars look like they have any other illnesses besides the mentioned HITH to you guys? Thanks again for all the help!
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Rescued oscars not doing well 1 week 3 days ago #70061

  • beretta96
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Effy wrote:
...Do you recommend any specific filters?...
Assuming you move forward with your plan to have two 100g tanks and one will house one Oscar and the pleco (I'll refer to this as Tank #1) while the other houses only one Oscar (I'll refer to this as Tank #2), my filtration suggestion is below....

Tank #1
Two filters should be on the tank. One whose purpose is primarily to provide bio-filtration. The other filter would primarily be for mechanical filtration (ie. removing solids).

Bio Filtration
I'd get either an Eheim or Filstar canister. The Eheim model would be 2217. The Filstar model would be XP-L. The next model size down may be adequate but not preferable. Those are higher end canisters. If they are more than you're able to spend, there are lower cost cannisters you could buy....however, I'm not able to speak to them.

Mechanical Filtration
I'd get an Aqua Clear 110 (AC110). I suggest not using any bio or chemical media. I would run the AC110 with two sponges rather than only one as is tradition.

Pleco's and Oscars create A LOT of waste. As a result, you need significantly more filtration than your average bear.

Tank #2
You could get by with either the Eheim 2217 or the FIlstar XP-L.

In my opinion the recommended amount of filtration for Tank #1 would be two of the canisters I mentioned and two AC110's. The recommended filtration for Tank #2 would be two of the mentioned canisters along with an AC110. If the AC110 went bad, the two canisters could sustain the mechanical filtration until you could replace the AC110.

To run an AC110, the tank must be a MINIMUM of 6" from the wall. It will scrape the wall if you have a 5.75" space. A 6" space will allow you to minimize the gap between the tank and the wall but still easily take the filter off the tank for maintenance purposes.
Effy wrote:
...Should I add an additional filter the same size of the two I currently have or should I replace the two I have with better filters?...
You could probably substitute both of your current filters for one of the AC110's I mentioned above. However, adding an additional Quiet Flow 55 or 75 would still be inadequate filtration for Tank #1. It MIGHT be OK for Tank #2.....I'd still be concerned about bio-media filtration. That said, I'm not all that familiar with the Quiet Flow filtration series...I'm speaking from a hunch rather than sound knowledge or experience.

That said DO NOT throw away the media currently being used by your Quiet Flow 55 & 75. Although it's not yet cycled, there is some beneficial bacteria built up in there (that's the stuff that makes it cycled), YOU DON'T WANT TO LOSE THAT BACTERIA or you'll have to start the cycle over from scratch. You definitely don't want to do that given your fish's situation.

Effy wrote:
...When I move the other one oscar to the other 100 gal tank (after it is cycled) what kind of filters would you recommend for a large oscar living alone?....
See above....

Effy wrote:
...I am using the API master test kit...I am waiting for a new one to be delivered (any day now) and I can do a water test then and post what the results are on here.....
Excellent!! I'm looking forward to seeing your readings. When you post your readings, please indicate how long it has been since your last water change along with what percentage of the water was replaced during that change. Regarding Nitrate Bottle #2. This test, has a reputation for not providing accurate readings if Bottle #2 isn't thoroughly mixed prior to performing the test. You'll need to vigorously shake it for at least a minute (disregard their API's instructions of 30 seconds). Many shake it for 2 minutes. Some ABUSE the bottle for 2 minutes in order to get the most accurate readings possible.

Effy wrote:
...Do they oscars look like they have any other illnesses besides the mentioned HITH to you guys?....
Although I definitely defer to the more experienced on the forum on this question, I'd be concerned about the white areas around the Tiger's eyes and other white spots around his body - I wonder if those areas are signs of a bacterial infection or something of the sort.

Although there definitely seems to be pitting on your Tiger's head, it isn't as bad as I expected. LOTS of clean water should take care of his HITH issues.

Regarding the aggression being shown between the two....if your video is representative of their aggressiveness, I wouldn't worry about it. Nobody seems to be getting pinned into a corner, rammed and having their body parts torn into.


Another suggestion in general.....I'd get rid of the driftwood and many of the different ornaments you have in the tank. Oscars need lots of water and prefer lots of swim space. The size of the tank is limiting their swim space....the ornaments are only compounding the issue. Although there is some value to having a few ornaments in an Oscar tank for their mental stimulation, for the most part, ornaments are more for the human than the fish. All things considered with your fish, other than a few of the flattish stones you have in there, along with a thin layer of substrate (eg. 1/2"), I'd remove all of the other ornamentation.
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