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My Red tail catfish. Help

All posts regarding the care and breeding of these catfishes from South America.
Dehayes718
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My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Dehayes718 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:17 am

My 4 inch red tail cat fish started to hang out by the top of the filter. He was just like floating on top. Recently I fed him a lot I think I overfed him. Now a few days later he doesn't move at all. He just floats around. When I touch him he doesn't move at all and when I bring him to the top he doesn't swim down at all. He just floats down. I'm not sure if he sick. Maybe constipated cause I over fed him. I am trying to feed him peas but he won't eat at all. His belly is not bulged at all so I think he needs food. Does he have swim bladder ? Is he going to die ? I really need help from someone with experience with these fish. I am new to these fish but I am aware how big they get. Can someone pls tell me how to treat my fish so he gets better Thank you

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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Redtailrob » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:53 am

Dehayes.
I have had the pleasure of keeping one or two of these beautiful fish over the last 20 years & unfortunately they require allot of maintanence. But I will assist you where i can.
Is this fish still alive this morning/ today?
It sounds in a very bad way.
Please refrain from physically moving this fish or trying to feed it.
RTC's will be actively swimming around when they want feeding.
The very 1st thing to do would be to quickly establish your water parameters, test in particualr for Ammonia, Nitrite & Nitrate, also test PH if you have a kit availabe.
In the interim I would advise a 30% water change, turn of the lights & increase aeration if you have the facility to do so.
Let us know your water results asap.

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Richard B
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Richard B » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:52 pm

In addition to the advice above -

How long has the tank been set-up?
What did you feed?
What temperature is it?

It is hard to say exactly what to do as it could be a number of things but for all it is important to reduce the stress of the fish, top quality water is a MUST (ammonia:nil, nitrite:nil,nitrate as low as possible), increased aeration,darkness.

A pic of the tank set-up might help, also a pic of the fish.
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Dehayes718
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Dehayes718 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:49 pm

My baby rtc is in a 55 gal tank for now with a water temp of 80 degrees. Yesterday I did a 75% water change. I'm not sure of other water specs. My fish has slowed down his breathing and his breathing pattern is not normal. He will not move at all he's just is sitting at the bottom of the tank. And doesn't get startled in any way even when I touch him Is it swim bladder or constipation? His belly is not bulged. How can I help swim bladder? Will feeding peas and putting him in Epsom salt help at all?

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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Viktor Jarikov » Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:10 am

Welcome! Sorry this bad case led you here.

My advice is to follow what Rob and Richard, highly experienced fish-keepers, have suggested. If you do not own a water test kit of good quality or at all, please take a sample of your water to the nearest LFS - all decent LFS test water for free but make sure they use a liquid test not a strip, e.g., a droplet API test. Do not go to Petcos or Petsmarts or their likes.

D: My baby rtc is in a 55 gal tank for now with a water temp of 80 degrees. Yesterday I did a 75% water change.
VJ: Keep changing at least 50% of water every day until you know the water parameters.

D: I'm not sure of other water specs.
VJ: If you don't/won't know these, there will be no need in further advising, IMHO.

D: My fish has slowed down his breathing and his breathing pattern is not normal. He will not move at all he's just is sitting at the bottom of the tank. And doesn't get startled in any way even when I touch him
VJ: as guys said above, it's a very bad situation

D: Is it swim bladder or constipation?
VJ: I don't think so at all.

D: His belly is not bulged.
VJ: Does not mean much except maybe that he is not bloated and not swollen.

D: How can I help swim bladder?
VJ: He is half-dead for an unknown, yet, reason.

D: Will feeding peas and putting him in Epsom salt help at all?
VJ: Stress will only speed his demise. One cannot force-feed a fish. Salt baths are for treating external parasites - I don't think this is his problem but as said above, a pic would save us all 1,000 lectures and 100,000 words.
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby MatsP » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:14 am

Epsom salt is used for "constipation" in humans, and some people believe it works for fish. I have my doubts - there are other compounds with magnesium and sulphate used for various purposes in the aquarium hobby, for example Seachem Equilibrium contains a fair amount of (what essentially amounts to) Epsom salt.

It doesn't sound like your fish is constipated. I'm pretty certain it's a water chemistry (nitrogenous waste, most likely) problem (or at least started out as, the fish may now suffer from complications following this).

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Richard B
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Richard B » Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:18 pm

I'm pretty certain it's a water chemistry (nitrogenous waste, most likely) problem (or at least started out as, the fish may now suffer from complications following this).


This is one of THE main reasons for problems occurring.

If you even think a RTC has constipation (and this really only works for larger individuals say 10"+) do not feed for a week, then try offering an appropriate sized piece of extremely ripe plum or peach/necterine.[don't do this now - your first priority MUST be to understand your water parameters!]
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Dehayes718
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Dehayes718 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:07 pm

Ok I appreciate all the help. I now understand how important it is to know my water perimeters. I am going to take a sample and get it checked today. U said petco and petsmart isn't a good place to go to. What is the right place. I will get back to you guys right when I get this done I just talked to someone at petco where I bought the fish and he said it is a bacterial infection due to poor water quality. I also put the rtc in the 55 gallon after I let it filter for a few days. Is it important to have other fish in the tank first. If this problem is due to poor water quality what is the best way to improve the water quality and how to go about doing it Thank you

Viktor Jarikov
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Viktor Jarikov » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:30 pm

D: Ok I appreciate all the help. I now understand how important it is to know my water perimeters.
VJ: it cannot be overstated.

D: I am going to take a sample and get it checked today. U said petco and petsmart isn't a good place to go to. What is the right place.
VJ: a non-chain, not newly open, good LFS, mom-and-pop LFS, etc. preferably the one that deals only with fish but there are plenty of excellent ones that have several depts. Problem with chains - lack of experience and professionalism of the staff. They use test strips for water testing, which are crude and unreliable. Their staff was selling pizzas yesterday and will be washing cars tomorrow, but today they sell fish. Will trust such a source of knowledge? I am not saying there are no knowledgeable folks there, just that there are much, much less of them there.

D: I will get back to you guys right when I get this done I just talked to someone at petco where I bought the fish and he said it is a bacterial infection due to poor water quality.
VJ: it is a guess just like ours, until we know more - water parameters, pics, circumstances, etc.

D: I also put the rtc in the 55 gallon after I let it filter for a few days.
VJ: ?? Is it anew tank that has ran only for a few days? If yes, then your problems are becoming clearer.

D: Is it important to have other fish in the tank first.
VJ: It is important to have the tank cycled before putting fish in it.

D: If this problem is due to poor water quality what is the best way to improve the water quality and how to go about doing it Thank you
VJ: Now, my best guess based on the very limited info above, your tank was not cycled, you put a small fish in it but gave it a good amount of food. Now, your RTC is swimming in a weak solution of ammonia and nitrite because the bacterial cultures that should be digesting these toxins have not had a chance to establish and grow. I'd recommend doing 75%-90% water changes every day for a month or so, adding bacterial seeding cultures now, maybe adding ammo-lock, or re-homing the fish til your tank is cycled... but first things first - water parameters.
Last edited by Viktor Jarikov on Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby MatsP » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:37 pm

Right, so it sounds like your tank wasn't 'cycled' when you added the RTC. This means that it has been swimming in a mixture of ammonia and nitrite (basically like swimming in urine for humans). The cycling process builds up bacteria in the filter that helps detoxify the ammonia and nitrite into nitrate. The cycling process can take several weeks.

There are two basic principles that people use for cycling:
1. "Hardy fish" - platies, goldfish, and several other types of fish will withstand some of the toxic mess produced.
2. "Fishless cycling" - adding ammonia (or something that breaks down to ammonia, such as fish food, a piece of shrimp, or some such).

This is more "for your reference", as you have a sensitive fish in your tank at present, so you need to get yourself a water test kit with ammonia, nitrite and nitrate tests (usually comes with pH, KH & GH tests as well - there is a "API Master Freshwater test kit" for example). You want a test that uses "drops", not paper strips. Neither of these tests are VERY precise, but the drop tests are less bad than the paper tests.

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Richard B
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Richard B » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:18 pm

In "emergency" situations like this, i have had great success with using Blustart made by Ferplast to "instantly" mature aquariums by seeding it with bacteria.
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Dehayes718
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Dehayes718 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:48 am

Thank you for all your help. I just noticed today that is tail fin is kinda jagged and there is some red at the tip of his front fins. If I bring him to the top he dives down smashing into the gravel. He also has red marks under his mouth but maybe that's due to him swimming on the bottom scraping himself. Maybe he has gill flukes? Should I treat him for that. I treated him for bacterial infect and I added aquarium salt every water change I do a water change every 2 days. He is still not eating. I tried feeding him a feeder fish today from my hand and wouldn't eat it and that is usually his favorite. He has been like this for about two weeks now with no food. I guess I could say he is little better cause he sometimes swims. But he doesn't swim great. It likes like he is blind and drunk when he is swimming. He just smashes into the bottom. Maybe he is scratching himself. Should I treat him for gill flukes ?I heard that that was common in RTC. Would it do him harm if I treat him for gill flukes and he doesn't have it? What is the best medicine for gill flukes? And his breathing is still slow. His gills open every like 2 seconds. I'm so confused. I mean if this was something serious wouldn't he have died already?

Dehayes718
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Dehayes718 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:03 am

His fins also look smaller and pushed back. He completely lost all of his color He is now a light brown

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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby MatsP » Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:00 am

Have you tested the water? If so, what was the results? [We want NUMBERS, not "good" or "bad", as everyone has a slightly different opinion as to what is "good" and what's "bad"].

If you don't have a test kit, most shops will help with testing the water (phone the shop before you go driving, as you may end up having to go to a different shop than your "usual" one). Some shops will do it for free, in other shops there will be a small charge. In the long term, you'll want to get a test-kit, but for a short time, knowing the vales is more important than anything else, so get the water tested whatever it takes.

Without understanding if there is a water quality issue, it's impossible to offer any meaningful advice, as the course of action is completely different between "The fish is ill because of water quality problems" (water changes, water changes and more water changes) and "the fish is ill, but water is good" (medication).

I wouldn't worry about the fish eating until you have figured out what is wrong with the fish - not eating is essentially part of the signs of illness, and you need to fix whatever is wrong, and the fish will start eating as it's healing.

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Richard B
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Richard B » Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:53 pm

It is of paramount importance you firstly find the Ammonia, nitrite & nitrate readings for your water using a good quality test kit.

Don't bother feeding and stop touching/moving your fish - it will not feed and never get better if it isn't in high quality water. There is no point medicating for any suspected parasites unless you are sure they are there - it will only further stress the fish. Parasites like flukes were a common occurance in w/c fish but this happens much less now as small RTC are not w/c.
Some fish are quite tough and can put up with a lot of problems but it is often hard to get good recovery. Feeder fish are IMHO not great unless absolutely neccessary & i don't think they are in this case. They could introduce disease & oten suffer in the process - it is illegal here in the UK. If the fish recovers it could be fed earthworms, pieces of white fish, massivore pellets, shrimp, crab and soft fruit like plums. (No need to feed any vertebrates)
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Scleropages
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Scleropages » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:32 pm

Dehayes718 wrote:I treated him for bacterial infect


You treated the tank with antibiotics? If so, that is only adding to your potential water quality issues. Rob, Victor, Richard, and Mats have given you very good advice. Either get your own test kit or get your water tested at a reputable LFS. Almost all common health problems with fish in aquaria are caused by bad water quality. If you don't know the pH, ammonia, and nitrite levels of the water in your tank, you will not know if your fish is sitting in a toxic environment or not.

As an example, think about someone who has a cough caused by bad air quality: that person can take all of the antibiotics and anti-parasitic medications under the sun but it's not going to improve their cough until they improve the air quality in their environment.

Find out your water parameters ASAP. It is pointless to tell us anything else at this point.

Redtailrob
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Re: My Red tail catfish. Help

Postby Redtailrob » Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:53 am

Dehayes, we havent heard from you since February 15th?
Is it right for us to assume the worst & that this wonderful fish perished?? x(


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