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burrowing isopod and wild discus

Discussion in 'Wild Discus' started by hipflask, Feb 18, 2017.

  1. hipflask

    hipflask Admin Without A Clue Staff Member

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    bill reminded me that i was long overdue writing this up. those around the forum long enough will remember that in late 2013 I gave up on wild discus after being one of "the dark side's" greatest supporters and promoters.......never really said why to folk on here but this was the reason. :( it is not meant as a cautionary tale or to frighten people away from wilds, just a record of a 4 week period that changed my perspectives on keeping wild fish. The only cautionary bit to this is that there is no happy ending here so bear that in mind as you read :(

    first off, it doesn't matter where and who i got them from, these are wild fish and for those of us who keep these you know that there is always a good chance "something" else comes with wild fish.....just did not expect this!

    a batch of 6 wilds arrived looking in good condition except 1 which had a swollen side with a 4mm hole just behind the pectoral fin. i did not think much more of it than it would be damage caused whilst being caught, besides the fish looked in good condition so figured this was healing. they were in a quarantine bare bottom tank so a few days later when syphoning I noticed what looked like bits of a prawn shell on the bottom of the tank.

    https://hipflask.smugmug.com/Aquariums/Discus-with-burrowing-isopod/n-TpmBk/i-GFbT3FH/A

    this looked clearly like a broken up shell casing and with the 5p as a guide to judge, it suggested whatever it was 25-30mm in size.......and whatever it was, was inside the fish! frantic internet searching and brain picking on private messages to Paul, Mike, Slacks and Bill left us with no definative culprit other than obscure references to burrowing isopods. the original links are gone but found this more recent one.

    http://dailyparasite.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/artystone-trysibia.html

    some pics and video where required to confirm this as best we could so links below are to a short video showing the swollen side, the hole and the (I still squirm at this video) wriggling legs and a clear pic showing the hole with legs protruding.

    https://hipflask.smugmug.com/Aquariums/Discus-with-burrowing-isopod/n-TpmBk/i-GBhjMM7/A

    https://hipflask.smugmug.com/Aquariums/Discus-with-burrowing-isopod/n-TpmBk/i-2Lpv6TL/A

    these seemed to confirm artystone T as the front runner culprit in this. the fish was segregated into a smaller tank in case the isopod was a female and it spread through the other fish that had arrived. (this was the only bit of good news with this actually, there was no sign of other infestations in any of the other fish thankfully)

    Much head scratching now ensued from the small band of people I had enlisted on here to help me with this. Consensus was firstly, this is a parasite, it is not in its nature to kill a host but could I live with "that" in a tank? - answer was a definite NO. So after searching online copper sulphate seemed the best option to try and kill it since crustaceans are very susceptible to it. The problem was we did not know how much was needed in the water to kill it and could not go over the limit for the fish. The added problem was if, and it was a big if, we did kill it that way it would rot away inside the fish probably causing blood poisoning so we had to plan to remove it. I have no pics of this but I tried for over a week with regular strong CS baths for the fish but the little bugger was still alive so the only alternative was to try a large direct injection of CS into the isopod when the fish was out of the water.
    Tools used were clean cloth for the fish to lie on whilst I worked, toothpick for teasing out the back of the isopod, gripping tweezers, pointed tweezers, syringe with CS and a magnifying glass (yes, I'm old!) the fish was transferred to a plastic food container so I could fish it out easy and work off the table.
    Plan was leave the fish out for as long as possible to let me pull the back end of the isopod out, inject it with an overdose of CS then remove as much of the dead isopod with the tweezers as I could. Post operation, the plan was to keep the hole from healing and flush with saline solution daily to keep it clean, again requiring the fish out of water.

    https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-fBcTDDc/0/XL/i-fBcTDDc-XL.jpg

    Whilst the fish was on the table I managed to get a good pic of the culprit in situ.

    https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-RZzjR4m/0/O/i-RZzjR4m.jpg

    Pic of injecting the CS.

    https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-XXKK4Jf/0/XL/i-XXKK4Jf-XL.jpg

    Pic of isopod clearly looking blue full of CS.

    https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-zThNvkH/0/XL/i-zThNvkH-XL.jpg

    An hour later, pic of using tweezers to pull apart the now dead isopod.

    https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-mvZhzXB/0/XL/i-mvZhzXB-XL.jpg

    As you can see, the operation was successful in the first phase of killing and removing the isopod. This little fish had real heart, it was out the water for around 60 secs a time and about 6 times over an hour and just bounced back each time. I was really hoping he'd pull through, he deserved it after all he had been through.

    I have no pics of the follow up procedure of flushing out the wound but I used a syringe with a catheter and it seemed to be going well until about the 8th day when this little guy started to darken and 2 days later it was clear he was not going to come through it and would only deteriorate further so I did the only left I could for the little guy :(

    I think I did not want to share this story at the time because I found it all quite distressing and even considered giving it all up, not just wilds. Even now looking at these pics and videos for the first time since it happened, I still find it quite difficult to process. Apologies my IT skills failed to put pics straight up. Happy to try and answer any questions anyone has.
    larry rogers and gerbill like this.
  2. TURKISHPAT

    TURKISHPAT BIDKA Member & Show Shareholder

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    What a horrible thing to have to do Gregg such a shame he didn't pull through as you did your very best for him.I hope you or anyone else has to go through anything like that again. And well done for sticking with it as I'm sure it could of put you off keeping fish.
  3. gerbill

    gerbill BIDKA Member & Show Shareholder

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    Brilliant write up Greg and thank you for sharing. You did your utmost to try and save the fish many would have given up at the first hurdle. You also made Wild Discus keepers like myself aware of what actually exists in their world ,and again thank you for that knowledge
  4. hipflask

    hipflask Admin Without A Clue Staff Member

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    Thanks bill. I really do appreciate that. My altums are getting on and a "safe" wild (pref heck) discus display may be where I go next but this episode did leave its mark on me as you know. I would not wish this experience on anyone.
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  5. streety

    streety Active Member

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    I'm not the most 'wordy' bloke but, bloody hell....
    Thanks for the write up. Not sure what else to say.
    Although, heckles....hhmmm
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  6. Graham C

    Graham C Active Member

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    That's a fascinating, but uncomfortable read. All a bit Alien-esque, if you don't mind me saying. Fantastic effort you made to save the fish, and to record events. Certainly something else to ponder for those of us with thoughts of switching to wilds at some point. A sad ending, but a valuable post.
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  7. hipflask

    hipflask Admin Without A Clue Staff Member

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    Don't let it put you off. Wilds can be, and are, the most rewarding to keep.
    As above, and not a heck, was a xingu.....my 2nd fav wild......really wish this one had came through. :(
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  8. streety

    streety Active Member

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    The hhmmm was for just mentioning heckles
  9. larry rogers

    larry rogers Member

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    Greg
    I wish I had been around when you were having the problem. I have not seen one of these buggers since the seventies. The agriculture department in the us caught wind of them and started inspecting import fish for them and euthanizing any carriers. I could have told you that i did not know of a single survivor after treatment. We always had one or both of two problems, first the critter was too big to be removed through the wound so it became septic and killed fish or second there were more than one of them in the fish and they all became septic. Usually you only see them hanging out the hole when they are casting out sheds or babies and they are extremely infectious. A single pregnant female likely infected the whole tank or all the fish she was transported with. The tank should definitely been decontaminated and all other fish in tank treated. If you get the young before they get burrowed in completely the host will survive but once the parateneal sack is broken it is likely the simplest means of control is euthanization.
    Larry
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  10. larry rogers

    larry rogers Member

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    Greg
    I am going to qute your article on another forum, it is well written and provides a lot of useful information. You will be given full credit for all information in article and if anyone has questions for you I will refer them here.
    Larry
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  11. hipflask

    hipflask Admin Without A Clue Staff Member

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    Thanks Larry. Yes, we came upon a few of those researches too at the time, mostly on corys I have to add. Luckily the batch were in a bare bottom quarantine and even though none of them ever showed any signs that the original one had a female therefore eggs etc, I never did put them in my main display tank. Eventually gave them away to an old friend who kept them in a small display tank he reopened to give them a home. He still has three of them left and they are doing fine now in with a big squad of cards and some corys which is nice.
    I think the procedure I followed may work at another time if, big if, caught early enough and the hole is plugged between flushes. No matter how clean you keep the tank, there will be contaniments in it so reckon that was what got the little guy in the end, not the procedure or infection from any left over isopod.......20/20 hindsight wonderful ain't it........just as well we are all well endowed with it ;)
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  12. larry rogers

    larry rogers Member

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    Greg

    An old acquaintance of mine says he has fifty fifty success with standard medicinal wound packing. He uses enough to displace the bug and block the hole and changes it daily as the wound closes. Says one bonus is that other isopods trying to get to the hole get tangled up in packing and dragged out when it is changed. Down side is that many of the fish die from shock from all the handling.

    Larry
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  13. hipflask

    hipflask Admin Without A Clue Staff Member

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    50/50 still better than no chance Larry. Have not heard of many other examples so hopefully not too prevalent.

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