Q: C wrote,
Remember me? I emailed you awhile back about my male fish named Sushi. He had the mysterious disease. He finally had gotten better with the inside/outside anti bacterial food. He was all back to normal. But that only lasted about 3 weeks or so.I have been doing the water changes AND I got the test stripes to test the water regularly. Problem is the PH will NOT come down. Even after fresh changes. I bought the PH DOWN. It does NOT help. I did it in stages, so it would not stress him out. It says on the bottle that some tap waters are so resistant to the PH down that it may not work. I checked it again this morning, and every time it’s HIGH PH. Highest there is, so the alkalinity is also high. Everything else is OK though.
Well, he now has fin rot. He has lost at least 70% or more of his fins! He has a few white dots on him but not all over like ICH does. He is still swimming up top and he eats like a pig but now has the white spots/dots and fin rot. This is NOT the cheese grater white like last time… its actual spots, like salt. But again, only about 5-6 spots only.
What now!!?? I am going nuts? I don’t know what to do about the spots/rot and can’t get the PH down. Suggestions? I appreciate everything and your time!!
A: It’s nice to hear from you but I’m sorry to hear Sushi is not feeling well again. It sounds like there are a few things going on here. First, I believe it is better to deal with a high pH that is stable then mess with changing the pH. The fluctuations can be very dangerous to your fish. PH Down really doesn’t work and could even be a major contributing factor to Sushi’s fin rot and what I believe may be Ich. As you know I also live in southern California and just like you I have very alkaline pH. In fact, I have to buy a HIGH RANGE pH test kit just to get proper results because the regular one doesn’t even go high enough to give me an accurate reading. My tap water (from the faucet) is 8.2. It will often come down a bit, once the water stands for awhile, but the new water from the faucet has a very high pH indeed.
There are a few reasons why pH DOWN doesn’t work. First, the ability for the pH to fluctuate is determined by its buffering capacity or KH. (KH is also called Carbonate Hardness). The KH is what keeps the pH stable. Unless the KH is very low, the pH will just bounce right back to where it was. Making the pH bounce from high to low and back again is extremely dangerous to fish and in some cases has been known to kill off entire aquariums. When this happens, aquarists call this a “pH crash”. Another reason why you can’t keep the PH low is because you are regularly changing your water with new clean water that happens to have a very high pH. Of course you have to continue with regular water changes so may have little choice but to deal with less than perfect pH.
Regarding your white spots, it does sound to me like Ich. Seeing 5 -6 spots could be the early sign. If left untreated the spots (parasites) will fall off and reproduce only to come back as 10-20 spot and then progress from there until your fish is in serious shape. Luckily Ich is easily treatable. I suggest Rid-Ich+ which has always worked great for me personally and can be found at any pet store that carries fish supplies. Ich parasites are common but typically infect stressed fish.
Fin rot, however, is a bacterial infection and occurs most commonly as the result of poor water quality but may be the result of stress. When fin rot progresses to the point of 50% fin loss or more I generally recommend an antibiotic like tetracycline or Maracyn-Two. As always with antibiotics, be sure measure the doses carefully and administer the full course to help avoid antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. If you decide to treat for both Ich and Fin Rot at the same time, read the packaging on both medications carefully to be sure they are safe to use together.