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Apistogramma Macmasteri Male Illness/Lockjaw?

shangman

New Member
Messages
16
Hello all,

Very sad to be writing this post, as I researched all last night and suspect that my fish is doomed :(

PXL_20211117_091958214.jpg

Apologies for the dark picture, the light doesn't come on for a fwe hours and he hasn't been in the front much so thought best not to disturb. Last night his mouth was wider, he's still not interested in eating though :(


He is an Apistogramma Macmasteri, is slightly less than a year old, and has been in extremely good health until this sudden illness. I bred him myself and he was born last December, his dad died from me feeding him too many bloodworms, so I don't feed those any more. It is just him and a female in the tank, they have bred several times and show no agression towards one another. The tank they're in is 180L, 50/50 tap/rainwater with a 50% wc weekly. I feed them bug bites (the smallest size), sinking loach wafers, frozen brine shrimp & daphnia and live food (mostly live food in the summer, less atm). There are also cherry shrimp in the tank which he hunts and eats.

I noticed a few days ago when I got back from a short holiday trip (my dad looked after the tank and he has aquarium experience, only added some fertiliser and fed sparingly according to instructions, it was just dry food) that he wasn't in the front as usual. I moved some furniture so I could see the back and found him in a back corner hiding and beathing heavier than usual. I assumed that maybe the CO2 was too high so I did a 50% waterchange and lowered the CO2 rate the next morning, but nothing really changed. Also, I've noticed the cherry shrimp have started appearing all over the tank when they used to just hide at the top since he hunts them, which worried me a lot.

Last night he came out when I fed the tank, but he didn't eat anything and his mouth seems permanently open so I started searching and found this lockjaw illness. This morning he is in the front sitting on some big leaves in a corner, he's gone a greyer than usual, has his mouth open and is still breathing harder than usual. He's also higher up in the tank than usual, nearer to the top than bottom. I assume there isn't much I can do, I am going out today to buy clove oil but I don't know when that's appropriate, I've never had to do it before. Are there instructions around?

All my other fish seem ok so far, the female is also hiding but I think she might have another brood of babies so that's not unusual, she usually has them in the back. She does still turn up to eat, and she didn't seem to be breathing harder than usual.

Something that worries further is whether this will happen again with future apistos, could it happen to my female or to a future pair (not until my female goes naturally of course)? When I looked on this site it seems that people can have this happen several months apart to a series of fish, and while it seems my most beautiful Mr Daffodil is doomed, I am wondering if I can treat the tank against it, or do anything about it? I can't afford to redo the tank from scratch sadly. I really hate that these fish can die so quickly, it seems so cruel that apistos are so beautiful and intelligent and easy to fall in love with and then they drop dead of something random that I can't seem to find a cause for.

Here he is in all his glory only last month, he loved to showoff
IMG_6808_2 (1).jpg
 
Last edited:

Mike Wise

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Staff member
5 Year Member
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11,173
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Lockjaw in apistos is not a disease, but a physical injury and not really contagious. Your mac, however, does show signs of disease, Now is the time to move him to a quarantine/hospital tank, just to avoid spread of whatever he has.
 

shangman

New Member
Messages
16
I moved him into a quarantine tank earlier today. I don't think he has lockjaw, I've noticed him close his mouth very briefly occasionally. It seems like his mouth is just open all the time to take deep breaths constantly, he definitely seems ill rather than injured. His body doesn't show any obvious symptoms of what it could be (gills not obviously red, no worms or weird stool), it's all in his behaviour. He still swims about a bit and put up a fight when I caught him, but he mostly stays in one spot for a while and he won't eat so I think is a goner.

The change has been very sudden! I wonder what it is, I did get some new wild cardinals tetras 3 weeks ago, although they were properly quarantined from an excellent shop, but maybe something jumped in. No other fish are showing any problems at all so far.
 

shangman

New Member
Messages
16
I added some live food for my apisto this morning and he is not eating, I think I will put him out of his misery tonight, now I have some clove oil.

I have been reading more and I wonder if my fish have gill flukes? A few months ago I noticed my female apisto flash on a piece of wood. It was only once and I am relatively new to fish so didn't think much of it, but now I think that that was a sign that there are flukes. For a while the female has been having big groups of babies who within 4-5 days ago disappear, I had thought they were getting eaten but last time I watched the tank to female wandered off, tetras came near the fry and completely ignored them, now I wonder if they just get killed off by flukes immediately as apparently this is a sign of them. I had kuhlis in my old tank with fry too and they never ate them, more scavengers than hunters.

The next question is how I'm going to treat all the fish it is a large community tank, and I think I need to get all the fish out to treat them in quarantine. I have 3 small spare tanks, I hope it will do somehow. It seems like quite a big task, I think catching kuhli loaches is impossible but we'll see. I could catch the female apisto easily but I assume all the fish need treating!
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
11,173
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
"I did get some new wild cardinals tetras 3 weeks ago, although they were properly quarantined from an excellent shop" ...

This I have read many, many times so you are not alone. Even the best shops cannot afford long-term quarantine of fish for sale. I personally do not add fish to any community tank until they have been in one of my own quarantine tanks for at least 4 weeks - and often longer if they exhibit some odd behavior.

Since you do not know which disease (or even if there is one) is in your tank you have 2 options: 1. add broad spectrum antibacteral/parasite medications to the tank (I call it the 'chemistry set' method, which the fish med companies love for you to do) and stress out the fish, or 2) leave it alone but make sure the water quality is top-notch and pray (dimming the lights might be helpful, too). Good luck; I hope for the best.
 

shangman

New Member
Messages
16
I did wonder that as I typed it :(

It is the most obvious difference. Thank you for your kind reply. I will definitely be quarantining from now on, regardless of the shop. This tank is my pride and joy now and Mr Apisto was the star, have learnt my lesson thoroughly.

I have seen the apistos flash twice, and also seen a pygmy corydoras flash about 3 times in the past 3 or 4 months, but since it was a very rare occurrence spread out I didn't pursue it... tbh I am quite new to everything (about a year and a half in) and fish disease seems particularly daunting! It's obvious that a lot of this just comes down to experience which I just don't have on what is significant and what isn't. There are a few other things I've noticed that may or may not be symptoms, it's hard to tell! Below are some more things that may or may not be nothing...

All my broods of apisto fry in this tank have disappeared very quickly in the first few days regardless of whether I fed them, which I assumed was from the other fish eating them. But I have also watched the tetras completely ignore the fry when they had chances to grab some though (motherfish went for a snack and left them alone). Apparently the babies can go to flukes easily? Idk

The other thing is that I have a betta in another tank, who rubbed a scale off his face near his gill that got infected. It healed and he is ok now, but I read today that fish with flukes can injure themselves to scratch the itch. I do share equipment as I don't have space for double of everything, wondering if I have it in both tanks.

Since I feel terrible doing nothing and waiting for the rest of my fish to die, I've tried one medication, since I think it might (maybe who knows, you are right) be flukes. I did a nice big water change just before to keep the water quality high (I do weekly 50% always). I already have some fluke solve from when my cherry shrimps caught faceworms and that treated it well, so I've decided to try that on the tanks (big tank and quarantine though I don't expect Mr Apisto to improve really just finding it hard to clove him yet) just in case, apparently it won't harm any of the creatures, and if it was that well that's good.

Will do a bit of extra praying too, just in case oh the trials and tribulations of fish keeping
 

shangman

New Member
Messages
16
Mr Daffodil died this morning, thank you for all your advice. As much as everyone around me irl seems to think that they are "just fish", this one really managed to swim his way into my heart. He lived a short life but he was so beautiful and charming the whole time. I will miss my king of the tank a lot.
 

Jon Webb

New Member
Messages
24
I feel for your loss. I’ve also felt embarrassed for grieving for a fish. But we’re all relatives on this earth, what?
 

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