This is Lloyd, one of our first four discus:
He’s a juvenile red maze pigeon blood discus. His hobbies are eating, pooping and bullying. One of his eyes is deformed, but we love him anyway.
Unfortunately, he started to have long stringy poop last week. You can see it if you look closely at the picture. He was still active and eating, but we were concerned because we had read that stringy poop is one of the big signs of poor health in discus. We immediately posted a thread on the Simply Discus message boards.
We didn’t get an immediate response and being slightly panicked we decided that the problem was intestinal flagellates and we had to treat the problem now now now! The SD common treatments guide suggested the antibiotic Metronidazole as the appropriate treatment so we headed out to buy it. Most proficient fish keepers will have a hospital tank setup which allows them to isolate and treat sick fish. Unfortunately, we don’t really have the space for another tank in our small apartment. At any rate, the Metro treatment was supposed to be safe for the whole tank. The main problem would be the additional expense of treating our large tank rather than a smaller setup. We weren’t concerned.
The metro that we purchased came in a 5 gram package. The SD common treatments guide recommended dosing at at least 400 milligrams for each ten gallons of water for three to five days. Our tank is 72 gallons. By my calculations we would need two of the packages.
72 gallons / 10 gallons ~= 7
7 * 400 milligrams = 2800 milligrams
3 days * 2800 milligrams = 8400 milligrams.
8400 milligrams = 8.4 grams.
Something must have been wrong in my thinking, though, because our first package was completely used up on the first day. Even worse, the store that had sold us the medicine had only had the two packages that I bought. All of the other local stores either didn’t carry the medicine or were our of stock for a few days. In the end, we decided to just do 1⁄2 of the remaining package each of the last two days of the treatment.
At that point, we actually got a reply to our thread. In the experienced poster’s opinion, our problem wasn’t intestinal flagellates at all, but worms. It seems like worms are a common problem with discus fish and many keepers recommend regularly scheduled de-worming to prevent outbreaks. He recommended Angel Plus Medicated Flake Food which we have now ordered.
In hindsight, it makes more sense that our problem would be worms. Another of our fish, Jack had been a bit under the weather before LLoyd showed any symptoms. I had coincidentally soaked some of the pellets I was trying to introduce to the fish in garlic because I had read that it strengthened their appetite and encouraged them to eat new food. Jack suddenly sprung back to life! Further reading suggests that garlic is a natural de-wormer, which is probably why it helped Jack to feel better.
In the meantime, LLoyd seems to be doing well and he’s still his tyrannical self. Hopefully, he’ll be ok until the medicated flake food arrives. Our lesson from all of this is that medicine should mostly be avoided and that knee jerk reactions aren’t very helpful. It can be nerve wracking to see that your beloved fish is showing signs of illness and medicines offer a quick fix. Slow thoughtful treatment is the right way to go. It’s also much cheaper!