curing bloat?

Discussion about cichlids from Central America
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Re: curing bloat?

Post by ewok » Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:24 pm

hi dan,
no offense taken. the fish were fed maybe 3 times a day. i guess i was guilty of the whole trying to grow them out frame of mind.
i will double the dose of epsom salt.
here is the thread on MFK in which my friend who collected the fish talks about where they were collected ... p?t=170806

he says they are from Rio Baluarte in Mexico. according to him when i spoke to him in person, he said there were actually many river systems in which beani can be found. there were lakes and rivers near rio tepic in which these beani can be found. the tepic version is supposed to be blueish in color and not greenish/ yellowish like the ones me and some other friends have.

Dan Woodland
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Re: curing bloat?

Post by Dan Woodland » Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:03 am

Yes I am familiar with them; I've kept the Tepic strain in the past.

I'm curious how many others still have theirs. The last post on that thread is in September. Curiously, it's closed.

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Re: curing bloat?

Post by codeline » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:05 am

Would UV filters help prevent bloat from occuring?

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Alex Odesit
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Re: curing bloat?

Post by Alex Odesit » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:46 am

Alex Odesit wrote:That's a very important topic for tropical fish lovers, very nice to see experts to chime in, may be we can get to the point what actually works for most and best.
I am myself, for last month or so battle bloat in 2 of my tanks, 210 gal and 90 gal.
It's starts from small Thor Helleri collony I got, and then spread to some other fish, just recently it's effected my huge (11") Rocio in second, larger tank, my mistake, I use the same Python hose for the frequent water change...
I am not sure,either I got infected fish, or they get sick after feedings with frozen Brian shrimp. I have had heard from respectable cichlids keepers that it's may be the case.
Anyways, I did use 40% daily water change and Epsom salt for several weeks and it do nothing to my 5 out of 11 juvenile Helleri who die one after another one. What interesting, they never been sick at the same time, it's seems like one replace another one on the death row.
No other fish in my 340 litters tank been effected during all of this time.Livebearers, such a P.Kykesia, wild swords, plattys, number of tetras, Red tail sharks, Kissing gouramis, American flag fish and some other perfectly healthy for last 2 month. I believe the reason Thor Helleri effected first is that they spend most of the time, sifting through the sand and pick the nastys more then other..
4 days ago, I start using Metranodozole, it did help me years ago, with another case of bloat, but unfortunately I never been able to safe any of Thorichtys species with it. Lets see if I can do it now.
I change 40% water daily plus vacuum the sand/gravel, plus daily doze of Metro per instructions.
I treat Rocio with only Epson salt, start 3 days ago, when I see first symptoms.
If I am successful, I will update this thread.
Water temp in both tanks around 74-76 F.
I feed my fish very minimum, during the treatment, or not at all.
As I promised to keep this thread updated in case I am successful with my latest bloat battle. I did it this time!
I did not lost any Thor Helleri from the day of my original message, and it's been several weeks.
So here what I did:
Stop feeding with frozen brine shrimp.
Race temp from 23C to 24.5 C at most time.
Daily doze of Metronidazole (7 tablets for 340 liter tank, the doze is a little smaller then suggested on the bottle)
Daily 50% of water change.
Daily doze of Epsom salt, add together with Metronidazole.
Cut off a little on feeding all together, even I never feed my fish too much. I have seen how/what they eat in the wild...
At this point not sure what exactly works to cure, but main thing it did it, and I have 6 very happy, eating well Thor Helleri along with some other guys.
Hope this would help to others.
Last edited by Alex Odesit on Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: curing bloat?

Post by chc » Wed Jan 21, 2009 5:46 pm

Dan Woodland wrote:Forgive me if this sounds heavy handed, it is not my intention.

In the "pre-bloat" pictures those fish were too fat! Plump bellies does not mean they are healthy. Fish NEVER look like that in the wild! Fish are much more lean they never get large handfuls of food thrown in the river they simply graze all day long on tiny morsels. If you cure these fish you'll need to feed much less.

Now you may be dealing with a secondary infection if they have been suffering that long. I would increase the does of Epsom salts. If they are actively cleaning out, it looks that way in the pictures, why stop treatment?

Since N. beani occur in several rivers it would be nice to know the exact river name. These fish are a bit rare, it would be nice to know if they have a larger range than we think.
Good stuff there Dan. I particular agree with your comments about feeding.

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Re: curing bloat?

Post by ewok » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:19 am

i'm happy to report that my beani are on the road to recovery thanks to everyone's advice :)
the swelling is gone, their appetites are returning (i am feeding once a day on a few cichlid excel pellets) and most of all they are no longer lingering around with a stringy poo thread behind them :)
hopefully they recover 100% and i will have some healthy beani to work with.
thanks for everyone's help.

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Re: curing bloat?

Post by mad4tangs » Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:39 pm


In your pictures, it seems that you fish may already have some bloat? I read somewhere that if the fish waste looks "white" like in one of your pics, this is possible symptom? I may be wrong.

I personally have had a few experiences with bloat, primarily in my african cichlids, especially with my Tropheus. I've kept, and still do keep them in a communal Tanganyikan tank, with carnivores, which has made feeding somewhat difficult. In the past, I ignored all the warnings about feeding them blood worms, and used to throw in cubes of frozen brine shrimp and blood worms into the communal tank and sometimes the Tropheus ate too much of it, got bloat and died (sort of like feeding chocolate to dogs - it's toxic!). I read that Tropheus and some other cichlids have extremely long digestive tracts and if they don't eat vegetable matter/roughage, that blockage occurs, causing bloat, and ultimately death. So, upon realizing the problem, I decided to do a few things differently that have kept bloat to a minimum (almost non-existent now).

First, I cut down on the frequency of feeding the communal tank mates frozen foods (used to feed at leat once a day, now only a couple of times a week). I also reduced the amount of frozen food fed during these occasional feedings. No matter what, Tropheus will eat some of the blood worms, but the key is to minimize this (they seem to love it even though it eventually kills them!).

Second, when I feed the tank frozen foods, I make sure that I feed them some pellets (NLS) first, paying special attention to the Tropheus to make sure they have fed on them prior to feeding frozen foods. THEN, I will add frozen foods, i.e., brine shrimp and/or blood worms (I prefer the ones enriched with spirulina). Even though the Tropheus will eat SOME of the frozen food, they will not gorge themselves, if you feed them pellets first.

I also make sure that my cichlids get a varied diet of different dried foods. Some are way to high in protein and some don't contain spirulina, while some do. So, I make sure to mix it up a bit - NLS, Hikari, flakes, and algae wafers! I'm sure if humans only ate stale bread and water, we'd get malnutrition and die too! :) Finally, not stressing out fish through overcrowding and maintaining clean water and low nitrates/ammonia levels is KEY!

This feeding regime has really kept bloat down to a non-existent level in my communal tank. Hope this helps!

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Re: curing bloat?

Post by ewok » Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:58 pm

hi mad4tangs, thanks for the feedback. yes i've been cutting down my feedings to once a day now. using krill and hikari excel only.
the fish may have been on their way to bloat in those pictures, but they are both doing well now :)
we all live and learn from mistakes, and hopefully i don't make anymore mistakes like i did with the beani initially. thankfully they are recovered and hopefully on their way to greater things :D

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Re: curing bloat?

Post by gage » Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:43 am

bloat IME isnt very hard to treat, if treated properly, and even easier to prevent.

for treating, if he is still eating, feed him a de-shelled pea or two, they get the body flowing a little nicer, it is a laxative food for fish, bump the temp to 84-86F, and add a tablespoon of epsom salt for every 5g, i have only lost a single fish to bloat, and this was prior to knowing this, since then i have successfully treated bloat multiple times, only a couple on my own fish, but helped out many of the people close to me (worked at a fish store for a while).

as far as preventing, fish get bloat, normally, because we feed to high in proteins, which a majority of pellets are, i only feed pellets with a protein less then 35%, ever since i started this i have never had another case of bloat, i feed frozen krill and mysis once every week or 2 for a protein source. over feeding causes bloat as well, as mentioned already. a fish only needs food, depending on temperature, only once every second or third day, my fish get fed twice a week, unless they are fry, which then of course i bump up feedings.

im sure most of you all know this info already, but i didnt read the pea thing mentioned yet.

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Re: curing bloat?

Post by RD. » Fri Sep 16, 2011 1:28 am

While I realize that this is a very old thread, I thought that I might add to what has been previously discussed regarding the use of epsom salt.

First off one has to realize that "bloat" is a symptom, not a disease, and there are a number of things that can cause bloating, from a simple cause of constipation (often brought on by overfeeding and/or starchy foods), to more serious ailments such as bacterial infections, and internal parasites. The latter is probably the most common trigger of severe cases of bloat in the hobby, and the one that I will address with regards to using magnesium sulfate aka epsom salt.

This is a rather safe way to treat any newly imported fish, as a prophylactic, just as one would use a de-wormer. It's not only an extremely cheap way to treat fish, the active ingredients are readily available world-wide, and it's also much safer than using most forms of medication. Unlike most medications, there should be no worries about flagellates/pathogens building up a resistance to it, and excess magnesium is easily flushed from a fishes system. In my experience, it's very easy on fish, even very young juvenile fish. The best part - it works!

While Metronidazole has always been the drug of choice when combating internal parasites such as hexamita and/or spironucleus, metro (or any other type of medication) should never be used on a regular basis as a prophylactic, and doing so may cause flagellates/parasites to develop a resistance to the medication, and possibly even mutate and become super bugs. It's also been stated by at least one researcher that excessive use of metronidazole can cause organ damage in fish.
In fish, an excessive use of metronidazole can damage kidneys and other internal organs.(Bassleer, 1983)

Other cons with metronidazole is its solubility in water is very poor, in aquarium settings it has been suggested that it can precipitate out of solution within 6-8 hours, and it can become rather expensive when treating large systems.

While doing some online research on spironucleus I came across an interesting study that mentioned the use of Magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt) in treating internal parasites in angel fish. ... /ANGEL.PDF

A long read (200+ pages) but the idea of using something as basic as epsom salt to treat internal parasites in fish intrigued me, which in turn lead me to dig deeper.

This is where it got interesting ........

The Israeli Journal of Aquaculture – Bamidgeh 57(2), 2005, 97-104.
Mortality ceased with application of medicated feed (magnesium sulfate at 3% of the feed) - Hexamita salmonis.
In early June 2004, a treatment of magnesium sulfate (3% of feed for three days) lowered the parasite load to almost undetectable levels.

In his book; Fish Disease: diagnosis and treatment, Edward J. Noga mentions treating hexamita (spironucleus) orally with Magnesium sulphate.

This is certainly encouraging news for anyone who's fish is still eating, or begins eating after treatment with Metro. Not only does Epsom salt assist in recovery when added directly to the aquarium (as per the links above), but according to the research posted above it has a deadly effect on hexamita when ingested.

Dr. Edward J. Noga, MS, DVM, is a highly respected professor of aquatic medicine and immunology, and he has been published approx. 150 times in related papers/journals. His lab at NC State University specializes in the study of infectious diseases of finfish and shellfish.

Now for the treatment ......

For a 3% solution of Magnesium sulphate, add 1 level tablespoon (15 grams) magnesium sulphate to 500 milliliters of distilled water. Stir, and it's good to go.

Use an eye dropper or pipette to add to pellet food (or any other food that will readily absorb it), and stop dripping water once the pellets become saturated. Use only enough water to saturate the food, with no excess water, so that the water soluble vitamins in the food remain intact. Feed twice a day, for 3-5 days. (I went with 5 days)

In extreme cases, the oral solution could be administered to a fish via a pipette.Just make sure to use a flexible tip so as not to damage the fishes esophagus when squirting the solution down the fishes throat. Only a small amount is required, but repeat daily until the fish is accepting pre-soaked pellets, and continue treatment for 5 days.

My own experience with this treatment ........ so far it's proven to be a life saver, where all other previous 'textbook' methods of treatment for internal parasites have failed, including several days of treating with 500mg Metro per 10 gallons, while feeding Metro soaked food at the same time. (fish was chewing & spitting, but was eating some food twice a day)

In less than 48 hrs of the 3% Magnesium sulphate treatment, for the first time in 30 days the fish was no longer shedding the mucous lining of his intestine. (white/clear feces) After 5 days of feeding the 3% solution via pellets, the fish had made a complete recovery & was back eating like gang busters. 15 months later that same fish remains cured with no repeat cases of internal parasites. A number of fellow hobbyists have tried this method & also had great success in curing severe cases of internal parasites.

Hopefully some members here will find this information useful.


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