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    Thread: Killing Machine Continues

    1. #1
      Otrex is offline Senior Member
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      Killing Machine Continues

      Some of you may recall I had a sudden and mysterious bacterial attack in my pond at the start of the Fall. Killing largely without warning or symptoms, perfectly healthy fish were killed off in a matter of a few days.

      That thread is here: http://www.koiphen.com/forums/showth...Sudden-Illness

      I thought the problem had largely been resolved. Some very strong antibiotic injections into the fish showing any kind of symptoms seemed to help.

      Now that my pond is covered and the weather turning nasty, daily observation of the fish is impossible, though I perform water changes when the weather permits and keep an eye on parameters.

      Unfortunately the killing machine seems to still be operating: In the last 5 days I've had two more fish die. Just today my favourite Goshiki was lying dead on the bottom, and upon retrieval there were no obvious symptoms on display, other than a slight reddening of the underside fins (which could easily be just blood pooling after death since he's been dead for at least 2 days). The bacteria seems to kill by destroying internal organs - very little, or in some cases almost no outward signs of trouble until the fish suddenly drops dead.

      Water parameters are all fine, and scrapes during the height of the attack all came back negative.

      Anyone have any idea what I could be facing here, and how to stop it? With the winter cover on it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to remove fish for inspection. And with sub-zero temps, taking them out for inspection in a bowl would probably kill them inside a few minutes.

      Oddly enough the two fish that were added at the start of the season are strong and healthy. Did I import some vicious disease?

    2. #2
      Koigrl's Avatar
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      sorry to read this. Can you do a water test? photograph the dead fish? that may help koi health folk diagnose your issue.



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    3. #3
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      I normally would reserve guesses to avoid doing harm, but after reading your thread Its clear that guesses are all there is to go off of.

      I have an idea but im hoping im wrong. It looks to me like kidney and liver damage caused by Mycobacteria. Its the same class that causes TB in humans. It is resistant to most antibiotics because they have no cell wall (many antibiotics work by destroying/puncturing the cell wall) When the infection is chronic for a long time symptoms include slight to sever dropsy and form ulcers. Its because the bacteria invade internal organs and the immune system combats it by forming a granuloma around the bacterial colony . When kidneys and the liver have too many granulomas to function they fail. I know its gross, but you should do a necropsy. If you see a lot of fluid and liquidized tissue, it might by Mycobacteria. ALSO, PLEASE WEAR GLOVES. Many species of Mycobacterium are harmful to humans. If it is mycobacteria you should get a class of antibiotics that prevent or inhibit DNA replication like Amikacin or Cipro https://www.chewy.com/thomas-labs-fi...orte/dp/157944 . The other problem with this is that since the kidneys and liver are impaired, antibiotics are hard for them to handle.

      No one can accurately diagnose what kind of bacteria it is from pictures but the above is an educate guess. Its obviously bacterial and it is displaying symptoms consistent with mycobacteria. If you want an actual diagnosis you would have to collect living fish that are sick and send them to a lab where they will be "sacrificed for the greater good". They will do histology by taking very thin strips of tissue and observing them under a microscope. They then might "look" for the bacteria. They then MAY run antibiotic assays to see which ones are effective. The problems with this besides sacrificing fish is they are expensive, often inconclusive, and can take weeks/months to get the results.

      I know Mike recommended trying Amikacin.... I would give it a shot if I were in your shoes. But if you cant get it, the link I sent you for Cipro works. I recently purchased a bottle.
      Last edited by inazuma28; 4 Weeks Ago at 05:20 PM.

    4. #4
      Otrex is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by Koigrl View Post
      sorry to read this. Can you do a water test? photograph the dead fish? that may help koi health folk diagnose your issue.
      Yes, water testing parameters are in the other thread (linked in the original post).

      Ammonia and Nitrite are zero.

      Nitrate is in the first colour range, well below danger levels.

      KH is 10 degrees.

      The fish was normal - no swelling in the chest, no other real problems. Slight reddening in the underside fins near the tail, though he was dead for at least 48 hours. Vent appeared to be slightly bloody, though again, 2 days or more after death that might not be a surprise.

      I have photos of the previous fish that died in the linked thread, though the one that starts off that thread looks downright terrible compared to the ones dying now. We're talking about a fish that is completely fine that dies within 24 hours of going lethargic.

    5. #5
      Otrex is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by inazuma28 View Post
      I normally would reserve guesses to avoid doing harm, but after reading your thread Its clear that guesses are all there is to go off of.

      I have an idea but im hoping im wrong. It looks to me like kidney and liver damage caused by Mycobacteria. Its the same class that causes TB in humans. It is resistant to most antibiotics because they have no cell wall (many antibiotics work by destroying/puncturing the cell wall) When the infection is chronic for a long time symptoms include slight to sever dropsy and form ulcers. Its because the bacteria invade internal organs and the immune system combats it by forming a granuloma around the bacterial colony . When kidneys and the liver have too many granulomas to function they fail. I know its gross, but you should do a necropsy. If you see a lot of fluid and liquidized tissue, it might by Mycobacteria. ALSO, PLEASE WEAR GLOVES. Many species of Mycobacterium are harmful to humans. If it is mycobacteria you should get a class of antibiotics that prevent or inhibit DNA replication like Amikacin or Cipro https://www.chewy.com/thomas-labs-fi...orte/dp/157944 . The other problem with this is that since the kidneys and liver are impaired, antibiotics are hard for them to handle.
      I would cautiously agree with you. I think organs are being liquified because previous fish (see linked thread in the OP) had some minor chest cavity swelling and bloodied fins. These most recent deaths have occured in fish with little to no symptoms.

      I cannot stomach an necropsy, unfortunately. Past work experiences. But I do believe there to be excess fluid (not enough to cause dropsy) as previous fish that died had some bloody liquid near their vent. The most recent fish died with almost no symptoms, though I did note slightly bloodied underside fins and bloodied vent, noting that the fish was deceased for 2 or more days before I found him.

      The other big issue is that most antibiotics are tightly controlled in Canada. In fact, even veterinarians won't give prescriptions because they don't handle koi and therefore don't give prescriptions for fish they do not handle. I've tried in numerous places.

      That being said, I do have some anti-bacterial pond treatments that I managed to acquire. Perhaps one of these is effective against Mycobacteria?


      Bifuran Powder.

      Trichloracide

      BGOX

      ... I think it's going to need to be a whole pond treatment at this point since the winter cover is on. Can anyone confirm if any of these will be effective?

    6. #6
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      I dont think those work via the necessary mode. Thomas Lab will send to you. Im almost 100% sure. Its illegal in the US too but the website doe not seem to care. https://www.thomaslabs.com/product/f...te/antibiotics. You cant treat the whole pond with this either way.

    7. #7
      Otrex is offline Senior Member
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      Assuming for a second that Canada Customs doesn't seize that shipment, I have a couple of questions:

      i) Is this a tablet that they have to eat?

      ii) How many doses?

      iii) And perhaps most importantly, without any symptoms, how do I know which fish to give it to?

    8. #8
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      I would take inazuma28's advice.

      I have been where you are at and still have this occur occasionally. Eating and looking good, then give them a name and three days later they are dead. Sometimes it is weeks after getting them and sometimes it is as soon as the cool weather begins in the Fall after an entire season

      A necropsy is in order. You might be able to deduce what is happening yourself. However I would ship the "fish" to a facility such as a university. Check web sights or call direct as they may only want samples of the organs.

    9. #9
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      The website has dosing instructions for a bath. I have administered orally once in an emergency by dissolving a dose in 1-2ml water and pippetting it down the throat of a koi after its been sedated. I would not recommend this. It works but its risky.

    10. #10
      Otrex is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by inazuma28 View Post
      The website has dosing instructions for a bath. I have administered orally once in an emergency by dissolving a dose in 1-2ml water and pippetting it down the throat of a koi after its been sedated. I would not recommend this. It works but its risky.
      It might be my only option because of the extreme cold weather here. If I take them out of their 52F water under the cover and then bowl them, I would imagine the 1 hour bath time would see them die due to temperature shock as it has been as cold as 7F here, and with wind.

      Also, catching these might be nearly impossible because of the cover. Hard enough with the 6.5' of depth, but then with all the lumber crossers along the top of the water, the net cannot go far without bumping into one.

      Finally, which ones to treat? All of them? Just when they show symptoms (which it seems they do not until just 24h before death)?

    11. #11
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      You're in a rough spot for sure. But the real answers to those questions are yours to answer. You have the koi in-front of you and more information than we do by a wide margin. You also know what you are comfortable doing. Ive done what I think most would consider risky experimental treatments. But that's because in that moment I was convinced that if I did not act my fish was going to die. Ive had all successful treatments aside from one. Once an injection went wrong and I either hit a major nerve or punctured the swim bladder. I do know though, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if i did not treat that fish it would have died anyway. These are tough calls, but unfortunately they are a part of the hobby.

    12. #12
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      Pinched nose and sunken eyes?

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    13. #13
      Otrex is offline Senior Member
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      No pinched nose or sunken eyes.

      Given a small break in the freezing temperatures, my pond has warmed just enough to feed tiny amounts of food. For the past 2 days I have fed wheat germ based food which I have coated with Bifuran Powder, which is a anti-bacterial.

      Now I'm on the lookout for fish which may be struggling and will try to administer Ceftriaxone, which has been the only thing that has stopped this bacteria in its tracks. However, I only have enough left for 2 doses, and until the fish show any symptoms I cannot afford to waste any.

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      coolwon is offline Senior Member
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      I thought maybe the two you introduced could be the carriers.

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      bacterial pathogens are a major cause of infectious diseases and mortality. the injections can help but as this is happening so fast and the water temp is colder it makes it much harder to deal with. the 2 new fish were probably the start of it as often the new fish introduced usually survive and others don t make it after new fish are introduced

    16. #16
      Otrex is offline Senior Member
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      Found my Yamibuki swimming with one fin clamped, and my prized Asagi acting a bit weird. No other signs of trouble, but going to observe as closely as possible. Heavy snow in the forecast might block me from observing for a few days. I'm assuming the worst at this point.

    17. #17
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      Sorry i didn't think of this sooner. Some of us have had excellent experience with Aqua Medzyme. I use it in my three mud ponds and have had no bacterial infections in many years. Used to be a product by them called Medikoi (i think) a medicated food. At any rate, here's a link to Webb's who are stocking some of the products. Maybe you can get some fast.
      https://webbsonline.com/Category/Aqua-Meds
      Sorry for what you're going through.
      Wishing you the best and hope you'll keep us posted.



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    18. #18
      Otrex is offline Senior Member
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      Just wanted to update the situation here. Unfortunately, I have been unable to source any more strong antibiotics, and truth be told, I would have nearly no way to utilize them at present because of the winter cover and the extreme cold which causes severe ice buildup on the inside of the cover, which on some days freezes the access zipper completely. The good news is that the cover is keeping it warm enough to cause condensation, at least, so the koi are not subjected to the full force of this extremely cold weather.

      Upon discussion with a friend, we decided to try to crowd out as much of the unpleasant bacteria as possible, and this meant a 30% water change (exactly one day before the arctic blast) and then the addition of a large dose of cold water bacteria (a winter blend offered by Microbe-Lift). Since these bacteria specialize in colder temperature survival and mycobacteria does not, we hope this might reduce the mycobacteria load in the pond. I have sinced added twice more, and have shut off the UV in the interim.

      In addition, just before the freezing weather dropped water temps too far to feed anything, I did make some medicated food by coating fall diet formula in olive oil and then covering with Bifuran powder. The resulting pellet contains large amounts of Bifuran and the oil allows it to stick even when sitting in the water. For the most part the koi did eat the food, though I limited their intake to just a couple/few pellets each to promote proper digestion. In addition, I learned that if you use too much olive oil the fish really dislike the taste - they'd rather go hungry. I completed 3 or 4 doses of this homemade food before the winter really made any more impossible.

      I was able to smash my way into the winter cover area today using a hair dryer to thaw the zipper. I was amazed at the "glass cathedral" of ice that has formed all over the inside. My cover peaks at about 6 feet tall and all of it was covered with about an inch of glittering ice... quite lovely to view if I wasn't so worried for the koi. I know this means that the water in the pond is significantly warmer than the air around it, but it's more than worth it for the minimal loss of water from condensation.

      All remaining fish are still alive and no obvious signs of trouble. Oddly enough, with all the snowfall and extreme cold I elected to allow the plastic cover to become buried by about 4 inches of fluffy snow since it makes for a good insulator. That seems to have added 3-5F degrees in temperature, and now the fish are back to sleepy swimming again as opposed to sitting quietly on the bottom.

      I have no idea if that bacterial attack has stopped. Part of me thinks it has just gone dormant with the very cold water. I guess we'll find out when the weather improves and the water temperature crosses through the death zone.


      As a side note, I was shown a koi medical book talking about various ailments. The section on Mycobacteria was alarming. Basically, it said [paraphrasing] "This bacteria is difficult to diagnose and no treatment for this bacteria has been proven effective though some success has been achieved with [antibiotic X - something expensive that I cannot obtain]. Be prepared for a large fish die-off". You know you're in trouble when a medical book on the subject says "Yeah, good luck with that..."
      Last edited by Otrex; 1 Week Ago at 01:48 AM.

    19. #19
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      Otrex, you're doing a valiant job for your fish especially in this weather. Thanks for taking the time to chronicle what you're doing. It will be helpful to someone else in your spot in future and you may find something that works. We're pulling for you.



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    20. #20
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      At least for the spring when things start to warm up, I am going to recommend the use of KoiZyme or AquaMedZyme. These are the only two bacteria that I know of that will out compete the aeromonas bacteria, keeping the potential for spring infection low. While I had my ponds, I used them regularly. KoiZyme is a liquid and should be kept refrigerated. I don't know if either is available in Canada or not, but do some looking while it is too cold to do anything else.

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