Jump to content

Cory: bruised barbels or something worse?


BMBLSAD
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hey all

I picked up 6 Sterbai corydoras about 10 days ago.  They're my first corys, so I'm learning.  The first couple of days they were all over in the water column.  Such fun to watch.  But over the last 4 or 5 days, they aren't as active.  I have 1 in particular that I'm concerned about.  He appears to have white stuff on his mouth.  I've read Cory's can bruise their barbels or experience barbel erosion, but I'm uncertain if that's what I'm seeing.  Most articles/posts don't have pics so it's hard to tell.  He's also breathing a bit harder than the others.  I'll post a few pics.  I have a video of his breathing but can't post it.   

I just quarantined him to a 5g (cycled). He's alone and very unhappy.  Do I keep him quarantined and treat him? Put him back and treat the whole tank?  I have API General Cure, Erythromycin, Fin & Body Cure, & Furan-2; Seachem Kanaplex & Metroplex; Jungle Fungus Clear; and PraziPro.   

Water Parameters: API master test kit

  • pH: 8.2
  • Nitrates: 30 
  • Hardness: 9 degrees or 161ppm
  • Nitrite: 0
  • Ammonia: 0
  • KH/Buffer: 16 degrees or greater than 214.8ppm
  • Water Temperature: 76

Tank: 29g, planted, black diamond sand substrate, running for about 2 years. I do weekly 30% water changes, vac the sand, clean the filters routinely, etc.

Tank mates: 2 guppies, 5 harlequin rasboras, 3 amano shrimp (new addition), 1 BN pleco, 1 mystery snail, 1 nerite snail

Feeding: tank mates get a mix of floating/slow sinking stuff (like Fluval Bug Bites Betta Formula).  While they're busy eating, I drop Fluval Bug Bites bottom feeder formula to the bottom for the corys. I also drop bug bites for plecos, and routinely hang spinach, zuchinni, and algea sheets in the tank for the pleco and snails.

sad cory 3.jpg

sad cory 2.jpg

sad cory 1.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You may want to treat the one cory with erythromycin in QT in case he/she has a bacterial infection on the barbels.  Maybe also add a layer of soft sand or rounded/nonsharp gravel/rocks/pebbles over the diamond blasting sand.  I know there is a legitimate debate over substrate and cories and I'm not trying to wade into that or point any fingers at all.  Otherwise, if you keep your substrate, it seems like the food you're feeding is falling into the substrate so they're pushing into it more with their barbels to try to get to it.  That might be why there was some injury to the barbels.  You could feed bigger foods that sit on top - chunks of repashy, for example.  

The mystery snail might be ok, but we actually lost a japanese trapdoor snail before bc our substrate was too sharp, it cut up his foot and by the time we realized it the infection was too bad, we lost him.  

I hope your cory gets better!  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, SWilson said:

You may want to treat the one cory with erythromycin in QT in case he/she has a bacterial infection on the barbels.  Maybe also add a layer of soft sand or rounded/nonsharp gravel/rocks/pebbles over the diamond blasting sand.  I know there is a legitimate debate over substrate and cories and I'm not trying to wade into that or point any fingers at all.  Otherwise, if you keep your substrate, it seems like the food you're feeding is falling into the substrate so they're pushing into it more with their barbels to try to get to it.  That might be why there was some injury to the barbels.  You could feed bigger foods that sit on top - chunks of repashy, for example.  

The mystery snail might be ok, but we actually lost a japanese trapdoor snail before bc our substrate was too sharp, it cut up his foot and by the time we realized it the infection was too bad, we lost him.  

I hope your cory gets better!  

Thanks so much.  I have this substrate in 6 different tanks, no issues with snails or plecos for 3 years.  But, these corys are new, they're tender and I may need to pivot.  Sadly, I put the same substrate in teh quarantine tank to keep the cycle going. Doh!  Anyway, I'll treat the one in quarantine with erythro.  I've got some rapashy on hand (goldfish version) but I think it will do for now.  I'll see if I can find something to cover the top over the weekend.  BTW, under the black diamond is aquasand.  I didn't like the looks of the clay balls, so put the black diamond over the top. If I had the guts, I'd stir it up so the aquasand comes to the top, but pretty sure that will create a whole 'nother set of problems.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's good to know! I am new with cories too -- I recently started keeping habrosus cories.  My lfs sometimes gets sterbai's and I'd love to get those next.  Mine seem to do okay with crushed coral and/or aquarium gravel.  So I don't think it necessarily needs to be the softest, finest sand like some people say.  lol.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I'm certainly no expert, but I have naturally high pH in my tap water like you, so I like fluval stratum plant and shrimp substrate which is supposed to help lower/neutralize pH.  

In my current corydora tank, I have mixed that fluval substrate, crushed coral (which I realize is conflicting - I am trying to neutralize my pH while keeping kH up, we have tons of baby mystery snails b/c my partner can't not save an egg clutch), and caribsea ecocomplete gravel, topped with a thin layer of fine sand (also caribsea).  This is a lot - certainly I'm sure most ppl would not recommend mixing all those different things -- it was more that we had a lot of half-used bags of assorted substrate and so I was using what we had while minimizing what I would need to buy new for setting up this tank.  

While the fine sand is not necessary for corydora, I have found that it is really cool to watch them sift through it looking for food.   

Maybe @CorydorasEthan has other suggestions for corydora substrate? 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, BMBLSAD said:

I'm looking at all the different substrates online. So many.  From a corydora perspective, what would you recommend?

I am no expert when it comes to substrate, but the diamond blasting sand might be the cause. As @SWilson suggested, a layer of very fine sand may help to combat the problem. It just might instead be a disease or sickness of some sort, but I can't be certain, as I have seen nothing similar.

About the lethargy: what kinds of symptoms are they showing? Do they seem stressed? Are they coming out to eat? I found that with many cories, they like to sit and sleep/hide during a large portion of the day, and come out to feed, play, or school mostly during dawn or dusk (though they are a little active throughout the day as well).

27 minutes ago, BMBLSAD said:

Another question... my little guy in the quarantine tank seems so sad/anxious.  Should I move the 2 others that are appearing a bit lethargic to the Q tank, too, to keep him company?

You might want to. Corydoras are pretty social, and enjoy the company of others. It might help with his stress and ease the recovery process.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

36 minutes ago, BIG GREEN said:

I use  diamond blasting sand in all my tanks with no issues, my cory's, dojo's and Asian Bumlbee cat fish do just fine in it. The cory's are always shifting thourgh it 

I looked up white mouth on Corydoras, but I couldn't find anything yet. I will continue my search and hopefully come up with a solution to your problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey there fellow aquarist!

It could be your corys are different or younger than others and can’t tolerate the substrate. I’ve had a corydora grow from a baby to 3 inches and I definitely noticed that his barbels had gotten thicker/stronger! 
I was really worried about his barbels and thought about using Sand but regular aquarium gravel was the best as he couldn’t move it but could still wrap his barbels around the rocks. Also, I’d use large sinking pellets for him to pick on so he’d be full and wouldn’t have to dig around so much for leftovers...but he’d dig anyway 🤦🏼‍♀️

I’d dose them all together with Erythromycin (if one is visibly hurt the others may be too)
your quarantine tank (make do with it being bare bottom) to give yourself time to pick out new substrate you can live with.

hope he gets better soon!🤞🏻

Edited by FlyingGuppies
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ken has a good point^ Any substrate could work and I totally understand how changing substrate could be really inconvenient. There’s an obvious problem though since this guys barbels are all worn off. It’s probably from them being brand new: maybe they’re really under-fed and digging deep and/or more often into the substrate causing barbel breaks and bacterial infection that would normally heal in a healthy fish (like Kens) unnoticed. There’s a lot of possibilities bc they’re still new but certainly there’s something not right. If you keep the substrate I’d make sure they’re all medicated in a bare bottom tank (to avoid further damage). Might want to do the med trio since they’re new. Get them really fed up (research this? Maybe proteins, small meals every 2/3 hrs?)  so when the go back to the community tank they’re not digging as much and if they do they’ll be healthy enough to fight off any abrasions that can get bacterial infections. 
Your water tests parameters seem fine. Ph is a bit high for them which could mean-maybe-there’s some salt in the water and salt can slowly kill corydoras

Adding tannins can help A LOT while they’re healing!

 

Edited by FlyingGuppies
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, CorydorasEthan said:

About the lethargy: what kinds of symptoms are they showing? Do they seem stressed? Are they coming out to eat? I found that with many cories, they like to sit and sleep/hide during a large portion of the day, and come out to feed, play, or school mostly during dawn or dusk (though they are a little active throughout the day as well).

Thanks @CorydorasEthan! This helps.  Maybe I'm mistaking lethargy for normal behavior.  The first few days I had them they were busy, busy, busy so that's what I thought was the normal.  What you describe - sleep/hide during a large portion of the day - is what they're doing now.  Maybe they were just settling in those first few days.  They come out to eat, get crazy for a bit and then go back to hiding.  Cutest dang critters.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, FlyingGuppies said:

I’d make sure they’re all medicated in a bare bottom tank (to avoid further damage). Might want to do the med trio since they’re new. Get them really fed up...Ph is a bit high for them which could mean-maybe-there’s some salt in the water and salt can slowly kill corydoras.

Wow.  Lots to think about here, @FlyingGuppies.  I'll switch to a bare bottom in the QT and move them all in for a while to see how things go.

I'm especially interested in this comment: salt can slowly kill corydoras  So, I hate my water.  I live in a really rural area with super hard water, lots of iron, a small bit of ammonia.  It comes out of the well at about 7.4 pH and rises to 8.3-8.4 after 3-4 hours of aeration, and is off the charts hard (KH takes about 17 API drops to change the color, GH about 16).  So we use a water softener for the house.  Right now, I'm mixing 70% well water with 30% softened to try to make something reasonably decent.  The 70/30 mix keeps the GH around 8 or 9.  Will this practice cause issues over time?  Maybe it's time to buy that RODI system and learn to build my own water 🤔 More to consider.

  • Love 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, I've continued to research.  I've come across a couple of articles and forum posts that say corys are sensitive to high nitrates, especially sterbas.  My nitrates are high, roughly 30-40, sometimes more.  One post said nitrates are heavier than water, so the concentration is higher at the bottom which is where the corys hang out.  So, that could be a piece of the puzzle.  I've been struggling with high nitrates for a while now.  I do weekly water changes 30-50% trying to get them lower.  I vac the surface of my substrate with every water change, but because it's sand I don't stick the vac into the sand.  I've heard that's bad because it releases sulfur gases, but maybe I should?  I also clean my filters regularly, but after watching Cory's vid on how to clean a tank I don't think I'm squeezing out my sponges enough.  Anyway, I think I may be on to something here.  Curious if anyone else has had experience with corys and high nitrates.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/8/2021 at 5:04 PM, BMBLSAD said:

My nitrates are high, roughly 30-40, sometimes more.

That seems pretty normal/safe to me. Do you have many plants? That could help keep your nitrates down, and use up minerals from your water as well.

On 5/8/2021 at 5:04 PM, BMBLSAD said:

I vac the surface of my substrate with every water change, but because it's sand I don't stick the vac into the sand.  I've heard that's bad because it releases sulfur gases, but maybe I should?

I think most of the people here with sand substrate just vacuum off the top. Stirring up the sand sounds like a mess. If you’re worried about sulphur building up, you can always take a chopstick or skewer and poke the sand a bit. Or get some Malaysian trumpet snails and they’ll burrow and stir the substrate for you. That’s what I have!

I wonder if this is just a case of multiple stress factors accumulating. Like Cory says often, one stress factor isn’t usually a problem, but two or more can cause issues. My best guess (not based on direct experience) is that the new corys were so excited to explore, they dug a lot. Maybe they were extra hungry (were they shipped to you?) and dug even more because of that. Plus the stress of a new home plus slightly high nitrates maybe tipped things over the edge. 

I imagine just like human skin gets calloused with use, corys’ barbels probably toughen up depending on their substrate. If they were raised in a bare-bottomed tank like many breeders do, their barbels may just need time to toughen up. That could explain people’s different experiences with corys and barbels wearing away. Until they adjust, I agree with feeding on a plate or something so they aren’t motivated to dig any more than they already are.

Keep us posted!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, Hobbit said:

If they were raised in a bare-bottomed tank like many breeders do, their barbels may just need time to toughen up. That could explain people’s different experiences with corys and barbels wearing away.

That's an interesting thought. I wonder if it's that or maybe the fish learning how to use their barbels on a different substrate without harm?

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

@Cory I thought I’d tag you here since you brought up in your last live stream that you’ve never had experience with corys doing badly on sharp substrate. I don’t think we ever got to the bottom of @BMBLSAD’s issue, but you can definitely see his cory’s barbels got worn down. I’m still partial to my theory about barbels toughening up over time like callouses on human hands. 😁

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Administrators

Are we sure they weren't like this before they came into the tank? The person only had them 10 days. They look fully healed. When you have barbel damage it's red and infected typically. The answer is still not the substrate, if anything it's the food. If you have food such as bug bites and they dissolve into the sand/gravel, they are then forced to dig. This could cause micro abrasions that get infected. However the pictures don't show any redness.

 

Lets assume I'm way off base. Another poster has corydoras on the same substrate with no problems. I really suspect they came in this way from the store.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Cory that’s totally fair. Sorry, I wasn’t trying to say you’re wrong. I think all the original commenters agreed that the substrate wasn’t the only issue here, if it was an issue at all. I just thought you might like to see this if you hadn’t already, since something wore this guy’s barbels down at some point. Just as one example for the knowledge arsenal. I know you probably have a lot of people saying “you’re wrong!!” all the time, and I promise that wasn’t my intention. I was just trying to say “this is interesting.” 👍

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...