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Worn Down Cory Barbels Just Won't Heal!


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Hi Folks,

I've been battling this issue ever since late August. I have 3 panda corydoras whose barbels just will not grow back. They first got worn down when I had them living in a moderately planted community tank with Eco-Complete a few months back. I suspect they first got worn down when I started transitioning from weekly water changes to bi-weekly / every 3 weeks (because it's planted, there was never any nitrate readings, so I put off the water changes a bit). After finding out that their barbels were worn down, I moved them to a dedicated 10 gallon quarantine tank with a bare bottom for about 2-3 weeks to get their barbels to heal up. They were showing slight signs of improvement with their barbels (some new growth), when all of a sudden, they started spawning! I thought, "Cool, I'll turn this into a second tank!" I slowly got the aquarium set up as a display tank with Caribsea's Moonlight Sand and whatnot, to help with the barbels healing. After a month or so on that sand, the barbels showed no sign of improvement - in fact, they got worn back down and their mouths started to get infected. This is with me doing weekly water changes. I ended up moving houses during this time, and had a person I hired through The Wet Spot's maintenance team help with the transition. During the move, the aquarium mover mentioned the sand that I was using (which was hailed all over the internet as "the best sand for cories") could actually be contributing to the barbels / mouths getting infected because it was TOO fine of a grain size and a potential source of anaerobic bacteria buildup (while she was draining out the tank and setting it back up, she mentioned the tank started smelling a little like rotten eggs). After settling into the new house, I moved the cories into a brand new 20 gallon long tank last Monday with brand new sand that was recommended to me by The Wet Spot staff (it's the sand they use in all of their corydora holding tanks & the manager said he personally uses it in his corydora setups in his own home without any issues). It's super round, no jagged / sharp edges, grain size probably .2-.5mm. I've been feeding Kanaplex to help with any potential source of bacterial infections, but it's looking like the barbels still aren't growing back and from time to time, there's a bit of redness that comes and goes. Again, I've been regularly vacuuming the sand to pick up all the loose debris every week.

At this point, I'm not sure what to do...should I move them back into a quarantine tank without any sand on the bottom to remove any potential for wear / tear on their mouths from the substrate? Should I wait to see if they grow back? Like I mentioned before, they're currently eating Kanaplex-laced food, but I don't want to keep that going for a prolonged period of time.

I should mention, there are a couple pieces of spiderwood in the tank, but nothing sharp / pokey for them. I also have it moderately planted with mostly crypts and anubias plants, some java moss and stem plants.

Tank stats:

pH: 7.2
Temperature: 74.5
Ammonia / Nitrites / Nitrates: 0
KH / GH: 3 & 3 degrees respectively

Any thoughts / advice would be super appreciated, thanks in advance! - Tiffany

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Try frozen blood worms and brine shrimp for a couple weeks and see if that fixes the problem. I personally prefer to treat the water with erythromycin instead of kanaplex. But lots of people have success with the kanaplex too.

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