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Pufferfish very sick

Preston John

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I received this question on Instagram and thought I’d put it up here so others may find it in the future.

“Hi there! I had a question. That I haven’t been able to find an answer to online. I have a female Congo and about a week ago started hanging out chilling on the bottom of the tank a bit more but was still swimming and eating. As of yesterday, she is sitting still, not swimming, holding here mouth open and breathing heavy. All of my other fish are fine, no new fish or changes, and my parameters are good (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite). Any ideas at all? I honestly feel like she’s gonna die bc she looks so bad but it happened so suddenly I want to try something to save her.”


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I’ve had well over 100 people contact me about their puffers with the same symptoms. Sadly only a few have survived. I’ve personally lost two that started just like this.
I believe it to be an internal bacterial infection, but It could very well be a virus. I’ve collected tissue samples from many different people and am just saving up money for the lab tests.

To my knowledge it’s so far only happened to Wild Caught/Imported puffers. 

I was seeing great improvement with one of mine with the below treatment, but lost him when I was called away on work for eight days. 
I treated the entire tank with Maracyn as directed on the package and then do daily water changes of 5-10% and make sure the tank is clean and stress free (other than you cleaning and changing water) for a few weeks. If the puffer starts swimming erratic or is unable to swim stable, retreat with Maracyn. 


Treats Bacterial Infections Plant Safe Invertebrate Safe Maracyn's active ingredient is an antibiotic called...

would welcome thoughts from @Cory and the rest of the CARES community.

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This is why I recommend the quarantine trio. Even with 100 people describing the same symptoms. I'd wager there are 5+ different diseases between those 100 people.  If you watch videos and go to wholesalers there is pretty much zero way disease isn't transferring between fish. Meaning stores and hobbyists should be "cleaning up" the fish when they get them. Too many people wait until there is a problem. I find it's easier to clean up first while a fish is healthy, than at the end when the fish is already in distress.  

If I owned this fish. I'd probably just put the trio in.  It's too difficult to know, is it gill flukes? Is it internal bacterial? Is it an abundance of internal parasites?  The breathing is just stress. Could be a internal tumor, or liver failure, all can show bottom sitting and breathing etc.

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