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Diseases of Apistos


  1. A. agassizi - Dropsy
    by Thomas Mroz <tmroz/> (Thu, 17 Oct 1996)
  2. Apisto Death
    by "Maladorno, Dionigi" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/> (Wed, 10 Dec 1997)
  3. Rams/White spots; Belly sliders
    by "Maladorno, Dionigi \(DRUG;Nutley\)" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/> (Thu, 29 Jan 1998)
  4. white little worms
    by Ken Laidlaw <K.Laidlaw/> (Tue, 3 Feb 1998)
  5. Need advice on skin lesion in P taenitus; Parasitized Apistogrammoides
    by "Maladorno, Dionigi \(DRUG;Nutley\)" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/> (Wed, 04 Mar 1998)
  6. Parasitized Apistogrammoides
    by Ken Laidlaw <K.Laidlaw/> (Wed, 4 Mar 1998)
  7. Death by black worm
    by "mudpuddle" <mudpuddle/> (Mon, 9 Mar 1998)
  8. Levamisol...Again
    by "Maladorno, Dionigi {DRUG~Nutley}" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/ROCHE.COM> (Wed, 07 Apr 1999)
  9. Fat Lips; Levamisol...Again
    by "Maladorno, Dionigi {DRUG~Nutley}" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/ROCHE.COM> (Thu, 08 Apr 1999)
  10. Ulcer
    by "Maladorno, Dionigi {DRUG~Nutley}" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/ROCHE.COM> (Wed, 07 Apr 1999)

A. agassizi - Dropsy

by Thomas Mroz <tmroz/>
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996
To: "'Apisto/'" <Apisto/>

These symptoms suggest he is well along, and will probably not last even
'till this message gets out.  I have alot of trouble with dropsy, and
only once was marginally able to cure it.  I am not certain which
medication it was, but I think it was Kanicyn.  I used it early on some
Nijsseni that were looking poorly, and was able to get them back into
swimming/eating mode as long as I medicated.  When I stopped the
medication (two full series), they went back down hill and eventually
perished.  I seem to have particular bad luck with Nijseni, they tend to
go dropsy on me within 2-5 days after receipt.  I have tried various
water qualities, prophalactic treatments, different foods, different
tanks, etc. and cannot keep these fish alive.  I occasionaly do get a
spawn before the dropsy sets in, so it would seem that water is not the
only problem.  These occasion spawns do even result in some hatch, but
the fry never live.

Preventing it appears to be predominantly a water quality issue.  If I
can keep up 1-2 10% water changes per week, I seem to do generally O.K. 
When I slip a week, I may see an occasional dropsy case.  If I slip a
week, and then try to make up for it with a 20-30% water change, I am
typically doomed!  Seems this major change in water quality is the worst
thing I can do.  Anybody else see this problem?

The other time I have problems is right after spawning.  I have lost (in
particular, but not exclusively) 2 male Brietbinden at 2 different times
right after spawning via dropsy.  It would seem that the spawning
exercise wears them down to the point that dropsy can set in.  I find
that while my male fish are often look to be in very good health, I lose
a statistically significant number of them right after a spawn.  At one
point last spring, I had lost (all males) brietbinden, cacatuoides (2),
steindachneri, and sp. 4-stripe, all to dropsy, all within about a day
of spawning, and all within a week.  Meanwhile, nearly all of the spawns
were viable, suggesting that the males all had some degree of health
just prior to the spawning.

I have wondered about food.  My apistos tend to get about 80% of their
food in the form of live baby brine shrimp.  They go after it well, and
it does not tend to foul the tank like uneaten flake or even frozen -
apistos can be randomly finicky, it seems.  My apistos look good, so
they are getting enough to eat.  But perhaps this one-sided diet is
contributing to their mortality through loss of some nutrient?

Comments/experiences on any/all would be of great interest.

>From: 	Kevin Goodman[]
>Sent: 	Wednesday, October 16, 1996 10:31 PM
>Subject: 	Help!! A. agassizi - Dropsy
>Hi all,
>I've got an Agassizi male, who as close as I can diagnose has 
>dropsy. I don't know if there is any treatment, or what I can
>do to help him. He is in bad shape, and I don't know how to help.
>Please if you have any experience with this, send me your suggestions.
>The basic symptoms are: 
>No energy (just sits at the bottom of the tank.)
>Swollen belly.
>Eyes popping out.
>Slow breathing, with mouth wide open.
>Thanks for any help you can offer.
>P.S. - also if you have any suggestions how this occurred so I can
>prevent it from occurring in the future.
>* Kevin Goodman         *  "Good Signature files don't *
>*     *  need bad quotes" - J. Mines *

Apisto Death

by "Maladorno, Dionigi" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/>
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997
To: apisto/

 Len/Geo <> WROTE:<<<<<
Date: Sun, 07 Dec 1997 16:39:33 -0500
Subject: Apisto Death
My female apisto.cacatuoides died yesterday. She had no visible sign of
disease. I did check ammonia, nitrate, nitrite.. all`s fine.  Still have
the male in the same tank.  He stays on the  bottom, hides alot, don`t
see him eating and does have Clamped fins.
Is this some sort of bacterial infection?  Is there anything I can

Is this fish also breathing heavily? Since water chemistry is OK, and a
second fish is affected, there is probably an infective pathogen around.
It's very unlikely that it is a bacterium: a very common cause for
rapidly fatal diseases are pathogens like the agents of velvet or Ick
(which do not always cause visible white spots). In my opinion, your
best first-line remedy is formalin+malachite green (I saved a several
apisto and laetacara fry with it). The product I am familiar with is
Rid-Ich+ by kordon, at 7 ml/10 gal, on day 1, 4, 7, 10 and water changes
on day 13. Add an airstone, since it will decrease the oxygen levels.
Stay away from antibacterials and poorly designed mixtures of various
drugs, which often just kill the filter and do nothing on the pathogens!
Good luck, and let us know on how it goes. 
By the way, have you recently introduced some new fish in that tank?


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Rams/White spots; Belly sliders

by "Maladorno, Dionigi \(DRUG;Nutley\)" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/>
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 1998
To: "'apisto/'" <apisto/>

 Lilia Stepanova <>
wrote: <<<<<Subject: Re: A. cruzi? + Any cure for sick rams?
I dont think it is temperature (was 80-81 F and rams had regularly 
spawned. Ammonia idea is possible, but it was not HUGE amount of food, 
and neons always picked up everything left, even with the danger of 
self-combustion. And here is still link to BS. May be, somehow BS
in more ammonia/nitrites. >>>>>>

Even if other fishes eat the food leftovers (BS or anything else with
protein content) , you still get increased ammonia production = stress =
increased susceptibility to infections.

In addition to Ich, whitish spots may be caused by velvet (Oodinium),
and differentiate the two may sometimes be difficult. Velvet is more
heat tolerant than Ich, and 80-81 deg. F are certainly not adequate to
prevent it.

Untergasser's books ( in particular: D. Untergasser (1989). Handbook of
Fish Diseases. TFH, Neptune, NJ, U.S.A, which in my opinion should be
owned and studied by every hobbyist who has access to it, since it will
pay itself in saved fish and avoided frustrations) suggests the

Ich: 30 deg. C ( 86 F) for 10 days

Costia (not a cause of small white spots, though): 32 deg. C (90F) for
four days

Velvet: 34 deg. C (93 F) for 24-36 hours

When warmer, the water needs to be aerated to compensate for the oxygen
loss. Several fishes may not tolerate the higher temps , especially if
already debilitated by the disease. Formalin+malachite green is an
alternative. Rams have the reputation to like warm water, but I have no
direct experience with them above 86 deg. F.  Maybe other list members
could share their experience with dwarf cichlids at temps above 90 F: I
would be very interested in learning more. I know that discus take it
with no problems, while corys and tetras often die after a few days.

Another subject: Bob (is it you?) asked to share experience on "belly

My experience is limited to the following:

One brood of Laetacara curviceps (none)

Two broods of A. maciliensis (none)

One brood of A. staecki (probably one or two individuals)

Two broods of A. cacatuoides (10% in one, too early to tell in the

Symproms: "corkscrew" swimming, laying at the bottom, sometimes muscular
contraction with bent spine which may suggest neurological involvement.

It's definitely a problem: thinking at the possibility of a bacterial
neurological or swimbladder infection (I have never seen around data
proving conclusively that it's an organ development problem, although
this may certainly be true) I tried once to use the Tetra medicated
flakes for parasites (my belly sliders seemed still able to eat in the
initial stages), without any very evident response. Maybe I will try
again in this new batch of A. cacatuoides fry I have, still at the stage
when it's hard to detect the problem.

Dionigi Maladorno


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white little worms

by Ken Laidlaw <K.Laidlaw/>
Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998
To: apisto/


These are probably what is referred to as planaria.  Do 
they often stick to the glass at the water line, if yes 
then they are planaria.

I believe that they are there as a result of overfeeding 
and although they may be harmless in themselves the 
effect on the fish due to water quality may not be so good 
in the long term.

Try not feeding your fish for a few days and the should 
decline in population.  I used to observe these creatures 
in my Discus tank when feeding heavily to encourage growth..

Hope this helps,

> "Pierluigi e Simone Vicini" wrote:
> <<<<<Subject: white little worms
> I found, during my water change, some very little worms floating around
> in
> my tank. They really look like Tubifex but they are totally white and a
> little smaller, I think that this may become a big problem for my fishes
> because there were hundreds of them.
> Is there a way to kill them and how did they get into my aquarium>>>>>

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Need advice on skin lesion in P taenitus; Parasitized Apistogrammoides

by "Maladorno, Dionigi \(DRUG;Nutley\)" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/>
Date: Wed, 04 Mar 1998
To: "'apisto/'" <apisto/>

"Robert J Molan" wrote: <<<<<
Need advice on skin lesion in P taenitus
One of my P taenitus species has developed a lesion at the base of the
dorsal fin.  The lesion is ulcerated and is not responding to
treatment, starting at salt baths, and antifungal/finrot medications.
question is should I use antibiotics on her, or should I continue to
in conservative fashion.  Also although she is moved to a hospital tank
should I treat her old tank.>>>>>>>

I do not think you need to treat the previous tank. Several
skin ulcerations are not treatable (actually, in some
cases they may be infective to humans, and caution should be
exercised in immersing bare hands in tanks with fishes in this
condition), and it is my impression that water quality is the
key factor that the average hobbyist may control. 
Antibiotics just dispersed in the water may not be too effective, 
but if you suspect a bacterial origin (red, swollen lesions) you can
give a try for example with one of the furans, such as nifurpirinol.

 (Steven J. Waldron wrote: <<<<<Parasitized Apistogrammoides
I recently picked up some Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis and after a few
weeks of what seemed to be excellent health and vigor, they are starting
go down. None have died as of yet, but they have stopped eating, feces
stringy, bellies pinched, and a lot of time spent sitting on the bottom
the aquarium.(...) I have been treating with Paragon II, an
anit-parasite med that
contains metrondiazole. Things seem to be getting progressively worse
(...) >>>>>

Steve, Paragon is in my opinion a poorly effective and poorly tolerated
due to the choice of the ingredients. It is supposed to work by the
"shotgun" approach, but the only victims are normally the bacteria in
the biological filter, and occasionally the sick fish!
Clean it out with carbon, and then go on with a de-wormer such as
(one full dose only) or flubenol (I assume you are in the US, where
either one is
 more easily available than other possible choices). A temperature in
low eighties might be of some support.
If this does not work, try again metronidazole at full dose(use for
example the 
formulation from Aquatronics).

Dionigi Maladorno
This message presents personal opinions which are not necessarily those
of my employer.

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Parasitized Apistogrammoides

by Ken Laidlaw <K.Laidlaw/>
Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998
To: apisto/

Hi Steve,

I thought I would re-post the information given to me 
recently  by Dionigi which saved my nijsseni 

Hope you can save them, I long been on the lookout for 
Apistogrammoides without success.

Ken Laidlaw <wrote: <<<<<
My previously healthy pair of A.nijsseni have stopped 
feeding.  They were fine until a week ago when 
they just seemed to lose interest in food.

I have a guppy in the tank as a dither and it is fine and 
feeding.  I have fed some live food, bloodworms and daphnia 
but these were also fed to my panduro and they are OK.

I have done a couple of water changes (water pH=6.5) over 
the last couple of days and added a treatment for internal 
bacterial disease. (...)>>>>>>>

Ken, bacterial diseases are relatively less likely to manifest 
themselves as lack of appetite only.
This type of symptom is more typically due to Hexamita 
(Spironucleus) or intestinal worms, and occasionally to
skin or gill parasites.
Metronidazole and a broad spectrum de-wormer (flubenol
for example) would be my first choice, followed by 
formalin+malachite green (for skin and gill protozoans,
 carefully using the dosages and precautions listed on fish 
health books) if there is no prompt improvement with the former 
two medications.


My reply after treatment......

Thanks for your tips, my A.nijsseni have recovered and are 
now eating well.  Here is what I did following your advice.

I treated them with levamisole hydrochloride to try and 
purge any internal parasites present.  I also treated with 
Octozin (TM) which claims to cure Hexamita.  Metranizadole 
or any anti-biotics are not available without prescription 
here in the UK.  

Thanks for your help, let's hope they have a 
successful spawn soon. 


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Death by black worm

by "mudpuddle" <mudpuddle/>
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998
To: <apisto/>

I suspect that it was not a black worm, but a leech. These are sometimes
found with black worms. It also seems the larger the black worms the more
leeches you find. I would get the fish out of the tank as soon as you can.
The leech might leave the host and remain in the tank to live of other tank
mates. I would disect the fish to be sure the leach is not in the tank
(that is if its dead now). Its not that hard after all your not doing a
science project. If its still alive look behind the gills. Sometimes you
will be able to see it there. If the leech is there you can remove it with
care making sure you remove its head.

> From: Matthew Diller <mdiller-at-MAIL.LAWNET.FORDHAM.EDU>
> To:
> Subject: Re:  Death by black worm
> Date: Monday, March 09, 1998 2:32 PM
> This morning I was feeding some delectable black worms to my large
healthy male a. cauc.  when he suddenly freaked out and went rigid.  He
recovered a bit, but sat on the bottom looking ill.  I am at work now, but
my wife reports from home  that it does not look good.  Can a black worm (I
guess a relative of tubifex) really kill a fish?
>                         Matt Diller
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> This is the apistogramma mailing list,
> For instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe or get help,
> email
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by "Maladorno, Dionigi {DRUG~Nutley}" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/ROCHE.COM>
Date: Wed, 07 Apr 1999
To: "'Apistogramma List'" <apisto/>

"Phil Eaton" wrote: <<<Subject: Levamisol...Again
I know we've been through this not too long ago, but I recently noticed 
the "white stringy feces", indicating an internal parasite, once 
mentioned on the list several months ago.  
I found a source for Levamisol HCL at a local feed store and was able to 
purchase a single horse (Sheep) pill (1.8G) for a dollar, under the name 
My question is, what is the recommended dosage for a 55 gallon tank, and 
how should the substance be introduced to the water?  >>>>>

White stringy feces are typically a sign of Hexamita or Spironucleus 
infection, although other causes can not be excluded completely. 
Levamisole is not active on these flagellate parasites.
The most appropriate first-line treatment in your case is in my
opinion metronidazole, either as a 250 mg capsule/10 gal every
other day for three times, or as Tetra flakes for parasites (not those
for bacteria!) used for about a week.
Typically these parasites are hard to eliminate, but treatment will
reduce their number at least for several weeks or months.
If you see no response at all, you can then suspect nematodes, and 
use the levamisole. I do not have the dosing data for your formulation 
at this time, but if you need it I can see what I have at home. Just
let me know.

Dionigi Maladorno
This message presents personal opinions which are not necessarily those
of my employer.

Fat Lips; Levamisol...Again

by "Maladorno, Dionigi {DRUG~Nutley}" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/ROCHE.COM>
Date: Thu, 08 Apr 1999
To: "'Apistogramma List'" <apisto/>

Doug Brown <> wrote: <<<<Fat Lips
My new sp. "Rotpunkt" male has really swollen lips and is starting to not
eat as much. I remember hearing about this but can't seem to find any
information on how to treat it. Help!>>>>>>

If you are sure that the lack of appetite is related to an infection
of the lips, probably clean water and a tablespoon of salt each
10 gallons will take care of it. It is not a common problem, though.
Most often poor appetite is due to internal parasites.

 "David Shim" <David_Shim@MCKINSEY.COM>
wrote : Subject: Re: Levamisol...Again (...)
I'm considering dosing my planted tank.  What is metronidazole's effect on
the bio filter and on plants?  Any plant species particularly sensitive?
Also, do you know of any medication more effective at irradicating
flagellate parasites?  Thanks.>>>>

In the great majority of cases, metronidazole is OK on the biofilter.
Very rarely some people reported problems, but chances are
the true cause might have been different.
Metro is also perfectly OK on plants. I would treat the whole tank
since other apparently healthy fishes may have already been infected.
Epsom salts is reportedly effective on mild flagellate infestations.

Dionigi Maladorno
This message presents personal opinions which are not necessarily those
of my employer.


by "Maladorno, Dionigi {DRUG~Nutley}" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/ROCHE.COM>
Date: Wed, 07 Apr 1999
To: "'Apistogramma List'" <apisto/>

Ken Laidlaw <> wrote: <<<< Ulcer.
My young male A.hongsloi has an open ulcer type sore on 
it's head.  It is eating at present and I've added an 
anti-internal bacterial medication and some meth blue to 
the water.
Does anyone have any tips for stopping the growth as I'm 
sure death may follow shortly. Please if possible recommend 
non antibiotic drugs which are not easily obtainable in the 
UK.  What is the likely cause of such and ailment?

Open ulcers are often difficult to treat even with
proper antibiotic availability. I read reports of success
by rubbing the lesion with Q-tips dipped in mercurochrome,
a wound disinfectant, after netting the fish. Just be careful
and use gloves, because open sores may occasionally be
due to TB, which can be contagious.
Minor traumatic wounds often heal spontaneously, and to 
attempt treatment may be not only ineffective, but even 
detrimental for both you and the fish.
Good luck anyway

Dionigi Maladorno
This message presents personal opinions which are not necessarily those
of my employer.

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