Chinese Algae Eater - Flashing/Itching constantly!


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Mar 28, 2021
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What is the water volume of the tank?
250 Litres

How long has the tank been running?
10 Months

Does it have a filter?
Two active filters - one canister filter, one clip on

Does it have a heater?

What is the water temperature?
26 Deg Celsius

What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.)
3 Buenos Aires Tetras
3 Emperor Tetras
6 Neon Tetras
1 Chinese Algae Eater (FISH OF CONCERN!)\

How often do you change the water?

How much of the water do you change?
50 Litres

What do you use to treat your water?
Seachem Prime

Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water?
Yes, Vacuum weekly

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish?
All tetras were added after cycle, Chinese Algae Eater in tank cycle

What do you use to test the water?
API Freshwater Master Test Kit

What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
: 0.25PPM (I've added prime and did a 60L water change)
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 10ppm
pH: PH 6
KH: 0

How often do you feed your fish?
Once/twice a day

How much do you feed your fish?
A pinch, or one algae wafer

What brand of food do you feed your fish?
Fluval bug bites, Tetra Tetramin tropical flakes, Fluval bug bites algae wafers

Do you feed frozen?
No, they never liked it and it spikes ammonia

Do you feed freeze-dried foods?

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish?
5 Years (Chinese Algae Eater)

How long ago did you first notice these symptoms?
2-3 Days ago

In a few words, can you explain the symptoms?
Glass surfing, flashing and itching against plants and substrate frequently! Is still eating, often seen breathing heavily while glass surfing or flashing

Have you started any treatment for the illness?
Originally I presumed it to be ich, but seeing as there are no visible white spots, I ruled it out. I did a big water change, and considered using Blue Planet Multicure, but because of the tetra's and the CAE's sensitivity to malachite green I opted against it.

Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase?

How has its behaviour and appearance changed, if at all?
Flashing, fins pinned to side, glass surfing, general signs of stress

Explain your emergency situation in detail.
Basically, I am majorly concerned about my fish itching himself so often. He has been constantly itching more and more so, glass surfing with laboured breathing too. He did at some point have clamped fins but after a hefty water change his behaviour cleared for a while, before he began itching and glass surfing again (more like trying to itch himself along the glass.) His fins are injured as a result. I am not concerned about ich however I am concerned about maybe velvet disease?

His underbelly has always had a mildly golden tint (not dots more of a sheen). I am lost, I have no idea on what to do. As soon as I turned the lights off his symptoms eased so it could truly be stress but I didn't think chinese algae eaters itched due to stress.

Any ideas would be so greatly appreciated I am panicking lol.
Any chance of some pictures and a 1 minute video of the fish rubbing on things?

You can upload videos to YouTube, then copy & paste the link here.

If you use a mobile phone to film the fish, hold the phone horizontally so the footage fills the entire screen and you don't get the big black bars on either side.

When was the last time you added anything to the tank (fish, plants, snails, etc)?

Have you added anything to the tank in the 2 weeks before this started?
If not, it probably isn't velvet.

To check for velvet, photograph the fish after the tank lights have gone out. Use the camera with its flash on.
If the fish has velvet, it will show up as a yellow/ gold sheen over part or all of the body.

Does the fish have any cream, white or grey patches on its body?
If yes, it might have an external protozoan infection like Costia, Chilodonella or Trichodina. These can be treated with salt.

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