Female guppy not improving despite treatment

The June FOTM Contest Poll is open!
FishForums.net Fish of the Month
🏆 Click to vote! 🏆

Microsporidian infections are characterised by white muscle tissue under the skin. The second picture across (top row) show this quite nicely. I have put the image's link below. In addition to the muscle turning white, the fish lose condition over 2-4 weeks (sometimes longer) and death occurs unless treated.

Microsporidian infections are spread when a fish or shrimp eats infected meat (an infected fish or shrimp dies and gets eaten). It normally takes around a month after infection before it shows the white muscle tissue. The only cure I know that works is salt.
Hey Colin. I'm curious to know your sources on this. I was interested in learning more about microsporidians and found a number of articles from both research labs and aquaculturists and I see no mention of generalized muscle whitening as a symptom. One paper I found mentions localized depigmentation around the dorsal fin though. The most common symptoms listed for multiple microsporidian species are musculoskeletal deformities and emaciation, or general wasting and unexplained mortalities.

I also couldn't find any resources that discuss the use of salt to treat these infections. It seems that microsporidians are extremely difficult to kill and that there is no actual treatment. It can be passed to eggs, so sometimes eggs will be disinfected using low doses of chlorine or iodine, but it seems this treatment is unreliable and that for most microsporidian species, strong concentrations of chlorine bleach are the only way to truly disinfect, and even then, some are highly chlorine resistant. It seems the recommended course of action is isolation, culling, and prevention (usually by quarantining new fish or using UV sterilizers). The only exception is the species Loma salmonae, which infects salmonids. Apparently a vaccine has been developed for it, which is pretty cool.

There's no need to wipe everything out and disinfect the tanks. Just run salt for 2-3 weeks, then stop using it.

The Microsporidian parasites die within a few days of salt being added but you keep the salt in the tank for at least 2 weeks to make sure they are dead and to give the fish time to recover and heal.
Based on the resources I found, if this is truly a microsporidian infection, OP absolutely will have to disinfect tanks and microsporidians will not be killed with salt. So if salt helps in this case, I would wonder if this is truly a microsporidian infection, or something else entirely.

 
Last edited:
Personal experience, a scientist that worked for Fisheries WA back in the 1990s who wrote a book on freshwater crustaceans, and looking online for info about it. There is info about shrimp with the disease and they are identified by the white muscle tissue. The scientist from Fisheries WA said salt was the choice of treatments. Using salt on my own fish when they had it, treated it.
 
Hi guys, I have another update if you’re interested? Moved the healthier guppies to the 180 L tank and treated all my tanks with salt.
I haven’t lost any more fish just that yellow female that I was initially was concerned about. Her sister who came from the same pet shop, on the same day, and looked to be about the same age, seems to be okay. She seems to be swimming around without shimmying, eating.
She hasn’t had a vibrant return of colour but that also could just be her.
I’ve only had for a little bit over six weeks now but I’m inclined to think that she’s at least partially recovered. I used salt at gradually increasing doses as recommended by Colin and pimafix because Microsporidia is some form of fungi/parasitic hybrid, so even though that wasn’t recommended, I continued to use pimafix in slightly higher doses than directed to see if it helped saved them.
And yeah there is still some gill inflammation but it’s greatly reduced and I am just worried now that it’s scarring, and wont go away.
I want to slowly reduce the salt concentration now, because my plants are suffering, but how can I be sure it’s safe to do so?
I will continue to add salt with waterchanges at lower concentrations for my livebearers moving forwards, as it’s just beneficial in general.
Have been reading a lot and doing lots of research as I’m fearful for the rest of my fish, and I’m now more inclined to think that it wasn’t microsporidiosis and is something more like “live bearers disease”, which is a condition consisting of an accumulation of health problems.
It’s excellently described in this video.

 
Hi guys, I have another update if you’re interested? Moved the healthier guppies to the 180 L tank and treated all my tanks with salt.
I haven’t lost any more fish just that yellow female that I was initially was concerned about. Her sister who came from the same pet shop, on the same day, and looked to be about the same age, seems to be okay. She seems to be swimming around without shimmying, eating.
She hasn’t had a vibrant return of colour but that also could just be her.
I’ve only had for a little bit over six weeks now but I’m inclined to think that she’s at least partially recovered. I used salt at gradually increasing doses as recommended by Colin and pimafix because Microsporidia is some form of fungi/parasitic hybrid, so even though that wasn’t recommended, I continued to use pimafix in slightly higher doses than directed to see if it helped saved them.
And yeah there is still some gill inflammation but it’s greatly reduced and I am just worried now that it’s scarring, and wont go away.
I want to slowly reduce the salt concentration now, because my plants are suffering, but how can I be sure it’s safe to do so?
I will continue to add salt with waterchanges at lower concentrations for my livebearers moving forwards, as it’s just beneficial in general.
Have been reading a lot and doing lots of research as I’m fearful for the rest of my fish, and I’m now more inclined to think that it wasn’t microsporidiosis and is something more like “live bearers disease”, which is a condition consisting of an accumulation of health problems.
It’s excellently described in this video.


Hi,
I'm sorry you've been going through this, and updates/learning more info is always good!

I'm afraid that in general, lots of fish you'll find in stores - especially cheap and easily bred fish like guppies - are mass farmed in huge fish farms abroad, mainly in Asia, and they're not well bred, not for health or longevity, and exposed to all kinds of parasites, illnesses and diseases both at the fish farms, and then when shipped all over the world and in pet stores that rarely have much of a QT period, let alone treating for things like worms that livebearers especially often arrive pre-loaded with.

The females in the photos aren't very well shaped, I'm sorry! Not to be insulting, but someone line-breeding for quality guppies wouldn't breed from females shaped like that, and would cull (which doesn't always mean to euthanise, for anyone worried! My shrimp "cull" tank is just where the wild types and less intensely coloured ones quite happily live out their lives, just aren't good for keeping the colour in the general colony population, and have sold those just as tank cleaners to people who want shrimp for practical purposes, not colour) and not breed from those females. Not a fault of yours, they're just likely genetically weak from being mass produced as cheap fish, and it's not at all rare to visit a fish store and see tanks of guppies with a lot of deformities like bent spines, that long narrow shape to the back, and a variety of diseases and illnesses going on.

One shipment of guppies my LFS showed me, since I bred guppies and they'd take in my healthy, more robust youngsters and sell them, so my own tanks didn't get wildly overstocked - was awful. They hadn't put them on sale because so many had died in shipping, severe deformities in some of them - deformities drastic enough to affect internal organs and shorten lifespan, all covered in ich parasites, ailing with signs of carrying a heavy worm burden, and many with damage to tails and scales, and secondary fungal infections. The whole shipment was beyond any saving, and it's not hard to spot unhealthy looking tanks of guppies in large chain stores either.

The good news is that if you do choose some healthy looking, well shaped females from a fish store (and worm them for both round and flatworms in QT, and look for any other signs of illnesses in the store tank and while in QT), then if you can get some fry from those females, the fry will tend to be hardier and more robust than the store bought parents, if well cared for. But don't expect even healthy looking store guppies to live that long... it's just the reality of the way they're produced now, I'm sorry. But if you've managed to avoid introducing disease into your main tanks and got some fry from them, then you've done well.

Given @Seisage 's info above, plus Colin's experiences and advices, and that you've had no more losses and have been doing the salt treatment and other meds for so long, I'd begin reducing salt now, using the increasingly sized, staggered water changes to gradually reduce the salt concentration, then see how they go.

I'll check out the video when I get chance, and again, I'm sorry you're going through this, and understand the impulse to throw meds at the issue, but a lot of them are expensive snake oil, and can't save a fish that's just genetically and internally weak, ya know? Meds also add stress to fish, so be wary of throwing too many at them, or mixing medications, since it's easy to just wind up creating a chemical soup that makes things worse rather than better.

But I absolutely want to give you credit for working so hard, being willing to spend so much money on meds, and dive deep into research to try to save them and make sure the tanks are healthy. Given that none of us are fish vets, most of us aren't scientists (with a few exceptions, like @gwand, @Seisage and @Essjay !) we're often going with our best guesses based on experience, reading books/articles, and researching as best we can, and we can rarely be 100% sure of a diagnosis, let alone whether it's now gone and safe. You just have to keep observing, taking pics, sharing, and hoping that between us, we can work out what's wrong, and how to treat it.

But kudos to you for caring so much, and I hope that the lack of other losses means it wasn't that microsporean thing, and that the remaining fish are healthy and you can enjoy healthy young guppies growing up!

Personally I'd still worm all of the tanks since you had fish store guppies, and the extremely high likelihood of both round and flatworms being present. That skinny listless look, followed by bloating as organs fail and the fish dies is often down to the fish losing strength from a heavy worm burden taking all their nutrition, and causing internal damage from so many worms latching onto their intestines. If you share equipment between tanks like syphons, nets and buckets, that can easily spread worm eggs, so all tanks would need to be treated at the same time, and equipment steralised using diluted bleach, rinsed thoroughly, then allowed to thoroughly air dry. Can also soak in double strength decorinator after the first thorough rinsing of the bleach solution, to help remove any traces, before another rinse and thorough air dry. That will kill any worm egss remaining on nets/buckets etc.

Don't get just any wormer either, many are ineffective.
You can use Praziquantel to treat tapeworm and gill flukes. And use Levamisole to treat thread/ round worms. If you can't find these medications, look for Flubendazole, which treats both lots of worms.

Wishing you all the luck, and updates would be very welcomed! Hope this can be of some use to you.
 
Oh, forgot to say, if you do decide to worm them, then give them a gap of at least a couple of weeks after all other meds/salt has been removed before beginning the worm treatments. Give them some time to recover, to remove all traces of previous meds via large water changes and running some carbon in the filter for a while.

Fresh clean water, often, and zero ammonia or nitrites, with the nitrates as low as possible, is the best medicine and first aid for most any fish ailment anyway. Boosts the fishes immune system (@GaryE can you put on your editors hat for a moment please, and teach me how to refer to a singular fish's(?) thing, or plural fishes(?)

And that gives them the best chances of fighting off illnesses and disease themselves, or at least holding the worst effects at bay until you can medicate them again, since all meds cause some stress, even when it's the right med, treating the right thing. Syphon cleaning the substrate/tank base during those water water changes also means removing as many eggs, parasites, bacteria and fungal spores in the tank as possible, giving them more time to recover from previous treatments and less chances of heavier worm burdens or secondary infections in the meantime.
 
Fresh clean water, often, and zero ammonia or nitrites, with the nitrates as low as possible, is the best medicine and first aid for most any fish ailment anyway. Boosts the fishes immune system (@GaryE can you put on your editors hat for a moment please, and teach me how to refer to a singular fish's(?) thing, or plural fishes(?)
Sorry, I'm going to steal Gary's thunder here ;)
"Fish" can refer to a single individual, or it can refer to multiple individuals of the same species.
"Fishes" is only used to refer to multiple species.

If you're referring to just the guppies, assuming they're all the same species (I haven't looked at them), you'd just use a possessive apostrophe e.g. "fish's". If there are multiple species of guppy, or if you're referring to the entire fish community in the tank, you'd use "fishes'" with the possessive apostrophe at the end of the word.

"The fish's immune system" (singular individual fish)
"The fish's immune systems" (multiple fish of the same species, although this is much better written as "the immune systems of the fish")
"The fishes' immune systems" (multiple fish of different species)

1708726851271.png
 
Sorry, I'm going to steal Gary's thunder here ;)
"Fish" can refer to a single individual, or it can refer to multiple individuals of the same species.
"Fishes" is only used to refer to multiple species.

If you're referring to just the guppies, assuming they're all the same species (I haven't looked at them), you'd just use a possessive apostrophe e.g. "fish's". If there are multiple species of guppy, or if you're referring to the entire fish community in the tank, you'd use "fishes'" with the possessive apostrophe at the end of the word.

"The fish's immune system" (singular individual fish)
"The fish's immune systems" (multiple fish of the same species, although this is much better written as "the immune systems of the fish")
"The fishes' immune systems" (multiple fish of different species)

View attachment 337424

I'm happy enough that anyone is willing to teach me these things! :D Thank you. I think I need to write this down somewhere, because I'm bound to forget it otherwise. I might have to put my student hat on and revise it a few times... :blush:

Can you believe I was accepted into a Russell Group, highly respected research University here, and did well, but don't even know how to refer to multiple fish?? Education standards are dropping, clearly. They should have shown me the door! :lol:
 

Most reactions

Back
Top