Gourami with white poop

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Aug 19, 2018
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Houston TX
My Opaline gourami has been having normal poops lately but tonight I noticed he has this long white/clear string hanging. I’ve seen some people suggest internal parasites as well as just general poor water quality or from a crustacean? We do have shrimp in the tank & one recently died.

Should I quarantine or treat the whole tank?

Any suggestions? I can’t lose this fish.
Stringy white poop can be internal parasites like worms or a protozoan or bacterial infection.

An internal bacterial infection will usually cause the fish to suddenly swell up (get fat) overnight, its scales might stick out sideways from the body, the fish will usually stop feeding and either hang out by the surface or sit on the bottom of the tank. They usually die within 24-48 of this happening.

There is not really any cure for internal bacterial infections but if the fish is eating then this is not the problem.

An internal protozoan infection can cause fish to lose weight rapidly, they might try to eat and sometime keep food down and other times ignore food. Over a period of 1-2 weeks the fish loses lots of condition and dies.

The best treatment for internal protozoan infections is Metronidazole. This is a medication designed for people and should only be used to treat fish as a last resort and after other things have been tried. It will knock filter bacteria around and if used incorrectly can lead to drug resistant bacteria that can affect people, animals and fish.

I do not think your fish has an internal protozoan infection.

The most common cause of stringy white poop is intestinal worms like tapeworm and round/ thread worms. The fish can have a few worms or they might be full of worms. If the fish is heavily infested with worms the fish can become very fat over a period of months and look like it is full of eggs, but it's actually worms. Sometimes if it is just a few worms the fish can lose weight over a period of months and become skinny even tho it eats well.

Praziquantel is used to treat tapeworm, and Levamisole is used to treat some types of thread/ round worms. There might be other deworming products available to you that do this.

There is no point isolating the fish and I would treat all your fish in all your tanks for tapeworm, and then for thread worms.

To work out the volume of water in the tank:
measure length x width x height in cm.
divide by 1000.
= volume in litres.

When you measure the height, measure from the top of the substrate to the top of the water level.

There is a calculator/ converter in the "How To Tips" at the top of this page that will let you convert litres to gallons.

Remove carbon from the filter before treating or it will absorb the medication and stop it working.

Wipe the inside of the glass down, do a 75% water change and complete gravel clean. And clean the filter before treating.
So it’s still eating & not bloated or too thin, but it is starting to hang out closer to the top of the tank. Same with my frog. I just lost a frog last week because of an ammonia spike due to overfeeding. Checked levels and they’re not *ideal* but my tank never is because my tap water sucks. The lowest I’ve been able to get my ammonia levels to is .25-.50. They’ve been in the tank for a while now with no negative response.

I did a vacuum and 50% water change last night immediately after I noticed the poop. I am about to do another vacuum & partial change to hopefully clear out anything lingering in the water & substrate.

I’m hesitant to treat the whole tank for something incorrectly and lose more than what I’m trying to save.

Will the worm treatment do harm to them if that is not the issue?

Is there any way to even pin down what the issue is? I know *fish doctors* aren’t really a thing but the way it’s acting now is making me wonder if it’s even a parasite and is in fact a bacterial infection.

In which case I will separate the fish & try to treat if possible.
The Praziquantel is safe for all animals and fish and is actually used to treat tapeworm in cats and dogs. But it also works well when treating fish for tapeworm.

Levamisole is also safe for fish and is made to treat livestock (sheep, cattle, chickens, etc) for some types of intestinal worms. I have used Praziquantel and Levamisole on all types of adult and juvenile fishes with no problems. Neither of these deworming products will affect plants or filter bacteria.

Most fish carry intestinal worms and it is a good place to start when fish do a stringy white poop and the fish is still feeding.

The only way a fish vet can tell what the fish is carrying internally is to either kill the fish and have a look inside, or take a sample of poop and put it under a microscope to check for bacteria, protozoa or worm eggs. Fish can have all of these at the same time and as long as the fish is in good condition there is not normally any issues. But if water quality deteriorates or the fish gets stressed from something, then any of these internal problems can cause the fish to go downhill very quickly.

If you have ammonia in the aquarium water, the fish and frogs will be stressed from that. Ammonia should be broken down by beneficial filter bacteria and if it isn't, then there is a problem with the filter.

What sort of filter do you have?
How often do you clean the filter, and how do you clean the filter?

Filters should be cleaned at least once a month and filter materials should be washed in a bucket of tank water.
If you have carbon (black granulated substance) in the filter, that can be removed and replaced with a filter sponge.
If you have an ammonia absorbing granule (white chalky gravel) in the filter, that should be removed because it interferes with the filter bacteria development.

If you have chloramine in your water supply, then a dechlorinator will break the ammonia/ chlorine bond and remove the chlorine, but it will leave small amounts of ammonia behind. Some water conditioners will also bind to this ammonia and make it harmless while the filters break it down into nitrite and then nitrate.

If you are using well water and it has ammonia in, you can put the water into a large plastic container and put a filter with an ammonia absorbing granule in, and let the filter run on the container of water until all the ammonia in the water has been removed. When there is no ammonia left you use the water to do water changes on the tank. "Wardley's Ammogon" is one brand of ammonia absorbing granule but there are other brands too including "Zeolite".

You can also run a carbon filter on the container of water to remove any chemicals or heavy metals that might be in it.

Frogs are very sensitive to ammonia and other chemicals in water and are best kept in their own tanks without fish. They also need very good filtration to remove any ammonia that is produced.
Thank you. I will do a worm treatment on the tank.

As far as filtering goes, I have a submerged filter- I think is the TopFin 20? It has a sponge inside that has a hole to hold carbon. The filter is only about 3 weeks old and I did rinse it (with tank water) a little over a week ago after my pearl gourami developed fin rot.

I removed half of the carbon that came in the filter before submerging it originally and replaced it with a zeolite/carbon mixture. That has been filtering the tank constantly for about 3 weeks.

I will try the filter cycle on some water to see if I can clear it before I get it in for water changes. This has been my biggest issue with my tanks is finding a way to neutralize this ammonia. I feel like I am constantly fighting with the nitrites and nitrates. I have never had this problem with a planted tank in the past. I am currently trying Ammo Lock from API along with my other water conditioner. I have tried Aqueon’s ammonia neutralizer and Tetra’s ammonia remover both with minimal results.

Hopefully letting the water cycle through a filter for a while before putting it in the tank helps, because I can’t help but feel bad for the fish having to go through this.
You can add a round filter sponge to the intake of the Topfin and it will give you more filtration and more filter bacteria. You can also put rectangular sponges inside the filter.

Because the filter has only been going for 3 weeks you will have ammonia and nitrite readings from fish food and waste breaking down in the water. If you have another aquarium with an established filter, you can take some of the filter material from that filter and put it in the new Topfin filter.

You should also remove the ammonia absorbing stuff from the Topfin and just have sponges in it.

Reduce feeding to once every 3 days.

Put a heap of live plants in the tank, especially floating plants, and have the lights on for 16 hours per day. You will probably get algae growing and that is fine. The plants and algae will use the ammonia in the water and help lower the levels. Once the filter has developed the beneficial filter bacteria and you are no longer getting ammonia or nitrite readings, you can reduce the light to 10-12 hours per day.

Some good plants to try include Ambulia, Hygrophila ruba and polysperma, Elodia/ Hydrilla, common Amazon Sword plant, narrow vallis and Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides/ cornuta).
Water Sprite is a floating plant that can also grow in the gravel. the other plants should be planted in the substrate.
Thanks, I did all of that today. We’ll see what happens!
I wasn’t able to find any of that medication today but the Gourami is no longer eating :/ I really hope we can come back from this.

Do you still think it’s just the worms?
Make sure the water quality is good. If the fish hasn't swollen up then it's probably worms and ammonia causing the problem.

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