View Full Version : S Curved Spine in livebearrers - TB?

05-20-2014, 03:33 PM
I have 3 female priapella intermedia (molly) and a pair of poecilia petenensis (blue eye live bearers) in a divided 10 gallon tank. I started off with 10 fish in Oct. One at a time, the others died. I was hoping for BAP points - but that's not going to happen. It started with the poecilia petenensis. The first ones that died swam (more like wiggled) with their tails down and heads up. Then they started developing S shaped spines and in 2-3 weeks die. I'm thinking Mycobacterium marinum, commonly called fish TB.

Water is typical for this area - soft, low PH. Temp about 75. I religiously do 25 - 50% water changes each week. Could this be a calcium deficiency? I feed a mix of general flakes, plant flakes, and frozen brine. (Still hoping it's something I'm doing or not doing.)

This is a heavily planted tank and I hate to loose it. If I get rid of the fish and let it sit without fish for a couple of months - would that that be enough time for the bacteria to die?
or should I just through everything out?

What about sterilizing the nets and syphon hose I use? or does the bacteria die if the net and syphon dry?


05-20-2014, 05:39 PM
I would bleach the nets and siphons lest you spread this to another tank. Fish TB is reputed to be one of the hardest to kill organisms and even bleach is said to fail on occasion and may make things worse by wiping out all competing organisms. Since fish TB is one of the few known fish diseases to also affect humans, most people on the web advocate a "nuclear option" when this is suspected or confirmed. Such as killing the fish and discarding all the equipment. WEAR GLOVES WHEN STICKING YOUR HANDS IN THIS TANK.

IME poecillia do need hardness in the water to thrive and adding something like cichlid salts or calcium carbonate to our soft, acid water would be a normal part of my keeping any molly or guppy. However, the rapid decline of your fish indicates a disease to me. You can try hardening the water in hopes the surviving fish will improve, likely at the expense of your plants. IME soft, acid water is horrible for a molly's immune system and the fish are far more susceptible to just about everything than in "Lake Malawi" water.

Curved spines in livebearers in soft water due to calcium deficiency is known, but usually it affects older females and fry and takes time to develop.

05-20-2014, 07:17 PM
What makes you think it is TB? It is possible although highly unlikely. If your fish had TB chances are you have it now also. It will usually start with pain and redness near your cuticles. It might clear up in a few months if you are not reinfected, however you should seek medical attention if you have any symptoms.
If your water is 6.8 or below that is what most likely killed them. A large number of things can go wrong with livebearers in soft acid water. Calcium deficiency and acidosis are probably the most common.

05-20-2014, 08:06 PM
The only reason I thought TB is based on research on Google. Not much else popped up on a search for curved spine, livebearer. - I don't have any symptoms and got these fish from a member, so maybe it is due to poor husbandry on my part. Then I remembered a question at the last meeting about apistos, curved spines, and calcium. That's why I asked about calcium deficiency. I have never attempted to set up a hard water tank. So for a beginner, can you give basic guidelines or recommend or a good web page for doing it? I live way out and only have a PetSmart for supplies. What's a good source for cichlid salts or calcium carbonate? In the mean time, I will have a dedicated set of equipment for this tank and wear gloves.

05-20-2014, 08:22 PM
TB is a fairly rare occurrence. There are a number of sources for calcium carbonate. Crushed coral, aragonite, crushed marble chips, non silica play sand just to name a few. A handful or two in a filter should buffer enough to keep it from going acid. Aquarium buffers and salts are nice but not necessary to keep livebearers alive.
Other causes of bent spines are vitamin deficiency (esp C), old age, genetics and overuse of medications. Livebearers are short lived compared to other fishes. Guppies tend to live less than 1 1/2 yrs in captivity.

05-20-2014, 09:48 PM
I use crushed coral and usually get it from Pet supermarket. About $8 for 10+ pound, though sometimes they have a 15lb bag for less than $6.

05-21-2014, 07:40 AM
Start adding a vitamin supplement like Vitachem. It is most likely not tb. I the vitamins don't work check it out under a microscope. If it is mainly effecting the females it is definitely not tb.

05-21-2014, 07:41 AM
Oh yeah forgot to mention be sure the vitamin supplement includes Bs and D. Calcium doesn't do you any good without them.

05-21-2014, 10:02 AM
Thanks for the recommendations. I'll run up to PetSmart today. I have hornwort, java fern, pigmy swords, java moss, water sprite, corkscrew vale, and a snails. Will I need to take the plants out? How about the snails?

05-21-2014, 10:32 AM
Actually they will all do better with a little calcium added especially the snails and corkscrew val.

05-22-2014, 01:23 PM
hornwort and java fern will be fine in even very hard, salty water. java moss will sometimes die with salt addition, take it out if it gets brown.

05-23-2014, 06:39 AM
I have some moss that has adapted pretty well. I you want some let me know.