Why Fish in Captivity get Sick

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Paul B

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Why Fish In Captivity Get Sick

As some people may know I have been talking about how my fish have never gotten sick in decades and I have been offered many reasons why such as I am Lucky or my tank has some mysterious creature that eats parasites, my Undergravel sucks up parasites and diseases, the Ozone I use kills diseases (I have not used Ozone in almost 3 years) UV light won't allow diseases to flourish (I never used UV light) or a variety of other "explanations".

I am pretty sure I know the reason and I have known it for many years but never actually had proof. Now I do.

My wife has MS and has had it for over 20 years so I research all I can about it. My Grand Son and Granddaughter also have health problems that can be life threatening. Because of this I do a lot of researching of new therapies or any ideas or theories that may be pertinent to this.

Two of my friends are Neurologists and I have spoken to them on this also.

Ever since the 80s I have thought there was some kind of important connection between the organisms living in our, and animals guts and the brain. At first I figured it was slightly but not very important. Now I know differently.

I read all I can find on this relationship and in this months "Discover" magazine (Nov. 2020)

There are two articles on the subject. They mainly focus on mental health and Autism but they outline how gut microbes control our health. Something I have known all along but didn't put it all together so completely.

The article starts out by quoting the Doctor at UCLA in 1990. He started thinking about how tiny organisms, too small to be seen could function as "powerful, "self-contained machines" powerful enough to take over and destroy the Human body.

The gist of one of these articles is about a young boy who had Autism and severe gastrointestinal symptoms.

He then had new microbes introduced into his gut which changed everything. Within a year he was almost back to normal and no longer is considered to have Autism and his internal issues are also resolved.

"Our body, especially our intestines are teeming with thousands of types of bacteria but it was largely unknown how they affected the body besides causing illness.”

Then he thought, "Why would the human immune system which is designed to attack and destroy foreign invaders, allow hundreds of species of bacteria to live and thrive in our guts unmolested?"

The answer is, there must be some sort of benefit to both the microbes and the body.

A "Symbiotic System".

Early research was done on lab mice that were bred to have no bacteria in their bodies. It was found that those mice had a 30 to 40% reduction of a specific type of immune cell known as "helper T cells”.

Helper T cells help stop invading pathogens and it was found that germ free mice were far less robust than mice with a full complement of microbes.

Copper, antibiotics and most aquarium medications either kill or severely alter gut microbes

Those sterile mice were then given fecal transplants from healthy mice and within a month were just as healthy and had a strong immune response as healthy mice.

I realize mice, Humans and fish are different but we all evolved together and our gut microme, just as in a fish act very much the same in relation to health.

One of the biggest things this researcher found was a gut microbe named "B.fragilis" played a key role in preventing the immune system from attacking its host and protecting against autoimmune diseases. (We don't want to kill that one)

(I was very interested in this because my wife's MS is an autoimmune disease)

I don't know if fish get autoimmune diseases but it seems odd to me that many fish in quarantine or medicated for one disease, all of a sudden are afflicted with other, non-related diseases. You know and I know that is very common.

Quarantine by itself I don't feel will cause disease unless the fish is stressed as in a bare tank with PVC "decorations or if the fish is not being fed food with living bacteria (microbes) in it.

Getting back to the research. It was found that children with Autism had "leaky Gut Syndrome" which allowed microbes, one in particular called "4-ethylphenyl sulfate" to circulate in the blood.

Tests were performed on mice and it was found that if they injected 4-ethylphenyl sulfate into healthy mice, they were more easily startled and were less comfortable in large empty spaces than their untreated peers and an increase in anxiety-related behaviors.

Also (in mice anyway who have been given this molecule or have autism like symptoms) several important species involving the digestion of carbohydrates were severely depleted.

That sounds very similar to me to fish that are quarantined, on meds or not eating living bacteria and why many of them refuse to eat, stay hidden, and try to jump out or just die.

We humans are more bacteria than human. 1.3 to 1 to be exact. Our gut houses 100 trillion bacteria (I didn't count them) it is a complicated microbial universe which plays a very important part in our and our fish’s health.

These microbes help us digest food, keep harmful microbes at bay and control our emotions.

(Maybe Vulcans use these)

Continued below
 
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Paul B

Paul B

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In the 2000s a neurobiologist researcher in Ireland was studying gut microbes on the brain and how they and stress affected mental and gut health.

I don't want to bore everyone more with all this research but in short it was found that stress also affects gut microbes and gut microbe health can cause stress in us and I assume in fish.

When the salt water fish hobby started in the US, in 1971 in New York anyway where I live I bought the first salt water fish available which were blue devils.

(I wrote about this many times and it is in my book)

Those 7 blue devils were always sick and I had to keep copper pennies in their tank constantly

(Liquid copper was not available to me at the time)

The copper kept the parasites from killing the fish but the dosing and subsequent overdosing was tricky.

After about a year I discovered live blackworms and started feeding them to my fish. After seven weeks something happened. The fish became much "bluer" and looked so much better. I stopped using the pennies and the fish didn't die.

One of the fish became, or always was male and his clear fins also became royal blue. The 6 female’s fins remained clear but their blue was very blue.

They spawned, and continued spawning for many years. And that was in 1972, when most people didn't even know what salt was unless it was in a small container with holes in it on the table next to the pepper.

Since then I have been feeding live worms a few times a week. I can't get live blackworms now where I live so I raise (very easily) white worms which live in dirt.

It seems that those worms, for some reason, have the same good bacteria that our fish need for immunity because since then, none of my fish have ever been sick with any communicable disease like ich or velvet and in those fifty years I have added many fish.

Virtually all my paired fish spawn and the rest of them only die of old age, jumping out or being bullied.

They always eat, are social, get along (unless I stupidly add something that I should not have) and never give me any problem.

I have no medications, hospital or quarantine tank and after a few minutes of acclimation, put the fish right in no matter if the tank they came from was heavily infected with some sort of parasites.

I also feed shellfish and if I can get it live, I like it better because when we feed shellfish like clams, oysters or mussels we feed the entire creature and those creatures are almost all guts as they don't have arms and legs to waste nutrients on. Those guts seem to also have the living bacteria and parasites that will keep our fish immune.

(Fish, and us need to be occasionally exposed to disease organisms including parasites to stay immune to them)

I am not sure about shellfish sold as “aquarium food” because they could be old, deep frozen or irradiated to kill bacteria. Again, I am guessing here so I like to buy living shellfish and freeze it myself if I can.

But living worms seem to work just as well. White worms can be had by Googling "white worm culture" you get a small supply for about fifteen bucks that you put in a shoe box size plastic container with damp potting soil. Keep them under about 80 degrees and feed dry cat food or bread with yogurt on it. I have a culture going for many years and I get millions of inch long worms.

Fish disease is a non-issue for me and I believe it is due to the microbes in the food I feed and have been feeding since the 70s.

Store bought dry food, no matter what it is; will not have these healthy gut microbes, only living or freshly frozen "whole" creatures will have this.

Fish fillets, shrimp, octopus, scallop will also not as you are only getting the muscle of those animals and not the gut microbes.

This food does not have to be fed at every meal but “I” feel dry foods should never be fed except for short intervals like vacations.

Pro-biotics while great (I take them myself) will also not have the full complement of microbes that are needed for immunity. Only the variety of bacteria that exist in living, or freshly frozen animals will supply this.

So in short, I feel when we buy a fish, if we don’t already have a quarantined tank, acclimate the new fish, put it in your tank and the first meal should be something like live worms or fresh shellfish as I mentioned. Nothing else is needed and dry foods should not be used except for vacation but never at first. Whiteworms live in soil. Don’t be concerned if some of that soil gets in your tank. As a matter of fact, make sure some soil gets into your tank.

Someone posted not long ago that their fish died because it ate a piece of dirt! Really!. Fish eat poop, dirt won’t hurt them and is actually needed

If this is followed and our fish are in a proper, natural tank with natural hiding places (no stark white PVC or anything man made looking) and they are never medicated, they should end up immune from everything except jumping out or maybe your cat.
 

mcshams

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My wife and I (both physicians, but NOT working in GI) have read (for fun) several research studies on the gut biome and overall health symbiosis. Trials on humans with long-term fasting, gut/fecal transfers have occurred and have successfully treated depression (yes, depression!), multiple metabolism disorders such as diabetes and more.

It is fascinating. That being said, I feed our fish live stuff, and we've still had some issues with health, but all-in-all, the relationship between maintaining healthy gut flora and overall health can not be understated even if not well understood.

Last thing as a topic for thought. I do let people know in medicine that you are not AN organism. You are essentially a COLONY of organisms. You have more bacteria on your body and in your body than the total number of cells that make up yourself. 3-5 lbs of bacteria in the gut alone. Overall, this means that you are much like your reef tank, a collective of organisms that coexist and if balance, typically healthy.
 

jda

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Thanks for the read. I do not feed any whole organisms other than whole mysis shrimp, but these have been frozen for a long time. I wonder if these work in the same way.

One other thing that I might add is that ich tomonts that drop off of fish into a truly diverse ecosystem rarely make it out alive to start another life cycle. While this is probably not eradication, it seems to control the spread in really mature tanks. Tanks started with sterile rock and sand are petri dishes for diseases that need to live outside of the fish to complete the life cycle.
 
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My fish are fine. It is me that is having the issues. All of the ones you mentioned and them some.
Perhaps I should eat some of the worms I give the fish. I am not joking either. The doctors have no idea what to do with me and just shuffle me back and forth. I got another shuffle yesterday. Monoclonal gammopathy.
That look on your doctors face while he reads a report. what the heck is this?
These are not the blood proteins we are looking for. Abbie Normal, calling Abbie Normal
Perhaps if I ate dirt.
 
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Paul B

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WVNed, we are researching this for my wife's MS. There is a good article in this months "Discover Magazine" and we are going to try to get in touch with the researchers who wrote the papers on it and are trying to get her into a trial.
Maybe you should do the same. :cool:
 

robbyg

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On the subject of Autism.
I know to younger folks it will seem crazy but growing up in the 1970's-1980's I had never even heard of Autism! I never met a kid in school that had it and I don't remember the subject ever coming up on the news. Then in the 90s this problem just seemed to be happening to kids everywhere.
I now have two nephews with it and they are the first in several generations of the family to have it.

I did some research on it and found that in the 80's only 1 in 1000 kids had Autism and today it's 16 in 1000. Whats changed? It could be our diets as PaulB suggested or it could be one of the newer vaccines. I know myself and almost every kid had all our Vaccine shots growing up but I have no idea if something has been added or changed in the last 30 years. At one point I thought it had to be related to all the TV and video games kids play but I now feel confident that is not the case. Some people say it's just that we are more aware of the signs of it. Nope my wife has worked in the Medical field since the mid 1980s and she says that what she see's today is nothing like what it was when she started.
Could it be Pollution, processed foods, the list goes on. It's one of those mysteries that I wish they would solve.
 
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Paul B

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Robbyg, I don't think anyone knows what it is but you and me know that when we grew up, there were no computers or cell phones so we spent all our time outside playing in the dirt. We dug worms and went fishing, we climbed trees and we ate as bunch of questionable foods.
In those days milk went bad in a couple of days and before we drank it we smelled it because it was often stale.
Today it lasts 2 months. Why? What did they do to it?
We didn't wash our hands very often because we were outside constantly.

While fishing with filthy worms how many times have we stuck the hook into our finger? We just wiped off the blood on our sleeve and kept fishing.
We also fought and got cut. It's hard to get cut on a computer unless you drop it on your foot.

WE also walked or bicycled many places as most families had only one car and your parent had it.
We got a lot of sunshine. That glow that is emitted from your cell phone will not make any vitamin D.
 

Nburg

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Thanks for the write up, Paul. Very interesting stuff, both for the fish and us as humans. I have always adhered to good food, good health for myself, but recently adopted that notion for my fish based on your post about what you feed your fish. I made my own food with raw shrimp, squid and live clams, oysters, selcon and reef roids. Froze a bunch, and feed that along with frozen mysis and cyclops. (I am trying to learn how to shuck oysters like a pro, so maybe my fish will get unfrozen oysters in the future). My clowns are back to laying eggs continuously, and get comments all the time like "THATS THE BIGGEST CLOWN AND DAMSEL I HAVE EVER SEEN!. My yellow tang is also the brightest YT I have ever had and quite fat.

Anyways, I like the idea of advancing the hobby's understanding of how living things work. I think all too often we get in the notion that X seems to work okay therefore it's the only way. I used to quarantine and treat all fish, but now I buy from place that does QT, but also takes great care of their fish. If I were to buy from somewhere else, I may QT for observation, but I am done with prophylactic treating. I think there is something to good food is good health.
 

WVNed

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Mountains without dirt.
IMG_3700-M.jpg

Mountains with dirt
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creativeballance

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My fish are fine. It is me that is having the issues. All of the ones you mentioned and them some.
Perhaps I should eat some of the worms I give the fish. I am not joking either. The doctors have no idea what to do with me and just shuffle me back and forth. I got another shuffle yesterday. Monoclonal gammopathy.
That look on your doctors face while he reads a report. what the heck is this?
These are not the blood proteins we are looking for. Abbie Normal, calling Abbie Normal
Perhaps if I ate dirt.
There is an actual condition in which people, typically women, have sudden urges to eat dirt. So...maybe that will help?
 
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ingchr1

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...Someone posted not long ago that their fish died because it ate a piece of dirt! Really!. Fish eat poop, dirt won’t hurt them and is actually needed...
Yes, really!

The piece of "dirt" went into the tank with the white worms. A fish ingested the piece of "dirt". A day and a half later the fish was dead. Prior the fish had been showing no signs of anything and eating normally. The fish suddenly died after the event.

Now was it just "dirt", I don't know for sure. It could have been a small rock that harmed the internals of the fish or it could have been something toxic to the fish that was in the organic potting soil I used.

It was some type of "dirt" and I firmly believe it lead to the death of the fish. Barring an autopsy, it cannot be stated for certain that the "dirt" did not cause the death.
 

Rjukan

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Yes, really!

The piece of "dirt" went into the tank with the white worms. A fish ingested the piece of "dirt". A day and a half later the fish was dead. Prior the fish had been showing no signs of anything and eating normally. The fish suddenly died after the event.

Now was it just "dirt", I don't know for sure. It could have been a small rock that harmed the internals of the fish or it could have been something toxic to the fish that was in the organic potting soil I used.

It was some type of "dirt" and I firmly believe it lead to the death of the fish. Barring an autopsy, it cannot be stated for certain that the "dirt" did not cause the death.

What brand of potting soil did you use? I'm just curious since I will be getting a starter culture of white worms today and I also have an organic soil I was planning on using.
 

Pkunk35

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On the subject of Autism.
I know to younger folks it will seem crazy but growing up in the 1970's-1980's I had never even heard of Autism! I never met a kid in school that had it and I don't remember the subject ever coming up on the news. Then in the 90s this problem just seemed to be happening to kids everywhere.
I now have two nephews with it and they are the first in several generations of the family to have it.

I did some research on it and found that in the 80's only 1 in 1000 kids had Autism and today it's 16 in 1000. Whats changed? It could be our diets as PaulB suggested or it could be one of the newer vaccines. I know myself and almost every kid had all our Vaccine shots growing up but I have no idea if something has been added or changed in the last 30 years. At one point I thought it had to be related to all the TV and video games kids play but I now feel confident that is not the case. Some people say it's just that we are more aware of the signs of it. Nope my wife has worked in the Medical field since the mid 1980s and she says that what she see's today is nothing like what it was when she started.
Could it be Pollution, processed foods, the list goes on. It's one of those mysteries that I wish they would solve.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226110836.htm

I heard this a long time ago on podcast from dr Rhonda Patrick trying to link vitamin d deficiency and autism. Vitamin d deficiency I believe is found in something like 70% of Americans. Def worth exploring and everyone should be getting vitamin d tests and supplementing 5000iu daily or more if deficient.

Diet and the outdoors def def important, and now I may consider feeding live worms to the fishies...Thanks for the post paul!
 

ludnix

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On the subject of Autism.
I know to younger folks it will seem crazy but growing up in the 1970's-1980's I had never even heard of Autism! I never met a kid in school that had it and I don't remember the subject ever coming up on the news. Then in the 90s this problem just seemed to be happening to kids everywhere.
I now have two nephews with it and they are the first in several generations of the family to have it.

I did some research on it and found that in the 80's only 1 in 1000 kids had Autism and today it's 16 in 1000. Whats changed? It could be our diets as PaulB suggested or it could be one of the newer vaccines. I know myself and almost every kid had all our Vaccine shots growing up but I have no idea if something has been added or changed in the last 30 years. At one point I thought it had to be related to all the TV and video games kids play but I now feel confident that is not the case. Some people say it's just that we are more aware of the signs of it. Nope my wife has worked in the Medical field since the mid 1980s and she says that what she see's today is nothing like what it was when she started.
Could it be Pollution, processed foods, the list goes on. It's one of those mysteries that I wish they would solve.

A factor to consider with why these diagnoses are showing in greater numbers today is the criterion for diagnosis has changed. This is pretty common in multiple areas of medicine, but as we learn more we are able to detect diseases with greater precision which means we will find more cases.

"The DSM-III was revised in 1987, significantly altering the autism criteria. It broadened the concept of autism by adding a diagnosis at the mild end of the spectrum — pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) — and dropping the requirement for onset before 30 months. "

.
 
Fritz
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