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This is a cautionary example of the use of medications in a low tech tank.

Use of Seachem Paraguard, Seachem Metronidazole/Aquazole, and salt, attempting to eliminate vorticella (a protozoan), in a heavily planted, low tech, 4 gallon tank. No heater. Mineralized potting soil covered by pool sand. Plants - Dwarf Sag, Crypt Parva, Anubias, Ludwigia Repens, Rotala, Fissidens, carpet of HC. Red cherry shrimp. Salt treatment was used to rid the vorticella from each shrimp, but the tank would infect them again.

Paraguard was used at recommended dosage x 3, with no reduction of vorticella. The medication immediately eliminated the copepods, ostracoda and daphnia. A year later, enough of the medication remains, the copepods have not returned. This destroyed the El Natural effect of the aquarium, as these organisms lived off the decaying vegetation allowing new growth and providing food for fish. Paraguard instructions have a "dip strength" usage. Since the tank was small, dip strength was used for the entire tank for a few hours. This temporarily removed the vorticella, but months later they were noticeable again (this could be due to the life cycle of vorticella). The Paraguard had no ill effect on plants or shrimp, except the dwarf sag, the leaves wilted. Multiple water changes and carbon filtration to remove medication. Afterward BGA formed on the Anubias, Ludwigia Repens, Rotala, and rock decorations. The tank was operating for almost 2 years with no algae problems, except for the initial outbreak during startup. The medication must have eliminated some bacteria that had previously kept the algae in check (further away from El Natural).

Since the tank was now a chemistry experiment Seachem Metronidazole/Aquazole was tried. The information for Metronidazole/Aquazole on the Seachem product page and bottle was limited. In Seachems' discussion groups, there was additional information; according to Seachems' representatives; Metronidazole is best used when mixed with food, and not for use in the water column, and mostly in saltwater. The recommendation for freshwater is Aquazole. Aquazole is 50% Metrozidazole and 50% potassium. Both medications are expensive, did not mix well with water, and are antibiotics. Both had no effect on vorticella, at recommended dosages. The medication stained the rock background green, and increased the spot algae growth on broad leaf plants. Months later the leaves of the anubias, crypt parva and ludwigia turned dark green. The dark green was on the top surface of leaves, the growth could not be rubbed off. The dark green had no surface texture. It caused the leaves to curl, as the bottom surface of the leaves turned to the light. These plants never recovered their damaged leaves. It's impossible to determine which medication was responsible for the algae.

Salt and heat treatment was tried months later. 1 tbsp salt per 1 gallon x volume of tank, raised temperature to 85 F for 21 days. This did eliminate the vorticella for a year now. All the plants survived but in poor condition, burned and ragged. Eventually the stem plants stopped growing and were removed. After a time the Dwarf Sagiteria sprouted new growth and took over the tank. The Crypt Parva came back with new growth, the damaged parts had to be removed. The shrimp showed no ill effects. The heat aspect may not have been necessary, given the length of the treatment.

The essence of a El Natural tank, with the sympathetic relationship of copepods/plants and plants/algae was not there after use of medications. The salt treatment seems the most natural. Organic potting soil contains chicken waste. This waste could contain organisms that are harmful to the aquarium fauna. It would be an interesting experiment, when mineralizing the soil, to disinfect it using salt. Would this harm the bacteria related to the mineralizing process or harm the good bacteria that would keep the algae in check later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
apctjp - thanks for sharing that example - much appreciated. I'm hoping that we can learn from each other on this as there is not much info out there on the subject.

I too did not have ANY success with Paraguard. In fact while I was using it my male Killie got ich as well as velvet and all the other fish started flashing. As i mentioned in my previous post I was not too happy about the all the mystery ingredients in Paraguard either so here's what I'm doing now:

- I bought a BPA Free storage container and set up a hospital tank. It has an empty filter that is providing some bubbling and a heater ( set to 80 ). No light. The Killies, which seemed to be the most affected were moved here and were given a full dose of Bifuran+, which I'm told is pretty hard core stuff and I definitely DO NOT want that near my plants. I'll do 3 days of this and reassess on the 4th day. 3/4 water changes every day.
- The Ruby tetras and the Kuhli loach were moved to a 2.5 gallon that has a heater ( set to 75 ) and some frog bit and a tiger lily with just gravel (not soil). They were given a 1/4 dose of Bifuran+. Low light. I plant to do this for 5 days with 1/2 water changes every day.
- The main tank heat has been increased to 80 and I am dosing it with a full dose of Nox-ich, which only contains salt and Malachite Green, which in my experience is not as hard on a planted tank. So far the existing pond snails are totally fine and plants continue to thrive. I plan to continue this for 3 consecutive days then leave it empty for 8 consecutive days. My usual 14 hours of lighting will continue throughout this period.
- My nerite snail is in a 2 gallon unheated planted bowl that I already had going for the time being until I can be sure that the malachite green has been entirely degraded by my lighting.

- The female Killie seemed fine so I have moved her to the 1/4 does 2.5 gallon.
- The male Killie still looks pretty rough but the ich is not getting worse.

My main issue, I'm leaving in 9 days and this situation will be unmonitored for 6 days. Ack! I haven't decided what to do yet. My options are:
a. return everyone to the main tank after a big water change and hope for the best
b. keep the main tank empty and create a temporary side tank with the with BPA free tupperware. With fresh water, an air stone, plants, etc.

Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Also I had added a handful of frogbit from my main tank to the hospital tank that had been given a full dose of Bifuran+ in the hope that it might add some oxygen to the water. It has almost been completely killed in just 2 days. Definitely not a plant safe medication at full strength.

There is some frogbit in the 1/4 strength tank that is showing some browning on the leaves but still has not gone mushy. The tiger lily in this tank is fine so far.

This is a pic of the dying frogbit from the full strength hospital tank. These were the only pieces I photographed as the rest were basically just mush.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
OK the latest update.

All tank inhabitants survived their course of treatment and were returned to the main tank today. So far so good for all, except the male killie is still not bouncing back. Colour is better, no visible ich or velvet but is still very listless and crashing on the bottom or even laying on top of my floating frogbit (I tried to get a pic of this with no luck). I explained my predicament to my lfs manager and he has offered to take the killies back and put them into a q tank in the store and treat them there. I'm sad to see them go but I also don't want another fish death in my tank that could cause my levels to go haywire while I'm away and stress the other healthy fishes.

Meanwhile, my plants are growing quite a bit and seem to have no ill effects from the Nox-ich. I was expecting a slight spike in ammonia due to snail deaths caused by the Nox-ich but both the MTS and Pond snail populations seem unscathed. My only slight peeve is that it has dyed my aquarium sealant light turquoise - which will hopefully fade in time.

Here's hoping that my tank inhabitants are OK!
 
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