HITH problem, tried everything

  • VonDutch
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VonDutch created the topic: HITH problem, tried everything

Hi guys,

First off, let me introduce myself. I am a 24 year old guy from holland with a passion for fishkeeping. I have a few tanks with the usual stuff (guppies, platys, small cichlids etc) and they are running perfectly for the last couple of years. I've been doing this for 10 years now and learned a lot, always trying to improve things and never running into problems.

2 years ago I wanted to buy a big tank but didn't really know yet what to put in it. As soon as I discovered the Oscar fish I was sold, this was going to be it. It seemed like the perfect next level step in fishkeeping. I spent the next weeks learning about these fish. I soon discovered that there are 2 types of oscar fish owners: the ones that do it right and the ones that do literally everything wrong. Ofcourse I wanted to belong to the first group and did everything I could think of to create a perfect home for him. I have been reading on this forum for quite some time, but now I am at a point that I just need to make a topic about my problem. I know you guys like a lot of data/pics etc. so let's begin. I'll post data in litres/gallons and cm/inches so all of you can understand.

Tanksize: 350 litres / 92 gallon. The Oscar is in here all by himself, as it should be.
Filtration: internal + external filter, a total of 2200l/h or 581g/l of filtration
Bottom: White sand, with some slate rock and wood. No plants
Lighting: LED lights with a controller (gives a really cool day/night cyclus with sunrise, moonlight etc)
Water changes: every other day a bottom vaccuum to get the big pieces of poo away, 2 times a week a 50% water change + stirring up the sand.
Water parameters (tested with a drop test kit):
- PH 7.5
- GH 8.0
- KH 10.0
- Ammonia, nitrites, nitrates never detected, always 0
Oscar age and size: 1 year and 8 months old, 23 cm or 9 inches
Food: Hikari cichlid gold as his normal diet, also giving red bloodworms/crickets/frozen cubes etc. NO FEEDER FISH
I don't have any active coal in my aquarium since I heard it can cause hith.

As you can see I am doing a lot of water changes because I want to keep the water healthy and crystal clear. I do water tests every week and these results are always the same, very stable. After every water change I add a substance to it that makes it suitable for fish (don't know the word for this in english, water preparator?) This product is pretty amazing, works wonders for my other tanks and almost every fishkeeper I know uses it here in Holland. It's from easylife, don't know if you guys in other countries know it. This is a youtube video about the product

Pretty funny btw that they say it prevents HITH.. well appearantly not because that's why I am here.

This is my oscar right now


This clearly is HITH but it just doesn't add up because my water is as clean as it can be, always has been. This started about 6 months ago as a tiny hole and got bigger. At the moment it doesnt seem to get any bigger but it's not going away either.

At one point I thought it could be some sort of infection so I treated him with medication on 2 occasions:
1 time with HEXAMITA from Esha www.eshalabs.eu/europe/products/esha-hexamita.html
1 time with Flagellex from Colombo www.dutch-rana.nl/v2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&fly...7&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=79&lang=en&vmcchk=1&Itemid=79

I really hoped these would work, it didn't work.

I am now at a point that I simply don't know anymore. There has to be something that I am missing here. I can't think of anything that could be wrong with the water, I am really taking a lot of care for my Oscar so you can imagine how this feels. His poo looks perfectly normal, not stringy or anything. He is active, eats well. So people who battled hith and won; what should I do? maybe some other type of medication or aquarium salt?

Btw, here is a little video of him swimming in red light a couple of days ago, I caught him yawning and I rarely see that, thought it was pretty cool to get that on tape, also gives you something more to look at than just that hith picture (thumbnail looks weird, just when he was yawning lol )


If I forgot info you need, please ask and I will provide it. Thanks in advance for your help.
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LeafsFan replied the topic: HITH problem, tried everything

Welcome to OFL you will get great help here trust me

There's a guy on here (suprd71) he is very experienced and from what I understand, I could be wrong but i think he rescued an Oscar or 2 with HITH so when he sees this topic he should be able to give you some very good advice and help you along with your problem.

Goodluck, I wish you and your oscar the best.
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  • Darth Nandopsis
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Darth Nandopsis replied the topic: HITH problem, tried everything

Welcome. We will try & correct this.

I would like to know exactly what types of filtration you have (brand name) & what type of media you use for biological.

Just FYI......as part of the biological processes in a healthy functioning biological filter, nitrates can never read zero. Just not possible. What are you using to test the water?

Your PH is a bit high & the water is hard...Oscars really prefer soft acidic water, & shouldn't be kept in water more suited for African Rift Lake cichlids. Try running peat in your filters.

I would also suggest that you add vitamins to this Oscars diet.......get some freeze dried krill, soak overnight in a sealed container...Oscars need Vitamin C in their diet, & will contract HITH w/out it.

THOSE WHO REFUSE KNOWLEDGE ARE DOOMED TO FAIL.

WATER CHANGES ARE THE LIFEBLOOD OF THIS HOBBY. IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE SO OR SIMPLY DON'T FEEL LIKE DOING THEM, RE-HOME YOUR FISH, SELL YOUR AQUARIUM & FIND ANOTHER HOBBY, AS YOU WILL FAIL UTTERLY, COMPLETELY, & MISERABLY.
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UNC-CH replied the topic: HITH problem, tried everything

Reading your post I was looking for what could be wrong and then I saw it ... no doubt about it: nitrate reading 0. You're getting a false reading. Your biological filter turns ammonia into nitrite into nitrate. A mature filter will give readings of 0 for ammonia and nitrite but nevef nitrate. It's impossible. We need to figure out why you're getting a false reading so you'll know how high your nitrate is.
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Lammergeier replied the topic: HITH problem, tried everything

Welcome. The most common cause of HITH to my knowledge is excessive nitrates (bad water quality). As the others have echoed you can't be getting a reading of 0 nitrates. Get the API freshwater test kit (or replace your current one if you already have it) and make sure you shake the absolute hell out of the 2nd nitrate bottle. Bang it on a bench-top or something too.

In addition to what Darth asked, I'd like to know if you use any carbon in your filter. If so remove it asap because carbon has been implicated as a possible cause of HITH as well as water quality issues/bad diet.
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Rocksor replied the topic: HITH problem, tried everything

epsom salt solution soaked pellets fed excxlusively for 5 days, see if that works

get epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) with no other ingredients in it.

mix 1/2 cup of distilled water and 3/4 teaspoonof epsom salt.

use a pipette or small dropper to put drops of the solution on the pellets until it won't absorb anymore, and it may take 15 minutes to fuly soak the pellet. Do no feed anything but these epsom salt soaked pellets for 5 days in a row.
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jmunroe replied the topic: Re:HITH problem, tried everything

Agreed about the 0 nitrate reading. Your kit is expired or perhaps your testing procedure is not being done correct. Don't keep the moonlights on all night. Make sure to give him a period of total darkness. They need sleep or that leads to undue stress.

Go do a water change - the solution to pollution is dilution.
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Suprd71 replied the topic: Re:HITH problem, tried everything

Good advice so far, in particular the Epsom food treatment, vitamin addition and stress factor. While your water change sched would be sufficient for a healthy fish, massive doses of clean water are in order to handle hith. I would do several weeks of daily changes of 75%. This should at least get hith advancement halted. Once contracted, hith can return, or remain present with just the slightest slip in water quality. Your fish is a little small for its age. Possible it is genetically weak, and/or has an immune system deficiency. All the more necessity to provide as much clean water as possible.


I may not be the Boss, but I'm ALWAYS right!
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UNC-CH replied the topic: HITH problem, tried everything

If you read the results right away instead of waiting 5 minutes before matching the color to the color chart, then you'll get a 0 reading. Be sure to follow the instructions closely, especially when testing with the nitrate solutions.
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  • VonDutch
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VonDutch replied the topic: HITH problem, tried everything

Darth Nandopsis wrote: Welcome. We will try & correct this.

I would like to know exactly what types of filtration you have (brand name) & what type of media you use for biological.

Just FYI......as part of the biological processes in a healthy functioning biological filter, nitrates can never read zero. Just not possible. What are you using to test the water?

Your PH is a bit high & the water is hard...Oscars really prefer soft acidic water, & shouldn't be kept in water more suited for African Rift Lake cichlids. Try running peat in your filters.

I would also suggest that you add vitamins to this Oscars diet.......get some freeze dried krill, soak overnight in a sealed container...Oscars need Vitamin C in their diet, & will contract HITH w/out it.


Hi, thanks for trying to help me. It was late yesterday and I was so tired that I didn't see that I posted some wrong information regarding nitrates. Ammonia and Nitrites have always been 0 except for nitrates ofcourse, my mistake. My tap water nitrate level is 12.5 PPM as you can see in this picture below. (tested today)


My tank water nitrate level is a bit higher, as you can see in the picture below. I would say between 12.5ppm and 20 ppm. (tested today) My last water change was 2 days ago (50%)


About the PH and the hard water, I've looked for info about it and it doesnt seem to be that big of a deal for oscars (7.2 being ideal and me having 7.5) Thanks for pointing it out though, I will definitely do something with it when everything else fails. For now I can't imagine that that would be the cause.

Your question about the filters. The internal filter is a Juwel Bioflow 6.0. In the picture below you can see what kind of media is in it (i removed the active coal from the beginning!)



The external filter is a tetratec ex1200 (also removed the carbon bags that come with it). You can see in the picture below what kind of media is in it.

About the vitamins.. when the hith started 6 months ago I immediatly started with soaking his pellets in liquid vitamins (JBL Atvitol) and have been doing so until today with no noticable results.
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UNC-CH wrote: Reading your post I was looking for what could be wrong and then I saw it ... no doubt about it: nitrate reading 0. You're getting a false reading. Your biological filter turns ammonia into nitrite into nitrate. A mature filter will give readings of 0 for ammonia and nitrite but nevef nitrate. It's impossible. We need to figure out why you're getting a false reading so you'll know how high your nitrate is.

You’re totally right, see above post for rectification
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Lammergeier wrote: Welcome. The most common cause of HITH to my knowledge is excessive nitrates (bad water quality). As the others have echoed you can't be getting a reading of 0 nitrates. Get the API freshwater test kit (or replace your current one if you already have it) and make sure you shake the absolute hell out of the 2nd nitrate bottle. Bang it on a bench-top or something too.

In addition to what Darth asked, I'd like to know if you use any carbon in your filter. If so remove it asap because carbon has been implicated as a possible cause of HITH as well as water quality issues/bad diet.

I don’t use carbon and never have because I knew about the problems it could give. I did the nitrate test according to the instructions (wait 10 mins etc.) Thanks for thinking with me!
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Rocksor wrote: epsom salt solution soaked pellets fed excxlusively for 5 days, see if that works

get epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) with no other ingredients in it.

mix 1/2 cup of distilled water and 3/4 teaspoonof epsom salt.

use a pipette or small dropper to put drops of the solution on the pellets until it won't absorb anymore, and it may take 15 minutes to fuly soak the pellet. Do no feed anything but these epsom salt soaked pellets for 5 days in a row.

Will try this as a last resort.
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jmunroe wrote: Agreed about the 0 nitrate reading. Your kit is expired or perhaps your testing procedure is not being done correct. Don't keep the moonlights on all night. Make sure to give him a period of total darkness. They need sleep or that leads to undue stress.

The timing and colours of the lights are the same as a sunrise/sundown/moonlight in real life. The moonlight only shines for about an hour because its mainly for looks. He gets around 8-10 hours of total darkness every day.
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Suprd71 wrote: Good advice so far, in particular the Epsom food treatment, vitamin addition and stress factor. While your water change sched would be sufficient for a healthy fish, massive doses of clean water are in order to handle hith. I would do several weeks of daily changes of 75%. This should at least get hith advancement halted. Once contracted, hith can return, or remain present with just the slightest slip in water quality. Your fish is a little small for its age. Possible it is genetically weak, and/or has an immune system deficiency. All the more necessity to provide as much clean water as possible.

Last time I measured him is a couple of weeks ago. I just tried to measure him again (he’s very active) and it reads 24cm/9.4 inches. How big should an Oscar this age be if everything was right?

I hope I've provided you guys with enough info, really want to get things right.
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