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weird health disaster, explained?

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  • weird health disaster, explained?

    I have just learnt a painful and costly lesson.
    Bought a box of californian red earthworms ready to start a culture. I was told that these earthworms are the single domestic animal species completely free of diseases. Moreover, I was assured that they don't carry any pathogens because the chicken manure used to produce the humus to feed the worms is first cured during two months by a fermentation proccess where it gets very high temperatures that render it virtually sterile. It also gets chemically stable (pH and so on).
    The worms in the box I bought were feeding a very well cured humus made of chicken manure, it hasn't any bad smell.
    My original idea was to culture them as an ocasional snack for the Koi, since they have 80 % protein.
    Well, just a little experiment giving chops from around 10 worms once a day during 4 to 5 days to my Koi, mainly to my favourite Koi. I wanted not overexploit the culture right form the start, so was just testing whether the koi liked the worms or not.
    After around 10 to 15 days, a true nightmare started. A rampant saprolegnia outbreak decimated the group of selected tosai from my last year breeding. There were big changes in temperature at that time, besides the tosai came from the greenhouse to the outdoors pools. And moreover, they started to squeeze under a prefilter to hide there from time to time. The better died first, none of my 8 favourite have survived. Some died with other symptoms (extreme thinness / symptoms of Aeromonas infection). In total only 11 out of 26 have survived, and all the deaths ocurred few days after the first symptoms.
    Then a Oyagoi female Sanke (already spawned in early april) went sick and died in just two days after quickly developing rather frightening symptoms.
    Some few days after came the sudden death of my new Momorato Sanke tosai (36 cm). Two days ago died my best Sanke male.
    Never ever I have had anything like this. In many years so far I only had some fish (4) jumping out, two with bening tumors in mouth, one with carp pox.

    Intensive research has been carried out by a specialised vet to ascertain the causes, through a detailed autopsy of the Momotaro Sanke at all levels, including selective microbial cultures of samples taken from different organs and antibiogram tests. Some results are still pending.
    Both KHV and SVC have been ruled out, which was a big relief.
    So far I could get some preliminar results. It was a masive bacterial septicemia caused by Aeromonas+Pseudomonas+Flavobacter columnaris, with huge gill damage what killed the Momotaro Sanke. The kidney showed damage that couldn't have happened very recently (the fish arrived from UK with a tiny small ulcer that later dissapeared).
    But the vet was puzzled by the ocurrence of Clostridium in internal samples of the fish. This Clostridium developed extraordinarily in the lab culture.
    When I knew this, I recalled the small trial using worms as snacks and told the vet.
    He said that Clostridium produces cysts that are extremely durable and resistant to high temperatures, and that they are the only microorganism that typically persists in cured manure. He belive that Clostridium caused a first infection that depressed the inmune system or the fish, allowing the secondary outbreak of other pathogens.
    Clostridium may also thrive on anoxic sediments, and might infest fish while searching for food in the sediments. Bad news for me, since the Momo Sanke died in the big pond were I planned to place my two month fry in two weeks time. Right now the existing sediments can be contaminated.
    The Sanke male was also apparently allright. As a security meassure, I isolated the fish in a 1500 liters quarantine tank with very well aerated quality water at 25 degrees inside the greenhouse. After five days, he suddenly went completely sick and dreadful appearance because mucus excess and some small ulcers, dying the next day. He also showed huge gill damage and clear symptoms of septicemia.

    Just one more thing. The antibiogram test provided worrying results: microbial cultures from the Momotaro Sanke proved completely resistant to all the antibiotic battery tested (12 different) excect one: Norfloxacin

    All in all, a true nightmare and a very painful and costly experience. Hope it is all over (finger crossed...)

    Diego Jordano
    Cordoba, Spain
    A.E.K. web site
    pers. web site
  • #2


    Very sorry to hear of all of your troubles. It really does show that even someone as experienced as yourself, cant 100% guarantee something will always work out for the best. Must have been heartbreaking to see your last years Tosai die, all that hard work - sorry to remind you again.

    What will you do about the pond with the 'infected' sediment? Will it have to be completely drained and sterilised? If Norfloxacin is the only AB which will work against it, how will you sterilise a whole pond?
    Regards, Bob
    ><{{{{º> ><{{{{º> ><{{{{º>
    <º}}}}>< <º}}}}><


    • #3

      while the experience is probably very painful to retell, I'm glad you shared what you learned to the benefit of all those on this board. thanks Diego
      Dick Benbow


      • #4


        Thanks for sharing.
        I can only hope that from this season's spawn you will get some show stoppers to replace the ones lost.
        Jaco Vorster
        South Africa


        • #5

          All my sympathy for your losses. There is an important lesson in this. Earthworms are a nearly perfect food, but with any food we have to be sure it is safe. Now we know from your horrible experience that earthworms cultured with manures are to be avoided.


          • #6

            WOW! I'm really sorry for your losses and hope its over now. I have made it a habit to pick worms out of the flower bed and toss them to my Koi from time to time, but I won't do it again! Thanks for sharing.
            " Da Best" Chapter


            • #7

              Ouch. My sympathies. This kinda thing takes all the fun out of the hobby.


              • #8

                How devastating Diego. Thanks for sharing for the learning on the board. My best wishes for this terrible episode to be over.


                • #9

                  wow... never would have thought that could happen that way. So sorry to hear about this Diego, and thnx for sharing your knowledge.
                  Best regards,

                  Bob Winkler

                  My opinions are my best interpretation of my experiences. They are not set in stone as I intend to always be a student of life. And Koi.



                  • #10

                    Dear Diego

                    Sorry to hear of your losses.

                    Very few of us have the resources to get to the bottom of the cause so rapidly. In fact many of us cannot even get a proper diagnosis in the event of a fatality. Thank you and I wish you luck in your present breeding program.



                    • #11

                      i ain't a microbioligist but this sounds pretty darn close to what I know in the medical field as C Dif...especially the "spore aspect" and the difficulty in killing the dang thing.


                      • #12

                        Hi Diego, I just send you a private message, just read it



                        • #13

                          Thanks to all.
                          Is not fun to talk about this sort of sad experiences, neither to read them.
                          Now it seems that all is over, and life goes on.
                          There are more koi and more experiences to come in the next future, no doubt.
                          Best wishes to all, and keep ponding.
                          Diego Jordano
                          Cordoba, Spain
                          A.E.K. web site
                          pers. web site


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