Columnaris Disease in Fish, Bettas, etc., Correct Treatment
Aquarium Website/Blog/Search Engine Hall of Shame #6; Columnaris Disease
The treatment and prevention of the Aquarium (& pond) disease "Columnaris" seems to be one of the subjects of more inaccuracies than most diseases commonly confronted by aquarists. Surprisingly about.com has an article that although basic without much information, is generally accurate in identification, but otherwise does not give very good information for treatment or prevention.
HOWEVER from Wikipedia to many other sites, blogs and forums this is a subject that is full of inaccuracies.
One popular Betta site/forum (Ultimate) has an article that has a few inaccuracies in one article (often it is one inaccuracy here another there), and since it is a sad representation of what is commonly out on the internet (as of the original draft of this article), I will use it to make my points of inaccuracies about Columnaris.
Also a condescending/rude attack on me personally from Guppies.com about my full Columnaris article is addressed.
Here are some quotes followed by corrections/Refutations:
* "Maracyn is the most useful anti-biotic"
WRONG! Columnaris is a strictly gram negative bacterium while Maracyn (which is Erythromycin) is a gram positive antibiotic.
If the author of this article or anyone had any success with Erythromycin, this is proof that the disease treated was NOT Columnaris, rather a gram positive pathogen.
What antibiotic that has proven gram negative effectiveness will work best is more debatable, whether a combination of Furan 2/Kanaplex, Sulfamethazine/Trimethoprim combination, Minocycline, or others, but you will not achieve success with a gram positive antibiotic!
* "Columnaris reproduces poorly in the presence of oxygen in the water, so keeping the water's oxygen content up by creating a current can help prevent Columnaris"
A similar statement is found in Wikipedia and another incorrect article.
This statement is also 100% false and has no basis in university level research or even simple reading of researched articles such as "Columnaris & Saprolegnia Disease"
Here is a quote from the above referenced article:
"In fact since Columnaris is strictly aerobic, the addition of more aeration/circulation will do nothing to stop Columnaris other than to possibly help the fish fight this disease pathogen."
I would also reference this university level article as well:
* "As mentioned above, Columnaris loves hard water and high pH."
(a similar statement is found in Wikipedia and another incorrect article)
This statement is not as inaccurate as the other two statements, but it does show a lack of understanding of basic disease prevention and water chemistry, in particular the Redox Balance and importance of positive mineral ions in the water.
As well there is no scientific data to show the statement that Columnaris "loves hard water and high pH" (although Columnaris certainly 'loves' warm water, especially over 75 F), if anything the opposite is true based on both observations and data.
The lack of KH, resulting in an unstable pH can be a major Columnaris causing stressor. Even more so the lack of positive mineral ions such as calcium is not only a stressor, but lowers the Redox Balance and the ability of the fish to fight infections via proper osmoregulation.
What is ironic, is that this same article later recommends the use of Atison's Betta which includes calcium along with Indian Almond Leaf (& is a good product).
Personally I think the use of a mineral block such as a Wonder Shell which will keep a constant supply of positive calcium ions in the water column (unlike Atison's Spa), combined with a more pure source of Indian Almond Leaf or natural acid buffer such as Pillow Moss is a better way to go.
The facts are, if you do not correct water parameters, including lack of positive mineral ions, your chance of success treating Columnaris is considerably lower!!
Finally, here is a rather condescending and rude personally attack where he implies I have not done my homework from Guppies.com by "Sanda" (http://www.guppies.com/forums/showthread.php/8245-The-real-deal-on-Columnaris-treatments/page2?s=268d6845a8ebf25f4375968ab5efd1bf)
"Also, that link has ODD information. Sulfa medicines are completely ineffective against FC...this has been proven in scientific studies. Metheylene blue is used for parasitic infections typically, I would add some drops but wouldn't consider it to be that great against this bacteria. The Pimafix suggestion was a bit funny, I got some laughs there...and finally, Erythromycin is dissed without actually discussing why it is so "bad" to use (gram positive indeed, but what is its mode of action?). Gram negative's don't respond too well to antibiotics anyway as a typical rule thanks to their porins. I don't know, I trust Wakabayashi's findings myself on those antibiotics...Poor water conditions ARE a cause for the disease (quick shifts=stress=disease)...It is very true though that columnaris loves oxygen. And no, a UV sterilizer will not eliminate this bacteria, or many others...Like I said, weird stuff. Has this guy done his homework and read the scientific journals published by the scientists who actually studied this disease??? "
I have used Triple Sulfa including the combination of Sulfamethazine and Trimethoprim (found in Maracyn Plus) with many known cases of Columnaris and had measured results, as well my mentor (an Endocrinologist who was also a long time aquarium hobbyist) also confirmed these results. This said, I only note this as an alternate treatment, and not for serious cases.
Methylene is only suggested as just one ingredient in a bath, whereby part of its action is to aid the fish in recovering being a hemoglobin transfer agent. It simply is one part of a cocktail, not a single/sole treatment.
This Sanda guy needs to learn to read completely before he makes statements.
As for Erythromycin, I note in many places, including links to my other articles as to why I do not recommend Erythromycin (as per its mode of action). As well I should note that I have used Erythromycin MANY times with no effect and it is this particular drug I brought up in my first discussions with Dr. Herzog as to why it did not work!!
Again, this guy needs to read before he criticizes others life work and research
As for the UV, this is an incredible statement, as it is well known that a true UVC Sterilizer, properly set up will kill Columnaris in the water column.
As well much research of late into Redox shows that UVC improves immune response.
His extremely condescending response about Pimafix was simply disgusting. The article only suggests this a mild treatment, and then again only as a PART of other steps too. I hardly recommend it for anything moderate or especially serious.
Yet for mild treatments I have confirmed that it adds to the effectiveness of the treatment regimen.
Finally his final condescending/rude attack on me and my article shows his extreme liberal arrogance.
The FACTS are I have conducted controlled and many, many observed tests on Columnaris for over 3 decades, as well I continue to research and cite my references in this article, not to mention my consultation with Dr. Herzog many years back.
Frankly this guy is a real piece of work!!!!!!
The bottom line is if you are truly interested in treating and preventing Columnaris, I would ignore many of the inaccurate articles (sadly including Wikipedia) about Columnaris and read one of the few articles based on real world "hands on" experience (since 1978) and further research, and that article is:
Further Information Reading from Aquarium-Medications.Com Information:
*Oregon Grape as Potential Columnaris Aquarium Fish Treatment
*Triple Sulfa & Sulfamethazine; For Aquarium, Pond
*Nitrofurazone, Furan 2; For Aquarium, Pond
Recommended Aquatic Sites for Information, Products
*Aquarium Redox Balance
*Aquarium Nitrate Control
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