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fin rot

I have a problem in my 50 gallon tank that I just can't seem to lick and I'm
desperate for a little wisdom from the list.  Over the course of the last
few months I have searched my library and various internet resources for a
good cure for fin rot.  I have tried malachite green, antibiotics, formalin
and more frequent water changes to no avail.  I have lost all but one of my
d. Filamentosa and recently lost one of my sp. 'Sunsets'.  It's a real drag.
The last Filamentosa looks so pitiful I would euthanize him if I could catch
him.  The tank is so heavily planted it is nearly impossible to catch
anything but the slowest fish.  Also present are a Cory, about a dozen
cardinal tetras, one remaining Sunset and two Panduros who look fat and
happy, at least for now.  The substrate is a loam/vermiculite mixture whose
recipe I found on the web somewhere, topped with 1-1/2" gravel.  Filtration
seems sufficient, nitrates in the acceptable range with weekly 1/3 water
changes.  pH from the tap is around 7.5 but quickly settles down into the
6.2 range with all the plants.  I use lots of light (about 2.5 watts per

Any thoughts regarding cause and cure of this persistent annoyance?  It
looks like fin rot to me, although there is no white stuff on them anywhere.
The caudal fin is gone right down to the nub.  In other cases, strong
healthy fish have just slowly wasted away (get thin, lose their fins and lie
around on the bottom or on a plant).  Please, someone help me.  I'd really
like to keep fish, not kill them, if you know what I mean.

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