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Title : Aquarium Fish Diseases - Causes Symptoms and its Treatment Previous topic PreviousNext Next topic

Just like any pet, fish can get sick too.  Here are some of the more common illnesses, and their causes and how to treat them.

1) Anchor Worms : Anchor worms are parasites that infect fish and one of the main problems with them is that they increase the risk of attracting other diseases. The anchor worms can cause serious damage to a fish and can eventual kill the fish themselves, but anchor worms are only seldom the cause of death in fish with anchor worm since the damage weakens the fish and opens it up for other diseases that end up killing the fish.

Physical/Behavioral Signs or Symptoms:

I)   Scratching against objects by the affected fish.
II)  A protuberance of whitish-green threads from the fish's skin.
III) Points of attachment are marked by inflammation.

Anchor worms can be treated with potassium permanganate in the community tank (will color the water) or by bathing sick fish in a potassium permanganate solution (10mg per litre) for 20-30 min. Treating the entire community/holding aquarium will as I said color the water and be a little messy but it is still a god idea since it guarantees that no other fish are infected and that the disease doesn't return in a few months by emerging from a fish that is currently showing no signs of infection. If you decide to treat your entire tank you should add 2 mg potassium permanganate to every litre of aquarium water in your tank.

2) Body Flukes : Flukes are the bane of every fish keeper's life. They are very common and relatively large as parasites go. They can also be very hard to get rid of if the correct medication is not available. Flukes can only be seen under a microscope but are easily visable at low magnifications, as minimal as x40.

Physical/Behavioral Signs or Symptoms:

I)  Scratching against objects by the affected fish.
II) Layer of mucus covering gills or body.
III)Gills moving rapidly.
IV) Chewed on or eaten-away gills or fins.
V)  Reddened skin.

Cause: Undesirable environmental conditions—including poor water quality, overcrowding, and/or stress by incompatible species--creates conditions that can lead to destructive outbreaks. Flukes (flatworms approximately 1 mm long) are often present in aquariums but remain harmless under ideal conditions. Avoiding stressful conditions is a key to prevention, but once an outbreak occurs, prompt treatment is critical.

Treatment: Treatment for flukes can be very hard as they do not respond well to most medications and the more affective ones are often unavailable. By far the best medication I have found is Prazi. It is safe to use with even the most sensitive of fish and if used properly almost guarantees the elimination of the flukes. Tetra Parasite Guard with praziquantel is effective but must be carefully administered per directions. One tablet per 10 gallons. Remove activated carbon and repeat after 48 hours; conduct a partial water change between treatments. Secondary infections are also common and can be treated with antibiotics or general cures like Lifeguard or Fungus Guard.

3) Gill Flukes :  Gyrodactylus is a broad group of parasites commonly called "Flukes". These are in fact skin or gill flukes, which attach themselves to the skin or gills of the fish, and can cause a great deal of damage. This very broad group of parasites is widely distributed and attacks many species of tropical fish kept in aquaria. For some reason Labyrinth fish do not appear to be often affected, and some authors claim that darker colored fish, are attacked less frequently, although this is not the writers experience.

Physical/Behavioral Signs or Symptoms:

I)  Infected gills and skin.
II) Similar to ich, but telltale sign is movement and possibly eye spots, something that is not found in ich. Use magnification lens to observe.
III)Once gills are destroyed, fish will die.

Cause: Undesirable environmental conditions—including poor water quality, overcrowding, and/or stress by incompatible species--creates conditions that can lead to destructive outbreaks. Flukes, which are flatworms usually about 1 mm long, are often present in aquariums but remain harmless under ideal conditions. Avoiding stressful conditions is key to prevention, but once an outbreak occurs, prompt treatment is critical.

Treatment: Use 20 drops of Formalin-MS per gallon of water (or 1 teaspoon per 9 gallons), preferably in a separate quarantine tank, for a maximum of 50 minutes. If fish show signs of distress stop the treatment. Alternatively Formalin-MS can be used as an extended treatment in the aquarium itself at a dosage of 2 drops of Formalin-MS per gallon of water (or 1 teaspoon per 90 gallons). Perform a 25% water change after 3 days and replace carbon filtration.

Acriflavine-MS is also very effective & is used at 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water.

4) Dropsy :   Dropsy is a symptom rather than a disease in itself and can indicate a number of underlying causes including bacterial infections, parasitic infections or liver dysfunction. Dropsy typically shows up for no apparent reason, and despite the best of care, claims the life of its victim. The term "dropsy" refers to a condition characterized by abdominal swelling that causes the scales in the affected area to stand on end, giving the tropical fish a pineconelike appearance, particularly when viewed from above. Dropsy is not a specific disease but rather a symptom of a deteriorated health condition.

Physical/Behavioral Signs or Symptoms:

I)  Bloating.
II) Protruding scales.

Cause: A bacterial infection of the kidneys, which causes fluid accumulation or renal failure. It appears to create problems only in weakened fish. May stem from untidy aquarium conditions.

Treatment: External treatments are challenging; preventative care with regular water changes, maintaining ideal aquarium chemistry and adding aquarium salt is highly recommended. Antibiotic injections or feed are most effective, but some wide spectrum antibiotics may help like Tetra Fungus Guard.

5) Lice : Fish lice are known to ride on the feathers of birds. Their eggs also hatch on plants and other pond materials. They are also known to be carried on amphibians. Fish lice are easy to spot on your pet fish. They have eight legs and look like small dark little oval dots that are crawling around on your fish. These parasites are flat and have suckers that attach to the fish. Their mouth pierces the skin, where they begin to feed on the host fish. Fish lice look like small pale crabs moving around. Once they attach, your fish becomes a host to these lice until they swim to another one to feed or mate.

Physical/Behavioral Signs or Symptoms:

I)  Fish are aggravated and restless.
II) Usually fish will rub skin against aquarium glass or other objects in an effort to remove lice.
III)Other telltale signs: Lice have eight legs—and resemble tiny pale crabs. They appear as flat, dark oval dots crawling on fish.
IV) Lice use suckers to attach to fish. Then they pierce the skin and feed on the host.

Cause: Usually from fish that were living in an outdoor pond at one time and bringing them into an indoor aquarium. Also, fish lice can be introduced from wild fish that are added to an aquarium. Lice travel from one host fish to another, spreading bacteria and viruses, so once they’re in your aquarium, you must get rid of them.

Treatment: Fish lice may leave its host and swim to another but does not remain unattached for long periods of time or they will die. You may be able to pick the fish lice off of your pet with a pair of tweezers. This seems to only be a viable option if you have larger fish and can handle them properly. There are several treatments for fish lice and a few products that can be purchased from a pond shop to treat your fish and kill the lice.

6) Fungus : Fungal infections are among the most common diseases seen in tropical fish. Because fungal spores are found in all fish tanks, they can quickly colonize and create problems in stressed, injured, or diseased fish.

Physical/Behavioral Signs or Symptoms:

I)  Initially, you'll notice a gray or whitish growth in and on the skin and/or fins.
II) Untreated fungus resembles a cottony growth.
III)Eventually, as fungus continues to eat away at the fish’s body, the fish will die.

Cause: Fish who develop fungus are already in a vulnerable state, the result of other serious health problems or attacks, such as parasites, a physical injury or a bacterial infection.

Treatment: Fungus is easily prevented. Avoiding injuries to your fish is essential, and this means minimizing handling and taking care not to mix specimens that might damage one another. Water quality should be monitored carefully, with particular regard to specific needs of livebearers and brackish species. Cleanliness is an essential part of aquarium maintenance, and removing organic matter from the tank, particularly uneaten food and dead animals, is critical. Sifting the substrate gently to remove organic matter during weekly water changes is also important. The cleaner the aquarium, the less problematic fungus is likely to be.

7) Ich or Ick : Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (commonly known as freshwater white spot disease, freshwater ich, or freshwater ick) is a common disease of freshwater fish. It is caused by the protozoa Ichthyopthirius.[2] Ich is one of the most common and persistent diseases. The protozoan is an ectoparasite. White nodules that look like white grains of salt or sugar of up to 1 mm appear on the body, fins and gills. Each white spot is an encysted parasite.[2] It is easily introduced into a fish pond tank, or home aquarium by new fish or equipment which has been moved from one fish-holding unit to another.

Physical/Behavioral Signs/Symptoms:

I)  Small white spots resembling sand
II) Fish scratch against rocks and gravel
III)In advanced stages fish become lethargic
IV) Redness or bloody streaks in advanced stages

Cause: Usually attacks fish that are stressed, which can be caused by factors including rapid temperature and pH fluctuations.
Treatment: Raise water temperature and Medicate for 10-14 days. Reduce medication when treating scaleless fish. Discontinue carbon filtration during treatment and Perform water changes between treatments

8) Ragged Tail Fin : Fin Rot is one of the most common, as well as most preventable, diseases in aquarium fish. Although it is caused by several types of bacteria and often occurs concurrently with other diseases, the root cause of Fin Rot is always environmental in nature.

Physical/Behavioral Signs or Symptoms:

I) A progressive deterioration of the tail and/or fins.
II)Fins become frayed or their color may fade.

Cause: A bacterial infection may cause this tail and fin rot in susceptible fish—those who are bullied or injured by fin-nipping tank mates—especially in aquariums with poor conditions.

Treatment: Water change and treat with antibiotics and addition of aquarium salt.

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