Diagnosing and treating disease in aquarium fish is often not easy, especially for the casual aquarium keeper. Symptoms of illness in fish are hardly noticeable. In some cases, there may be outward signs, such as raised scales, white spots or other visible factors. The other factor to consider is any sudden change in the fish's behavior, such as if the fish acts lethargic, loses its appetite or stays away from other fish when it normally likes to be in a school.
Any sudden change of behavior could indicate a serious problem, and you should take immediate action, but it may already be too late. Note any outward or physical signs of sickness, then consult a local pet shop, preferably one that focuses on fish. You may find it helpful to contact a veterinarian, who may be able to offer some general advice on your next steps.
A protozoa called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, sometimes called ich, may be the most common malady facing aquarium fish. Its most characteristic symptom is white spots that appear on the body and difficulty breathing. Getting rid of it involves an over-the-counter anti-ich medication that is added to the water. If possible, turn the water temperature up to 80 or 85 degrees to speed up the lifespan of the protozoa and make it more quickly susceptible to the water treatment, according to animal-world.com.
Fungal outbreaks are commonly noted by the distinctive growth on the fish's body, often described as a cotton-like appearance. It typically follows some other type of ailment, such as a bacteria infection or parasite. The most commonly prescribed treatment is to use 1 percent phenoxethol in distilled water, but do not overdo it, or the treatment could kill other fish. If the fish is not treated, it will likely die, according to animal-world.com. There is a fungus with a similar name to ich called ichthyosporidium, which is treated with phenoxethol in the food or another anti-fungal medication, but treatment may not be that effective.
The only good news about a parasite infection is that it often does not matter which parasite your fish have, they are often treated the same way, especially if there are outward signs. The most common symptom is a string-like or spaghetti-like substance hanging from the fish's body. The other common symptom is the fish rubbing against objects or the aquarium glass in an attempt to stop an itching sensation. Potassium permanganate mixed 10 ml to one liter of water can kill most parasites. The fish should be removed from the tank and treated in a separate container or aquarium, spending 10 to 30 minutes in the treatment before being returned to the normal aquarium.
Most bacteria are also very serious infections with potentially fatal results. Depending on the infection, various types of antibiotics may be added to the water to treat the disease. Sometimes, additional vitamins, such as B-6, are added as well. It all depends on the type of bacterial infection. Red streaks, cotton-like growth around the mouth and thin fish with sores need immediate attention. Even with the most conscientious treatments, the fish could still possibly have a fatal infection.
- Photo Credit dlkinney: flickr.com
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