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Diseases in the Aquarium - Part VI
A nearly complete guide to Fish Diseases

 
An Article by George J. Reclos

Sliminess of the skin
DISEASE Caused by various external protozoan parasites (such as Ichtyobodo / Costia and Chilodonella) and monogenetic flukes like Gyrodactylus.
SYMPTOMS A gray-white film of excess mucus develops over the body and is especially noticeable over the eyes or areas of darkened pigmentation of the skin. Badly affected fish become listless and lie on the bottom, occasionally scratching themselves against rocks. Secondary bacterial infection is common.
TREATMENT Initially treat the fish with a  white spot remedy (see disease). If no improvement is observed within 5-7 days, carry a 50% water change and use an antiparasitic treatment with a formalin (15-25 mg / liter, continuous bath for several days) or organophosphorus insecticides like metriphonate (0.25-0.40 mg/liter, continuous bath for 7-10 days, may need repeating).
PREVENTION Improved general hygiene of the tank is an essential and effective prevention.


Swim bladder disease
DISEASE
Caused by various factors, including sudden changes in temperature, although microbial infection may be involved in some instances.
SYMPTOMS Fish experiences difficulty in maintaining its position in the water. It may show a "list" to one side or even float on its side or back at the water surface.
TREATMENT Since there are various causes, specific treatment is difficult to recommend. Isolation of the fish in a tank with shallow water and temperature 5 degrees higher than the stock tank or pond may bring about an improvement. Addition of salt, up to 1 g/Liter may be worthwhile. Addition of a proprietary antibacterial agent may also help.
PREVENTION Avoid sudden temperature fluctuations ; improve water hygiene.


Tumors
DISEASE Caused by a variety of environmental factors such as chemical pollution and perhaps some viral infections. Tumors may be inherited by the parent fish.
SYMPTOMS Unusual growths or swellings and may occur in any part of the body. Tumors on skin and fins are usually obvious while similar growth may occur among internal organs causing firm, noticeable swelling to the general body shape.
TREATMENT There is no special treatment. Isolate the fish and monitor its condition closely. Surgical removal of tumors can be attempted although the frequency of recurrence is quite high. Painlessly destroy any fish in clear distress.
PREVENTION Do not purchase fish that show signs of "growths".


Trichodinia (see Sliminess of the Skin)
Wasting disease

DISEASE Caused by infection with acid-fast bacteria such as Mycobacterium or Nocardia.
SYMPTOMS Suffering fish often have a emaciated, hollow-bellies appearance, with coincidental loss of appetite and loss of color. They may exhibit other symptoms like "pop eye", fin rot, body ulcers and listless behavior. Many small nodules or tubercles (about the size of a pinhead) usually occur within the internal organs.
TREATMENT Isolate fish and monitor their condition. You may use a combination of sulphafurazone (0.2mg / g fish), doxycycline (0.005 mg/ g fish) and minocycline (0.005 mg/ g fish) administered intramuscularly. Treatment may need repeating. Painlessly destroy not responding fish.
PREVENTION Buy healthy stock and care for it correctly. Do not feed fish on live or dead fish from infected sources.


White spot disease (see Ichthyophthirius)
Worms in the body cavity

DISEASE Caused by various helminthes (worm) parasites, such as cestodes (tapeworms) and nematodes (roundworms).
SYMPTOMS Low level infestations usually pass unnoticed and do little harm. Heavy infestations may cause a swollen belly, impaired swimming behavior, damage to internal organs and rupture of the body wall. Both parasites may live free in the body or encapsulated in white or off-white cysts.
TREATMENT It id fortunate that these parasites very rarely become a problem to the fishkeeper since there is no reliable therapy.
PREVENTION Avoid buying infected fish. Do not feed live foods such as "water fleas" (the intermediate host of many of these parasites) unless they originate from a fish-free environment.


Worms in the intestine
DISEASE - Caused by various helminthes (worm) parasites such as cestodes (tapeworms), nematodes (roundworms) and acanthocephalans (spiny-headed worms). Digenetic flukes also occur here but are rarely pathogenic in fish.
SYMPTOMS Except in the case of very heavy infestations, where the fish may appear thin or grossly distended, with the parasites perhaps protruding from the vent, obvious symptoms are usually lacking.
TREATMENT Since most infections pass undetected and probably do little harm, treatment is usually not necessary. On top of that, the hosts necessary for the parasite to complete its cycle are lacking from the aquarium environment. However Camallanus nematodes (a parasite common to livebearers) may multiply within the confines of an aquarium. In such situations the use of anthelmintic treatment may be desirable.
PREVENTION For open ponds: cover them from fish eating birds.


Yellow Grub
DISEASE Caused by the larval stage of digenetic fluke parasites, such as Clinostomum, Posthodiplostomum and Dipplostomum.
SYMPTOMS Yellow color cysts develop on the body and fins. Small numbers cal do little harm but large numbers can harm small fish.
TREATMENT Very rarely necessary and is difficult if not impossible.
PREVENTION Avoid obviously infected fish and discourage fish-eating birds from visiting garden ponds to prevent the life cycle being completed.


References
Chris Andrews, Adrian Exell and Neville Carrington
. "The Interpet Manual of Fish Diseases". Salamander Books Limited, UK, 1988.
Dick Mills "Tropical Aquarium Fishes", Tetra Press, Salamander Books Limited, UK, 1997.
Paul V. Loiselle "The Cichlid Aquarium", Tetra Press, 1994.
Edward J. Noga "Fish Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment", Mosby-Year Book, Inc, 1996.


Continued in next page - you may also click to the following link for a List of medication products by leading manufacturers

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