observation may save your fish - FIRST AIDS.
Very few times the
onset of a disease is so rapid and the symptoms so severe leaving
you with nothing to do. Usually, the symptoms are there only we are
too busy or not experienced enough to see them. Most people will
recommend to you to isolate the diseased fish and treat it
separately. There are good reasons for this : less medication is
required and you do not stress the rest of the fish. However, if the
dose to be used is not very high, I prefer to treat the whole of the
tank. If a microorganism is in the tank it is going to attack a
second fish sooner or later. Even if I isolate the fish (intending
to use my famous overdose schemes) I usually treat the tank as well
with a lower concentration of the SAME medication.
that should immediately alert you are the following. If a particular
sign can be attributed to something else, this option is examined,
You surely know your fish and the way they attack their food. If a
fish loses its appetite or refrains from eating it is an alerting
sign. Africans are not very particular on their food (with some
exceptions meant for the most advanced keepers) so if they do not
eat, something is wrong. You should isolate this fish because there
are many medications that could be used and is it is not wise to
treat the whole tank with all these regiments (an exception to my
rule). I usually start with a general remedy and medicated food and
watch very closely to see if other symptoms are developing that will
help me to be more specific in my treatment. If the fish is a
female it could be refraining from eating because it is carrying
eggs. In this case you should be able to see (from time to time) a
"chewing" movement which is a clear indication of carrying
Change of behavior.
A fish that used to be very aggressive is suddenly avoiding fights
and is trying to be as far as possible from possible trouble-makers.
A fish that is lying at the bottom is also not a good sign. Watch it
closely for a while. If the other fishes are moving around but one
particular fish is just lying on the bottom it is a sign of disease.
Scratching on the decoration could be an indication of a problem.
This is common practice by African cichlids (it is like defining the
territories) but it should happen once in a while by various
species. If a particular fish is scratching very often then it could
be a sign of parasites (a treatment with cupric sulfate +
metronidazole could solve this problem).
Change of swimming behavior. Usually
a fish can't swim as it should. It will swim at various angles or
will clearly seem "de-stabilized". Sometimes you can see
that the fish when it stops it sinks to the bottom (usually head
down). It could also have erected scales. All these are signs to be
very much afraid of since most often these are the signs of dropsy
or Malawi bloat (a general bacterial infection). The fish should be
isolated and treated with antibiotics (minocycline, oxytetracycline
etc.). Do not feed for a couple of days and then only medicated food
should be administered (if you are lucky enough the fish will still
be in eating condition). Remember that tetracyclines are
photosensitive. The tank should have no lights for the first couple
of days and a blanket in front of the glass.
Clear signs on the skin or eyes.
All sort of spots, holes, cysts or
"hairy" things on the skin, eyes or mouth of your fish are
signs of infection. The first thing to do is to make sure that it is
not a removed or lost scale because of a fight. If it isn't, then
you should check a book, determine what this spot looks like and
treat accordingly. If more than one fish are infected at the same
time there is no reason to isolate these fishes. It is highly
recommended that you treat the whole of the tank instead.
The wastes of the fish look transparent
and / or it takes too long to be separated
from the fish. A sign of internal infection. Treat the whole tank
again. Since the wastes already carry the causing microorganism
which is therefore liberated in your tank you should treat the whole
of the tank.
Many fishes gasping for air at the water
This could be because of many reasons but it is usually not
associated with a disease but rather with the water conditions -
notably the following :
little oxygen is dissolved in the water in which case you should
Increase aeration and surface water movement
Decrease the water temperature by a couple of degrees.
much carbon dioxide in the water - reactions :
Stop carbon dioxide injection immediately
Start heavy aeration
Increase surface water movement
Check your filters for clogging
water temperature is too high (upper
80's in Fahrenheit, more than 30 in Celsius) - reactions
Open the tank canopy immediately
Reduce the number of light tubes or bulbs which are on
Reduce the light period
Add a ventilator or two at one side of the tank along the long axis
Increase water movement
Introduce a frozen bottle of water - do not add the ice directly in
Make a massive water change
Buy a chiller if you have this kind of bucks
high ammonia or nitrate level -
use the relevant kits which you should already have at home -
Massive water change (75% or more, usually followed by another big
water change next day).
Check filters for clogging
Introduce an Ammonia absorber
Add an ammonia removing chemical
Add some bacteria - if the problem is nitrates you could add some
algae or live plants.
Check your tank for dead fish/invertebrates. A dead, decaying fish
could be the reason.
Clean the gravel to be on the safe side.
no signs correspond to your observation, see the Disease