Poor health in fish can be caused by a number of reasons such as stress, overstocking the tank and bad water conditions. Remember that good, quality water usually means healthy fish and the two go very close in hand. Nobody wants an aquarium full of sick fish. It is your job to monitor your fish closely and check for any symptoms of ill health so you can act quickly. If left unnoticed, disease will soon spread and you risk losing your whole tank. Some top tips are to make sure you quarantine your fish before adding them to the main tank and making sure you have medication already at hand. I have a shelf which is full of medication for every type of fish disease. It means I can treat my fish as quickly as possible which usually means a much better outcome. A last minute dash to the fish shop before closing time is only going to cause you more stress and is best avoided.
The four main medications I would recommend any fishkeeper to keep at hand are Esha 2000, Esha Exit, Seachem Paraguard and Esha Ndx. They have always given good results and can all be purchased at most aquatic stores or online. When treating your aquarium, make sure to remove any carbon from your filter as carbon will absorb any medication you add to the water and be rendered useless. I wish someone had made sure to tell me this when I first started fishkeeping! Always make sure to read the product leaflets before use as instructions (such as dosage) will differ between products. This article talks about the most common types of diseases in freshwater fish and what to look out for.
Always keep a good stock of medications! The Esha range is a must have for any fishkeeper.
Once a fish gets dropsy, it can be very hard to save them. This condition is also referred to as swim bladder. Dropsy can be caused by a number of different reasons such as a bad diet or a bacterial infection. Dropsy is often characterised by a swelling of your fishes abdomen, sometimes causing their scales to stick out which is also known as pineconing. Fancy goldfish such as Orandas are usually prone to dropsy which is why it is always recommended to feed them a sinking pellet rather than a flake diet. This is because they are less likely to be taking in air like they would be when coming to the surface to feed on flakes. It may sometimes even be helpful to starve them for a few days when they first appear bloated. With dropsy, your fish will lose thier appetite, struggle to swim, appear listless and have problems keeping thier balance whilst swimming in the water. They may even float upside down to the top of the water. Maintaining a good diet and water quality is very important in keeping your fish safe from this condition. Prevention is always better than a cure. Aquarium salt is often used in the treatment of dropsy but must be used correctly and only by the more experienced fishkeeper. Esha 2000 is also helpful for dropsy if the condition is caused by a bacterial infection. Never give medication without reading the instructions first and doing prior research.
If you suspect that your fish may be suffering from fin rot, take a close look at their tail and fins. You might notice that the edges are frayed or appear white at the tips. This is one of the biggest indicators that your fish is suffering from fin rot. This condition is usually brought on when fish are subjected to bad water quality, stress, overcrowding and other fish nipping at their fins. If left untreated, fin rot will eventually spread and kill the fish. It might infect all the other fish in the tank as well. Regular water changes and good quality water will usually clear fin rot at it's early stage. Several antibiotics (including Esha 2000 and Seachem Paraguard) are also quite effective in treating fin rot but as always the root cause must be found and addressed to ensure the disease doesn’t return. Once the root cause is sorted out and corrected, medication will usually cure the disease. The best prevention against fin rot is proper aquarium maintenance and regular water changes.
This fish is suffering from fin rot. I have circled the part of the fin which is rotting. If left untreated, the fin rot will spread which can be fatal for the fish.
Fungal infections are one of the most common disorders you will come across in aquarium fish. Fungal spores will naturally populate fish tanks but it is usually stressed or injured fish that will cause these spores to trigger and cause havoc. A fungal infection will usually start as a white cotton-wool-like growth on the mouth, fins, scales or gills. The most common types of fungi in these infections are Saprolegnia and Achyla. Usually, this condition is always caused by a secondary problem, so it will definitely need a two part treatment of medication and a good water change. Most aquarium owners will have to deal with a fungal infection at some point but they can be successfully treated if caught early enough. The longer it is left, the harder it is to treat. I have previously treated fungal infections with Seachem Paraguard successfully. There are several different medications you can use so make sure to do your research before hand and read all instructions carefully. Your local fish shop should always be happy to give you advice if needed.
There is nothing worse than peering into your aquarium and noticing a few white spots dotted around your fish. White spot disease (clue is in the name) is a very common problem in freshwater aquarium fish. The disease is caused by a protozoan parasite Ichthyophthirius Multifiliis and is commonly called ich but pronounced as ick. Small numbers of parasites are naturally always present in aquariums and are usually controlled by the fishes immune system. White spot will usually appear if your fish have weakened immune systems because of stress. These parasites are quick take advantage of it. The white spots that you see on your fish are the mature stage of the parasites life cycle. Your fish will appear unhappy and the parasites will irritate them. Your fish might rub itself on rocks or gravel to try and relieve the discomfort. The parasites manage to get under the skin and are usually untouchable until they they break through the skin and drop to the bottom of the aquarium where they then reproduce in a small cyst. When the cysts are ready, they burst open and release into the water. They then swim about until they find a fish to attach to and feed on, starting the whole cycle again. This parasite is best treated when they are out of the fishes skin which is usually referred to as the 'swimming' stage. This is when the parasite is most vulnerable. Slowly turning up the temperature of your tank helps this cycle happen more quickly but this method is only recommended for the more experienced fishkeeper. I have used Esha Exit for whitespot which is a simple and safe solution and it has always worked successfully. You can also use Esha 2000 safely with this as part of a two step treatment. There are many different medications you can use so make sure to do prior research beforehand as some white spot medications will kill aquatic snails and inverts.
Velvet disease is caused by one of several species of a tiny parasite known as Oödinium (also known as Piscinoodinium). These can latch onto the body, gills and fins of fish. Unlike white spot, velvet disease looks like shiny gold dust is covering the fish. It can also look like a metallic or velvety sheen is covering the fish. It is highly contagious and will spread to all fish in the tank. Early symptoms may include your fish rubbing itself on surfaces in the tank to dislodge the Oodinium parasite, loss of appetite, fins clamped against the body, weight loss, rapid gill movement and lethargy. Most fish that show the severe form of this disease are probably too sick to respond to treatment. There is a chance it can be cured though, if you start treatment early. Medication is definitely needed as this parasite will not go away on it's own. Treatments are easily available to buy at your local aquatic store.
Whitespot is one of the easiest diseases to diagnose, even by novices, as the fish become covered in tiny white spots.
I hope this article has been helpful and simple to understand. We all want our fish to be healthy and happy so keeping a close eye on them should be your priority when it comes to being a responsible fishkeeper. At the first signs of something wrong in your tank, always check and monitor your water conditions and adjust if necessary. Test for factors like pH, temperature, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. You can test for these with a home water testing kit which you can buy from your local aquatic store or online. Water quality is always the number one factor to look out for. If you look after your water, it will look after your fish. If the issue isn't caused by your water quality, then know the signs and symptoms on what to look out for, be prepared and act accordingly. Your fish will appreciate it in the long run.