Symptoms: Red or bleeding
gills. Fish may appear darker in color and may gasp for air at the
Treatment: Ammonia Poisoning
can be prevented but is impossible to cure. Avoid adding expensive
fish to new tanks. New tanks must sit for two to four weeks until
the bacterial level is sufficient to handle the tank load; add a few
inexpensive fish at this time. Purchase an ammonia and nitrite test
kit. Test the water until the ammonia drops to nearly zero. At this
time, you should notice an increase in the nitrite level. When the
nitrites are gone, it will be safe to add fish. Note that the
bacterial phases will not take place unless the tank is initially
stocked with feeder fish which can be removed after treatment. For
larger biological loads, purchase a wet/dry filter (marine only) or
a freshwater biological filter such as the Penguin Bio-Wheel by
Marineland. For the immediate removal of ammonia, purchase an
ammonia detoxifier such as Kordon's Amquel. However, it is best left
alone until the bacterial load is sufficient.
Poisoning is common in new aquariums, especially when immediately
stocked to full capacity. Ideally, the level of ammonia should be
zero. Although trace amounts are generally harmless, they can still
lead to problems over time. Understanding the nitrogen cycle is
essential for the keeping of any aquatic life. In essence, try to
maintain your aquarium with no traceable ammonia present. The amount
of ammonia present is usually accompanied by a rise in pH. As
ammonia is a strong base, it is stabilized by alkaline water. It can
cause damage to the gills at a level as small as 0.25 mg/l.
Treatment: Black spot is
generally easy to cure. There are a number of commercially available
treatments and preventatives.
Information: Black Spot, or
diplopstomiasis, often follows the addition of new aquarium fish.
All fish are susceptible, especially the Silver Dollar and Piranha.
It is fairly easy to diagnose and treat.
Symptoms: White or gray material
covering the eyes only.
Treatment: As far as I know,
the only treatment specifically designed for this ailment is Eye
Fungex by Aquatronics. In the process, special attention should be
made to assure that ammonia and nitrite levels stay within accepted
Information: Cataracts are
fungal growths on the eyes. Treatment with any aquarium fungicide
should work. Its probability increases with water rich in ammonia or
Symptoms: There are a great deal of
possible symptoms associated with this disorder. There may be spots
on the body which appear red or orange. Watch for red streaks on the
surface on the body. Dropsy (bloating) is also a sign of a bacterial
disorder. "False Fungal Infections" look like fungus but is actually
a bacterial infection known as Columnaris. These symptoms may
include a white or gray film on the body.
Treatment: There are a number
of effective treatments for many stains of bacterial infections.
Three of the most common are tetracycline, penicillin and naladixic
acid. Salt baths are another effective treatment.
infections are often difficult to diagnose due to the many different
types. Orange or red streaks on the body is usually the only
fool-proof method for the determination of a bacterial infection.
Symptoms: White or cotton-like
substance concentrated mainly on scrapes, surface injuries, fins or
Treatment: Treatment of
fungal infections is relatively easy. There are a great many
commercially available products for this, including MarOxy by Mardel
Laboratories and Super Sulfo and Would Control by Aquatronics.
Information: This is a very
common disorder which infects all kinds of tropical fish. It is
intensified greatly with fish having damaged fins or cuts and
scrapes. It is also much more likely in poor water conditions in
which there are unacceptable levels of ammonia or nitrites. Fungal
infections are also a sign of bullying by other fish. Fin nippers
will damage the fins of other fish making them more susceptible to
fungal infections and external bacterial infections such as fin and
Symptoms: Small white pimples
concentrated mainly on the fins. Pimples look like granules of salt.
Treatment: Treatment of Ich
can be difficult. There are several medications and preventatives
available including Super Ich by Aquatronics and Maracyn and Maracyn-Two
by Mardel Laboratories.
Information: This is the most
widespread and common freshwater fish disease. The small pustules
are actually sacks of tiny protazoans. In a few days, the sacks
break open and the parasites fall into the aquarium gravel where
they multiply in great numbers. When mature, the new protazoans
attack the rest of the fish. It is this lifecycle that makes Ich so
contagious. The protazoans will weaken the fish progressively by
destroying the protective coating.
The protazoans may only be destroyed
after they have left the sacks. When embedded in the aquarium
gravel, they are susceptible to medication. Therefore, increasing
the temperature of the water during treatment can speed up the life
cycle, causing the pustules to break open quicker. After exposed,
the protazoans are killed before they can multiply.
Symptoms: Very small white speckles on
fish. Resembles a fine powder.
Treatment: There are many
commercially available products to cure Velvet. Among them are
Maracide by Mardel Laboratories and Super Velvet by Aquatronics.
Information: Velvet, or
Oodinium, is a very common disease which resembles Ich. The white
pustules are much finer and are located mainly on the body. It is a
little easier to cure than Ich, since the life cycle is not so
rapid. It commonly follows chilling or stress caused by
transportation or poor water quality.
Symptoms: Visible worms, flukes
or lice on the body.
Treatment: Pick the visible
parasites from the fish. Follow with commercially available
treatment such as Aquatronic's Diacide or CopperSafe by Mardel
infestation is perhaps the easiest to diagnose. The fish must be
removed from the tank while the parasite is removed. Follow up
treatment is essential to prevent fungal or bacterial growth.
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