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The Secret To Preventing Freshwater Aquarium Fish Diseases

Aquarium fish diseases can affect weak or stressed fish. Improper water conditions are also a contributing factor. Inside this article you'll get valuable tips for preventing fish diseases in your aquarium.


cichlids xs 14402219While it may not be possible to prevent your fish from ever contracting an illness, there are several things you can do to prevent disease from entering your tank in the first place and to prevent its spread. Maintaining a clean aquarium full of healthy fish is the key to preventing aquarium fish diseases and there are several ways to go about doing this. If you want your fish to thrive, it is wise to employ all of these techniques, not just one. Only if you are serious about the health of your fish and only if you are willing to put forth a little extra effort can you hope to successfully prevent aquarium fish diseases.

Types of Aquarium Fish Disease

Bacteria 25517966Bacterial – Bacterial aquarium fish diseases are often highly contagious and can spread quickly throughout the tank if infected fish are not quarantined. Symptoms of bacterial infections often include loss of appetite, swelling or discoloration of the body, cloudy eyes, frayed fins and sluggish or timid behavior. Some of the most common bacterial infections seen in freshwater aquarium fish are fin rot, dropsy, mouth fungus and lateral line erosion, or hole-in-the-head disease. These diseases can often be treated with antibiotics like penicillin or amoxicillin.

Fungal – Fungal infections in aquarium fish frequently follow some other event, such as an injury or another infection, which leave the fish in a weakened state. In most cases, fungal infections manifest in the form of fluffy white or gray growths on the mouth, gills and body of fish. As the fungus grows, it begins to eat away at the fish which can eventually result in death. Some of the more common fungal infections include cotton mouth disease, body fungus, gill rot and systemic fungal infections. Fungal infections can be treated with 10ml of a 1% phenoxethol solution per liter of tank water.

virus xs 14151469Viral – Viral infections are among the most difficult to diagnose and treat. Viruses can be transmitted through direct contact from one fish to another or through the water in the tank. In many cases, viral infections are brought about by poor water conditions. Lymphocystis, or cauliflower disease, is one of the most common viral infections in freshwater fish and it manifests in the form of small white clumps that form on the fins of infected fish.
paramecium xs 21776020Parasite – Parasites are microscopic organisms that invade the bodies of aquarium fish. Infections caused by parasites can be highly contagious and may spread throughout the tank before you even realize your fish are infected. Parasite infections typically present symptoms such as growths on the bodies of infected fish, reddened or discolored skin, clamped fins and erratic behaviors such as scraping against objects in the tank. Saltwater dips and anti-parasite medications are two of the most common treatments for these infections and, in some cases, increasing the tank temperature to speed up the life cycle of the parasite may also be effective.  Some of the most common parasite infections include anchor worm, gill flukes, nematodes and ich, or white-spot disease.

Quarantining New Fish

fish for-sale xs 22293888Few pet stores breed their own stock – most of them receive shipments of aquarium fish from commercial breeders or from distributors. The shipping process is stressful for fish and being kept in small store tanks with large numbers of fish can have a negative effect on a fish’s health. This being true, it is wise to quarantine new fish for a period of at least two weeks prior to introducing them into your tank. By quarantining new fish you can observe them for signs of disease and treat them if necessary. If, after the two week period, the fish show no signs of illness they can be considered safe to add to the tank.

Healthy Tank Maintenance

filter hang-on-back fluval-c4Keeping your aquarium clean and the water quality high are two important components in disease prevention. When you perform weekly water changes you are removing harmful toxins from the aquarium which, if left in the tank, could harden the water and decrease the water quality. Maintaining a stable temperature and pH is also essential for keeping your fish healthy because if these conditions frequently change your fish may become stressed and, as a result, could become more susceptible to disease. Adequate filtration is another key component in disease prevention because it helps to remove both solid wastes and dissolved toxins from tank water. Change your filter media every three to four weeks to ensure that your filter operates with maximum efficiency.

Disease Prevention Tips

fishfood xs 13102738It should go without saying that healthy fish are less susceptible to disease than fish that are stressed, injured or in less than peak condition. One of the best ways to ensure that your fish stay healthy is to feed them a varied diet of live, frozen, freeze-dried and flake foods. Like all living things, aquarium fish require certain nutrients to thrive and if they do not receive those nutrients through their diet they are likely to suffer from malnutrition. Malnourished fish are much more susceptible to fish diseases than fish that are well-fed. While feeding your fish a healthy diet will not guarantee that they do not fall ill, your fish will be better equipped to fight off infection if they become exposed.

Another key component in keeping your tank, and thus your fish, healthy is the nitrogen cycle. This is the process through which beneficial bacteria in your tank convert harmful toxins like ammonia into nitrites and then into less harmful nitrates. When you first set up your tank it is important to give the tank time to cycle – it will take time to build up a colony of beneficial bacteria. If you attempt to add fish to your tank before it has cycled they could suffer from ammonia poisoning and the tank itself may be unequipped to handle the increased biological load. Adding fish to a tank that has not been properly cycled could cause the fish to become stressed and it may also result in an algae bloom which could decrease the water quality in the tank. Both of these conditions are likely to increase the susceptibility of your fish to disease. In order to prevent this from happening, allow your tank to cycle properly before introducing any fish and, when you do introduce your fish, add them slowly. Concentrating on maintaing a healthy tank and healthy fish will go a long way towards warding off the most common fish diseases.

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