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Fish Fungus - Prevention Is The Best Cure For Fungal Infections

Fish fungus is one of the most common diseases to affect freshwater tropical fish. There are several types you should know about. In this artilce you'll get sound advice for preventing fish fungus in your aquarium.


cichlid frontosa xs 13933331Experienced aquarium hobbyists understand that keeping a freshwater aquarium healthy requires a combination of things. Not only do you need to keep the water quality in your tank high and feed your fish a healthy, varied diet – you also need to equip yourself with basic knowledge about the various diseases which could affect your fish, learn their symptoms and be prepared to take immediate action if one of your fish falls ill. There are a variety of diseases which could potentially affect your fish, but fungal diseases, frequently referred to as fish fungus, are among the most common. If you hope to cultivate a healthy aquarium full of thriving fish, do yourself a favor and learn the basics about fungal infections so you will be prepared in the event that one of your fish contracts a disease. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry!

Causes of Fungal Infections

Fungus is commonly spread through spores and because these spores are present in most aquariums, they can quickly spread to your fish and cause infection. In most cases, these spores do not cause problems unless the water quality in the tank declines or the immune systems of fish are weakened by other factors such as bullying, illness or injury. Once the fungus colonizes and begins to reproduce, it can spread rapidly through an aquarium, infecting multiple fish depending on the ability of those fish to ward off infection. Most fungal infections are external, resulting in fluffy white growths, but systemic (or internal) fungal infections are not unheard of. Internal fungal infections can be difficult to diagnose and are frequently fatal.

Common Fungal Diseases

Cotton Wool Disease  - Not only is this disease the most common fungal infection in aquarium fish, but it is also one of the most easily identified. This disease presents in the form of fluffy white growths on the skin, fins and mouth of infected fish. These growths may be caused by a number of different fungi but two of the most common types are Achyla and Saprolengnia. Though treating the entire tank may be a wise precaution, removing infected fish to a hospital tank is recommended. Common treatments for this disease include salt baths and antifungal agents like phenoxyethanol.

Systemic Infections  - Systemic, or internal, fungal infections are less common than external infections but they are much more deadly. These infections can be very difficult to diagnose and to treat – in many cases, a diagnosis cannot be confirmed until after death. One of the fungi that commonly cause systemic infections is Icthyophonus and fish infected with this fungus may or may not show general signs of poor health. Though treatment is not always successful for these infections, medications like Malachite Green have been shown to be effective.

cichlid eggs xs 14406324Egg Fungus – Eggs are particularly susceptible to fungal infections, particularly those that have not yet been fertilized. The fungus typically infects unfertilized eggs first, then spreads to the other eggs, killing the embryos developing inside. In order to prevent fungus from destroying an entire batch of eggs, it is wise to remove unfertilized eggs from the bunch and to treat the tank with an antifungal medication such as Methylene Blue. Ensuring adequate filtration and an otherwise clean tank are also good precautions to take in preventing fungus from destroying eggs.

Gill Rot – Although it is not the most common, this fungal infection may be seen in stressed fish that are living in tanks with high ammonia or nitrate levels. This infection is caused by the fungus Branchiomyces and it is very difficult to treat – fish that develop this type of infection are not likely to recover without long-term therapy. Symptoms of this disease include excessive mucus and mottling around the gills and gasping at the surface for air. Though treatment is not always curative, phenoxyethanol baths and increased oxygenation of tank water can be effective.

Tips for Preventing Fungal Infections

filter hang-on-back fluval-c4You don't need to be an experienced aquarium hobbyist to understand that clean tank water is less likely to encourage fungus growth than dirty water. This being said, it should come as no surprise that performing routine water changes and ensuring adequate filtration are key steps in preventing fish fungus in your aquarium. Not only do these tasks keep the water in your aquarium clean, but they will also prevent your fish from becoming stressed by unstable water conditions. It has already been said that fungal infections are more likely to affect fish that are stressed or in poor health due to some other condition, so keeping the water parameters in your tank stable and the water clean should be a fairly obvious method of preventing infections.

Though fungal spores are likely already present in your aquarium, it is wise to prevent the introduction of new fungus by quarantining new fish. Setting up a full-time quarantine tank is a wise choice for aquarium hobbyists because, in the event that one of your fish falls ill, you should transfer the fish out of the tank as quickly as possible. If you already have a quarantine tank up and running this will not be a problem. You should also use this tank to quarantine new fish for at least two weeks prior to introducing them into your main tank. This two-week period should provide ample time for you to observe the fish for symptoms of disease and to treat them if necessary. If, after the two week period, the fish appear healthy they can be added to your main tank safely.

food shrimp-freeze-dried OmegaOneWhile keeping the tank clean and avoiding the introduction of additional sources of infection are important, the overall health of your fish is likely to be the determining factor in whether it succumbs to infection once it has been exposed. Keeping a stable temperature in your tank is one way to keep your fish healthy – a sudden rise or drop in temperature could cause your fish stress and result in greater susceptibility to illness. The most important factor in keeping your fish healthy, however, is a balanced diet. Aquarium fish should be fed a variety of foods including live, frozen and freeze-dried foods as well as pellets. While flakes and pellets can be a good staple diet, live and frozen foods are necessary to supplement the diet with essential nutrients commercial foods may be lacking. If you want your fish to stay healthy enough to resist fish fungus, then there are several things you can do to boost their immunity – maintaining stable water parameters, quarantining new fish and offering a balanced diet are three of the most important methods.

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