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3 Things You Should Know About Aquarium Fish Diseases & Nutrition

There are several ways to prevent fish diseases from adversely affecting fish in the home aquarium. In this article you'll see how something as simple as feeding your fish can help to prevent disease in your aquarium.


aquarium thermometer xs 18765880Even novice aquarium hobbyists are likely to make the connection between a clean tank and healthy fish. Water quality is directly related to the health of aquarium fish, but many hobbyists do not realize that there is also a connection between nutrition and fish diseases. While a poor diet may not directly cause your fish to become ill, it could weaken them and increase their susceptibility to disease. In order to ensure that your aquarium fish stay happy and healthy, it is wise to cultivate an understanding of how nutrition relates to fish diseases. Once you understand this connection, you'll be better equipped to provide your fish with the type of balanced diet they need in order to maintain their health.

Overfeeding Can Increase Susceptibility to Fish Diseases

flake food xs 13102778It may seem strange, but feeding your fish too much can be almost as dangerous as not feeding them enough. Overfeeding can lead to bloating and obesity, both of which are harmful conditions in fish. When fish become bloated they may be unable to digest food and the intestinal blockage could become so severe that it results in the death of the fish. Feeding your fish too much will also likely result in a decrease of water quality in your tank – this, too could eventually impact the health of your fish. Over time, organic wastes such as feces and uneaten fish food accumulate in the substrate at the bottom of your tank. As these products break down, ammonia is produced and released into the tank water.

If your tank has been properly cycled there should be a colony of nitrifying bacteria ready to tackle the breakdown of waste products, converting the toxic ammonia into nitrites and then into nitrates. If the amount of waste build-up in your tank exceeds the capacity of these bacteria to handle, however, it could lead to a worsening of water quality. When the water quality in your tank goes down your fish are likely to become stressed, and stressed fish have an increased susceptibility to fish diseases. So, while overfeeding your fish may not directly cause them to contract a bacterial infection or some other type of disease, it sets the stage for disease to catch your fish at a moment when they are already weakened and unable to fend off the attack.

Contaminated Food Can Cause Illness in Fish

In addition to poor water quality, one of the most common ways fish diseases are introduced into the aquarium is through contaminated fishes and fish food. Many aquarists quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank in order to prevent fish diseases from contaminating the whole community, but this tactic cannot always be applied to fish foods. Commercial foods can be considered relatively safe, provided they have been stored properly. Not only do processed foods lose some of their nutritional value over time, but they can also grow mold if stored in a damp environment. If your fish consume food that has been contaminated with mold they could grow tumors and may die as a result.

worms xs 4656355Though it is possible for commercial foods to become contaminated, live foods are more likely to carry fish diseases into the aquarium. Live foods such as tubifex worms and bloodworms that have been gathered from contaminated waters may introduce harmful bacteria or viruses into your home aquarium. Buying your live foods from a reputable source can help reduce the risk of contaminants, but it is not a guarantee. Many aquarium hobbyists choose to cultivate their own stores of live food in order to avoid problems with contamination. Not only is this option a great way to protect your fish from disease, but it can also save you a noticable amount of money.

Feeding the Wrong Food Can Cause Nutritional Diseases

eating oscar xs 4518354Different species of fish have different nutritional needs. For example, a carnivorous species of fish will require a high percentage of protein in its daily diet in order to thrive, whereas the diet of an herbivorous species should consist mainly of plant matter. If you do not understand the nutritional needs of your fish you may end up feeding them the wrong food - which could bring about a nutritional disease or deficiency. Nutritional diseases and deficiencies are most likely to occur in fish that are fed a staple diet of commercial foods. Processed flakes, pellets and granules do contain essential nutrients, but not enough to keep your fish thriving.

fish-food freeze-dried hikariIf you plan to raise your fish on a diet of commercial foods, supplement these foods by occasionally offering live, frozen or freeze-dried foods depending on the type of fish you have. For carnivores, live foods such as bloodworms, white worms and brine shrimp are excellent sources of nutrients, especially protein. These foods and others are also typically available in frozen and freeze-dried form – for the best results, offer your fish a mixture of foods and food types. Herbivorous species of fish should be given spirulina wafers and plenty of fresh vegetables in order to ensure that they receive adequate nutrition. All species of fish can benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements. Vitamin deficiencies can lead to nutritional fish diseases such as broken back disease as well as disorders affecting the nervous system.

Tips for A Healthy Diet

The key to creating a healthy diet for your aquarium fish is to research the dietary needs of each individual species you plan to keep. Learn whether your fish are carnivores, herbivores or omnivores and be prepared to offer a variety of nutritional foods. Do not be tempted to purchase an enriched commercial flake food and neglect to supplement it with other nutrient-rich foods. Just as you would be likely to become bored if you ate the same thing every day, aquarium fish may become bored with a bland, predictable diet. Offering your fish a variety of foods will not only keep your fish from losing their appetite, but it will also ensure that they receive all the nutrients they need. Give your fish the nutrition they deserve so they are better equipped to fight off fish diseases.  Remember, healthy fish are happy fish!

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