Something I learned only recently is that you can buy boxes covered
in net, which are used for breeding fish, and they clip onto the side
of the tank. They cost only a few pounds, and mean that you can keep
the fish segregated, while still in the same tank - so if you can't
afford a quarantine tank, this is a good option for sick or injured
Breeding net for quarantined fish||
General note about treatment
Although it is a very good idea to diagnose fish illnesses correctly
so they can be treated appropriately, and removed from the tank if
contagious, there is a treatment available in the UK called Esha2000
which I find excellent. It treats a wide range of fungal, bacterial
and parasitic diseases, and is great if you don't know the specific illness.
It's even been found to prolong life in the case of dropsy. Unlike
many treatments Esha2000 does not harm the filter, or the other fish.
I can't recommmend it highly enough!
Illnesses which need more specific treatment include white spot, internal flukes and internal bacteria, all of which are addressed below.
When fish show illnesses it is possible they brought them from the shop if they are new arrivals - however not everyone has the luxury of quarantine, so it is better to choose a shop which you know will isolate fish before offering them for sale. However if they have been resident in the tank for a while, you should check the water quality.
Many illnesses in my fish - such as cloudy eye - show themselves only under times of stress, for example when the filter has been compromised. Keeping the water quality high is very important to maintain a healthy tank. In order to treat the cloudy eye, the only thing I needed to do was clean up the water. In conjunction with appropriate treatment, you should ensure the water is properly filtered and clear.
White Spot (Ich)
White Spot is common in new tanks, traumatised fish, or where new
fish have recently been added to the tank. It shows as white spots
like little grains of salt,
initially on the tail and a little on the fins. Treat it straight
away with a specific White Spot treatment, and as with many treatments,
remove the carbon filter layer before treatment, and make a 25% water
change after treatment is complete. Be really careful not to overdose.
Although that treated my fish quickly and easily, you should also address the underlying cause. Traumatised or weak fish are more likely to suffer White Spot.
These need treating with Sterazin, which is a long (10 day)
treatment and symptoms appear to get worse before they got better.
However it successfully treated my temperamental Pangassius catfish
which developed an eye fluke: see
this page for
pictures and more details.
Internal Bacteria, Dropsy and Popeye
Popeye on an infected fish||
With symptoms where the fish fattens up and its scales stick out
like a pinecone you can be sure it has dropsy, a bad case of internal
bacteria. Interpet has a remedy for this and Esha2000 has been found
to prolong life in this case, but as it is contagious and nearly always
fatal, I'd consider putting down affected fish or at least isolating
them in a separate hospital tank.
If the fish should die and its popeye rupture or its body be cannibalised
by other fish, it can release bacteria into the water or infect other
fish, so if you cannot isolate the fish it is worth considering putting
it down as the chances of recovery are slight.
Fin and Skin Injuries
My fish quite often peck each other. Slow moving fish with big fins are
at risk of this, and I was shocked to find one fish with a fin which
was barely sticks, and patches of bald skin. Fin rot can also cause
Fins will usually grow back unless they have wasted right to the body of the fish, so intervene well before this happens. I've had some guppies which were pecked to rags, and now have perfect fins which they show off around the tank, so don't despair. Just keep the water quality high.
A great treatment in this case is Melafix which promotes skin and fin healing - however
it is NOT an antibacterial despite claims to the contrary.
You should also keep the fish separate in a breeding net (see above) until
it has healed.
An injured fish: pectoral fin worn away, skin red and sore.|
Fish Symptom Diagnosis
I have transcribed a fish symptom diagnosis chart,
click here to read it. The following illnesses
White spot, Velvet, Slime disease, Higher form parasite, Finrot, Mouth rot,
Internal bacterial infection, Bacterial gill infection, Fungus, Swim
bladder problem and Poisoning and water quality issues.
Once you have a diagnosis, you can treat the fish accordingly.
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This page last updated: 01 September 2022
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