Fish disease prevention
Fish disease prevention

Fish disease prevention

By: ILuveMyGoldBarb

An Ounce of Prevention
Definitely worth the pound of Cure

Many of the emergencies that we face in our tanks are quite preventable. Diseases in a main tank are something that are almost 100% preventable. Most of the time we run into problems because we have failed in some way. Now, that is a pretty bold statement to make, and it puts almost all the responsibility for issues on the fish keeper and not the fish. The purpose of this small article is to provide the fish keeper with the ounce of prevention needed so that the pound of cure can stay on the shelf at your local fish store.

Parasites are something that are often seen in tanks and they show up in two forms; internal and external. The two most common external parasites found in the freshwater hobby are Ich and Flukes. Internal parasites are not too common with captive bred fish but are very common in wild caught fish, especially bottom feeders. Prevention of all of these in the main tank is quite simple, for all that is required is a quarantine tank. There are very very few exceptions to the quarantine statement and all of them occur on the marine side of the hobby. Quarantine tanks do not need to be large tanks as they are only temporary homes, a ten gallon tank would suffice for almost all freshwater fish. All new fish should be introduced to the quarantine tank and observed for six weeks. During that time, water changes should be done every couple of days unless you are medicating the tank. Treatment of parasite in the smaller quarantine tank is much more cost effective and much less stressful on the other fish. Also, if you never expose the others to the potential for these parasites then they are also better off. In the quarantine tank you may apply your preferred method of treatment for parasites. For wild caught fish, fresh garlic seems to be one of the most effective treatments for internal parasites, and for external parasites like Ich I prefer to use salt as a treatment.

Bacterial issues are just as preventable as parasites if not more preventable. Weather they are secondary or primary, bacterial infections are generally are result of poor or less than ideal water conditions. Bacteria is extremely opportunistic. Bacterial infections are often a secondary problem. Many times a wound on the fish will become infected. This is a case where proper tank maintenance can completely remove any need for treatment of any kind. Secondary bacterial infections form because of less then ideal water conditions, and this is something that can be taken care of with water changes. While they are often secondary bacterial infections are sometimes the primary problem, and such is the case with cotton mouth, Hold-in-the-head and fin rot. All three of these problems (especially fin rot and HITH) are caused by poor water conditions. Hole-in-the-head disease is a common problem in tanks containing large South American cichlids. Unfortunately, many people who keep Oscars fail to do the proper maintenance on their tanks. Water changes on a tank with such a heavy waste producer must be done more often than every two weeks and they should be more than thirty percent. Gravel siphoning is also an important practice when caring for these fish. South American cichlids are not high bio-load fish simply because of the waste they produce, they are also extremely messy eaters and a good portion of it ends up trapped in the substrate where it rots and fouls the water. Removal of that waste is important. Keeping up with regular tank maintenance is an almost sure prevention for all bacterial infections, including the nearly-always-fatal Dropsy.

There are a few issues that simply cannot be treated and therefore fall into a different category. Prevention of these is again almost impossible but the release of them into the main system is possible. The two main problems that can't be treated or prevented are Neon Tetra disease, and Fish Tuberculosis. Thankfully, Fish Tuberculosis is not very common at all, and is almost non-existent in captive bred fish. Fish TB is actually one of the few fish diseases that can be transmitted to humans, however it is nothing like the human form. Prevention of this disease is extremely difficult because it will often times have no symptoms, one day a fish will seem fine and the next day it is dead. Neon Tetra Disease does have visible signs, is deadly to all characins, cannot be treated, and is highly contagious. Any characin displaying the signs of Neon Tetra disease should be immediately removed from the tank to a hospital tank for observation. If it is clear that the fish does have NTD then euthanasing the fish should be considered. Again this is a fairly rare disease and the only prevention that can really be done is preventing it from spreading.

So you can prevent these problems in a very cost effective way, but the responsibility lies with the fish keeper. When something goes wrong in your tank the first place to look is your own actions as the keeper. Have you done proper water changes? Have you properly maintained your filter? Are you vacuuming the tank gravel? New fish keepers often feel they have to do something every day and they rightfully so. The one thing that every fish keeper should do every day (besides feed the fish) is observe all the fish for changes, this is the quickest and easiest prevention anyone can perform.