Aquarium Store Pond Store Solutions Index
Disease Descriptions & Recommended Treatments

When using any medication, follow all instructions carefully. Diagnosis is made by your best guess and treatment will not always be successful. Responsible attempts should be made, however, to save fish. Heroic attempts should be made to prevent disease.

Since most medications are absorbed by carbon, remove all carbon filtration before treatment. Many medications deplete oxygen reserves in the water. Add additional aeration when necessary.

Be observant. An awareness of healthy behavior and appearance will tip you off much sooner when problems are brewing. Observe fish carefully during treatment. What you learn from one treatment may help you during the next outbreak.

Diagnosis and treatment of disease conditions is a subjective endeavor. Aquarium Connection cannot be responsible for the outcome of any recommended treatment.

•• We cannot be responsible for fish loss due to treatments outlined on this site.
We encourage you to buy healthy livestock from reputable dealers, observe fish carefully at regular intervals and test your water frequently for problems.
Prevention is always your first line of defense against disease. ••

Bacterial Infection
Recognizing, diagnosing and treating bacterial infections is not an easy, straight forward task. Bacterial infections may affect internal organs, external organs or both and more than one pathogenic organism can cause similar symptoms. Bacterial infections can stem from many causes, even combinations of contributing causes, and result in potentially fatal diseases. Fortunately, most bacterial infections in saltwater fish are manageable if caught and treated early enough.
Rapid breathing.
Reddened and frayed fins, or red streaks through the fins.
Disintegration of the fins (fin and tail rot).
Redness, streaks or blotches along the lateral line.
Open sores on the body and near the fins.
Bloody scales at the base of the fins.
A gray film over the eyes and/or body.
Loss of appetite.
Listlessness or lethargy.
Abdominal swelling or bloating - in saltwater fish frequently indicates bladder infection.

Recommended Medications Kanamycin
Tetracycline - added to food for use directly in main tank
Paraguard - for use directly in aquarium

This parasite, like Oodinium, has a three-stage life cycle. The first signs of this common disease present as white spots on the skin and/or fins. Early detection will keep most hobbyists from losing fish. Outbreaks of this disease are frequently brought on by stress. Unlike Oodiniium, Cryptocaryon does not initially infect the gills causing respiratory distress. It can infect the gills and bloodstream in later stages, however. In addition, the disease can cause cloudiness of the eye and lead to optical problems and even blindness if not treated quickly. Treatment is often difficult because the organism burrows into the slime layer where it is more protected from medications.

Recommended Medications
Keep the tank as stable as possible and treat at the first sign of the disease with Paraguard and Cupramine. Cupramine is most effective at concentrations of .6ppm. Use a copper test kit to monitor the concentration and dose incrementally as needed until .6ppm is reached. Treat the tank at this level for 10 days. Follow the instructions carefully.

Copper can not be used with invertebrates.

In reef tanks use
AquaLife BioPro Plus, combined with Herbtana following the directions carefully. Paraguard is relatively safe for non-filter feeding invertebrates and can be used as an alternate treatment in the main tank or in a treatment tank. Fish in reef systems can also be moved and treated in a separate tank with Cupramine as above. If the inhabitants are moved, remember to treat the main tank with AquaLife Cure to help prevent and control outbreak upon fish placed back in the aquarium.

The dinoflagellate protozoan parasite, Oodinium ocellatum, first presents as a white film covering the body. The fish loses its iridescent appearance which has given rise to the common term, velvet disease. Careful observation of the overall appearance and especially the skin is an important diagnostic skill. Oodinium is most easily detected as the fish turns against the light and you will notice the velvet look. Later stages of the disease are characterized by rapid breathing and the eyes may become clouded.

Early detection and treatment will keep most hobbyists from losing fish. Stress may cause the outbreak of this disease. Keep the tank as stable as possible and treat at the first sign of the disease with Cupramine. Cupramine is most effective at concentrations of .6ppm. Use a Copper Test Kit to monitor the concentration and dose incrementally as needed until .6ppm is reached. Treat the tank at this level for 10 days. Follow the instructions carefully.

Freshwater dips may also be effective.

Copper can not be used with invertebrates. In reef tanks use
AquaLife Cure or AquaLife BioPro Plus following the directions carefully. Fish in reef systems can also be moved and treated in a separate tank with Quinex and Cupramine as above. If the inhabitants are moved, remember to treat the main tank with Marine-Max to help prevent and control outbreak upon fish placed back in the aquarium.

Tuberculosis or Mycobacterium
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a group of nonmotile, rod-shaped bacteria belonging to the genus Mycobacterium. This is one of the few gram positive bacteria that are pathogenic to fish, but only cause disease in poor water conditions and overcrowding. All aquarium fish are susceptible to tuberculosis. Infected fish appear lethargic, emaciated, refuse food and lose color. As the disease progresses, scales and fins become involved. Swellings may appear in the skin, the eyes begin to protrude and the spine may become deformed. Nodules, or tubercles, begin to form in the internal organs and eventually disrupt normal physiology. Affected fish may remain hidden with labored breathing or remain at the surface of the water breathing rapidly. Tuberculosis is transmitted from fish to fish and, once an outbreak has occurred, it is likely that most of the fish will be affected.

Recommended Medications
Cure of this disease has been doubtful, at best. Some positive results have been reported from the use of tuberculin drugs, such as Isoniazid (in the past), and perhaps Kanamycin or Baytril currently. Unfortunately though, once symptoms become apparent, there typically is no reversal and therefore no cure as the appearance of visible symptoms seem to indicate a point of no return. Due to the fact that this disease appears to be highly contagious given the proper conditions, the cause of action recommended is to destroy the affected specimen.
Symptoms of Tuberculosis are very similar to Ichthyosporidium so this possibility should not be overlooked. Like Ichthyosporidium, TB is difficult, if not impossible, to treat. Treatment with
Neomycin may be helpful.

The term 'Popeye', also called exophthalmos or exophthalmia, more accurately describes a symptom than an actual disease. Popeye is characterized by one or both eyes bulging or protruding from the eye socket, appearing to have excess air or fluid trapped inside. Early in the condition, vision may or may not be impaired, appetite is usually not affected and the fish appears and behaves normal. Popeye may last from several days to weeks.

No real cause of this normally non-contagious condition has been determined, but a number of factors may give rise to the problem. Injury to the eye from netting, bullying by other fish or abrasion from hard objects are possible causes. Popeye may also be a symptom of a secondary infection or internal bacterial, viral or fungal infection.  

Treatment outcomes are not consistant. Treatment should be started at the onset of symptoms. Along with treating the fish with Kanamycin or Neomycin, feeding frozen foods soaked in Tetracycline may help. Treatment may or may not be effective and a number of possible outcomes may result. Certainly the most favorable outcome is that the eye returns to its normal appearance and function. Conversely, partial or complete blindness may occur, the affected eye may become cloudy, rupture and disappear. None of these situations is always fatal, but when the result is total blindness, the fish's chances of survival are slim, at best. Some hobbyists have been known to hand feed their blind fish for years.

This ciliated parasite, named Brooklynella hostilis, attacks both the gills and skin of the fish and is often associated with heavy sliming sometimes seen on Clownfish. It causes respiratory distress and loss of appetite. Brooklynella damages fish extensively and often leads to secondary bacterial infections. Unlike Oodinium, or Cryptocaryon parasites, Brooklynella is not susceptible to treatment with copper.

Freshwater dips may also be effective.

Recommended Medications
AquaLife Cure in a well aerated treatment tank followed by Nitrofurazone treatment works best. The aquarium can also be treated with Cupramine if no corals and invertebrates are present.

Intestinal Trematodes
Fish with intestinal parasites may show absolutely no symptoms other than the lack of weight gain no matter what they are fed. Symptoms of intestinal parasites are varied from species to species. Fish infested with internal parasites will often have pinched in abdomens but voracious appetites. Infestation with internal parasites is sometimes accompanied by faded coloration. In the early stages of infestation, some fish exhibit finicky eating habits and the dorsal fins remain clamped.

Recommended Medications
Treat with Praziquantel. This medication can be used directly in most tanks without adversely affecting the biological filter. A more effective means of treatment is administration by way of food. Frozen food is softened, the medication is added and mixed and the food is re-frozen and fed as normal.

Ichthyosporidium hoferi is the most common member of a group of fungi infecting fish. External signs of infestation include emaciation, swelling of the abdomen, flaking fins, skin damage and abnormal swimming. These parasites can invade any organ, especially the liver, kidneys and intestines eventually leading to disruption of normal organ function. This contagious disease appears on the skin as white, necrotic nodules. Once skin involvement is noted, the disease is in advanced stages.

Recommended Medications
There is no known cure, but because infections of this type are usually associated with secondary bacterial infections, treat with HyperCure Herbal ICK Stop or Cupramine. A good, high quality diet and good water conditions are critical for healthy fish and healthy fish are more resistant to disease. Treat the tank with AquaLife BioPro Plus and supplement the diet with VitaChem.

Although hypercapnia is technically a condition rather than a disease, and may exhibit no specific symptoms, it is a condition that may occur in your aquarium and one you should consider when there are no other obvious signs of disease.

Hypercapnia causes decreased oxygen flow into and out of the fish's body. Reduced ventilation means that carbon dioxide, a waste product of metabolism, cannot be effectively cleared from the gills and the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood rises making it more acidic. The pH drops and a condition known as acidosis develops. At the same time, the amount of oxygen in the blood falls because the volume of oxygen brought in through the gills is reduced. Fish may appear listless and lethargic.

Recommended Medications
More aeration or water movement should be implemented to increase gas exchange between the tank water and the air. The addition of a protein skimmer will solve the problem by agitating the water and releasing the carbon dioxide gas.

Gill Flukes
Gill flukes is a generic name for a group of trematodes, or flatworms, which, in the adult stages, live as parasites. Gyrodactylus and Dactylogyrus are two common genera. Many species live on the skin and gills of both saltwater and freshwater fish. Gill flukes anchor themselves to the skin and gill tissue where they feed on blood or other body fluids. Persistent infestation results in swelling and reddening of the gill tissue eventually leading to shortage of breath. All species lay eggs and the hatching larvae attach themselves to the skin or gills of the host fish.

Rapid breathing and scratching against the bottom are the obvious signs of infestation. At advanced stages, swelling and redness of the gills is obvious.

Recommended Medications
Effective against external parasites, flukes, flatworms, turbellaria, and tapeworms. Can be used in fresh or saltwater. Product is much safer than other anti-parasitic medications. Do not stop filtration, but remove activated carbon and stop foam-fractionation (protein skimming) and UV sterilization. Any water used should first be conditioned with
AquaLife Complete. Repeat as necessary, but no more than once every 3 to 5 days. May be used as a preventative, at the standard dosage, when disease is likely. Do not use with other drugs or disease treatments. May cause temporary foaming. Non-toxic to commonly kept aquarium animals or plants.

Uronema marinum
Uromena, a ciliated protozoan parasite, is found frequently on weakened fish, particularly recently shipped fish. Fish transported 24 to 48 hours in poor water - excess ammonia, low pH, accumulating waste and low oxygen - are ideal hosts for this insidious parasite. In the early stages of the disease, fish appear nervous, breathe heavily and scratch themselves on the bottom of the aquarium to rid themselves of excess mucus accumulation on the scales. (Scratching by the Wrasse family of fishes does not always indicate disease.) Uronema produces lesions similar to those seen in bacterial infections, i.e., Septicemia. As the disease progresses, bloody sites become apparent on the skin and scales appear lifted. These bloody areas develop into large wounds in the end stages of disease. Treatment at this point is usually unsuccessful. Dying fish hang at the surface.

Recommended Medications
Treatment is twofold. First, a bucket (one used just for the aquarium) should be filled with 3 gallons aquarium water. Treat the water with 4ml of Methylene Blue and two capsules of Nitrofurazone. Aerate the water with an airstone and place the fish in the bucket for 30 minutes. Return the fish to the aquarium if it is overly stressed - lying on its side or breathing too rapidly.

Next, since Uronema are free-swimming, the main tank should be treated with

Early detection and treatment will keep most hobbyists from losing fish.
Stress may cause the outbreak of this disease. Keep the tank as stable as possible.

Lymphocystis is probably the most common viral disease in fish. This viral infection is usually limited to the external surface of the fish’s body and first appears as tiny, whitish spots on the fins or on the skin and gradually develops into pearl- or raspberry-like tumors. Cells in the infected area become enlarged many times over.

Lymphocystis is not fatal and it is debatable whether it is highly contagious. While not fatal, fish may die due to untreated secondary bacterial infections. If infection occurs around the mouth or gill plate it can inhibit respiration and eating.

Recommended Medications
Lymphocystis is highly resistant to treatment. Following manual removal with sterile tweezers, treat with Kanamycin or Nitrofurazone for secondary bacterial infection. Baths in a heavily aerated 5 gallon bucket of saltwater treated with Kanamycin for 20 minutes to an hour has also proven fairly effective. Remember to watch the fish carefully during treatment and remove them if they are overly stressed. Follow up the bath treatment with Nitrofurazone treatment in a quarantine tank.

This external fungal disease usually affects the skin or fins of fish following injury or damage from another disease. Healthy fish are rarely affected by this fungus. Saprolegnia sp. penetrates damaged mucosa forming a white, cotton-wool growth that, in severe cases, can penetrate the skin to the muscle layers. The fungus reproduces by spores which, when released, attach to the nearest susceptible host. Since infection by Saprolegnia is almost always a secondary infection, prevention is the first line of defense.

Recommended Medications
Fungal infections are difficult to treat and this one is no exception. Ideally, the affected fish should be removed from the main tank and treated with Paraguard. Determine the primary cause of the problem in the main tank and remedy it to prevent further outbreaks. Bacta_Dip

If Paraguard is used in the main tank, remove sensitive invertebrates. Following treatment, remove all traces of the medication with
Carbon or Poly Filters. It should not be used with sensitive Invertebrates. Infected fish should be treated with Kanamycin along with the Paraguard.

Cyanide Poisoning
Cyanide poisoning can be suspected if the fish originated from the Philippines. Fish may be lethargic, disoriented, exhibit reckless behavior and develop bloody patches of the body or display no symptoms at all.

Recommended Medications
Make every effort to purchase from a dealer that guarantees purchasing from drug-free sources. A high quality dealer will also quarantine the livestock prior to selling them. Fish with cyanide poisoning will rarely get Oodinium. Treatment for suspected case must be administered in a treatment tank. Treat with Methylene Blue. Treatment should be repeated when blue coloration of water diminishes.

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