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Fish Guide

Fish diseases

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Fish are susceptible to fish diseases just as any other organism. There are hundreds of afflictions that can effect the health of fish. Fish disease has remained a rudimentary branch of veterinary medicine. The reasons are their miniature nature makes tests more difficult and cheap price of most fish exceeds expensive tests and medication cost. Fish diseases can be referred to as etiology organ/system most severely affected. Communicable disease can easily affect most fishes in the aquarium due to limited volume of water and increased number of fish compared to natural environments. Many diseases in captive fish are avoidable and preventible. Water conditions are important factors. In spite of all precautions, disease episodes may still occur in the aquarium especially when fish face environmental stresses.
 *Who hears the fish when they cry?*
 - Henry David Thoreau 1849



Disease cures are almost always more expensive and less effective than simple prevention measures, including moving between fisheries to avoid spreading disease.

Identified precautions:

  • Avoid introducing infected stock into the water.
  • Avoid stressing the fish
    • Keep fish in ideal water conditions
      • Don't overcrowd the aquarium
      • Don't overfeed the fish
      • Fish bowls? No please.
  • Don't introduce external disease sources
    • Qurantine newly bought fish
    • Don't buy from shops with diseased fish
    • Think about introducing other plants and invertebrates
  • Monitor the fish
    • Keep a close look at the fishes at least a couple of minutes a day, such as during fish feeding.
    • As a rule of thumb, if the fish appears distressed, remove it immediately and monitor it for a couple of days.
  • Remove infected fish from your populated tank
  • Avoid using unknown chemicals in your tank
    • Never use soap or detergent when cleaning out anything that is to be in the aquarium

Fish disease etiology

Myxobolus cerebralis triactinomyxon
Myxobolus cerebralis triactinomyxon
  • Bacterial infections
    • External bacterial infection
      • Pseudomonas fluorescens
        Cotton Mouth, Mouth Fungus, Chondrococcus columnaris
        Scale Protrusion
        Tail Rot & Fin Rot
    • Internal bacterial infection
    • Frunculosis (Aeromonas salmonicida)
      • Fish Dropsy
        Red pest
      • Septicemia
        • Pop Eye
      • Mycobacteria
        • Fish Tuberculosis, (Curved Spine), Crooked Spine, Mycobacterium piscium
  • Fungal infections
    • Saprolegnia
      Fungal cataract
  • Mould infections
    • Water moulds
      • Oomycetes
  • Parasitic Disorders
    • Gyrodactylus salaris
    • Protozoa
      • Malawi Bloat
        Velvet disease
        Brooklynella hostilis
    • Myxosporea
      • Ceratomyxa shasta
        Kudoa thrysites
        Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae
        Ceratomyxa shasta
    • Microspora
      • Neon Tetra Disease Pleistophora hyphessobryconis
    • Helmintic
      • Leeches
      • Platyhelminthes, Flat worms
        • Planaria
      • Cercaria and Metacercaria
        • Black Spot, Diplostomiasis
    • Crustaceans
      • Argulus (Fish louse)
      • Copepods
        • Lernea Anchor worms
  • Viral Disorders
    • Koi Herpes virus (KHV)
      Infectious salmon anemia
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Water conditions
    • Physical conditions
      • Too many fish
      • The tank is too small
      • New tank syndrome (NTS)
    • O2
      • Insufficient aeration
    • PH
      • Acid Water
      • Alkaline Water
      • pH fluctuations greater than 0.2 units/day
      • Adding concentrated acid/alkaline (Chemical burns)
    • Water Hardness
      • High GH
      • Low Gh
    • Temporary Hardness
      • High Kh
      • Low Kh
    • Water temperature
      • Water Too hot
      • Water Too Cold
    • Poisoning
      • Ammonia Poisoning
        Nitrite poisoning
        Copper Poisoning
        Clorine Poisoning
        Chloramine Poisoning
  • Malnutrition
    • Undefined
      • Rotting nose disease
    • Underfeeding
    • Overfeeding
    • Wrong food
    • Foods not varied
    • Vitamin deficiency
      • Fat Soluble Vitamins
        • Vitamin A
          Vitamin D
      • Water Soluble Vitamins
        • Thiamine (B1)
        • Riboflavin (B2)
        • Nicotinic Acid (niacin, B3)
        • Pantothenic Acid (B5)
        • Pyroxidine (B6)
        • Cyanocobalamin (B12)
        • Ascorbic Acid (C)
          • Hole in the head disease
        • Biotin (H)
        • Choline
        • Folic Acid (M)
        • Inositol
        • p-Aminobenzoic Acid
        • Vitamin E
    • Mineral deficiency
      • Calcium
    • Constipation
  • Injuries
    • Incompatible species
    • Improper handling
    • Sharp decors
  • Tumors
    • Benign
    • Malign
  • Congenital Abnormalities
    • Beneficial
      • Albinism
      • Extra finnage
    • Undesirable

Fish disease by affected organ system

  • Neurological Disorders
  • Body Cavity
  • Eye Disorders
    • Cloudy cornea
    • Blindness
    • Cataract
    • Black Spot
    • Pop Eye , exophtalmia
  • Fecal Disorders
  • Fin Disorders
    • Fin rot
  • Gallbladder
  • Gill Disorders
    • Gill flukes (Dactylogyrus )
  • Intestinal Disorders
  • Kidney Disorders
  • Liver Disorders
  • Locomotor Disorders
    • Spine
      • Scoliosis
  • Mouth disorders
    • Cotton Mouth
  • Skin Disorders & Changes In Color
    • Anchor Worm
      Black spots (diplopstomiasis)
      Fish Lice (Argulus)
      Ich (white spot disease)
      Scale Loss (stress)
      Skin flukes (Gyrodactylus)
      Slime Disease
    • Ulcers
      • Ulcerative dermal necrosis
    • Velvet
  • Swim Bladder Disease
    • Congenitally deformed
    • Tumor adjacent to the swim bladder
    • Constipation
    • Malnutrition
    • Chilling
    • temperature fluctuations
    • Serious parasitic infestation
    • Serious bacterial infection

Fish Disease treatment


If the disease cause is not obvious, check water conditions, including temperature, pH, GH, KH, NH3, NH4, PO4, NO2. Observe the fish for symptoms. Check any recent changes.

Hospital Tank

Diseased fish should be isolated whenever possible so they are not likely to spread infections among other healthy fish in the tank. The best way to isolate sick fish is to set up a hospital tank. If possible move all sick fish to a hospital tank, without sand, live plants and decorations. If the treatment is an antibiotic antiseptic or copper based, remember to remove all carbon from the filtration system. Make sure the biological filtration in your aquarium which cycle harmfull ammonia and nitrites is not destroyed by drugs. The tank should be furnished with a reliable heater that will not permit much temperature variance. The tank should be furnished with an air stone. After treating the sick fish, disinfect the tank.


An alternative means of treating a fish is to give it a short bath in a bucket containing water and a medication or salt.

Salt bath

A salt bath is a good way of treating the fish without damaging the beneficial bacteria. It is a good antiseptic and fungicide. Most table salts may contain additives like magnesium sulfate to keep them from clumping and appear whiter, which might not be beneficial to fish. Aquarium salt is recommended, although Kosher salt or rock salt is satisfactory.

Heat Therapy

Heat therapy of raising the water temperature, can be administered to kill certain parasites. The temperature should be raised gradually. Sometimes diseased fish cannot handle such a temperature change, or the species can not tolerate high temperatures. Discontinue treatment if any side effects occur. Aeration is necessary since less oxygen is dissolved in warm water.


Commercial fish medications are not regulated by any government agency. This means that some commercial medications have not been tested for safety or effectiveness. Thus some medications may be completely useless and may be even harmful to aquarium inhabitants.

Treatment Options

  • Conservative treatment
    • Temperature modifications
    • Changing water conditions
  • Pharmaceuticals
    • Drug baths
    • Topical drugs
    • Feeding drugs
    • Injecting drugs
  • Surgery
  • Killing the fish

Example drugs used in Fish treatment

  • Antibiotics
    • Tetracycline
  • Antihelmintic
    • Parachlorometaxylenol
  • Antifungals
    • Phenoxethol
  • Antiseptics
    • Malachite green
      Potassium permanganate
      Methylene blue
      Acriflavine, (trypaflavine)
      Mardel's Maroxy
      Quaternary ammonium compounds: (QACs)
      Monacrin (monoaminoacridine)
  • Chloramine-T
  • Anti constipation
    • Parrafin oil
      Castor oil
  • Other
    • Trichlorofon


Nitrogen cycle
Nitrogen cycle
  • Damaging Nitrogen cycle
    Damaging aquarium plants
    Damaging freshwater invertebrates in aquarium


  1. ISBN 1564651606 Manual Of Fish Health
  2. ISBN 1582450498 AZ of Tropical Fish Diseases & Health Problems, Peter Burgess
  3. ISBN 0866227032 Handbook of Fish Diseases, Dieter Untergasser
  4. ISBN 0764113380 A Commonsense Guide to Fish Health - Fairfield

External links

  1. Info Health
  2. Help with Stress & Disease
  3. Journal of Fish Diseases
  4. The European Union puts in place a framework of measures to combat certain fish diseases effectively and to prevent their spread.

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