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FishDeals.com | Aquarium Fish Disease Identification, Diagnosis & Treatment
Fish Tuberculosis (Curved Spine) - Identification & Treatment

Major Sick Fish Diseases:

Much has been written on the topic of stress & disease, below is summary to help guide you throughout Fish Tuberculosis (Curved Spine) prevention and identification. Please feel free to send any comments or suggestions to Ask An Expert.

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  • Curved or Crooked Spine Skeletal deformity.
  • Lesions on the body.
  • loss of scales.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Body wasting Progressive thinness.
  • Dis-coloration.
  • Sluggish movement
  • Folded fins
  • Eye protrusion
  • Dark coloration and granular appearance of the cornea.
  • Hanging at the surface
  • Skin defects, including blood spots and open wounds that may ulcerate
  • Black spots, or overall dark coloration (in Cichlids particularly).

  • Symptoms of Stress & Disease
  • Fish Tuberculosis (Curved Spine) General Description
    The symptoms of Fish TB are usually wasting, lesions on the body, skeletal deformities (a few of mine developed curved spines), and loss of scales and coloration. This is a relentless disease.

    Most references actually call this disease Fish TB, but it is not actually TB and it is transmissible to animals other than fish. Fish TB is caused by Mycobacterium marinum, a bacterium closely related to the TB bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. There are actually over fifty species of bacteria related to tuberculosis that can cause disease. They are typically able to live in any number of environments, in soil, water and animals.

    Fish Tuberculosis (Curved Spine) Treatments
    Effectively, there is no sensible cure. The only way to cure the infected aquarium is to immediately remove infected fish as soon as they show any symptoms. Ideally all other susceptible fish should also be removed.

    Once the fish became emaciated I had no luck saving them. Traditional tricks for curing diseased fish, such as adding salt and raising the temperature, are ineffective and in the case of the raising temperature may even be detrimental. The bacteria grow better in warmer water; their optimum temperature is 30C. They have no problem with salt either; they can infect saltwater fish as well as freshwater.

    I have read cases where treatment of the open wounds with penicillin ointment have effected a cure. As the disease is bacterial, antibiotics should work, but in general these are only available on veterinary prescription and injection of infected fish may be required, so such cures are hardly useful,to the average aquarium keeper.

    Fish Tuberculosis (Curved Spine) Prevention
    Prevention is key to avoiding this disease since it is so difficult to cure. The immune system is usually enough to prevent an infection in healthy fish. Stress, which suppresses the body's immune system, and/or wounds in fish are most likely to allow an infection to take hold. Therefore, eliminating stress is paramount. Although aquarists don't frequently get this disease, using gloves when cleaning infected tanks is highly recommended. Starting a siphon by mouth is also a good way to expose yourself unnecessarily to the bacteria. If a tank has been infected, it is considered best to bleach it well and dry it out before restocking it.

    Bacilli may be in the faeces, scraps of skin or burst abscesses and can be ingested by healthy fish. If infected fish die and are eaten by others (as we have all seen, on occasion, in a poorly attended fish retailer's stock tanks) then an overwhelming infection may result.

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    Fish Tuberculosis (Curved Spine) Frequently Asked Questions

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    #ImageDisease TitleTop 3 Symptoms
    1. Ammonia Poisoning
  • Red streaking on the fins or body.
  • Purple or red gills.
  • Fins are torn & jagged.
  • 2. Anchor Worms
  • Tiny white-green or red worms in wounds.
  • Frequent rubbing or "flashing".
  • Ulcers may appear.
  • 3. Black Spot
  • Small black speckles on body.
  • Frequent rubbing or "flashing".
  • Small black smudges on fish.
  • 4. Cataracts
  • White or grey "foggy" eyes.
  • Eye looks like it has a slime coat.
  • Tendency to bump into things.
  • 5. Cotton Mouth
  • White "Cotton like" fungus on the mouth.
  • Lethargy and loss of appetite.
  • White spots on mouth, scales, and fins.
  • 6. Curved Spine (Fish TB)
  • Curved or Crooked Spine.
  • Lesions on the body.
  • loss of scales.
  • 7. Dropsy
  • Huge, Fat, Bloated Belly.
  • Lethargy and loss of appetite.
  • Scales almost popping off.
  • 8. Fin Rot
  • Fins turn Jagged or whitish and die back.
  • Fins look like they were ripped off.
  • Fish is not eating.
  • 9. Hole in the Head
  • Hole in the head.
  • Small sore on head.
  • Lethargy and loss of appetite.
  • 10. Ichthyophthirius
    (white spot or ick)
  • Small white "salt-like" pimples on fins & body.
  • Lethargy and loss of appetite.
  • Frequent rubbing or "flashing".
  • 11. Neon Tetra Disease
  • Restlessness.
  • Whitened areas deep into the fishes' flesh.
  • Spine may become curved.
  • 12. New Tank Syndrome
  • Sudden Death.
  • Cloudy Water.
  • Unexplained Death.
  • 13. Oodinium (velvet)
  • Fine grey-gold to whitish 'dust' on the body.
  • Very rapid gill movement.
  • Scratching or flashing.
  • 14. Parasites (External)
  • Large ugly sores on body.
  • Skin looks grey in patches.
  • Fish swim aimlessly.
  • 15. Planaria
    (white hairlike worms)
  • Small White Hairlike Worms.
  • Tiny, Wiggley Worms often found in the substrate.
  • 16. Pop Eye
  • One or both eyes protrude from the head in an unusual fashion.
  • 17. Skin / Gill Flukes
  • Fish gasps for air at the water's surface
  • Gills open and close rapidly
  • Gills are covered in mucus
  • 18. Swim Bladder Disease
  • Erratic Swimming Position
  • Loss of equilibrium
  • Fish will be unable to maintain buoyancy
  • 19. Vitamin Deficiencies
  • Scoliosis (Curved Spine)
  • Reduced Growth
  • Anorexia (Lack or Loss of Appetite)
  • View Symptoms per Vitamin
  • References/Further Reading

    The Manual of Fish Health
    Dr. Chris Andrews, Adrian Exell and Dr. Neville Carrington.
    New Jersey: Tetra Press, 1988

    Handbook of Fish Diseases
    Dieter Untergasser
    Translation by Howard H. Hirschhorn
    T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 1989

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