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FishDeals.com | Aquarium Fish Disease Identification, Diagnosis & Treatment
External Parasites - Identification & Treatment

Major Sick Fish Diseases:

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

 Ask a Question in the Sick Fish Stress & Disease Forum

  • Large ugly sores on body
  • Skin looks grey in patches.
  • Fish is lethargic
  • Fins are torn & jagged
  • Fish swim aimlessly.
  • May have spasms.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fish lays at the bottom of the tank

  • Symptoms of Stress & Disease
  • External Parasites General Description
    Has your fish been stricken by a parasitic invasion? Most likely is a caused by the environment it is currently in or used to live. Making sure the water is very good before dumping various chemicals into the tank is always best. All fish are potential hosts to many different species of parasites. Small numbers of parasites are common and probably do little harm. However, all parasites have tremendous reproductive potential and can, under ideal conditions, quickly overwhelm fish in the confines of a tank or pond.
    External Parasites Treatments
    Different parasites often need different treatments. This can be important when more than one species is involved. While general anti-parasite treatments are effective with most parasites, they do not treat all parasites. Sometimes, for various reasons such as under-dosing, water chemistry, organic pollution or green water, treatments do not work.

    Treatment can be dependent on the following:
    - Species involved
    - Whether treatment takes place in display tank or back-up tank
    - Volume of tank (some drugs may be too expensive)
    - Value of display organisms (if easily replaced it may be simpler to chlorox the whole tank and start all over)
    - How dangerous the organism is (if one has parasitic dinoflagellates, the tank is small, and the display organisms are common it is best to kill everything before the parasite spreads).

    Fresh water dips for saltwater fish and saltwater dips for fresh water fish will dislodge some external parasites. Length of dips will vary per species; usually three-five minute dips will suffice, remove fish if they go into extreme distress.
    External Parasites Prevention

    Firstly, we will deal with the prevention of fish diseases. It's best to take the following basic precautions as first step in keeping a healthy aquarium :-

    1. Avoid purchasing/adding fishes to your established tank which exhibits the following symptoms :-
    - Unusual swimming behaviour e.g. tailspin, rapid or jerky movement
    - Signs of injuries to fins and body. e.g. bleeding, ulcers, skin or fin tear
    - Not eating. A healthy fish will devour any food gladly
    - Eyes blurry. Popeye or cloudiness.

    2. Pay attention to the fishes for at least a few minutes a day and observe the behaviour. Stressed fishes may exhibit certain unusual behaviour :-
    - Not eating.
    - Always hiding, being bullied by other tank mates regularly.
    - Coming up to the surface to breath regularly, could be a sign of an over-crowded tank or insufficient dissolved oxygen in the water. (in the latter, changing fresh water will help)

    3. Ensure the water condition is kept to the ideal level. Check for presence of ammonia and variation in pH (test kits are easily available) at least once a month.Practice regular fresh water changing, make sure the temperature and pH level is similar and not to more than 50% of the water at one time. Avoid cleaning your biological filter all at once, alternate the cleaning.

    Image Gallery of External Parasites
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    External Parasites Frequently Asked Questions

    Have a Question, please post one here, Ask An Expert

    #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

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