Fish Disease – Diagnosis and Treatment

As with quarantining, the course of treatment must be thorough and also well documented. Don’t jump to conclusions. An example of this might be the following scenario: fish are panting at the surface. Obviously an oxygen deficiency, but where? If adding extra aeration doesn’t relieve the situation then there may be enough oxygen in the water, but the fish cannot access it because of a parasitic gill infection. So the next step is to examine the fish’s gills. Depending on the problem, there are two options open for methods of administering treatment. Treatments can be carried out collectively in the main aquarium, say, for curing a disease that all the fish have contracted; or a single fish, say, suffering from a wound or sore, can be individually treated in a separate hospital tank.

With regard to the use of treatments, when adding treatments to the hospital tank always remove any carbon from the filter first, as the carbon will remove the medication before it can affect a cure. Some remedies may be light sensitive, so it is a good practice to keep the hospital tank under subdued lighting conditions.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions as accurately as possible. You will need to know the exact water volume capacity of the hospital tank (or tank to be treated). Never be tempted to add a bit more medication ‘to be on the safe side’; over-dosing can be lethal, whilst under-dosing can be ineffective.

Never go on to a different treatment immediately (if the first remedy tried failed to work) without returning the water conditions in the hospital tank to normal first. This is to avoid an accumulation of remedies in the tank, as they may react together to create a toxic situation. A further reason for this is that should a subsequent remedy prove to work, how can you be sure it was the last used remedy or a combination of all remedies you may have used?

Make sure that all equipment used in and around the hospital tank never comes into contact with any equipment used for other tanks. This will reduce the risk of cross-infections.

Should the worst happen
The fishkeeper’s responsibility to the environment also includes disposing of any dead fish. Flushing down the toilet is not acceptable as pathogens could re-enter the native water system. Incineration is preferred with burial another alternative.

Also in mind the possibilities of contaminating the water system when disposing of water during routine maintenance, should any fish in the aquarium appear diseased. Scattering the water over a wide area in the garden should ensure it ‘degrades’ as fast as possible before it seeps through the soil to find its natural way back to the water system.

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