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Identify, Prevent & Treat Freshwater Aquarium Diseases

Posted by on Aug 27 2019

Much like fish in the wild or any other household pets, tropical freshwater fish kept at home are susceptible to diseases. Of course, there are steps to take to minimise the risk of illness, and it is an unlikely occurrence for fish-keepers who ensure a clean fish tank and healthy water. However, sometimes, these things happen, regardless of your high levels of care!

First of all, let's recognise some of the most common fish diseases to occur in a freshwater fish tank. 

Dropsy Fish Disease 

Dropsy disease is usually fatal in fish. The most common indicator of Dropsy is through the swelling of your fish's abdomen, often resulting in their scales sticking out. On top of this, you might notice a significant decrease in appetite and almost lifeless behaviour.

If you suspect your fish has Dropsy and other fish also inhabit the tank, you must quarantine the suspected fish immediately and contact your vet.

Neon Tetra Disease

Contrary to the suggestive name, it isn't only Neon Tetra fish that can contract Neon Tetra disease. 

Neon Tetra disease is a commonly occurring illness due to the frequent inclusion of Neon Tetra fish in at-home tropical aquariums. 

A Microsporidian parasite causes the degenerative illness, which starts mild but takes its hold rather quickly. 

Symptoms of Neon Tetra Disease include restlessness, swimming difficulties, scale discolouration and cysts may form in the muscles.

White Spot, aka Ich Disease

White Spot, also known as Ich (Ick), is a parasite that results in fatality if not treated quickly. The name originates from the most common symptom, which is white spots sprinkled on your fish's body. Your freshwater aquarium fish might rub against objects to relieve irritation, and they can often come lethargic and sit on the tank's floor. 

The only way for to effectively rid the parasite is through treating the whole tank. Proper Ich treatment can seem like a lengthy process, but if you don't complete it correctly, the White Spot will likely occur again.

Fin Rot

If the fin of your freshwater fish pets has become frayed and turning white at the edges, they might have contracted fin rot. Poor water quality can cause fin rot in fish, but bullying from other fish in the freshwater tank is also a common trigger of fin rot. 

How to Prevent Aquarium Disease

There are many causes of disease in a tropical aquarium, some of which you can't avoid. However, you can prevent MOST triggers of fish disease with the right care. 

Stress is a prominent cause of fish diseases because stress is known to weaken the immune system of your tropical aquarium fish. 

Stress in fish can occur from poor diet, inadequate water quality, lousy filtration, overcrowding, and even bullying from any other fish sharing the tank. An easy way to ensure your fish remain stress-free, and hopefully disease-free as a result, is regular TLC. 

You should be sure that you are feeding your fish the most appropriate fish food for their species, and also in the correct amounts. Feeding your fish too little causes starvation, feeding them too much means your fish could become overweight, both of which induce stress. 

Water quality is also crucial to disease prevention, firstly for stress, but also to prevent parasites that thrive in stagnant, poor-quality water. Freshwater fish tanks should be well heated, adequately lit (NOT 24/7), and filtered to perfection. Your filter needs changing regularly, and you should carry out occasional full tank cleans. You can read our guide to maintaining a home aquarium for complete details and best practices for care and cleaning

Act Fast

Disease in fish can often spread quickly, and what may start mild, can soon become a fatal illness.

When you bring tropical fish into your home fish tank, you should familiarise yourself with their behaviour, their appearance, and what is 'normal' for them. 

Although behaviour and appearance changes can happen for several reasons, it might be an indicator of the disease, and you should act quickly. Vets can work wonders, and many treatments are available. However, the more prolonged fish disease is left, the more rapidly your fish will deteriorate, and the changes of a fatality will increase. 

If you notice behavioural changes such as your fish becoming lethargic, disturbed or refusing food, or see white spots, blood, frayed fins and irritated scales, seek a vet's advice immediately. 


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