Saltwater disease treatment
Saltwater Disease Treatment
The first step in treatment of fish illness is prevention. Many times this can be accomplished through proper acclimation and quarantine. The main contributing factor in fish health (or lack thereof) is stress. Stress is greatly reduced through good acclimation procedures and proper quarantine.
Now, even though we acclimated and quarantined our fish, it got sick. The next step in treatment is to reduce the amount of stress on the fish, if possible. This is best accomplished by removing the fish to a quarantine/hospital tank for treatment. The reason for this is because:
The fish is sick and has been removed to a hospital tank, what next?
This document is not meant for disease identification, there are many websites and other resources for that. It is simply meant to show treatments for some of the more common S/W diseases.
Now, onto actual treatment.
If the fish has been injured, it’s own body will do most of the work. Your participation will include:
Bacterial or Viral Infection:
In most cases, when a fish is diagnosed with a viral infection, the fish should be destroyed and the tank should be disinfected with bleach, an example of such an infection is Tuberculosis. However, there is one common viral infection, which the fish will usually recover from, Lymphocystis. It is contagious, and most sources recommend destroying the fish, but I feel it is more of a nuisance than a real threat.
Treatment for Lymphocysitis:
Harmful bacteria are always present in our tanks and on/in our fish. A healthy fish’ natural immune system is more than adequate to fight off these bacteria. It is only when our fish are injured or stressed that they succumb to bacterial infection.
Bacteria come in two basic forms: gram negative and gram positive. Antibiotics are designed to be effective against the same two categories. Therefore, it is important to choose the proper antibiotic for the specific bacterial infection. (Gram + antibiotics are not as effective against Gram – bacteria)
Probably the most prevalent bacterial infection in S/W aquaria is bacterial septicemia (fin/tail rot). It is typically preceded by an injury or stress from poor water quality. It is not a strong bacterium; sometimes the fish recovers without treatment (good water quality helps), but in the worst circumstances, can be lethal. Bacterial septicemia manifests itself by eating away the fins and/or tail of the infected fish, beginning from the outer edge of the fin/tail and working it’s way inward. Giving the fin/tail a ragged appearance that gets worse by the day. It can also affect the body of the fish; it is an opportunistic bacterium that will attack any wound site on the fish. Look for: inflammation of the wound, redness at the wound or red streaks radiating along the body from the wound. Since it is a weak bacterium, both gram – and gram + antibiotics are effective, my antibiotic of choice is Erythromycin.
Treatment for Bacterial septicemia:
Another common bacterial infection is Popeye (swelling of the eye). When determining a treatment for Popeye, care must be taken. Not all cases of Popeye are bacterial in origin, most are actually caused by environmental factors, such as; metal poisoning (copper, iron, etc…), high ammonia and nitrite levels and gas embolisms. If environmental factors are not the culprit, the antibiotic of choice for eyes is Penicillin.
Treatment for Popeye:
By far the most common ailment of the S/W aquarium is parasitic infestation. Some parasites are simply a nuisance and some are quite lethal. There is a consensus that parasites are always present on our fish and a healthy fish is capable of dealing with the parasites. Due to the tremendous trauma on the fish during collection, transport and captivity, all new fish are at a greater risk of parasitic infestation. Through proper quarantine, incidents of parasitic infestation are greatly reduced. Parasitic infestation is also where the majority of collateral mortality occurs, that is why it is vitally important to remove the infected fish to a separate aquarium as soon as it exhibits signs of infestation:
Two of the most common S/W parasites are:
Treatment for Cryptocarryon irritans and Amyloodinium occelatum:
There are many other forms of treatment for ick or velvet these days. I have had success and failure with some of them. Copper is the only treatment that has been consistently effective, in my experience. Copper is the treatment I recommend, copper sulfate in particular, because it seems to work a little bit quicker.
Other methods I’ve tried with limited success and some failure:
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