When we think of ailing pets, fish are admittedly not the ones that come to mind first. However, they get ill just like dogs, cats, and hamsters do. Modern medicine may have made many advances, but it’s not yet equipped to easily diagnose the illness of any animals very accurately. Even if a procedure or treatment is available for the animal world, it’s not usually affordable by regular folks.
Fishes, like any other animal, cannot tell their owners what they’re feeling. Hence, their sickness may take a long time to pinpoint (parasites are hard to detect) and diagnose and it could be hard to decide what fish medication to give them.
Hence, preventative methods are the best way in which fish owners can keep their fishes healthy and swimming merrily in their aquarium fish tanks!
The Origin of Fish Diseases
Organisms that spread disease in fishes are usually found in their aquarium itself, unless it’s a brand-new, modern one. These could be fungi, bacteria, tiny parasites or pathogens that travel great distances through the air. Even if an aquarium is completely dry, these organisms are able to withstand long periods of drought.
If a fish is at its optimum health, it can usually fight off most of these parasites. Hence, fish owners should make keeping fish healthy their first priority.
Keeping Fish Protected From Disease
If you want to maintain your fish’s health, focus on their environment. If this is safe, stress-free, and promotes good health, outbreak of disease would be minimized. To do this, we should:
- Change the water regularly. This would do away with leftover waste and any decayed roots, leaves, etc. This change doesn’t have to involve emptying all the water out. Around one-tenth of the total volume should be replaced at least weekly. This would also clear out the dust, debris, minerals, and toxins that tend to build up in a tank
- Maintain the filter—change the cartridges, clean the media, and keep the pumps in top condition.
- After every change of water, vacuum some of the gravel as well. This would suck up the debris hiding in the tank’s floor
- Decorate the tank nicely. This would create a more relaxing atmosphere for the fish. The best cover percentage is fifty to seventy-five percent of the total floor. Give fishes their hiding space so they can have their privacy and feel safe.
- Maintain the right temperature. Research the temperature that your kind of fish needs. If the water temperature is too high or low, it could stress out the fish and thus compromise their immune systems.
- You get stressed out in a crowd, and so do fishes. So don’t overcrowd your tank too much. Too many fish would result in heightened aggression, more waste, low water quality, and lower oxygen levels.
- Move your fish as little as possible. Any transit is stressful for most fishes, and they need time to recover from trips. A new fish should hence be put in a quarantine tank before they get the additional stress of new tank-mates.
- The fish should be given regular, balanced meals. Also try varying their food every now and then. Don’t feed them more than they need, since this would eventually lower the quality of the water.
- Don’t medicate when it’s not necessary. You may think it’s a precaution, but it would actually be stressful and may even make their immune system weaker.
- Watch out for aggressive acts between fishes. If one fish seems to be chased by its peers, it would probably be stressed out and hence more susceptible to disease.
Avoiding stress is the main key when keeping a fish’s health in check. Without a peaceful life, a fish cannot be expected to survive or be safe from disease for very long.
Causes of Higher Disease Risks in Fish:
There may be some factors that could put a fish at more risk of contracting a certain disease. Knowing about these could help us to avoid them and hence ensure the good health of our fish, even if we can’t save all of them. Below are some examples of what puts our fish at risk and what we can do to combat them.
- One fish in the tank becoming sick can spread the disease to all others. This is because the pathogens for the disease become greater in number and also stronger in effect. Since these pathogens are strong, fish cannot deal with them very well. Hence, be sure to get a sick fish into a hospital tank the second you notice some disturbing symptoms. When that’s done, try to get a quick diagnosis so you can start immediate treatment.
- If a diseased fish dies, get the body out of the tank at once. That body would decrease the water quality very quickly. Plus, other fishes are now even more in danger since they may nibble on the diseased or infected body.
- Unknown water is also a risk. Don’t add water from another fish tank unless you’re absolutely sure there are no pathogens inside it.
- Never take water from an aquarium in a pet store. Several fishes have gone through those, with several kinds of diseases. Be sure not to pour any of the water from the pet store get into your home aquarium.
If you’re lax in any of the above situations, it could trigger a huge collection of germs, parasites, and disease carrying organisms in your tank. This would make your fishes especially weak and prone to illnesses in a very short time.
Always be very vigilant about your fish, since this is the only way you can catch any unusual activity or symptoms. For instance, if a usually active fish is not swimming slowly and languidly, you should be able to notice. Also be sure to take a sick fish to a vet right away if possible. Such diseases aren’t too serious if they’re diagnosed and treated early. There are several medications available today that can help an ill fish, but it’s up to the owner’s prerogative to take quick and assertive action.