There are a number of ways of seeking expert or professional help if your fish are unwell. Veterinary surgeons by virtue of their professional training are in a good position to diagnose disease in a range of species, and also will have access to specialist fish vets through their professional links. Only vets can prescribe certain medicinal products, such as antibiotics.
There are also other fish health professionals such as fish biologists who can give very helpful advice on fish care and fish diseases, as well as experienced retailers and hobbyists. Don’t forget that fish are animals and deserve high quality care.
Anchor worms affect coldwater fish species such as goldfish and can cause problems of irritation where they attach. These parasites can be clearly seen with the naked eye attached to the skin of the fish. They can be removed from the fish but expert help is advised – the pond or tank may need treatment to eliminate the problem.
Although Fin Rot is seen as a disease, it is in fact only a symptom – the fish’s fins appear to be ragged. In some cases, the fins and tail may appear to be being ‘eaten away’. Red streaks in the fins and tail also indicate a Fin Rot infection. The most usual cause is a bacterial infection and often affects fish in poor condition who have been subject to stress such as transportation or bad water quality.
Seek advice from an aquarist, fish health specialist or good retailer. Antibacterial treatments or medicines are available from good retailers, but treatment will occasionally involve antibiotics which can only be obtained from your veterinary surgeon. The cause of the infection must also be addressed, such as poor water quality or stressful living conditions.
Gill and skin flukes
These external parasites affect koi carp and other pond fish, and cause respiratory distress and skin discomfort and irritation. Seek professional help for assistance in diagnosing these parasites and effective treatments can be purchased from specialist retail outlets.
If your fish have white strands or tufts that look like cotton wool on their body it could indicate a serious fungal disease. Anti-fungus medication is available that will treat the water. Please contact your pet shop or aquatic supplier for advice.
Swim bladder disease and 'dropsy'
Buoyancy problems are relatively common in ornamental fish but the causes can vary.
Over-inflated swim bladders can occur in certain types of fancy goldfishes, causing the fish to swim on one side or even upside down. They can be difficult to treat and expert help should be sought.
Other buoyancy problems can be caused by excess gas in the bowel which can be associated with certain parasites or bacteria. Trapped air, constipation and internal bacterial infections are the most common causes of this problem, usually referred to as ‘Dropsy’.
The cause needs to be identified in order for the correct treatment to be administered. Again expert help is recommended.
Ulcer disease is not in fact a disease on its own, but is a symptom of a bacterial infection which causes lesions. Water quality should be checked but professional help will be needed to treat the fish since antibiotics are often required as the disease is likely to be affecting the entire body as well as causing the external signs.
White spot, also known as ‘ich’, is a relatively common condition caused by the protozoan parasiteIchthyophthirius multifiliis in freshwater fish.
Although this is often considered as a minor problem these parasites can cause significant damage to sensitive tissues such as the gills, and can even kill fish if left untreated. Treatments are available from pet and aquatics shops. However the aquarium or pond water will need treatment as well as the fish so again expert advice should be sought.
White spot often occurs in conditions of poor water quality and over crowding, so this should also be checked and remedied if necessary.
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