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5 Common Fish Diseases And How To Spot And Treat Them

Ich also known as white spot disease (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis)

Ich is a small protozoan that is very common, fish infected will often start rubbing themselves on ornaments and against the gravel. Ich appears as small white spots on the fish, that make the fish appear as if they have been sprinkled with grains of salt all over their body. There are many treatments for ich available, the most effective treatment I have found (if your fish will eat it) is the new life spectrums ick shield. I have treated several fish using this food and as long as the fish were willing to eat the food, it has been very successful.

Fin, Tail, and Mouth Rot

You will usually notice what looks like frayed fins and or tails, with fin rot, mouth rot can really look terrible, just like it sounds the mouth appears to be rotting away, often leaving the mouth looking like it is stuck open and can make eating very difficult for your fish. Fin and mouth rot are often caused by poor water conditions, or injured fish, which then leads to a bacteria infection. There are antibiotics and other treatments such as melafix you can use as directed to treat your fish. I find often times just doing extra frequent (sometimes daily) water changes and a little bit of aquarium salt can do the trick in the less extreme cases.

Fungal infections

Fish that have a fungal infection tend to have a gray or white growth on their body or fins. The discoloration often appears as if there is cotton on your fish. If left untreated the fungus will continue to eat away at the fish’s body. This can be sometimes caused by or lead to bacterial infections on your fish, that might also need to be treated as well. This infection, like fin rot, can also be caused by poor water conditions, older fish, or fish that have been injured. With this, there are several treatments available, commonly used are pimafix for antifungal use, and melafix if there is a secondary bacterial infection.


Dropsy is often recognized by your fish having bloating and seeing protruding scales on your fish. This is usually caused by a bacterial infection of the kidneys, and this can sometimes cause renal failure. Often this disease comes on in fish that are either already ill, older, or have been kept in poor water conditions. Antibiotics and frequent water changes tend to be used for treating dropsy, but frequently, because of renal failure, this disease is often fatal.


Also known as gold dust disease, fish experiencing this will often have a rust like appearance on their bodies. Fish will often become lethargic and begin to rub themselves on ornaments and gravel trying to break free of the parasite. You will also sometimes notice clamped fins and labored breathing. A common treatment for velvet is shutting off the tank lights, raising the temperature in the tank, possibly even covering the tank to help keep light out. Copper based treatments can also be used to treat cases of velvet if used as directed.

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