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Monday, May 9, 2011

Fungal Infections: The Awful Truth

Fungal infections are a very terrible thing that can occur in an aquarium. If you can learn how to identify and treat a fungus before it gets out of hand then you are one step ahead of the game. I am here to help you out!

Before we examine some of the common types of fungus, it is always good to know what is causing them in the first place. Fungus can be caused by:



- Poor water conditions
- Stress
- The introduction of something new to your aquarium. (i.e live plants, new fish, contaminated gravel from an infected aquarium.
- An old or injured fish
- Rotting/decaying fish in the aquarium.

If any or all of these occur, you will see fungal infections (If not fungal infections, you will have other diseases pop up). Here are two fungal infections highlighted along with their symptoms and treatments:

Saprolegnia:

Saprolegnia occurs when there is an existing injury on a fish. When poor water conditions exist, the fungus enters the wound and will begin to spread throughout the other surrounding tissues.

Saprolegnia takes on a cotton-like look and ranges in color from white to gray and brown.

Treament for saprolegnia may include: potassium permanganate, formalin, povidone iodine solution. Water changes will also need to take place and regular testing of the water parameters.


Branchiomycosis
Also known as "Gill Rot", is a disease that is usually found in ponds that have lots of fecal matter at the bottom. It is also caused by a stressful enviroment possibly caused by high ph. In the video on the left, you will see a goldfish with branchiomyosis. (I will forewarn you, it is sad to watch)

Symptoms of this fungal infection include: lethargy, gasping for air at the top, and frayed gills.

Treatment includes: Disinfection since this particular fungal infection is highly contagious. (An article on how to disinfect an aquarium will be created soon.) Formalin and copper sulfate. Anything used to handle or contain the fish also needs to be disinfected. If the fish is contained in a pond, the pond should be emptied and disinfected with calcium oxide.

The awful truth is that most fungal infections can be prevented. As I always say, prevention is key.

Here are some steps that you can do to help eliminate the odds of fungus occurring in your aquarium:

- Thoroughly wash any new introductions (live plants, gravel, decorations) before adding them to the aquarium.

- Always examine fish before purchasing them. Check for any signs of illness from the fish you are thinking about purchasing or any other fish that appear sickly that are housed in the same aquarium.

- Do you regularly scheduled aquarium cleanings and tests. By keeping tabs on your aquarium, you will notice any fluctuations in the water parameters. This will allow you to correct the problem quickly and before anything can happen to the fish. Keeping a logbook can help you monitor your aquarium.

- Don't keep sharp objects in your aquarium. If it looks jagged or unsafe, don't put it near your fish. (Even some aquarium decorations that I have seen at stores can be unsuited even though they are deemed "aquarium safe".)

- Keep the stress level down for your fish by giving them proper conditions at all times


There are obviously more fungal infections out there, and I will be posting more information on others soon. :)

Resources:
Resource 1
Resource 2
Resource 3

Photos:
Image 1

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