It is important to be able to identify a sick fish quickly, before your whole tank is contaminated. You can treat the fish yourself, but in some cases it is necessary to consult a specialized veterinarian.
Fish can suffer from various pathologies, and one is often helpless when faced with sick individuals. How to detect a sick subject? Is it imperative to call a veterinarian?
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Can we take a fish to the vet?
It is absolutely not ridiculous to bring your fish to the veterinarian, however, the most efficient ones are the aquaculture veterinarians, specialized in underwater species
How to find an aquaculture veterinarian ?
The use of an aquaculture veterinarian is sometimes essential, in the case of ornamental fish of great value, such as Discus, rare Cichlids or certain saltwater fish for example. This kind of specialization is unfortunately not easy to find.
A search on the internet can help you locate a fish veterinarian near you if there is one. You can also ask your pet store, a general veterinarian or even a fish farming company, they may be able to direct you to a specialist.
How do I know if my fish is sick?
A sick fish usually shows unusual behavior, combined with other symptoms, the most common of which are
A sick fish tends to isolate itself. It often hides in the background or lies listlessly on the bottom. It stops eating and quickly loses weight. A fish that is constantly scratching at the accessories in its aquarium is probably suffering from external parasites that make it itch.
Uncoordinated movements with fins pressed against its body are characteristic of a sick fish. If it swims upside down, or floats on the surface and seems unable to head for the bottom, it has a swim bladder disorder.
A sick fish may be breathing excessively fast. Gills that remain wide open indicate a parasitic worm infestation.
Torn fins, as if they had been gnawed, are the sign of a bacterial or fungal attack. We often observe a white and opaque border at their extremities. Nodules may also appear.
Foam in the mouth
A fish that has a white, cottony foam in its mouth may be affected by columnariasis, a bacterial disease.
Stressed fish are frequently victims of ichthyophthiriosis, a contagious parasitic disease characterized by the gradual appearance of tiny white spots on their body, having the appearance and size of salt grains.
The development of a golden or brownish powdery layer on the body of a fish, giving it a velvety appearance, is a symptom of velvet disease, a parasitic disease.
Hydropisy is an excessive swelling of the belly and bristling scales. It is usually difficult to treat.
A fish with abnormally swollen eyes that protrude from its head has exophthalmos, a condition related to various viral, bacterial and fungal diseases.
Other body conditions
In general, any abnormal body condition (cottony tuft, discolored spot, growth, pustule, necrosis, open wound, hole, visible external parasite…) should be a warning that a fish is in poor health.
What can I do?
If you notice that one or more of your fish are sick, the first thing to do is to check the parameters of your aquarium. Many diseases are triggered by stress due to an inadequate environment. Test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, hardness and pH.
If the results are abnormal, change one third of the water in the aquarium, making sure that the added water is compatible with the water in the aquarium, and repeat the test after a few days until the values are correct. Some specific treatments are available in pet stores.
The gradual addition of non-iodized cooking salt to the aquarium coupled with an increase in temperature is sufficient in some cases to get rid of external parasites. However, fish diseases are complex to identify with certainty, as many symptoms are common to several pathologies.
Moreover, fish are extremely sensitive organisms, so any treatment must be carried out with the utmost care.