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Thread: ID'ing pathogens

  1. #1
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    In another thread there was some discussion as to what type of med to use on a problem. Before any med can be properly used, the problem actually has to be identified as much as possible. To complicate things, most diseases present themselves with very similar symptoms. The same symptom/symptoms could be anything from bacterial, parasitic, viral, fungal, to water issues.

    As examples; frayed fins can be due to physical damage, bacterial infection, parasites or low pH. Fish do not bruise so when blood or veining is seen on the surface or in fins it could be parasites, water quality or internal bacterial problems. A bloated fish; does it have actual dropsy which is a symptom of malfunctioning kidneys, did it just swallow some surface air, is it constipated, or is it an African that had too much protein………each would be treated differently.

    In the case of a lot of bacterial infections the primary problem is usually parasites with the bacteria being a secondary problem...so the parasite needs to be cleared up 1st.

    When trying to ID what the problem is, a check list should be run through, with the first thing being water quality. If the water is no good or the organic levels too high then no medication is going to help the fish.
    • pH, is it stable at an appropriate level
    • Is NH3 at 0.0ppm
    • Is NO2 at 0.0ppm
    • Is NO3 <= 40ppm
    • Is KH sufficient to hold pH
    • Is GH appropriate for the fish being kept
    • Is temp appropriate
    • Are organics high
    • Is there sufficient O2 levels

    If anything in that list isn’t where it’s supposed to be, then it needs to be corrected 1st. Fish cannot help themselves in lousy water and the lousy water maybe the problem in the 1st place.

    After that, the fish needs to be looked at…what are the symptoms being presented,
    • Is excess mucus being generated
    • gill lamellae, are they a bright red meat colour, are they pale or show brown rotting areas, are they clumped together, Is one gill being favoured
    • is the fish flashing, breathing heavy or piping at the surface
    • is the fish isolating and lethargic
    • What colour is the feces, is the feces segmented
    • Is the fish still eating
    • Is the fish a recent import
    • Has it been QT’d and then expoused to a resident fish before going into the main tank
    • Are the fins clamped
    • Are there obvious signs of parasites, ie: Ich, Oodinium
    • Are there obvious signs of bacterial infection, open sores, rotting tissue, fuzzy cotton like areas, inflammed areas

    A microscope can come in handy to help ID external parasites as the only ones that are visible to the naked eye are Ick and Oodiunium. All the others like Costia, Flukes, Chilodinella are microscopic.

    The macro parasites like Argulus and Lernea are very obvious and easy to ID

    True fungal infections are not that common in living fish. The most common fungus is Saprolegnia. It’s the one that attacks eggs and turns dead fish into fuzzy little lumps, but it generally doesn’t attack living fish. Most times what you’re seeing is a Columnaris bacteria infection, which presents the same way.

    Trying to identify these symptoms with in the fish will help determine what chemical or med to use. All too often you hear that a certain med didn’t work; well maybe it wasn’t being used on the problem it was designed for…gram positive bacteria don’t respond very well to gram negative antibiotics………

    Certain antibiotics are good for particular problems….Furan, Tetracycline, Maracyn 2, Oxylinic Acid are all well absorbed by the fish, via their gills, so they work better on internal bacterial problems. Marcyn (Erythromycin) works better on external bacterial problems. Prazi, Prazi Pro, or PP works well on flukes.

    Malachite Green works well on Ick, by itself, but when mixed with Formalin, together they work even better on a wide range of parasites…a good shotgun chem when needed.

    Salt is good at low levels (0.05%)to help relieve stress and with osmoregulation, at slightly higher levels (0.1%) it’ll protect from NO2. At even higher levels it’ll affect Ick given some time…but that about all it’s good for now days.

    If a fish is healthy to start with and the water is really good then it’s own immune system is quite capable of healing the fish.

    My point of this ramble is for everyone to try and figure out as much as possible what the fish has wrong with it before you start dumping drugs and chemicals into the hosiptal tank.
    5000 gallon koi pond, 2500 & 750 gallon holding tanks,

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    That great information.

    Fish do not bruise so when blood or veining is seen on the surface or in fins it could be parasites, water quality or internal bacterial problems.

    I have seen blood or brusing on the mouth of my oscar after he has seen his shadow in the glass and trys to defend, he will ram into the glass at a good speed. This in turn causing a discoloration on his bottom "lip" . I was wondering if that is brusing?

  3. #3
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    Fish don’t bruise in the way we think of it…humans ding themselves and blood rushes to the area to ‘’fix’’ things. We have lots of assorted blood vessels very close to the surface of our skin and in our muscles. These get broken and then the blood doesn’t have an O2 supply so it goes dark. We’re also warm blooded so we need that blood flow.

    On the other hand most fish generally have white flesh….they have very little blood flow or the vessels to carry that blood in their muscles or close to the surface. When they ding themselves the blood vessel structure isn’t there to get broken and leak blood into the surrounding tissue …they're also cold blooded so don’t need all that vessel structure.

    We get cut and we bleed like crazy…a fish doesn’t….. A bleeding fish is a target so Mother Nature fixed it so they don’t bleed.

    When you see that redness in the mouth area it an irritation of the skin, not a bruise

    Make sense

    G
    5000 gallon koi pond, 2500 & 750 gallon holding tanks,

  4. #4
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    yeah that makes sense!

    Thanks

  5. #5
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    Those forms are a great thing, that way the readers gets the big picture and not just a snap shot, which in most cases doesn't give anywhere near enough info.

    The lower the NO3 level the better...the 40ppm was just a general number...Different species of fish will react to NO3 levels differently with some wanting next to nothing and other that couldn't care less.

    NO3 by itself isn't toxic...it generally takes long expousres to high levels to defeat a fish's immune system completely but it will open them up to attack by bacteria and parasites as it gets higher and prolonged expousre.

    I'll change the ± sign :)
    5000 gallon koi pond, 2500 & 750 gallon holding tanks,

  6. #6
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    A very informative post ! Deserves to be stickied ;)


    Thank you Graham !




    Min

  7. #7
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    Great post Graham, maybe we could add a section to the forum that would help for disiease diagnosis, prevention and treatment. It would be a good reference for us to use.


    Serge
    My fish are more than my hobby, they're my passion. GetFish Aquarium ... 163 St-Laurent, Dieppe, NB (506)860-0919.. 300+ different types of fish and inverts.

  8. #8
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    Graham, I have some fish that are full of bubbles? I have Oscars in a 90 gallon with excellent water prams. and then I have tetras in a 55 gallon with the same bubbles on them? What is this?
    But it wasn't my fault teacher, my fish ate my homework

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