Mastering Freshwater Aquarium Ecosystems
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Fish Health (Cont.)

If one fish in the aquarium shows symptoms of spironucleus there is a good chance that many if not all are carrying the parasite. It is recommended that the nitrate level be checked and lowered through water changes if necessary to 5 ppm or less. Heat therapy is the first choice for treating spironucleus. Spironucleus can be treated with 90°F (32°C) for three weeks. Discus that are not eating will often respond to heat therapy within the first week.

Metronidazole is the medication of choice for treating spironucleus. It is most effective if it is consumed with food. To prepare medicated food, dissolve 250 mg of metronidazole in a cup of warm water. Food can be soaked in a solution containing metronidazole for five minutes before it is fed to fish. Fish should be fed three times a day with metronidazole laced food.

If fish are not eating, add 250 to 500 mg of metronidazole per 10 gallons (4 l) of water. Medication should be added every day. It is believed that metronidazole can be adsorbed through the gills of the fish. Aquarium water should be kept at >82°F (28°C) as some have suggested that it may precipitate out of solution at lower temperature. Treatment with metronidazole should be continued for five to 10 days. Metronidazole is light sensitive, therefore for the most effective treatment in the aquarium it is best to turn the lights off while medicating the water.

A combination of heat therapy and metronidazole can be used if desired.

Neon Tetra Disease (NTD, Pleistophora hyphessobryconis)

Neon Tetra Disease (NTD) is caused by the Pleistophora hyphessobryconis protozoan. It is called neon tetra disease because it was first identified and is commonly found in neons (Paracheirodon innesi). NTD can infect many species of fish. NTD parasite causes an opaque white discoloration in the muscle tissue of the fish. It can live within the fish at a low level and go undetected until large amounts of tissue are dead.

NTD is spread by fish ingesting the protozoan with food or eating fish (live or dead) that are infected with the parasite. Fish that are infected with the parasite need to removed from the system immediately, and euthanized as NTD has no cure.

Fungus (Saprolegenia)

Fungus is a secondary infection that looks like a white cottony patch. Fungus will grow on dead tissue often the result of trauma caused by other fish, or a bacterial infection. Fungal infections are not contagious.

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