If you’ve been keeping aquarium fish for some time, chances are you have encountered the issue of fungal infections. Fungal disease in fish is fairly easy to spot. Most of the time, fungal growth takes the form of light grey or white patches on the skin and scales of the fish itself. This discolouration can be found anywhere on the body, although it tends to concentrate near the mouth. Another hallmark of a fungal infection a cotton wool-like texture. If you notice a fluffy, light-coloured mass growing on your fish, this is almost a guarantee of a fungal infection.
Key Causes of Fungal Disease in Fish
One of the most common causes of fish fungus is subpar water quality. In fact, the vast majority of fungal diseases are caused by poor water conditions. Many species of betta fish often succumb to fungal disease, with these varieties often kept in incredibly small tanks with no filter or heating element. Generally speaking, a larger tank size than the minimum requirement is recommended for any variety of species.
More capacity means it takes longer for fish waste and other contaminants to pollute the water inside your tank. However, regardless of how big your tank is or how effective your filter is at scrubbing out harmful particles, it is always recommended that you carry out regular water changes. Introducing aquatic plants to your tank can also help combat the issue of harmful pollutants caused by fish waste.
Another major contributor to fungal disease in fish is malnutrition. As with any species, fish require a balanced diet in order to remain in good condition and be healthy enough to ward of diseases and other ailments. Even if your aquatic pets have undemanding dietary requirements, you should avoid restricting them to a substandard mealtime routine of flake food. Instead, opt for a more varied diet that provides them with a good range of nutrients. You should also be prepared to spend more on premium foodstuffs that are richer in nutritional value.
Keeping an eye on the quality of your fish food stocks is also important. You should also ensure that food is stored and handed correctly. Make sure that dry food stored in containers is never exposed to moisture. Damp flakes and dry foods can quickly be overrun with mould and unwanted bacterial growth. When this is introduced to your fish tanks, it can contribute to a whole range of ailments and fungal-released diseases.
How to Treat Fish Fungus
The way you approach treatment of fungal disease in fish will vary somewhat, depending on the exact location of the fungal outbreak. If the fungal growth is concentrated around the mouth, with a signature fluffy texture and lighter colour, you will probably need to turn to fish antibiotics to resolve the issue. Although having to turn to antibiotics may seem alarming, they are fairly easy to use to cure fungal diseases. Most of the time, antibiotics can be added directly to the aquarium, where they will dissolve in the water and be readily absorbed by the fish via the skin membrane.
However, you will want to ensure that you carry out a thorough clean of your aquarium prior to introducing antibiotics. If you are using a filtration system that utilises a chemical stage, you should also remove it. Chemical filtration media such as activated carbon will significant limit the effectiveness of any antibiotics you introduce to your tank. Small doses of antibiotics will need to be introduced to your aquarium water over several days to ensure effective treatment.
A far less invasive remedy for fungal infections in fish is aquarium salt. Using salt is not an option if you have an aquarium setup that includes live plants, but it can be an effective solution for those who can temporarily rehouse affected fish in a separate tank. In theory, you can use any form of sodium chloride to tackle fungal infection. However, you will need to ensure you are using incredibly low concentrations to ensure no harm comes to your fish.
Using salt to cure fungal infections is more time-consuming than relying solely on antibiotics. What’s more, you’ll need to keep a close eye on progress. If affected fish heal quickly enough, you will then need to focus on removing salt levels from your tank. This can be done gradually over several weeks. Taking this gradual approach means you can return to higher concentrations of sodium chloride should you notice any recurrence of fungal disease.