It is worth getting to know the basic anatomy of a fish in case you need to describe an injury or disease symptom to a veterinarian or dealer; if you know the names of the external parts of the body it will help you to pinpoint the problem more accurately. Another reason is that hooks often describe the shapes of fishes and if you know which particular fins or parts of the body they are referring to, you will have a basic idea of what the fish looks like even without seeing an illustration or photograph.

Pet Fish Health Problems and Treatments

The majority of fish diseases are caused through stress. So how are fish put under stress? Sad to say, most fish are put under stress by their owners or visitors to the house. People tapping on the front glass,temperatures being allowed to rise and fall, or a poor mixture of fish in which one or two are bullies and the others are bullied all contribute to stress. If fish are not put under these types of stress, then the chances of them contracting disease are dramatically reduced. Look for signs of stress in the tank on a regular basis. Are the fish nervous? Is one fish chasing all the others about? Does the temperature fluctuate or does it stay too low? If you can remedy these situations diseases will occur much less frequently.

Fish will always show symptoms of disease at an early stage. Signs to look for include fish holding their fins tightly clamped to the body(often referred to as being 'closed up'), fish swimming with the head near to the surface all the time, fish swimming with the head up or down, loss of co lour, ragged fins, scales sticking out or dropping off,and a general loss of appetite and condition.

The brown discus called Nymphs is the more common of the two discus species. There are two subspecies of the brown discus, one blue, one green.The body differs markedly from the 'standard' fish shape shown below; it is compressed vertically and appears very narrow when viewed head-on. Bright blue lines cross the body; in the brown discus they may only occur on the face.


White spot (chiropterans)
White spots that increase in number .Responds to treatment. Eliminate stress-causing factors.

Velvet (Odin)
Rusty coloring to skin and clamping up of fins. Effective proprietary remedies are widely available.

Affected fish swells up and does no teat. Investigate water conditions and diet. Treat with antibacterial and remove sick fish from tank.

A condition in which one or both eyes protrude from head. Can be due to injury or bacterial infection. Seek immediate veterinary help.

Small holes appear on head and body.This condition often affects cichlids.ures are slow and expensive. Improve tank conditions.

Cotton-wool-like growths on the ski nand fins. Treat with fungicide. Check water conditions and temperature.

Mouth fungus
Tuft like growths around the mouth plus skin ulcers and fin damage. Often seen in cyprinids. Despite name it is caused by bacteria and responds to bactericide. Check stress factors.

Fin rot
Fins are damaged by bacteria. Use an antibacterial or add salt to the water.

Fish parasites Fish parasites are generally regarded as larger life forms living on the body of a fish. Parasites are rare in tank fishes and usually only occur on imported wild-caught species.

Gill flukes Gill flukes are like tiny worms that anchor themselves to the fish's gills,causing respiratory problems and,eventually, death. Suspect gill flukes ia fish begins to swim at the water surface gasping for air. Treat with amid parasitic, but first make sure that the water is being oxygenated properly and that the biological filter is working correctly.

Skin flukes Instead of anchoring themselves to the gills, these flukes attach to the skin. They can be removed with tweezers or a parasitic.

Fish lice Fish lice such as Argils resemble miniature tortoises on the fish's body .Remove them carefully with tweezers.

Although more commonly encountered on cold water fishes, this fish louse (Argils) has attached itself to a swordtail, a tropical species. The louse grows to l0mm(0.4in) across and clings on with twin suckers.


1. Several fish gasping at the surface and breathing fast

Check to see that the air stone is functioning and that there is good water movement in the tank.

2. Check that the under gravel filter is functioning properly.

See that heater has not stuck on.) Perform a 30% water change.

If after a water change these symptoms persist, the fish may be suffering from gill flukes. Isolate the fish if possible and treat them with suitable remedy.

3. Fish holding its fins clamped to the body (i.e. 'closed up')

Check the heater function and that the temperature is correct.

See that nothing has been added to the aquarium that might be poisonous to the fishes, including aerosols possibly sprayed near the tank during routine cleaning of the room.

If you have checked and cleared the above, make a 30% water change and use a mild bactericide.

3. Fish dying and swimming in a`whirling' pattern

These are classic signs of poisoning. Perform a 50% water change and locate the source of the problem. This may be a poisonous rock or object in the tank, which you must remove .Isolate any affected fish in a separate tank while you clean the original one.
Fish rubbing themselves against rocks and 'flicking'

Several possible causes, such as white spot, external parasites or an irritant in the water.

Inspect the fish closely. If white spots or parasites are present on the skin, treat them appropriately with suitable remedy.

If all looks well on the fishes' skin carry out a 30% water change. If the symptoms noticeably decrease after this, suspect the presence of some irritant in the aquarium.
If symptoms increase after the water change, suspect something wrong with your tap water or conditioner. Is there too much chlorine in the water or are you overdosing with de chlorinator?


If you have a spare tank or one used for quarantining new fish, it will also be useful for isolating sick or injured fish. Set it up with just a heater/thermostat and a thermometer, plus an air stone. It will not need a filter, as sick and injured fish will not be fed for the short time they are in the tank. Transfer any fish found to be injured,sick or carrying a parasitic infestation to this tank and treat them in isolation from the community tank.Some form of opaque cover is a good idea so that you can reduce the light. This is often helpful during treatment.

White spot (Ichthyophthirius)appears as tiny white spots, each onea cyst that eventually bursts to send its single-celled, or protozoal,parasites Into the tank, where they will affect the other fishes with potentially fatal results.
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