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  • How do you recognise that a fish might be ill?
  • What are the causes of fish disease?
  • How do you know that a fish has a parasite?
  • What can you do to prevent a disease / parasite?
  • How do you treat diseased fish?

How do you recognise that a fish might be ill?

  • Colour may fade out / change
  • Body shape, condition and / or behaviour will be abnormal
  • The fish may refuse to feed or overfeed and trailing faeces appear at vent.
  • Condition of the fins and gills will deteriorate. Fins may be clamped close to body.
  • The fish may not keep its swimming position.
  • There may be signs of injuries, growths or abnormalities.

What are the causes of fish disease?

  • Bad water quality
  • Inappropriate diet
  • Temperature (too high or too low)
  • Stress
  • Bullying
  • Viral diseases
  • Fungal infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Parasites

Parasitic conditions: What is a parasite?

A parasite is an organism that lives off another often to the detriment of the

hosts health. These can be internal (endoparasites) or External (ectoparasites).

They can be:

  • Protozoan (single celled)
  • Nematodes/ cestodes / trematodes (worms)
  • Crustacean (e.g.louse)

Itch or White Spot Disease (Ichthyophthirius)


  • Protozoan parasite either free swimming in the water or carried in with new fish or plants.
  • Fish under stress from bad water conditions are more susceptible.


  • The fish’s skin and fins are covered in tiny white spots
  • A badly affected fish may make rapid gill movements


  • Remove plants and the activated carbon from filters as they can affect / be affected by the medicine.
  • Treat with a methylene blue based medicine which kills the free swimming larval stage (theronts)

White Spot Lifecycle

1.After finding their new host, they will eat into the fish’s skin.

2.Adults fall from the fish and become free swimming till it settles on the gravel.

3.Once settled it forms a cyst which begins to reproduce by dividing itself up to as many as 2,000 times.

4.The result of this division produces what is called Tomites.

5.These emerge from the cyst when it bursts as free swimming Theronts ready to reinfect the fish.

N.B. If a Theronts is unable to find a new host within 24 – 48 hours they will usually die.



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