Those who keep fish in household aquariums should know how to cure these minor diseases, which if left untreated can ultimately lead to the death, or disfiguration of your prized fish.
“The Shimmies” a mild fish disease is evidenced when the fish remains in one spot, shaking or wiggling with it’s dorsal fin down,instead of up. (One sign of a healthy fish would be swimming with the dorsal, or top fin, pointed in an upward direction.) The Shimmies can be treated with a simple temperature change. Usually the temperature will need to rise, depending on what breed of fish you have. While it is difficult to determine the exact temperature, without knowing the specific breed, generally fresh water fish will need a temperature between 73 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit to cure the Shimmies. If you notice your fish behaving in an unusual manner, swimming with the dorsal fin down, or swimming in a side to side motion, but not moving forward or back, begin treatment as soon as possible. Raise the water temperature by a few degrees, at first, and observe the fish for signs that it is returning to good health.
Ick, or Ich, (Scientific name Ichthyophthirius) is another common disease of freshwater aquarium fish. It is identified by tiny white spots on the fishes body which increase in size and coverage area, the longer it is left untreated. Ick is often accompanied by the Shimmies, but cannot generally be treated by a simple temperature change. When noticing the first signs of Ick it is important that you go to your local pet store to purchase “Ick Out.” Use this product to treat the disease, making sure that you follow the dosage correctly, depending on the size of your aquarium. Ick out will often turn the water in your aquarium to a black or dark blue color temporarily. This is not a cause to be alarmed as the water will return to it’s normal appearance once the purification process is complete. It is important to treat Ick as soon as possible, as it is a living organism which will spread to other fish quickly. While the process of treating Ick is fairly simple and cost efficient, the disease can be fatal, if left untreated.
Fin Rot is another common disease in aquarium fish. This disease slowly eats the fins of the infected fish, and as with many common aquarium fish diseases, spreads quickly through the aquarium if left untreated. Signs of Fin Rot include sluggishness, holes or tears in the fins, and/or (in advanced cases) Fin Rot may display itself through holes or tears on the fish’s face, eyes and body. Fin Rot is a quickly advancing disease which can spread within a matter of days. To cure Fin Rot you will need to go to your local pet store and purchase “CopperSafe”. This medication is added directly to the water in the tank, and will most likely show no visible signs that your tank is being treated.
These diseases, while common, are not always treatable. Advanced cases may claim the fishes life, contrary to treatment.
If your fish does not show signs of returning to health within a matter of a day or two, or if the condition appears to worsen after to treatment, do not flush the fish down the toilet. If you feel the need to dispose of the fish, place it in a cup of water from the tank and put it in the freezer. The extreme temperature will slow the fish’s heart rate, causing it to sleep. The fish will feel virtually no pain, and will die peacefully, in a matter of an hour.
If all of the fish in your aquarium fall victim to one of these diseases, it is important to bleach EVERYTHING in your fish tank, (gravel, plastic plants, and any other tank decorations) as well as the tank itself, before introducing new fish into the environment. If you happen to have live plants in your aquarium, it is best to dispose of them as well, as diseases can be harbored on the leaves, stalks or roots of the plant.