How to Treat Sick Aquarium Fish (Even If You’re Not Sure What’s Wrong)
Treating a sick aquarium fish can be difficult, especially if you’re new to the hobby or have never seen this disease before. These are the steps and medications that we use to quickly get our fish to health.
Step 1: Do You Have a Quarantine Tank?
A quarantine tank is a smaller, bare tank for the purposes of holding all new fish before adding them into your main display aquarium. This allows you and your fish to check that they are healthy before adding them into your main aquarium. But you may say, “I don’t need a quarantine tank for my new fish because they all look healthy. It is possible to get sick from fish that have not been ill. This is because although the fish’s original host may have an illness, their strong immune system keeps it under control without any visible symptoms. The infection can spread from the aquarium to the other fish if the host fish becomes stressed out by the new environment.
It is most likely that fish are brought in by a wholesaler or breeder from fish stores. Fish diseases are more common in places that keep a lot of fish. If you purchase fish, or get them from a friend who is a fish-loving person, don’t immediately place them in your aquarium. A quarantine aquarium is a good idea. This will allow you to first examine the fish for signs and then administer preventive medication. (This is similar to how we vaccinate new dogs and cats to prevent common disorders from spreading.) Not only does this avoid the spread of contamination, but it will also save you money and minimize loss of life in the long run.
This can be a sign that the fish is lethargic. Treating them in an isolated, safe environment away from other fish can improve their chances of faster recovery.
A majority of people don’t have a quarantine tank. They’re either new to the hobby and/or think it’s too complicated. But it only takes one severe outbreak to realize the importance of having one. If you have a disease in your aquarium, it is best to treat the whole tank with medication.
Step 2: How can you identify what’s wrong?
Many fish keepers, especially novices, don’t know what has happened to their fish. But, not only is it not productive, but they also may not be aware of the cause. We want to make sure that the problem is treated as quickly as possible in order to ensure that the fish has the best chance at survival. Therefore, we advise covering all your bases by using broad-spectrum medications for bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections. However, there are hundreds of medications available all over the world. These medications will provide effective protection for most conditions. They are safe to be used with shrimp, snails and baby fish.
After consulting with ichthyologists as well as spending thousands of dollars in development and testing, we were able to narrow down our search to three medications, Mardel Maracyn (Aquarium Solutions Ich-X) and Fritz ParaCleanse. All of these medications are safe to use with each other, and in our experience, they will not harm the beneficial bacteria in your aquarium.
Description for the trio of quarantine medications
Many people wonder if they can have two of the three medications. Is it okay if I replace one of these medications with another brand?” Unfortunately, certain combinations of medications can be toxic, which is why we humans have licensed pharmacists who research and only prescribe drugs that work safely together. Without thorough testing, we don’t have the ability to determine if other medications will work well together. Additionally, there are many different types of medication that are available on the market, some only in certain countries. We don’t know if these unidentified products are safe for fish, invertebrates and plants.
Step 3: How to treat your sick fish
If you are fairly certain of which disease your fish has, treat for that specific sickness first with the appropriate medication, and follow the instructions on the packaging or manufacturer’s website. If you suspect fish fungus, please read our article and consider Ich-X or Maracyn. ParaCleanse is recommended for tapeworms and other parasites. It should be repeated every two to three months to kill any eggs still in the hatching fish.
Trio de quarantine medicines
On the other hand, if you are quarantining new fish or you are not certain which ailment you’re dealing with, use all three medications at the same time. A fish might be suffering from a fungal infection or one of the other types of illness. This can leave the fish vulnerable to secondary bacterial infections. To give your fish the best chance of healing, treat all three types of infections.
1. When you are treating fish new to your aquarium, ensure that the quarantine tank is not near the normal display tank. Also, do not allow the tanks to share any siphons, buckets or other equipment. You should wash your hands with soap and hot tap water after handling water droplets. 2. Before you begin treatment, make sure that the aquarium is clean and clear. Wipe the aquarium walls so that you can easily observe the fish’s condition, clean out the waste in your filter, and use a siphon to vacuum the substrate and change the water. 3. Remove any chemical filtration (such as activated carbon or Purigen), and turn off any UV sterilizers you may be using. Some medications can affect the water’s viscosity, which can cause problems for fish’s breathing. 4. Do not follow the instructions on the box. For every 10 gallons aquarium water, you can add 1 packet Maracyn, 1 ParaCleanse packet, and 1 U.S. teaspoon Ich-X. (Ich-X does not stain aquarium decorations in our experience, but be careful not to spill it because it can stain your skin or clothing.) 5. Allow the fish to soak in the medication for at least one week. Do not feed or change the water for the next week. You can feed your fish only lightly if you feel that you have to. Wait until Day 4 or 5. During this time, keep the aquarium heater and filter on. Also, aquarium lighting will not deactivate the medication. 6. After one week passes, you should change out 30% water in your aquarium. Resume feeding the fish, keep the water quality high, and watch for any change in symptoms.
You may find it easier to give the treatment to very weak fish. Bacterial infections are the most common, so use Maracyn first for a week (at the dosage recommended in Step 4). External parasites and Ich are the most common. Next, treat the fish with IchX for a week. ParaCleanse should be administered in the third week for gill flukes and internal worms.
If it is possible to identify the illness (such like ich), you should switch to the right medication and complete the remainder of the quarantine medicine trio.
A few days after starting the quarantine treatment, you might notice obvious signs like ich (or white-spot disease) appearing. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the right medication for you (e.g. Ich-X). After the ich has been beaten, give the fish some time to rest and then treat the fish with ParaCleanse and Maracyn for 1 week, as suggested.
You may want to treat all fish in your home, even if they are not familiar with the treatment. You should then be proactive in treating any new fish that come into your home. Yes, medication can be expensive, but pathogens can lie dormant for a long time, waiting for the chance to take over your fish’s immune system if they get stressed or we lapse on tank maintenance. Based on personal experience, we recommend always having these medications on hand in case of emergency. There is a good chance that they won’t be available at your local pet shop. You will need to wait several days before you can order them online or settle for a brand that doesn’t work.
You can play an active role in the health of your fish
We are passionate about ensuring that all fish arrive in quarantine, regardless of their origin. This is because any change to their environment (e.g. different water parameters, new social hierarchy) could cause them to contract disease. That’s why we preventively medicate every single fish that enters our fish store and ensure they have a clean bill of health before leaving our care.
In the same way, take the proper precautions to ensure your own fish can lead long and healthy lives.
Are you dealing with a specific sickness in your aquarium fish? You can find detailed instructions in our article list.