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Disease Identification

Taking care of cichlids cannot be done blindfolded. Fish too get sick, and it is your responsibility to observe them regularly to see whether or not they are in the best of health. Do not neglect your cichlids, and try to watch out for disease symptoms.

Cichlid diseases may be due to infections by bacteria, fungi, or parasites.

Sluggishness, color loss, fraying of fins, bloating, inflammation of the skin, the fins, and the internal organs, bulging and cloudiness of the eyes, sores and abscesses, and breathing difficulties, are all symptoms of bacterial infections. Exophthalmia, or Pop-eye (bulging eyes), and ulcers are among some of the bacterial infections.

Fungal infections may result in the fish darting across the aquarium somewhat erratically. Symptoms may also include the growth of cotton-like tufts over the mouths, eyes, or skin.
Infections by parasites may also lead to sluggishness, heavy breathing, appetite loss, growth of mucus on the body, visible spots, worms, and scratching. Leeches, anchor worms, and lice are some cichlid parasites.

Infections by parasites may also lead to sluggishness, heavy breathing, appetite loss, growth of mucus on the body, visible spots, worms, and scratching. Leeches, anchor worms, and lice are some cichlid parasites.

 

One of the most common cichlid diseases is Hole-in-the-head disease. Also known as Hexamita, this results in appetite and weight loss, and small depressions are observed on the head.

Another very common cichlid disease is Ich or Ichtyophthirius. With this white salt-like marks appear on the head first, and then spread over the whole body. Breathing is quick, the fish scratches a lot, and the eyes and fins, both, become cloudy.

If the abdomen is swollen, and if there are red scales surrounding this area, it is probable that your cichlid is suffering from Dropsy. This could be due to bacteria, parasites, or cancer. Salt treatment is recommended to cure this disease.

Finrot , Ammonia Poisoning, and Fish Pox are usually due to poor maintenance of  water quality.

A whitish-grayish coating on the skin, ulcers, damaged fins, patches on the gills, and erosion of the head tissue, all indicate Columnaris or Cotton Wool Disease, which is extremely contagious. Immediate antibiotic treatment, and disinfecting of the tank is essential. Another highly contagious cichlid disease where disinfecting the tank becomes essential is Fish Tuberculosis.

Slime Disease caused by parasites has symptoms of a white coating, reddening, folded fins, and irregular swimming. This must be treated immediately with parasitic medication. Raising the water temperature would also be helpful.

Constipation is indicated through swelling of the abdomen, lack of interest in food, and off-balance swimming. Feces may hang from the fish. The bets way to treat this is to abstain from feeding for 2 days and then giving it a varied diet consisting of both live and plant foods.

If your fish has difficulty in swimming, or swims upside-down, or floats, and is unable to surface, it is suffering from Flipover. Consult your vet. Larger fish may have to undergo surgery. Swim Bladder Disease may also have similar symptoms, but is caused by over-eating. Cut down on its food for 3 or 4 days, and give it a laxative like fresh spinach.
One popular way of dealing with diseases is salt treatment, but this should ideally only be done in a quarantine tank as other fish may be negatively affected. Plus it will not guarantee a cure for all diseases.

An aquarium being a closed environment may become a breeding ground for all kinds of germs. Ammonia build-up, aggression by other fish, overcrowding, non-maintenance of suitable temperature, pH level, water quality, and poor nutrition will all break down the immune system of your fish making it more susceptible to diseases.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the aquarium would go a long way in keeping your cichlids healthy. You could also invest in a good cichlid book so as to stay on top of any symptoms that might show up.

Disease Identification

Symptoms

 

Cause

 

Treatment and Links

A).   The Bacteria move on their own

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Are they gram-negative?

 

If not, look down the chart further

 

If yes, look below

 

 

Do they move fast in a living mount?  Probably Bacteria of the genus Vibrio are involved

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Use:  Doxycycline -or- Oxytetracycline. Kanamycin may also be effective in marine tanks.


B).   Do the Bacteria  move moderately fast

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Are they 1 to 2u long and 0.5 to 1u wide?  Did the fish have any symptoms of abdominal dropsy?

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

These Bacteria also belong to the genus Aeromonas.  Treat with:  Oxolinic Acid in the food+ Forma-Green in the water.  Or you can treat the water with one of the following: Koi Fix® -or- Oxytetracycline.

If not, look down the chart further


C).   Are the Bacteria 0.8 to 2.5u long and 0.3 to 0.8u wide?

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Was the Bacteria taken from lesions or bleeding organs, or rotting Fins?  Your fish are affected with Pseudomonas Bacteria

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Use:  Kanamycin -or- Gentamycin -or- Neomycin.

If not, look down the chart further


D).   Do the Bacteria glide slowly along or do they "inch" along like a caterpillar, attach to the glass in the aquarium?

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

FlexiBacteria are involved, which cause Columnaris disease

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Treat with:  TMP Sulfa -or- Sulfa 4 TMP -or- Parinox.

If not, look down the chart further


E).   The Bacteria are spiral-shaped, long, thin, measuring 5 to 30u long and 0.5 to 1u wide

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Spirochetes are involved

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Use:    Gentamycin -or- Oxytetracycline

If not, look down the chart further


=2 0

F).   Are the Bacteria immotile and gram-negative?

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Are they 1 to 2u, almost round or spheroid?  Do they occur in pairs or in chains?

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Did the fish exhibit bloody lesions, boils or hemorrhaging in their organs

If not, look down the chart further

 

If not, look down the chart further

 

If yes, look below

 

 

Are the Bacteria 1 to 2u long and 0.5 to 1u wide?  Do they form pairs and short chains?

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

These Bacteria also belong to the genus Aeromonas.  Treat with:  Oxolinic Acid in the food+ =2 0 Forma-Green in the water.  Or you can treat the water with one of the following: Koi Fix® -or- Oxytetracycline.

 


G).   Were the Bacteria taken from Skin lesions?

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Bacteria of the genus Brucella are involved.

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Treat with:  Oxytetracycline

If not, look down the chart further


H).   Are the Bacteria gram-positive and immotile?

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Are they about 1u long and 0.5u wide and do they occur as pairs in V or Y form?

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart=2 0

They are affected by Corynebacterium.  Treat with: Erythromycin

If not, look down the chart further


I).   Do the Bacteria form long, branched threads which sometimes break into long fragments?

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Were the Bacteria obtained from purulent lesions of the Skin or from the organs?

Fish Behavioral Disorders Flow Chart

Actinomycetacae or Nocardia Bacteria are involved.  Treat with:  TMP Sulfa -or- Sulfa 4 TMP.