How to Cure Fungus on Aquarium Fish
If your fish has a white- or gray-colored growth on its mouth or body (often with a fluffy texture like cotton), it could have a fungal infection. Fungal infections can be caused by poor water quality or stress. They can quickly lead to secondary diseases so it is crucial to take action immediately. In this article, we cover several options for treating fungus, as well as how to stop it from coming back.
We recommend that any signs or symptoms of illness are immediately addressed by a professional. We want to make sure the fish’s environment is optimal and free of any stress factors before we start treatment. Scrub the glass so that you can easily see the fish’s condition, clean out the detritus in your filter, and use a siphon to vacuum the substrate and change the water. (Read this article for a step-by-step guide on how to clean an aquarium.)
Fungus is often preventable, so the next step is to find the cause of the infection. There’s no point in treating the fish if we don’t stop the source of the problem because then the fungus may come back again in full force.
What Causes Fungus In Fish?
Bad water conditions are common causes of fungal infections. This is why we see so many betta fish suffering from this disease. They are often kept in small containers that have no heaters or filters. Bettas thrive at temperatures of 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit, so they will need a heater to keep them warm in rooms that are below this temperature. It is important to keep your bettas in an aquarium of at least 5 gallons to stop their waste from quickly fouling the tank. Doing regular partial water changes and adding live plants (especially floating plants) to a fish tank helps to remove toxic waste compounds before they affect your betta’s health.
Fish can also get fungus from nutrient deficiencies. Fish need to eat a varied diet in order to stay healthy. Feeding fish from the same jar of flakes all the time is like feeding a person only hamburgers every day. Sure, they can survive, but their bodies probably aren’t in tip top condition. Therefore, make sure to a) provide a wide assortment of foods so that they get all their essential nutrients and b) give them fresh, high-quality foods. Yes, the expiration date on the container may say the food is good for another three years, but every time you open the container, more air and moisture get inside, causing the food to become stale in a matter of months. Splitting the fish into smaller bags can help preserve freshness. Finally, avoid using wet fingers to get food out of the container because this causes the food to become moldy, which can result in fungus or other diseases.
You can feed your fish high-quality, nutritious foods to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need to support their immune systems.
Many livebearers are fond of fancy guppies, mollies and other exotic fish. They often contract fungal infections as soon as they return home from the pet store. The reason aquarium fish are less resilient than livebearers is explained in a separate article. These fish are often mass-bred in countries that don’t have enough fresh water. Therefore, it is more cost-effective to raise them in both fresh and saltwater. Guppies that have been raised in salt water all their lives are more vulnerable to pathogens than fungus and spores.
End result: eliminate as many stressors as possible. Minimize bullying and food aggression among African cichlids. For bottom dwellers, vacuum the gravel more often and ensure that the water quality is high for sensitive species. Avoid keeping shy fish around loud TVs, bright lights that create moving shadows, or high traffic areas in your home. Consider moving older animals that have weaker immune systems into a “retirement tank” with less activity and competition.
How do you get rid of fungus on fish?
If your fish’s mouth shows signs of fungus or rot, we recommend using Maracyn. Certain bacterial infections (such as columnaris) look like cottony growths or grayish-white patches around the mouth and thus should be treated with an antibiotic. Make sure to clean your aquarium before you start treatment. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions by using 1 packet for every 10 gallons of water, and then repeat every 24 hours for five days. The infection may still be present even if symptoms disappear.
If the fungus is located elsewhere on the fish’s body, use a combination of Maracyn and Ich-X. Ich-X contains formaldehyde, methanol, and malachite green chloride, which are effective against fungal infections. Make sure to clean your aquarium before applying any chemical filters. If the fungal infection is minor, dose 1 packet of Maracyn and 1 tsp of Ich-X per 10 gallons of water at the same time. Allow it to soak for a full week. Once the symptoms have disappeared, you can repeat this process. You can use 1 packet Maracyn with 1 tsp Ich-X for 10 gallons of clean water. Repeat the process every 24 hours for five days.
Salt is an excellent way to treat mouth and body fungus if you don’t own a planted aquarium. While any regular salt made from sodium chloride (NaCl) can be used, this article will use aquarium salt or rock salt. We are not talking about marine salt or Epsom salt.
We have discovered that salt is tolerated by most fish species, including tetras and barbs as well as African cichlids. Anchor catfish, for example, are sensitive to salt and should not be exposed. To make sure your fish can endure the salt treatment, start with a low concentration of 1 tablespoon of salt per 3 gallons of water. Once the fish has healed, increase the salt concentration by gradually increasing the water change to 30% every week. If the fungus is still active you will need to increase the salt content. Continue reading for more information on salt dosing. To give the fungus a tough one-two punch, salt can be used in combination with Ich-X.
Will Other Fungal Medications Work?
We have found that herbal remedies are not effective against fungal infection. Once the disease takes hold of a fish, they need stronger medications for a better chance of saving their lives. After years of managing a fish market and helping hundreds upon hundreds of customers, Maracyn and Ich-X are the only treatments that have proven effective against fish fungus.
Although fungal spores will always be present in our aquariums eventually, they can usually be prevented from becoming serious infections. The key is to boost your fish’s health and give them the clean, stress-free environment and necessary nutrients they need to fight it off.
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