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Welcome to our page. I have been keeping marine and fresh water aquariums for over 20 years off and on. We try to provide lots of up to date articles on maintaining an aquarium. We also have many awesome links on the right side bar to all things both Fresh Water and Salt Water Aquarium related. Things like Medicines, diagnosis charts, Fish Identification Databases, DIY Projects, Just to name a few. Quick Links to our tank Journals there as well.

Around here we like Salt Water Aquariums just as much as Fresh water aquariums. We don't mind although they must be "OddBall", "Predatory", or "Monster" Fish and when they are all three we are most happy!! So stay a while, poke around a bit and look through our collection of Angler Fish, Bala Sharks, Snoflake Eel, Plecostomos, Spotted Gar, Volitans Lion Fish, Polypterus, Damsels, and many assorted others...

We will be posting comments and pics here all related to keeping our fish. We hope you enjoy your visit.

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47 g allon FOWLR Pred. SW Tank = http://tanks4thememories.blogspot.com/2010/04/47-gallon-xt-sw-fowlr-predator-tank.html

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Understanding the Diagnosis & Treatment of Infectious Disease in Aquatic Animals Part 1



This essay is under construction 

Understanding the Diagnosis & Treatment of Infectious Disease in Aquatic Animals P1

What is a disease? What is an Infectious Disease?   In a fish or a human these terms have the same meaning for all animals.. According to The medical section of "TheFreeDictionary"

Disease /dis·ease/ (dĭ-zēz´) any deviation from or interruption of the normal structure or function of any body part, organ, or system that is manifested by a characteristic set of symptoms and signs and whose etiology, pathology, and prognosis may be known or unknown.

According to the same on-line dictionary:

Infectious disease
An infectious disease is a clinically evident disease resulting from the presence of pathogenic microbial agents, including pathogenic viruses, pathogenic bacteria, fungi, protozoa, multicellular parasites, and aberrant proteins known as prions. These pathogens are able to cause disease in animals and/or plants.
Infectious pathologies are usually qualified as contagious diseases (also called communicable diseases) due to their potentiality of transmission from one person or species to another.[1] Transmission of an infectious disease may occur through one or more of diverse pathways including physical contact with infected individuals. These infecting agents may also be transmitted through liquids, food, body fluids, contaminated objects, airborne inhalation, or through vector-borne spread.[2]
The term infectivity describes the ability of an organism to enter, survive and multiply in the host, while the infectiousness of a disease indicates the comparative ease with which the disease is transmitted to other hosts.[3] An infection however, is not synonymous with an infectious disease, as an infection may not cause important clinical symptoms or impair host function.[2]


symptom
[simp′təm]
Etymology: Gk, symptoma, that which happens
a subjective indication of a disease or a change in condition as perceived by the patient. For example, the halo symptom of glaucoma is seen by the patient as colored rings around a single light source. Many symptoms are accompanied by objective signs, such as pruritus, which is often reported with erythema and a maculopapular eruption on the skin. Some symptoms may be objectively confirmed, such as numbness of a body part, which may be confirmed by absence of response to a pin prick. Primary symptoms are symptoms that are intrinsically associated with a disease. Secondary symptoms are a consequence of illness and disease.

Pathogen
path·o·gen (pth-jn)
n.
An agent that causes disease, especially a living microorganism such as a bacterium, virus, or fungus.

According to Yourdictionary.com:

Stressor (stresər)
noun
any stimulus producing mental or physical stress in an organism
Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

I know there is a lot of medical stuff in those definitions but if we just concentrate on the parts we can easily recognize then a layman's definition becomes evident. In cases of  Infectious disease: When animals get sick or act or appear abnormal, these are considered symptoms. Especially when there is an underlying illness suspected as the cause. If these abnormalities can be grouped together into a general set of symptoms associated with an Infectious disease then one is often considered as having that disease.
With fish there is often no laboratory testing to acquire a confirmed diagnoses. Very often the response and/or dissipation of the symptoms to the prescribed treatment is considered confirmation of the presence of the disease.  To put it bluntly we often treat symptoms not the disease itself or the pathogen causing the disease.  Even worse we often don't alleviate or avoid the stressors that brought on the illness in the first place.  So you may ask what does this mean for the health of my fish?

In an aquarium it is our goal to provide an ideal environment for the beneficial bacteria that Process nitrogen compounds so that they do not build up to toxic levels and make our fish sick.  This environment is a double edged sword because there are many other organisms that are banine or harmful that also require the same environment we provide for the beneficial bacteria.

ThijmenJP December 08, 2007 — Aquarium Filter under the Microscope...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLfva03U210&feature=channel

Fish like humans are surrounded by pathogens every day.   It is only our immune system (that is the first line of defense) that can ward off these constant attacks to our health.  The immune system of a fish is a delicately balanced system.  It is made up of many components and it is only as strong as the failure or weakening of any one of those components.  It is not the subject of this essay to go into detail on the components of the immune system.  It is however my intent to make you aware of how important its general strength is in the ability of fish to avoid and recover from disease. 

I don't believe like medications I think they should be employed as a last resort.
However many times by the time we notice the symptoms in our fish it is already very late in the game. So I recommend using a phrase that I call "ESOM".
What is ESOM?

ESOM stands for:

Enviornment
Sound Maintainance Practices
Observation and
Medication

Lets explore these in more detail.
Environment - As you can see in the movie above there is a lot more in our aquarium water than we often believe there is.  There are many different bacteria (Some useful and some harmful).  There are organisms, proteins, dissolved solids, harmonies, and many many other things the list literally goes on and on.  Then there are things like the size of the tank, comparability with tank mates, Temperature, PH, Nitrogen compounds, aeration.  Believe it or not all of these things play a major role in the strength of the immune system in your fish.  As mentioned earlier a weakened immune system is a likely an open door to Infectious disease.  How do we relieve or avoid these stressors?  Well simple things like not over feeding fish, Changing the water frequently, choosing carefully the tank mates through research and observation can go along way in this effort.

Sound Maintainence Practices - The key word here is Prevention.  For instance it is very important that hobbyist have a Quarantine tank handy for new fish prior to introduction into your main tank. Regularly Scheduled Water changes, a Varied quality diet, Regular monitoring and testing  or water quality (Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, PH, KH),

Observation -  Even if we do all the things listed above sometimes aggression by tank mates or frisky behavior of our fish can lead to injury.  There are also times when things we believe do not matter or may miss can become stressors to our fish.  As mentioned these stressors can lead to disease.  In any of these situations observation is often the difference between such an event being just an event or turning into a disaster.  Fish cant talk.  They can however tell their keeper many things about their physical and emotional health by their behavior.  You must learn to be a "Fish Whisperer".  A hobbyist should learn the natural behavior of their fish.  Things like normal respiration (How many gill pumps per minute) of a fish. and then observe the fish on a regular basis.  Watching for any deviations from normal behavior.  Also taking the time to examine the body, fins , eyes, mouth, gills as well.  When I first got into this hobby and ran into my first few diseases in fish, I thought to myself "Gee Fish are really weak and fragile creatures".  Well as time went on I learned it is actually quite the opposite.  Fish are a lot stronger than we think.  It often appears they are fragile because once the average hobbyist notices the symptoms the fish is presenting it is typically very late in the game and a lot of damage has already been done..  So, remember fish are experts at hiding illness, The earlier you can catch symptoms the better.

Medication - I only recommend medication as the last resort.  Even then it is advisable to start with the least invasive drugs and work your way up.  It is important to not just go into the store and ask what to buy.  Do your research there are many websites that have diagnosis flow charts and picture charts showing what various symptoms look like and the possible diseases associated with them.  Once you feel like you have pinpointed your disease don't just go for the "Elephant Gun"  look up the possible medications you can use and try to make an informed decision on which is best for your situation.  Remember the typical pourpose of most medications is to kill off unwanted life forms that have taken refuge in or on the patients body.  The inherent danger in this endeavor is that the patient is also a living creature and so the medication chosen often has undesirable effects (Side Effects) on the patient as well.  Once again I can not stress the importance of having a quarantine tank and another benefit is it can double as a Hospital tank when not in use.  Believe it or not they are not the same although you can use the same equipment for either purpose. Anyone having more than one or two fish should have what I call a "Fishy First aid Kit".

"Fishy First Aid Kit"

Hospital/Quarantine tank - Must be always at the ready to act as your first line of defense in the event of illness breakout or as a preventative to keep newly purchased fish from infecting your main tank.

A cheap pair of womens pantyhose = (these are very useful to pour water treatment granules (ammo chips, Nitrasorb, charcoal, etc.) into and tie off the ends thus making a filter sock.

Ammo chips - Placing this in the filter can keep you sick fish safe from ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate. while you are medicating.  Since you are removing the ammonia you don't have to worry about itrites and Nitrates
because there is no ammonia to be converted into the latter.

Activated Carbon Granules - Useful for removing certain chemicals from the water.

Household Bleach -  Best general purpose disinfectant

Battery Operated Air Pump - Great for situations where you loose power or need to transport sick fish.

Sponge filter and Air pump - Can be a life saver in situations involving filtration failure.

METHYLENE BLUE -  Effective for lite treatment of bacteria and also as an antidote for poisoning including damage due to nitrogen poisioning (assuming damage is not too far along)This med will nuke your BB!! best not to use it in your main tank. Only use in Hospital tank.

Liquid B complex vitamins - Maintains nervous tissue, energy & metabolism.

Any Preferred Brand of Anti-Bacteria Medicated Fish Food  - Good for initial treatments of many symptoms especially if caught early while fish still has an appetite.

Proper Dosages and use for items listed above:

ERYTHROMYCIN or Maracyn same stuff basically.)
Dosage: 125 mg per 5 gallons of water.
Duration: Every 24 hours.
Procedure: 25% water change before each treatment.
Recommended treatment period: 10 days.
SPECIAL NOTES:Best used as a last resort for stubborn bacterial infections and in cases where pathogen is not positively identified. Very effective to treat "BACTERIAL SEPTICEMIA" (red lines in fins and gills)

 JUNGLE Brand Anti-Bacteria Medicated Fish Food
Dosage: As much as the fish will eat in a 10 second time frame
Duration: Every 12 - 24 hours.
Procedure: Do not use other foods during this 5 to 10-day period.
Recommended treatment period: 5- 10 days.
SPECIAL NOTES:Also effective to treat "BACTERIAL SEPTICEMIA" (red lines in fins and gills)

POTASSIUM PERMANGANATE as Live Plant disinfectant
Dosage: Add just a few grains to a container then add the water. It takes it a little while to dissolve, You want to achieve a dark pink tint to the water
Duration: Soak Plants in solution for 15 to 20 minutes
Procedure: Soak Plants in solution for 15 to 20 minutes. USE GLOVES AND GOGGLES WHEN WORKING WITH THIS CHEMICAL. After soak rinse well with water and dechlorinator mixture. Then rinse again to be safe.
Recommended treatment period: 15-20 Mins
SPECIAL NOTES:THIS IS VERY SERIOUS STUFF. USE GLOVES AND GOGGLES. Do not mix this chemical with anything other than water or dechlorinator as dangerous chemical reactions can occur.

HOUSEHOLD BLEACH as Live Plant disinfectant
Dosage: Mix in a bucket with water to achieve 5% solution
Duration: only complete procedure 1 time.
Procedure: Prepare one bucket of 5% bleach solution and one bucket of dechlorinated water. soak plants in Bleach solution for 2-4 minutes. then promptly remove them and swish around in a (double declorinator dosed) doseddechlorinated water solution - Just to be safe add a few extra drops of dechlorinator while in bucket.
Recommended treatment period: only once.
SPECIAL NOTES:use gloves and glasses or safety goggles when working with chemicals. Use caution bleach can easily kill the plant as well as the bacteria you are after. Some plants are more sensitive then others, IE: Anacharis

HOUSEHOLD BLEACH For Tank & Equiptment disinfection
Dosage: Mix in aquarium or a bucket (whichever applies) with water to achieve 10% solution
Duration: 24 hours
Procedure: soak equipment and all surfaces that contact the water column in bleach solution for 24 hours. Easiest way is to fill tank with solution, place lids and heaters and nets and hoses into tank,and connect filtration and let it run occasionally wiping down surfaces un touched by water.
Recommended treatment period: 24 hours
SPECIAL NOTES:use gloves and glasses or safety goggles when working with chemicals. Make sure you rinse, dechlorinate and repeat several times after treatment

(2) Large bottles of BASIC DECHLORINATOR (the kind with nothing in it but dechlorinator..lol)
Dosage: Typically 1 drop per gallon

METHYLENE BLUE
Dosage: (As water treatment for fish) 2.5 ml of a 2.303% solution per 5 gallons of water.
Duration: Every other day.
Procedure: Complete water changes before each treatment..
Recommended treatment period: 10 days.
SPECIAL NOTES: Effective as an antidote for poisoning including damage (assuming damage is not too far along)This med will nuke your BB!! best not to use it in your main tank. Only use in Hospital tank.

Hospital tank/ Quarantine Tank - Complete with:
- Aeration,
- Heater,
- Filter (a very simple HOB is best, Reason being that you can easily access the filter media area.  When used as a QT tank the Filter should have normal Bio Filtration Media.  When used as a Hospital Tank the media should be replaced with ammonia chips.)
- Size: Should be minimum of 10 gallons (try to get the smallest size that can comfortably house any sick fish or any new fish you may buy.)
a few plastic plants, maybe a cave.  You should however avoid substrate as this tank should be stripped down and disinfected on a regular basis and having gravel makes that process extremely difficult.  If you are one of those people who just cant stand bare bottom tanks then I suggest you try glass marbles or the glass disks (The kind that look like squished marbles).  These are preferred because they are non porous thus they present the least surface area making them almost as easy to disinfect as the tank itself..  The basic rule of thumb here is to avoid any decoration that makes it too easy for the fish to hide.  Also avoid anything that is complicated or delicate as these things can often be very difficult to disinfect.
QT/HOSP. Tank Set Up and usage:

As the name implies the "QT/HOSP.  tank" will have 2 purposes:
1) Quarantine tank - Keep new fish in there for 2-6 weeks (I personally recommend 6 weeks) as needed
2) Hospital tank - Sometimes fish in your main tank or new fish you quarantine will become sick.

Here is the set up for each:
Advance Preparation methods:
A) Keep an extra few filter pads or sponge media stuffed into your filter on your main tank.
- When needed you simply remove the extra media and rinse it thoroughly in a small bucket or container of dechlorinated water (The container only needs to be large enough for you to connect your QT tank filter to it - No larger than that). You then connect the QT tank filter to the bucket or container and let it run for a few hours till the water looks clear. (At this point all of the BB is evenly distributed into the new filter and it is ready for action in the QT tank.
B) Another is to keep am extra sponge filter in your main tank.
- When needed you simply move the filter to the QT tank. *Note* I don't prefer this method because when the filter is finished service in the QT tank you place it back in the main tank and I do not like putting things from the QT tank into my main tank except fish...lol

Set Up:

1) Quarantine - As a QT tank you will use method A or B to place filtration on the QT tank. and place the newly purchased fish into the QT tank using the drip acclimation method. Let the fish serve their time in QT observing them for illness or odd behavior. when the time is completed and you deem the fish healthy you will place them in the main tank using the drip acclimation method. Once the tank is empty you should sterilize the whole QT tank, filtration and all. And then reset for the next batch.

2) Hospital - As a Hospital tank you will replace the bio filtration with ammo chips (This will keep the tank from having ammonia /nitrite problems while you medicate.). Since it is chemical filtration you you do not have to worry about the adverse effects of antibiotics and similar medications on your Beneficial Bacteria because your filtration does not depend on bio-filtration. Once the fish are returned to health you will change the water and run the tank as a QT tank for about 1-2 weeks to make sure the fish is indeed back to health. While this is going on you can soak the ammo chips in salt water (This recharges them) so that they are ready for the next time. Once fish get clear bill of health you can drip acclimate them back into the main tank. Once the tank is empty you should sterilize the whole HOSP. tank, filtration and all. And then reset for the next batch.

Note on QT/HOSP. Tanks:
*Salt Water QT/Hosp Tank* Exactly the same as for FW however it is very important to always have some extra saltwater ready in case you need to perform any emergency water change or for regular water changes due to medications.  Make sure to monitor the water parameters daily.   Never mix up saltwater and add it right away. Freshly mixed saltwater can be harmful to fish.  For this reason It is a good practice to always have enough premixed saltwater on stand by for water changes and top offs. 
 
I know it all seems like a lot but trust me if you ever catch a really nasty disease from new fish or if a fish in your main tank ever becomes seriously ill you will really learn to appreciate the above methods. ie: http://tanks4thememories.blogspot.com/2010/06/dealing-with-really-bad-stubborn.html#top1 It becomes very "Routine" once you have done it a few times.

Liquid B complex vitamins
Dosage: 1 drop per 2 gallons of water
Duration: once a week
Procedure: leave in till next water change
Recommended treatment period: 10 days.
SPECIAL NOTES: Maintains nervous tissue, energy & metabolism.


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