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Sick Fish
The Signs of Stress and Disease

This page contains a list of some Signs of Stress and Disease that you should learn to recognize on your Tropical Fish and Goldfish.

     

1. Clamped Fins
The fish clamps its fins close against the its body. Experienced aquarists use this to quickly spot problems with their fish.
 
If you see that some of your fish have clamped fins and treat your fish immediately, you can usually cure them and avoid more serious stress and disease. Click here for more information about a Recommended Treatment.

 
The ad below links to this advertiser.
 
     

2. Shimmy
Looks like the fish is swimming fast but staying in the same place. Shimmy is easy to spot, and if the fish is treated immediately, you can usually cure it and avoid more serious stress and disease. Click here for more about a Recommended Treatment.

      

3. Ich Spots
Ich
looks like tiny white spots on the body and fins of the fish. This is a common disease of fish, and if the fish are treated immediately, you can usually cure ich and avoid more serious stress and disease. Click here for more about a Recommended Treatment.

     
     
Just above, a picture of a young Bala Shark with the first signs of Ich. Look carefully to see the small white spots. You should check you fish every day for these spots, and after a while it is very easy and takes very little time, but in the beginning you will need to concentrate.
 
Almost all of the pictures on this web site were taken by us of our fish, and this was one of our fish. We gave this fish the Recommended Treatment and it completely recovered in two days. Click here to read about the Recommended Treatment.
     

4. Red or White Sores
Many things can cause sores on fish such as fights with other fish, scraping on sharp rocks, and small wounds that get infected and grow bigger.
 
A new small sore can usually be cured. Older or larger sores are more difficult to treat, but sometimes you can succeed, and treating your fish will make it less likely that other fish will be infected by the fish with the sore.

     
     
Shown just above, a mature Tiger Barb with a typical white sore between its eye and its top fin. This fish should immediately be given all six steps of the Recommended Treatment. Click here for more about Tiger Barbs. Click here for more about the Recommended Treatment.
     

Quite often these sores are flat or cause a depression in the surface of the fish. Less often a sore may be a bump that is raised above the surface of the fish.
 
In all cases the Recommended Treatment is the same. Click here for more about a Recommended Treatment.

     

5. Gasping at the Surface
A fish that is gasping at the surface of the water is usually suffering from a lack of oxygen, that could be due to a lack of oxygen in the water or the fish's inability to absorb the oxygen from the water.
 
If there is just one or only a few fish gasping at the surface, but the other fish are normal, then the water probably has plenty of oxygen and you should immediately treat the gasping fish. Click here for more about a Recommended Treatment. 
 
On the other hand, if almost all the fish are gasping, then there is probably a lack of oxygen in the water, and you should immediately do all of the following:

     
  Check the Filter to be sure it's working properly. If it's not working properly, immediately fix it. Click here for more information about Aquarium Filters.
  Check the Temperature of the water on the thermometer, if this aquarium has a heater. If the temperature is out of the correct range, then adjust the aquarium heater. Click here for more about heaters, thermometers, and adjusting the temperature.
  Check the water surface, if there's oil or scum then carefully scoop water off the surface until you've removed two inches of water. Replace the water with fresh safe water. Click here for more about safe water.
  Add Aquarium Salt until the water has a total of 1 Tablespoon of aquarium salt for each 5 gallons of water. Click here for more about Aquarium Salt.
  Add Water Conditioner, which is available in stores that sell pet fish. The correct dose is on the bottle. Click here for more information about water Conditioner.
       

6. Crashed on the Bottom
When fish crash on the bottom and do not swim, it is usually a sign that they are exhausted. There are many reasons a fish can become exhausted, but quite often they have been sick, and probably showed symptoms such as gasping, shimmy, or clamped fins, before they became tired and crashed on the bottom.

 
So the Recommended Treatment was not started promptly, and chances of curing a fish that is crashed on the bottom are less, but the Recommended Treatment may work and will probably protect the other fish that came in contact with the crashed fish. Click here for more about a Recommended Treatment.

      
7. Glancing
is a fish behavior where a fish rubs itself on the bottom of the aquarium, or on the gravel, or on a rock or ornament. The fish rubs or glances because it is itchy.
 
An itchy fish often develops more serious Signs of Stress and Disease. If you see your fish glancing, you should immediately treat your aquarium. Click here for more about a Recommended Treatment.
     
8. Loss of Appetite
If your fish is not eating or takes food in its mouth and then immediately spits it out, your fish is showing one of the Signs of Stress and Disease.

 
You should be sure other fish are not making this fish miserable. Give fish that are not eating the Recommended Treatment. Click here for more about a Recommended Treatment.
      
9. Other Signs of Stress
There are many other Signs of Stress and Disease in fish. For example, there is so-called "fin rot" where the edges of the fish's fins disintegrate, or "pop eye" where the fish's eye bulges out, or "cotton mouth" where the fish has patches that look like cotton around it's mouth, but most of these more pronounced Signs of Stress and Disease occur after the more subtle Signs of Stress and Disease that are listed above.
 
"Fin rot", "pop eye", "dropsy", and "cotton mouth" are difficult to cure. But before they occur, the fish often show milder Signs of Stress and Disease like clamped fins. If you treat a fish at the first Sign of Stress and Disease, you'll have a much better chance of curing it.
     

Take Immediate Action
If you see any of the symptoms listed above or if several fish have recently died in your aquarium, you should immediately take action and treat your fish.
 
When fish can be cured, the Recommended Treatment is usually the same for all of the symptoms listed above.
 
Click here for details on the Recommended Treatment for fish with Signs of Stress and Disease.

     
More Serious Diseases that are not cured by the Recommended Treatment may require more powerful medications. Click here for information about such medications.
 
Books about Fish Disease
The books shown below are listed on Amazon.com. You can click on the image of a book to go to the page at Amazon.com, where that book is listed and discussed. In some cases you can preview several of the pages in that book.
 
Click on this image to go to Amazon.com, where you can learn more about this book.   Handbook of Fish Diseases
By Dieter Untergasser, et al
Hardcover
160 pages
 
Click on this image to go to Amazon.com, where you can learn more about this book.   A-Z of Tropical Fish Diseases ...
By Peter Burgess, Mary Bailey, and  Adrian Exell
Hardcover
392 pages
 
Click on this image to go to Amazon.com, where you can learn more about this book. Colorguide of ... Diseases
By Gerald Bassleer
Hardcover
272 pages
 
Click on this image to go to Amazon.com, where you can learn more about this book. Confessions of a Fish Doctor
By Scott Bodie
Hardcover
 
Click here for a complete list of books about Diseases of Tropical Fish at Amazon.com.
 
     
Click here to continue on to another page in this web site with Customer Comments and our Replies about fish diseases.
 

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