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White Spot Disease In Fish

 
By Ameera Mills. Updated: August 12, 2018
White Spot Disease In Fish

Have you recently noticed that your fish are covered with small white dots? What in principle may seem like dirt or small specks, is actually a protozoan capable of making your fish seriously ill.

Although it is rare in home aquariums, white spot disease in fish should not be neglected. In the long run, the action of this parasite can lead to the death of your fish. If you want to know more about white spot disease in fish, keep reading this AnimalWised article. In addition, we will be discussing the symptoms and treatment of white spot disease.

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What is white spot disease in fish?

White spot disease is a parasitic disease triggered by the action of the protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifilis, which is why it is also called Ich's disease. This parasite only attacks freshwater fish, as it is incapable of surviving in a saltwater environment.

White spot disease is characterized by the appearance of small white spots on a fish’s skin. It is one of the most common parasites, with the ability of living in a fish’s skin without showing symptoms until developed. Once the life cycle of this protozoan has begun, it is highly contagious. The greatest risk to fish under its affection is that it promotes the appearance of respiratory ailments, which can lead to death if treatment is not prescribed on time.

What causes white spot disease in fish?

A healthy fish can be a carrier of this disease and not manifest it until the ideal conditions for the development of the parasite's life cycle are presented. These conditions have to do with the health of the specimens in the aquarium and with the general hygiene of the aquarium. In this sense, the factors that favor the appearance of white spot disease in fish are:

  • Poor fish feeding.
  • Overcrowding in the aquarium.
  • Introduction of objects from other aquariums to the tank.
  • Poor water quality.
  • Stress in fish.
  • Excess of nitrites.

All of these conditions weaken the defenses of the aquarium’s inhabitants, allowing the Ich to attack. Now, it is necessary to know the life cycle of the parasite in order to know how to fight it. In principle, the parasite attaches to the skin of fish. This parasite comes from other tanks or have swum in water contaminated with the protozoan. When one or several of the mentioned conditions are present, the parasite is activated and begins to feed on the bodily fluids presented in the fish’s body.

At this stage, the parasite forms into small cysts that cover the body of the fish in the form of white spots. In this period, we identify the protozoan as being in the process of maturation.

Once maturation is over, the parasite detaches itself from the fish’s body and falls to the bottom of the tank. There, it multiplies in the form of other small cysts. This is the second phase of maturation, after which the cysts break and release new parasites. In the next 48 hours, they look for new fish to adhere to with the aim of restarting the cycle.

White Spot Disease In Fish - What causes white spot disease in fish?

What are the symptoms of white spot disease in fish?

The first of these symptoms include the appearance of white dots. They can appear throughout the body of the fish, but are generally grouped near the fins, in the form of whitish specks. From then, the fish develops abnormal behavior, including:

  • Nervousness.
  • Rubbing against the aquarium walls.
  • Irritable behavior.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Irregular breathing.

When a fish begins to rub against the aquarium, the disease is considered to be in an advanced stage. Lack of appetite and respiratory problems can be lethal if treatment is not prescribed.

White Spot Disease In Fish - What are the symptoms of white spot disease in fish?

How to treat white spot disease in fish?

White spot disease is possible to cure using natural treatment, such as: making changes in temperature and aquarium salt. In some cases however, applying drugs specially formulated for the disease is necessary.

Therotherapy and aquarium salt

Temperature changes are crucial when fighting white spot disease in fish. The reason for this is that this parasite requires very specific temperatures in order to carry out its life cycle succesfully.

The first manifestation of the disease is the appearance of white spots, so at this stage it is possible to attack the parasite. To eliminate it and cure white spot disease in fish, it is advisable to increase the aquarium’s temperature to accelerate the stages of life of the protozoan. Gradually increase the temperature at a rate of 1 degree every 2 hours,until it reaches 30 degrees Celsius. By doing it this way, the change will not be abrupt for your fish, but will kill off the parasite. As you raise the temperature, you must compensate with an increase in the amount of oxygen. It is also recommended to remove any ultraviolet filters and the carbon from the filter.

Raising the aquarium temperature will cause the cysts to detach from the fish’s body and fall to the bottom of the tank, at which point they become more vulnerable. When you notice that the cysts have detached, add 1 teaspoon of aquarium salt for every 4 liters of water. Only aquarium salt, never table salt. Aquarium salt can be purchased at pet stores.

Every 2 days, change roughly 25% of the water, adding new water that is at the same temperature. Apply this treatment between 7 and 10 days. When you notice that the parasite is no longer attached, continue to apply the treatment for 2 to 3 more days. Then, change 25% of the water for the last time and return to the usual temperature, lowering by 1 degree every 2 hours.

This white spot diseas treatment is recommended only when there are no fish in your tank which are sensitive to high salt concentrations. If you are not sure, consult with an aquarium specialist. If your fish are sensitive to salt, you can apply the following option.

Thermotherapy and medication

In terms of thermotherapy, you must raise the temperature by 1 degree until it reaches 30 degrees Celsius. Remember to: increase oxygen proportions, remove the carbon filter and move the tank away from direct light.

Once you have noted that the cysts have detached from the fish’s body, apply the medication. Common medication for this disease include: methylene blue and formalite which can be found in pet stores. Follow the instructions regarding the dose. In addition, consult with an Aquarium expert to find out more about the possible risks for each fish type present in your tank.

At the end of treatment, according to medicinal indication, change between 25 and 50% of the water and return to the usual temperature of the aquarium (moderating 1 degree every 2 hours).

White Spot Disease In Fish - How to treat white spot disease in fish?

How to prevent white spot disease in fish

When it comes to white spot disease in fish, it is best to prevent its appearance than having to treat it. Virtually all freshwater fish have been in contact with the protozon that causes this disease, so it is recommended to remain aware when introducing a new fish into the aquarium.

When you acquire a new fish, it is best to leave it in quarantine in another tank for about 15 days, with temperatures of about 25 or 27 degrees. The same must be done when you acquire new plants for the aquarium, in this case, 4 days will suffice.

Once verified that the parasite has not manifested, you can integrate the fish or plants into the community aquarium. In general, take care in terms of feeding: always opt for good quality food. Similarly, monitor the conditions of the aquarium, control the temperature, avoid abrupt changes and maintain the pH and oxygen levels in order to keep all the fish healthy.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to White Spot Disease In Fish, we recommend you visit our Parasitic diseases category.

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