Preventing parasites in aquariums
Preventing parasites in fish is as simple as keeping you fish healthy and strong.
That doesn’t mean that it’s easy, because there are many things that can go wrong in the process.
A fish’s immune system is directly related to the amount of stress it experiences. When a fish gets stressed, its immune system gets weakened, and it is a lot less able to fight off diseases or keep parasites from becoming active.
Here are four steps that you can follow to help keep you fish’s immune system strong:
Keep your aquarium and water quality consistent
The majority of parasite outbreaks that we get called about come shortly after a major change got made to the aquarium.
Most of these involve the temperature of the water, especially as the seasons change.
Temperature changes are very stressful for fish, and heaters and chillers need to be in place to minimize these changes. If you have ever jumped into a cold pool on a hot summer day, you have experienced rapid temperature change and how it makes your body react. Fish have a much more severe reaction which lasts longer, affects them more deeply, and can occur with just a small change of a couple degrees.
Other factors include salinity, pH, ammonia, and other parameters. Changing the amount of salt in the water is enough to stress a fish to death by itself. Ammonia is poison. The water’s pH affects the fish’s ability to function. Too much medication or treatment of water can affect fish like high pollen counts in the air affect humans.
Keeping the water quality consistent is vital to a fish’s life, and keeping it from getting stressed and having its immune system weaken along with it.
Before adding new fish to an aquarium, know the fish.
There is enough information available that you can predict, pretty reasonably well, how fish will coexist in your aquarium.
A little reading before adding a clownfish to an aquarium with a lionfish in it can save you a lot of pain and anguish. (a Lionfish views anything that can fit in its mouth as food)
It’s not always as cut and dry as “this fish will swallow that fish whole.” Often, it is more subtle, like nipping at fins and tails, bullying, outright fighting and depriving a fish of a place to rest, regroup and call “home.”
Knowing which fish live well within the same community, and which do not will save you a lot of headaches, and help keep the fish from being stressed. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but is your aquarium the place that you want to try your luck?
Before adding new fish to an aquarium, look at the fish.
Look carefully at a fish before you buy it. Look for the warning signs of an unhealthy fish.
- Does it look healthy in general?
- Is it too skinny?
- Are the eyes clear?
- Do the lips look healthy?
- Are the fins clear and fully intact?
- Are they active?
- Are they lying on the floor, gasping or breathing heavily?
Even to the trained eye, many signs that can go unnoticed unless ou are specifically looking for these details. Many of our maintenance clients ask us to hand pick their fish for them.
Before adding new fish to an aquarium, quarantine the fish
Only buy from a reputable seller. This does not usually equate with the lowest price (although it can). Be sure that the place or person you are buying from takes care of fish successfully.
Then after you buy the fish, put it into a separate tank by itself for 14 days. This lets you treat it for disease and parasites. The medicine gets to run its course completely without affecting the display tank.
More importantly, if the fish has any problems, they will usually be revealed during quarantine, and you can handle it without infecting or hurting the rest of your fish.