This is a guest post from Demi Milovanovic.
Items for a first aid kit
This is a list of items that should be in any fish keepers cupboard for treating and quarantine purposes:
- Methylene Blue
- Malachite Green
- Epsom Salt
- Aquarium Salt
- Triple Sulfa/KanaPlex/Maracyn 2
- PraziPro/Praziquantel/Mardel Clout
- Hex Shield (medicated food, Metronidazole)
- Clove Oil
- 2 gallon bath/dip container/tank
- 10 gallon hospital tank
- 20+ gallon quarantine tank
- Separate equipment (airline tubing, heaters, thermometers, air stones, filters, battery operated air pumps, etc.) for hospital and quarantine tanks
- Vaseline (good for irritations from the air or rub marks on fish’s skin/scales, protects from further damage)
Medications and their uses
Triple sulfa is a broad spectrum antibiotic, treating both Gram-Negative and Gram-Positive bacteria. Most commonly used for fin and tail rot, mouth rot and clamped or collapsed fins, Columnaris (mild to moderate infections ONLY), and haemorrhagic septicaemia (API Triple Sulfa or Blue Planet Tri-Sulfa)
Much the same use as Triple Sulfa, it can also be used to treat more severe infections, like bacterial caused dropsy, when combined with Sulfamethazine (both medications can be found in Mardel Maracyn Plus)
A Gram-Positive antibiotic, this is commonly used for treating a lot of Gram-Negative bacterial infections, such as columnaris, when most times it is a very slow and nearly a majority of the time, ineffective medication. Although this medication is used for bacterial infections in fish, it has been proved fairly ineffective in cold blooded animals. Not to mention can cause damage to organs such as the kidneys, so it is not advised to use. However, if you do decide to use this medication, its uses for treatment do include fin and tail rot, Pop-eye, gill disease/burn/irritation and secondary infections. This medication also becomes VERY toxic past the expiration date, throw out once it goes out of date (API T.C.Tetracycline or Blue Planet Aquari-cycline)
This antibiotic, although from the same chemical family as tetracycline, it does provide useful treatments towards bacterial septicaemia, fin and tail rot and occasionally pop-eye (Mardel Maracyn-Two)
This medication will treat Gram-Positive bacteria and SOME Gram-Negative bacteria, it is most commonly used for cloudy eyes, bacterial septicaemia, ulcers/open sores, missing scales and mouth rot (API Fin & Body Cure)
Fairly broad spectrum in the fact that it treats some Gram-Negative and Gram-Positive bacterial infections. Best used for columnaris infections, open sores/ulcers and fluid filled cysts (API Furan-2)
Broad spectrum anti, it can be used to treat open sores, ulcers, intestinal infections, fin and tail rot, and in some cases, fish TB. however it should not be used for severe bacterial infections (SeaChem NeoPlex)
A Gram-Positive antibiotic, its most commonly used to treat hextima/HITH, chilodonella, neon tetra disease, and some cased of bacterial caused SBD. this med can be combined with others to make much more successful treatment and broaden the treatment spectrum (SeaChem MetroPlex and API General Cure)
Treats mainly Gram-Negative bacterial infections, can be used for open red sores or ulcerations, fin and tail damage, columnaris, whirling disease, bacterial kidney infections and dropsy (SeaChem KanaPlex)
As a Gram-Positive antibiotic, erythromycin is most effective when it comes to fin and tail rot, sometimes kidney infections, some causes of pop eye, False Neon Tetra Disease/FTD, and some causes of Black Molly disease (API E.M.Erythromycin)
While this medication is good for things like anchor worm, hydra, Parasitic Copepods, Flukes, Fish Lice, Leeches and partially exposed nematodes such as camalanus worms. However, this medication does best in neutral water (a pH of 7), also avoid use on sensitive fish, extremely toxic, especially to invertebrates (Mardel Clout)
Used for internal parasites, paralyses the parasite for easy passing through the fish. Never use with invertebrates for the same reasons as above. Usually dosed orally (Pepso Flakes)
This medication is used to treat for worms, such as tape worms, other internal parasites and flukes. For external use, its added to the water; best as a bath, for internal use it is ideal to pre-soak food in a concentrated mix in tank water, or mixed in with gel foods (Tetra Parasite Guard, Jungle Parasite Guard, Blue Planet Fluke & Tapeworm, Hikari PraziPro)
This medication is used for the treatment of internal parasites, particularly worms. This medication kills both the adult and larvae stage of the parasite, this makes it an ideal medication for the treatment of camalanus worms. It paralyses the parasite, then kills it. Be sure when treating with this medication that daily water changes are done to get rid of all the worms as the rotting worms give off an extremely harmful toxin.
While used mostly for eggs to prevent fungus, Methylene Blue is particularly good for baths or dips for newly arrived fish as a preventative, it is mostly used for external parasites and some bacterial infections, but more so in the aid of a fish affected by methemoglobin intoxication. Generally great for helping transport oxygen throughout methemoglobin affected fish, so fish with a gill disease/problem, eg; ammonia burns, fluke damage, and other similar symptoms of those (Blue Planet White Spot Remedy)
This medication is particularly use as a topical antiseptic treatment for things such as open wounds, external bacterial infections, exposed external parasites and fungal infections (AAP Mebromin)
Mainly used for infections like, mouth “fungus”, fin and tail rot, fungus, saprolegnia, and mild egg fungus, as well as velvet when in combination with Malachite Green (API Fungus Cure, Blue Planet Fungus Cure)
Mainly used for the treatment of ich, velvet when in combinations with Acriflavin, costia and fungus (Blue Planet Fungus Cure, Kusuri Formalin & Malachite Premix, Nt Labs Koi Care Malachite)
This medication is a gram-positive medication, it will treat gram-positive bacterial infections. However, this medication will also treat external parasites, and fungal infections on eggs. Parasite treatable infections includes ich, costia, velvet, and trichodina. While it is useful in the aquarium, do not use with fish that have open sores as it may kill the fish (SeaChem ParaGuard, Kusuri Formalin & Malachite Premix, Nt Labs Koi Care Formaldehyde)
Used to treat ich, velvet, external parasites, fungus, shimmy, and in some cases, algae. Must not be used with invertebrates as its extremely toxic (SeaChem Cupramine, Mardel CopperSafe, Fritz CopperSafe)
Uses include swabbing fish directly, usually on bacterial sites or open wounds, mild fluke infections, clearing up bacterial blooms in the aquarium and most effective as a dip. Ideally not to mix with Methylene Blue or any other medications.
Ammonia poisoning has many symptoms. These symptoms include:
- red/purple/dark coloured gills
- gasping for breath; at the surface
- red streaking the fin; most notable on light coloured fish
- clamped fins
- red spots on body; ammonia burns
- torn/jagged fins
- no appetite
Water changes. Lots of water changes. Change a minimum of 50% multiple times, in case your pH doesn’t match your tank. However if they are the same feel free to change up to 80%. Ideal to double dose prime along with each water change; at least everyday along with testing parameters. Daily methylene blue dips are ideal; dosed at 1tsp per 5 gallons, 30 minutes per dip. Be careful using water conditioner and meth blue as it can get rid of the effects of meth blue, dose the conditioner at least 30-60min before adding the meth blue. Don’t forget to do this in a separate container to ensure to don’t kill your cycle in your establishing tank.
Nitrite poisoning symptoms may include:
- gasping at the surface
- very dull gills; pale pink to tan
- very rapid gill movement when not gasping at surface
- C shape and floating listlessly through the tank (very late and usually untreatable symptom)
Water changes. Lots of water changes. Change a minimum of 50% multiple times, in case your pH doesn’t match your tank. However if they are the same feel free to change up to 80%. Add aquarium salt at 1tsp per gallon (0.1% salinity), double dose prime to ensure nitrite doesn’t injure the fish further. Daily testing of the water along with daily water changes, daily prime dosing at each water change and lots of surface agitation is best for nitrite poisoning.
Nitrate poisoning symptoms may include:
- bottom sitting
- clamped fins
- irritated, red fins
- floats on side; at surface or on the bottom
- upwards C shape in spine; seen in long term severe cases with younger fish
Water changes. Lots of water changes. Change a minimum of 50% multiple times, in case your pH doesn’t match your tank. However if they are the same feel free to change up to 80%. Clean water and lots of surface agitation is the key for nitrate poisoning.
Salt; dosage and use
Used mainly for treating/alleviating constipation, it is also used for helping treat dropsy by relieving fluid retention in the fish while being treated with antibiotics/anti-parasitics.
Bath: 1tsp per gallon of water
Hospital Tank: ¼ to ½tsp per 10 gallons of water
Aquarium Salt (AQ Salt):
Used mostly for preventing most secondary infections on a fish, it is also useful for treating minor cases of external parasites, bacteria and fungus. It also helps protect a fish from nitrite damage during cycling/cycle crashes.
Bath: 5tsp per gallon of water (0.5% salinity)
Hospital Tank/General Use: 1tsp per gallon of water (0.1% salinity)
Parasitic Dosage: 3tsp per gallon of water (0.3% salinity)*
*raise 0.1% salinity every 12 hours being sure to dissolve it in tank water before putting into tank.
Most of us dislike scrubbing algae off glass tanks, but if your thinking of getting a plecostomus for your goldfish tank, DON’T. Many people mistakenly think that Plecostamus are compatible with goldfish and are a great alternative to scrubbing glass, but plecostomus are tropical, where as goldfish are cold water. Plecos are also omnivores and can not live on algae alone, a deprived pleco may turn to attacking your goldfish. There have been many MANY documented cases of plecos removing slime coat, eyes, and killing goldfish. Even worse, goldfish tend to rest on the bottom at night giving a perfect chance for a pleco to latch onto a fish, they have even been witnessed actively chasing goldfish. The risks do not outweigh the benefit.
Treatment for Pleco damage would include lots of clean water with a dose of aquarium salt. Have antibiotics on hand if damage doesn’t start healing.
Diseases in the aquarium and what to look for
Symptoms: noticeable bloating, lifted/”pineconed” scales, loss of colour, or combination of all 3 symptoms. This is usually an indication of late stage organ failure.
Treatment: ideal to treat the fish with a combination of Kanamycin and Metronidazole, along with either baths of epsom salt, or dosed straight into the water. Treatment with late stage dropsy isn’t a guaranteed success, it would be best to euthanise the fish. However, in the cases that the fish does survive treatment and they symptoms disappear, depending when the fish was treated, the fish can get dropsy again 1-6 months down the track, and usually worse.
Symptoms: tattered fins, white or black edging, can be lethargic, have a loss of appetite, flashing (scratching)
Treatment: lots of clean water, generally large, daily water changes. Fin rot is usually bacterial and caused by bad water quality, keep an antibiotic like Triple Sulfa and treat if fins do not start to mend.
Symptoms: fins stuck together, usually look clamped, red on tips, lethargic, appetite loss
Treatment: usually treated much the same as fin rot, fin melt can be a little more stubborn, so treat with daily water changes and an antibiotic that treats fin rot
Symptoms: eye/eyes bulging out and looking very swollen
Treatment: treat with clean water and antibiotics. Minocycline, Tetracycline and Erythromycin are usually the medications to go for when treating this kind of bacterial infection.
Symptoms: loss of colour in patches, white fuzz over patches of colour loss, lethargic, loss of appetite
Treatment: Triple Sulfa is good for your very minor infections, since this is a gram-negative bacterial infection, however Nitrofurazone would be the most ideal medication
Symptoms: loss of colour, “S” shape in spine, rapid weight loss, defects in skin?scales, usually open sores
Treatment: very unlikely a fish can be treated for TB as its only usually caught in mid to late stages, TB medications usually used for people MAY treat the fish, however it is not likely
Symptoms: may have bright red splotches randomly dispersed on skin, bright red streaking in fins, clamped fins,
Treatment: minor cases can be treated with AQ salt and Triple Sulfa, more severe cases its best to use a medication such as Minocycline
Symptoms: red welt, usually has a white stringy parasite hanging out of welt, worm is shaped like a “T”, lethargic, loss of appetite
Treatment: daily water changes an dosing Trichlorfon and AQ Salt
Symptoms: weight loss, trouble breathing, loss of appetite, lethargic
Treatment: daily changes and dose Trichlorfon, be sure to have a neutral pH when treating.
Symptoms: white film on body, flashing, clamped fins, possible odd swimming behaviour
Treatment: treat with Formalin/Formaldehyde
Symptoms: flashing, grey/green discs on fish.
Treatment: best treatment is Trichlorfon after removing the visible lice gently from the fish with tweezers.
Symptoms: flashing, red splotching at base of fins, heavy breathing, clamped fins, light red streaks in fins, tiny white specks on fins of fish, torn fins
Treatment: use Praziquantel and treat the fish for 6 rounds, each treatment period is 5-6 days long, at the end of each period, change 100% of the water and re-dose the hospital tank. Its also ideal as a preventative to treat the fish every 6-12 months.
Symptoms: fin clamping, white spots all over body and fins
Treatment: for treatment without too many harsh chemicals, turn the heat up to 30 degrees Celsius, and dose 0.3% AQ Salt, however, for a lighter used medication, add Methylene Blue or Malachite Green.
Hole in the Head (HITH):
Symptoms: loss of appetite, pits/holes forming in head
Treatment: treat with Metronidazole as per instructions on the medications.
Symptoms: floating or sinking, having trouble swimming
Treatment: usually caused by a bacterial infection, treat with Metronidazole, However if things don’t clear up, treat orally with Praziquantel and see how your fish goes then.
Symptoms: open wounds with irritated, red edging, may be lethargic and lose appetite
Treatments: usually treated with lots of cleat water and AQ Salt, majority of the time this is cause by a bacterial infection so treating with Nitrofurazone or Minocycline is ideal.
*THIS IS A ZOONOTIC DISEASE, Fish TB is highly contagious and is passable to humans, if you come across a fish with TB the only way to get rid of this disease is to destroy or heavily disinfect anything the fish had touched.
If you have come into contact with this fish while you have a sore on your hand or possibly swallowed water, SEEK OUT A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY FOR TESTS.
Euthanasia methods and proper disposal
This method is probably the most widely acceptable, humane and well known home euthanasia methods that can be done.
Method: you will need a container/tank big enough for the fish, an air-stone and airline tubing, air pump, pre-conditioned water, a small jar, and of course clove oil. There is no real correct dosing for euthanasia, most recommended is 10 drops per litre of water. Place fish into the container of water with the air-stone running, you’ll also need a small amount in the jar. Add the 10 drops into the jar of water, screw on the lid and shake vigorously, you’ll know when its ready when it goes a milky colour. Add a very small amount to the container with the fish every 5 minutes. Once all the mixed oil water is in the tank, wait for 15 minutes after the last gill movement, this will ensure the fish has passed fully.
This method is usually used for much larger fish or when clove oil is unavailable, however it is risky and needs to be done in an instant, if it takes more than once to euthanise 1 fish, you’ve already done it incorrectly and caused more harm than good, you can not hesitate with this method at all.
Method: best way to do this is to get 2 plastic bags, paper towel, and something heavy that you can drop or swing with a lot of force. You need to get everything ready so it can be used immediately, get enough paper towel to cover the fish, make sure its wet, mark on the plastic bag where the head of the fish will be. This is now the fast paced part; get the fish from wherever it is, quickly but gently place fish in paper towels, then inside one of the bags, then that inside the next bag, be sure to line up where the head is with the marker you put, then grab whatever you’re using and ensure that mark is hit with a lot of force, missing or hesitating can make this inhumane. This method is not for the feint of heart.
This method is most used in the meat industry, however it is fast and effective.
Method: for this you just need a very sharp and long blade, a sharp butchers knife would do and paper towel. Now get the fish out, hold it with the paper towel and plunge the knife directly in the middle of the top of the skull. This method shouldn’t be attempted if you don’t know the anatomy of the fish or wont be able to get it perfectly where it needs to be, their brains are much smaller than another animals.
This one is pretty straight forward on what to do.
Method: for this one, you just need a vet that tends to exotic animals and a bag of water for the fish. Probably the most humane and least confrontational method of euthanasia.
This one is pretty straight forward. Alcohol will cause the fish pain when dying. It burns their gills and skin to where the fish is in agony the whole time it is dying. Its not a great way for any creature to die at all.
Ice Water then Freezer:
Again, another terrible and painful method. While this may seem quick, it is actually quite painful. Generally the fish will go into a state of shock or hibernation, this doesn’t mean the fish is asleep, this just means the fish is stunned. Then, once you put the fish in the freezer, the fish feels itself freezing, causing immense pain while it dies. Another inhumane method.
Now this is just obviously inhumane, you’re flushing a live fish down the toilet, and depending on your city and how they treat the water, the disease it has will travel through to your tap water and into local waters (rivers, streams, lakes, ocean).
While seemingly logical in theory, the fish does not die instantly, for this method to work the fish’s head would have to be immediately pithed afterwards.
- Organics waste bin
- Normal bin
Flushing should not be a disposal method. Flushing a fish can pass on contagious diseases from water way to water way, dependant on how your area has its water treated. Some water treatment plants cant remove all types of parasites and bacteria, so when you flush a sick/dead fish you can just be bringing the disease back into your tank. It should also be noted that if filtered and clean water is pumped back into streams that native fish species can also contract those diseases.
Feeding to Other Animals:
While this may seem efficient, this can make the animals extremely sick themselves, so please don’t do it.
The Goldfish Tank would like to thank Demi Milovanovic for writing this excellent guide to goldfish medications, diseases and treatments and allowing us to publish it on thegoldfishtank.com.