Fish tuberculosis is a particularly nasty fish disease more common than many might imagine, especially among anabantoids like Siamese Fighting Fish, although it can affect all kinds of fish, including marine fish.
What is Fish Tuberculosis? Is It Dangerous To People?
Fish TB isn't actually TB, though it does arise from bacteria
found in the same family as human tuberculosis, and in some cases can
infect humans. Typically the highest risks come from servicing
infected marine tanks, because the marine version of fish TB,
Mycobacterium Marinarum, is more transmissible to humans than
other forms. In humans, the infection usually takes the form of
purple lesions on the hands, these require immediate medical
treatment as the disease can destroy flesh, so if you suspect that
your tank is infected with fish TB, and if you've been noticing
strange sores on your hands, get medical treatment as soon as
possible.If you suspect that you have fish sick with fish TB, wear gloves, especially if you keep a marine tank.
Does My Fish Have Fish TB? What Does Fish Tuberculosis Look Like?
Sufferers of fish TB exhibit several symptoms, many of which are common to other fish diseases as well, however there are some types of fish TB. The first is listlessness, which is common to many fish illnesses, however listlessness soon transforms into refusing food and then eventually, wasting as the fish refuses to eat and grows progressively skinnier. A major sign of fish TB is a kinked spine, which many fish develop as the disease advances.
So, to summarize:
- Clamped Fins
- Refusing Food
- Wasting Away
- Kinked Spine
There are however, several diseases which may present this way and
though you will certainly know that your fish is ill, it is very
difficult to say that a fish has fish TB for sure without lab tests
How Do I Treat Fish TB?
Fish TB can sometimes be treated with broad spectrum antibiotics, however oftentimes once the disease is advanced to the stage where the fish is no longer eating and wasting away then euthanasia may be best. Diseases like fish TB can spread throughout entire communities of fish if affected specimens are not removed and treated, although as a caveat to that, some fish experts believe that various strains of Mycobacterium are present in the bulk of fish populations and it is simply stress that allows the infection to take hold.
The best cure, is therefore prevention. Have a water testing kit
and use it. Ensure that ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are all at
acceptable levels. Do regular water changes. Ensure that your tanks
are not over stocked and that the species within them are compatible.
Constant bullying can kill fish. And at the end of the day, if you
have done your best to keep your fish healthy, do not berate yourself
too soundly. Fish get sick, sometimes in the most weird and
fantastical ways, and all we can do is our best in caring for them.