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Common Aquarium Fish Diseases

Updated on October 14, 2009

These are some of the most common complaints which aquarium fish face. If left alone, they can and will kill your fish, so if you notice any of the symptoms in this article about what a sick fish looks like, you will need to begin treatment as soon as possible if your fish are to survive. If your fish is sick and is in a tank with other fish, quarantine is always a good measure. One sick fish can turn into a tank full of sick fish very easily indeed.

Please note that in almost all cases, diseases are the result of poor water quality, stress and overfeeding. Cut back on how much you feed your fish, check your water parameters (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and pH if it is an issue,) and ensure that they have a healthy environment to live in. This will make treatment more successful and prevent recurrences of the problem.

White Spots On Your Fish | Ich

This is a very common problem among aquarium fish and is most often caused by a parasite. The condition is called 'Ich', and it can be treated with remedies bought from your pet store. If you have very small fish, or soft fish like catfish which do not have scales, halve the dosage. Be careful to follow the instructions and if your fish seem distressed, do a 50% water change right away. Add an additional source of oxygen when you treat for ich, as the medication often removes available oxygen from the water and can cause your fish to suffocate.

Also, if you are treating scaleless fish like catfish, halve the dosage as they are much more sensitive to it.

Ich can also be treated by dosing the aquarium with aquarium salt and raising the temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Be aware, some fish may be more sensitive than others to increased temperatures (and this only applies to tropical fish, if you have goldfish you cannot heat the water to 82 degrees.)

Puffy Sick Fish | Dropsy

Dropsy is also very common amongst fish, and is characterized by listless, sick looking fish who puff up like little puff balls with their scales sticking outwards. It is important to catch dropsy in the early stages, as by the time the fish has really puffed up, the bacteria which has caused the sickness has done a lot of damage. Dropsy is often caused by bad food or poor water quality.

If you see a fish who looks like they have dropsy, remove them from the aquarium immediately. They can and will infect all the others. Treatment for dropsy is usually fish antibiotics such as Metronidazole or Furan. If you catch the condition early enough, isolate the fish and dose it properly, there is a good chance of survival. Survival rates in the later stages are very low.

White Fins, Frayed Fins | Fin Rot

Fin rot is a very common fungal disease which eats away at a fishes fins until it dies. It is a horrible, long, slow death but it is completely treatable. Use gram negative antibacterial treatments to remedy the problem. Fin rot is often caused by dirty water and overfeeding, so cut back on feeding and make sure that your water parameters are correct. (Test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.)


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      GOGO 7 years ago

      My Goldfish has blood red splotches on most of his body. This has come on in the last few days.