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How Do I Protect Against Velvet In My Fish Tank?

Updated on March 9, 2014

The Velvet disease is a common affection in tropical fish aquariums. It is contagious and deadly, especially among the offsprings.

The disease is caused by a flagellated protozoan which has two phase in the life cycle: an infecting phase and a reproduction phase. Detect the Velvet disease at an early stage is essential to eradicate it.

For this to be attentive to early symptoms of the disease is important, primarily in behavioral changes in the population of the aquarium.The disease-causing protozoa, feed on living tissue of the host fish. It adheres to the body through a kind of roots, that secrete an enzyme that dissolves the tissue.

Some white spots appear on the skin (which makes it easy to be confused with the white spot disease). These spots seem to be sprinkled on the skin of the fish.

The fish's immune system defends itself by secreting a mucus. This whole process produces the velvet aspect which gives the name to the disease.

Velvet Disease Prevention..
Velvet Disease Prevention..

The skin of the fish becomes opaque, and the eyes cloud over. If the disease worsens, ulcers appear and the skin comes off. It is common that one or both eyes protrude from the orbits (Exophthalmia).

As the parasite affects the gills, the fish can have difficulties to breath, and eventually die from asphyxia. All this occurs during the infecting phase of the parasite, stage in which it feeds and reaches maturity.

At the end of this stage, the parasite emerges from the skin of the fish to begin the process of reproduction.

In the reproduction stage the parasite covers itself with a protective cellulose shell.

Inside this shell it begins the multiplication cycle by cellular divicion. It can produce more than 200 new parasites, called dinospores. These spores break the shell and swim searching for a host fish to attach to and start a new infection cycle.

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The biological cycle of the parasite lasts among ten to fourteen days. The biological cycle can be accelerated by increasing the temperature of the water of the aquarium.

Once the disease attacks the population of the aquarium, corrective actions must be implemented as soon as possible. The most common treatments are based on salts of quinine, blue of methylene or copper salts.

When applying a treatment, it should take into account that not all species of fish tolerate medication that contains copper. To avoid any kind of disease, the prevention the best tool. Respect the quarantine period is a practice which must be given due importance.

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