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How Do I Know If My Fish Has White Spot?

Updated on March 9, 2014

The early detection of the White Spot Disease (also ich or ick) in tropical aquarium fish, is essential to avoid that the fish suffer, or eventually die. The detection is based on the following two aspects:

  • Identify the symptoms
  • Identify the first manifestations and evaluate the progress of the disease

The early detection will give the opportunity to carry out the necessary actions so that the disease doesn't reach the stage of maturity. Once the disease is declared, it is extremely contagious, and can affect the whole population of the aquarium.

Even before the first spots appear on the body of the fish, some changes in the behavior can be the first symptoms that something is wrong.

The tendency of the fish to rub and scratch against the decoration of the aquarium, keep the fins folded against the body, the disordered swimming (even in oblique position), all of these are indications that the fish can be sick.

White Spot Disease Detection
White Spot Disease Detection

These symptoms are not exclusive of the White Spot Disease, they can be attributable to some other cause. If is ich, soon the first spots appear on the body of the fish.

The first visible spots appear in the fins, they are visible against the light and are of the size of the head of a pin.

The spots are formed because the immune system of the fish tries to stop the infection that the parasite causes, by encasing it in a shell of epiteliales cells (called a cyst).

A fungus causes a similar lesion, the difference consists in that ich looks like salt sprinkled on the fish and fungus looks like mold or cotton.

If at the appearance of the first spots no action is taken, the disease will advance quickly over the body of the fish.

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As the disease progresses more spots appear, being specially dangerous the appearance of lesions in the operculum area, and consequently in the gills, since the outcome is usually fatal.

The disease is aggravated by the intervention of other microorganisms that take advantage of the weakness of the fish to infect it through the lesions caused by the parasite.

This disease range from mild to severe when the infection is generalized and dozens of cysts in form of white spot are perfectly distinguished.

The White Spot Disease is very frequent, but it can be treated if it is diagnosed on time. Observe the behavior of the fish is escencial in the early detection of problems. It's important to highlight that ich can be avoided very easily by only taking some preventive measures.


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