The presence of fungi in fish is a problem that frequently affects those people who have community aquariums, especially if a quarantine has not been carried out before introducing new individuals, but also due to errors in handling and care offered.
If we have observed some symptoms of disease in fish, such as white spots or filaments, it is likely that we are in the presence of fungi.
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What are fungi?
Fungi are saprophytic organisms that belong to the Fungi kingdom. They are probably the most unknown decomposing microorganisms, but they play a fundamental role in ecosystems. They feed on dead organic matter present in the aquarium, such as food and dirt, but they also take advantage of fish tissues that are destroyed or damaged by various causes.
We should know that fungi are found naturally in the environment, however, when there is an increase in the amount of decomposing organic matter in the environment, the fungal population increases.
There are many causes that can cause fungi to settle in the tissues of the body of our fish, but we can highlight an abrupt handling that can cause injuries in the individual, bad or poor hygienic conditions and an inadequate temperature.
The body of fungi is composed of filaments that are called “hyphae”, which are responsible for reproducing new structures by attacking a new environment, in this case the body of the fish. Once in the tissue of the individual develop especially quickly and in just 24 or 48 hours, we can notice the first visible symptoms. But in addition, the spores of the fungus will not stop reproducing in the environment, being present throughout the aquarium, thus being able to affect other fish.
Types of fungi in fish
It is impossible to detail all types of fungi that can affect our fish, since there are more than 35 species, however, we will mention the most common types of fungi in fish:
- Genres Saprolegnia and Achlya: they are the most common and the ones that most often affect aquarium fish. The fungi belonging to these genera feed mainly on dead organic substance, dead eggs and also parasitize weakened fish. We will observe cotton layers in the body of affected individuals. The appearance of these fungi is also due to secondary infections. The filaments of these fungi grow outward but also inward, and can seriously damage the fish’s organs. Treatment should be initiated in the initial stage.
- Branchiomyces: These fungi usually affect the gills of the fish and are usually caused by the fungus Branchiomyces sanguinis and, to a lesser extent, by the fungus Branchiomyces demigrans. The damage it produces is especially serious, since it affects the gill causes CO2 poisoning, which causes the failure of vital organs. We will observe accelerated breathing and booting on the surface. The death rate is very high.
- Ichthyosporidium hoferi: it is worth mentioning this particular fungus because, although it is rare, its effects are devastating. Sick fish release spores through feces, contaminating the entire aquarium and other fish. It usually affects tents and cichlids. The damage it causes affects all internal organs and forms cysts that can reach 2 mm, usually brown or black. There is no known effective treatment to eliminate it.
Symptoms of fungi in fish
As we have already told you, most fungi in fish appear when there is a weakening of the organism, whether we talk about wounds, damage to the mucosa or other pathologies. In addition, the penetration of hyphae in tissues causes significant damage to the organs, necrotising them.
- White, brown or black spots
- Cotton flakes and spots
- White, elongated or compact filaments
- Cottony Egg Coating
- Difficulty breathing
- Surface boot
- The fish is rubbed on different surfaces
- Death of one or more aquarium fish
How to cure fungi in fish?
The prognosis will depend directly on how quickly we start the treatment of fungi in our fish. That is why it is so important to check the aquarium on a regular basis, because only in this way can we detect and treat in time the pathologies that may affect the aquarium fish.
The treatment of fungi in fish requires three fundamental steps:
- Aquarium water sterilisation
- Disinfection of players and other aquarium elements
- Use of fungicides
We must be very careful with the application of fungicides, since an error in the dose can cause the death of the fish. The ideal is to go to a specialized aquarium centre, where they can prescribe the most appropriate treatment according to the symptoms manifested by the fish.
Home remedies for fish fungi
The effective treatment of fungi in fish always involves the use of antifungals, however, we can also implement some home remedies, which will help improve the prognosis of the affected fish. While there are many remedies that we can find on the net, we only recommend the use of sea salt:
We must know that salt is widely used to disinfect aquarium utensils. Simply let them soak in a saturated solution for 30 or 60 minutes to eliminate the germs present in them. If you want to use salt as a complementary home remedy to treat fungi, we recommend leaving infected fish in a solution containing 10 to 15 grams. of salt tea / litre for 5 to 10 minutes. We will repeat the procedure on a daily basis until the fungi disappear.
How to prevent fungi in fish?
Prevention is key to preventing fungi, as well as other diseases, from affecting our fish. Here are some general tips that every aquarophile should follow:
- Learn properly about the requirements of each fish, which includes food, water, utensils, temperature.
- Seek careful handling to avoid injuries and stress in individuals.
- New fish should always go through a quarantine, for a minimum of 3 to 6 weeks.
- You will provide freshly watered fish with tranquillity and a place to hide.
- In quarantined tanks, it must have more litres of water per fish than the final aquarium, it should never contain less litres of water than necessary.
- You will avoid using live food from the environment, we will always go to a specialised centre where we can buy quality food.
- You will disinfect the aquariums at the slightest suspicion of an infestation.
- You will also disinfect the utensils when they are not being used.
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