It's probably not the most fun topic to talk about, but disease prevention, is one of the most important parts of keeping fish. In this article, we will look at what you can do to prevent disease from occurring.
Everybody's heard the saying that 'prevention is better than a cure', and that could not be closer to the truth when it comes to fish. Unlike many and other animals, if fish get sick it is not always easy to identify and treat their illness, so we need to put a lot of time into the prevention of disease in the first place.
The key to disease prevention is water quality, if you have poor water quality such as a pH that is too low or too high, ammonia in the water, or high levels of dissolved solids, then your fish are more likely to get diseased. There are several ways to ensure good water quality.
The first is to change some of the water regularly - we recommend about a quarter every 2 weeks or a third once a month. Use a gravel cleaner when you do this to siphon out any fish waste and decaying plant material as these can easily pollute the tank. Never EVER change all of the water and scrub the tank clean as this is very dangerous to the fish and a sure way to bring on an outbreak of disease. Small regular changes are definitely safer.
The following three products should be used to prepare the new water for aquarium use. Water Purifier or Ager to remove the chlorine, Water Conditioner which adds salts and minerals to the water which makes the water suitable for the fish that you are keeping (there are specific types of conditioners for each type of fish, e.g. goldfish, tropical. Finally Bactonex to help with disease prevention during the change. Bactonex can also be added every time you add new fish to your tank as a disease preventative.
Test the water regularly, monitoring the pH and if possible the ammonia. Although we are happy to test your water here at the shop, we are not always open, so having the right testing equipment at home could be crucial if your fish take ill at 9.00pm on a Friday night. Acting immediately could be the difference between saving and losing a great number of fish and if that's the case, then investing in some good test kits is very worthwhile.
Also remember to stock your tank with fish slowly. This is especially important if your tank is new. When adding fish you are essentially adding more pollution to your tank (fish waste). If there is insufficient bacteria established in your filter, then the waste will decompose and turn into deadly toxins - Ammonia and Nitrite (the silent fish killers).
Always feed your fish on high quality foods even if they are a little more expensive. Top quality foods are digested better by the fish so there is less waste which means you can feed less but still have healthy growing fish. Fish also benefit from a feed of live food once a week such as Black worms, Brine shrimp or even Earth worms from your garden. If you can, feed the fish two smaller feeds a day rather than one large feed. Make one of the feeds a dry food and the other a frozen food such as Bloodworm or any of the other prepared frozen diets that are available.
Even after taking these precautions, fish can still get sick. If they do, then you must take action as quickly as possible. Note down all the signs of illness on the fish, e.g. any blood on the body, heavy gasping etc. Call the shop or refer to a good book on fish keeping. Even better if you live near our store drop in and bring us, a sample of the water.