fungal infections in fish

Infections caused by fungi in aquarium fish often develop when the immune system of the fish is already compromised due to illness or injury, and the fungus takes advantage of the alteration in the fish’s immune system.

What Are Fungal Infections in Fish?

Fish funguses attach themselves superficially, which means that they do not penetrate the body of the fish and instead remain on the surface, on the scales and skin. True funguses are not the most prevalent cause of funguses in pet fish; rather, water molds are the most common cause.

Water molds, which are creatures that resemble fungus and belong to the phylum Oomycota, can be found in every part of the aquatic environment. In most cases, water molds do not represent any kind of risk to fish that are in good health.

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Freshwater aquarium fish are more likely to contract fungal diseases than saltwater fish since the majority of water molds do not tolerate saltwater. However, there are a few water molds that are able to survive in saltwater.

Although they are uncommon, there are some real funguses that are quite aggressive, such as Branchiomycosis, that can cause primary devastating sickness in pet fish. This disease mostly affects the gills of the fish.

Fungal infections in fish might result in mortality if they are not treated in a timely manner. Please get in touch with your veterinarian if you observe any symptoms that could point to a probable fungal infection in your fish.

Types of Fungal Infections in Fish

Gill/Mouth Rot

It is the highly aggressive Branchiomyces species that is responsible for the typical gill or mouth rot that occurs in fish. This fungus has the potential to be the principal source of disease in fish, although it is not very common in species of fish kept as pets. The vast majority of fungal infections that are found on the fish’s body are water molds, which cause the fish’s body to appear mottled or blotchy.

Egg Fungus

The opportunistic water mold has the ability to attach itself to a wide variety of dead tissues, such as skin, scales, and eggs that have not been fertilized. In the event that fish eggs are not treated with formalin or hydrogen peroxide, or if they do not hatch in a timely manner, they are quite susceptible to secondary fungal infections that originate from their surrounding environment.

In fish breeding operations, additional precautions are taken to clean and/or disinfect eggs as soon as they hatch. This is done to ensure that the eggs are not susceptible to being infected by environmental fungi.

Systemic Fungus

Systemic fungal infections can quickly kill pet fish, despite the fact that they are uncommon. If the water is warmer and the tank density is higher, then the likelihood of systemic fungal infections is increased. In addition to accelerated breathing, sudden death, lethargy, and/or inappetence (not eating), clinical indicators may also include decreased appetite.

Symptoms of a Fungal Infection in Fish

  • White to brown raised, fluffy patches on body, eyes, fins
  • Pale gills
  • Increased respiration
  • Decreased appetite
  • Sudden death

In the case of pet fish, fungus, which may include water molds, can manifest as growths that are elevated, fluffy, or bushy on the skin, fins, gills, and eyes of the fish. The majority of the time, they are lighter in color and have a tan or yellowish hue to them.

Causes of Fish Fungal Infections

The majority of fish illnesses caused by fungi are subsequent to another stressor that the fish experienced. This can include:

  • Poor water quality
  • Stress from aggressive tank mates
  • Injuries
  • Tank cleanliness issues
  • Dead fish in tank
  • Injured or old fish
  • Overcrowding

How Veterinarians Diagnose Fungal Infections in Fish

Your veterinarian will perform a comprehensive evaluation of the environment of your tank or pond in order to determine a fungal infection in a fish. This evaluation will include measurements of the water quality and physical examinations of fish that appear to be in good health for the purpose of comparison. Be careful to bring a water sample that is distinct from the water that your fish are transported in for testing purposes, and make sure to have a record of all water treatments as well as any fish or equipment that has been recently installed.

Scrapings and gill clips will then be taken by veterinarians for examination under the microscope. These procedures are non-invasive. For the purpose of obtaining more diagnoses or confirming the presence of a fungal infection in your fish, culture tests might need to be sent to a laboratory.

Treatment of Fish Fungal Infections

Effective treatment for fish fungal infections comes from treating stressors in the environment including:

  • Water quality
  • Diet
  • Overstocking
  • Aggression

In the event that these other problems are cured, the fungus will be eliminated.

The addition of salt to the tank of freshwater fish is the most popular procedure for treating fungus in these species. For the purpose of providing an immersion treatment, you will need to weigh out aquarium salt and then add it to the water in your fish tank. It is necessary to incorporate a small amount of salt into the water that you are replacing in order to maintain a high level of salinity. This is done while you are making water changes.

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At this time, there is no treatment that is capable of effectively treating more aggressive strains of fish fungus, such as Branchiomyces. In order to prevent the disease from spreading to other fish, any affected fish should be put to sleep in a compassionate manner.

Recovery and Management of Fungal Infections in Fish

Once a fungal infection in a fish has been identified, the severity of the infection can be mitigated through the application of good environmental management. It is possible for pet owners to assist their fish in recovering by:

  • Ensuring correct water quality
  • Maintaining a good quality diet (your vet can help you determine a diet best for your fish)
  • Managing any inter-species aggression
  • Avoiding overcrowding

Fish Fungal Infections FAQs

How do you treat fungal infection in fish?

A salt bath that is given to your fish tank for an extended period of time is the most popular approach that is used to treat fungus in fish. Because many of these fungal infections are secondary to stress, it is essential to also identify and eliminate the primary stressor in order to prevent further fungal infections.

How do I know if my fish has fungus?

Due to the fact that there are a few things that can be mistaken for a fungal infection in fish, such as water molds, an illness caused by Columnaris, and dead parts of skin and/or scales, it is essential that your veterinarian make an accurate diagnosis in order to ensure that your fish has the greatest possible opportunity of making a full recovery.

Is fish fungal infection contagious?

Fungal infections that are not severe have a limited probability of being passed on to other fish. It is highly likely that illnesses caused by Branchiomyces species will spread to other individuals within the tank or pond.

What kills fungus in aquarium?

Due to the fact that fungus is always present in aquatic environments, it is impossible to entirely eradicate it. Your fish should not have much of a problem with fungal infections as long as they are healthy in other aspects of their living conditions.

Can a fish recover from fungus?

It is possible for your fish to recover from a fungal infection if they are properly diagnosed and treated for the condition.