Disease Diagnosis Chart

Basic Symptoms

  1. Bacterial: Inactivity, loss of color, frayed fins, bloated body, cloudy eyes, open sores, abscesses, red streaks throughout body, reddening or inflammation of the skin, fins or internal organs, bulging eyes, difficulty breathing.
  2. Fungal (often secondary to another type of illness): Erratic swimming, darting, scratching, visible cotton-like tufts on skin, eyes, or mouth.
  3. Parasitic: Inactivity, loss of appetite, excess mucus or film on body, visible spots or worms, rapid breathing, scratching.

Detailed Symptoms Diagnosis Treatment
Grayish-white film on skin, damaged fins, ulcers, yellow to gray patches on gills, tissue on head may be eaten away. Columnaris - Cotton Wool Disease) Must be treated immediately with Over The Counter (OTC) antibiotic medications. Very contagious - disinfect tank, rocks, net, etc.
Swelling of head, bulging eyes. Corneybacteriosis OTC antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline.
Swelling of abdomen, raised scales around swollen area. Dropsy - Malawi Bloat) - may be caused by internal bacterial infection - if swelling is sudden), parasites, or cancer - if swelling is gradual). Add 1/8 teaspoon of Epsom salt for every 5 gallons of water and monitor for two weeks. Check for signs of bacterial infection or parasites for further treatment.
Ragged or decaying fins. Finrot Check pH and correct as needed. If level is normal, use OTC antibiotic for fin or tail rot.
Inactivity, loss of color or appetite, weight loss, skin defects. Fish Tuberculosis Human strength TB medication may help in early stages. Contagious - disinfect tank, rocks, net, etc. to prevent transmission. Wash hands and surfaces well.
Erratic swimming, bloating or swelling in body, black patches on body or fins. Myxobacteriosis -- rare Medications, if any, are difficult to come by. Keep up on water maintenance to prevent it.
Sluggishness, lack of appetite, fin damage, reddish discoloration, bulging eyes, clamped fins. Septicemia Antibiotic treatment in food form is required.
White or gray fungus on eyes. Cataracts OTC medication for fungus.
White or gray patches resembling cotton, excess mucus. Mouth or Body Fungus OTC medication for fungus. Usually added to water, but may need direct application.
White cotton-like patches on fins, body, or mouth. True Fungus (Saprolegnia) OTC medication for fungus. Check for symptoms of other illnesses.
Small string-like worms visible on fish, or burrowed in skin. Anchor Worm OTC medication for parasites.
Bluish-white film on body, strained breathing caused by gill damage, peeling skin. Chilodonella Salt treatment - see below).
Weight loss, strained breathing. Copepods OTC medication for parasites, also fungal treatment for possible secondary infection on damaged gills
White film, reddened areas on body, abnormal swimming, scratching, folded fins. Costia - Slime Disease) Must be treated quickly. Raise water temperature and use OTC medication for parasites. Salt treatment may work, as well.
Weight loss, abnormal swimming, generally looks very ill. Will accompany or follow leech infestation. Blood Flagellates - Sleeping Sickness) - rare Salt treatment can be used to kill leeches, but may not cure flagellates.
Sluggishness, flashing, spider web lesions on skin, colour loss, reddened fins, drooping fins, fin damage. Skin Flukes - Gyrodactylus) OTC medication for parasites
Lack of appetite, weight loss, small holes or eroding pits appearing in the head. Hole in Head Disease - Hexamita) - more common in cichlids OTC medication for Hole in Head Disease.
Scratching, white salt-like spots starting on head and spreading over whole body, rapid breathing, cloudiness on eyes or fins. Ich - Ichtyophthirius) - very common OTC medication for Ich or Ick.
Scratching, small worms hanging from body. Leech Salt treatment or OTC medication for parasites.
Scratching, green to brown lice - up to ½ inch) visible on skin. Lice OTC treatment for parasites.
Erratic swimming, weight loss, loss of color. Neon Tetra Disease - mostly affects tetras, danios, and barbs Treatment is difficult - look for a medication that treats gram-negative bacteria or with nalidixic acid as the active ingredient.
Darting, scratching, small yellow to white spots dusting skin. Oodinium OTC treatment for parasites.
Cloudy appearance on skin, red patches on skin where parasite has bitten. Trichodina -- predominately freshwater Salt treatment.
Red or bloody gills, gasping for air. Ammonia Poisoning No treatment. Regular water testing and maintenance will prevent it.
Small dark spots on fins and body. Black Spot OTC medication for parasites. Spots - cysts) may remain after treatment.
Cloudy white appearance to one or both eyes. Cloudy Eye Check for symptoms of another illness like velvet, ich, or tuberculosis. Treat with OTC medication.
String of feces hanging from fish, swollen abdomen, sluggishness, disinterest in food, off-balance swimming. Constipation Stop feeding for 2-3 days and continue with a more varied diet including live and plant-based foods.
Small white spots that get larger over time possibly with black streaks. Fish Pox No treatment. Keep up on water maintenance and symptoms should cease after about 10-12 weeks.
Difficulty swimming, swimming upside-down, floating, unable to surface. Do not confuse with swim bladder disease. Flipover Air can be removed from swim bladder by a veterinarian. Surgery is also a possibility in larger fish. Check for signs of internal infection or parasites and treat as necessary.
Reddening on or under skin, sudden abnormal behavior. Inflammation OTC antibiotic treatment.
Unusally bulging of one or both eyes. Pop-eye - Exophthalmia) OTC medication for bacterial infections and/or parasites. Check for other symptoms of bacterial or parasitic infections.

Fish struggles to swim, may float with head tipped down, or have difficulty surfacing, no balance, etc. May occur after eating.

Swim Bladder Disease Stop feeding for 3-4 days. If symptoms persist, feed the affected fish a small amount of fresh spinach or a green pea without the skin - laxatives).
Swelling or distention for internal tumors, external can be seen growing on skin. Tumors Usually incurable. Consult a veterinarian about potassium iodide treatment for thyroid tumors.
Sluggishness, lack of appetite, open sores with red edges, possible fin rot. Ulcers OTC medication for bacterial infections.
Scratching, small gold to white spots, loss of color, weight loss, difficulty breathing due to gill damage. Velvet - Gold Dust Disease) OTC medication for parasites.

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