Battle of the Bacteria

5 minutes read

When a fish is ill and it’s apparent that the illness is bacterial in nature we often refer to it as Aeromonas. We accuse this bad bacteria for a host of illnesses that other types of bacteria create. There’s actually several possible culprits including Pseudomonas, Flexibacter, Streptococcus and Edwardsiella. Aeromonas is by far the most commonly seen and causes dreaded holes in the skin. What they all have in common is that they all are deadly. Wage war on these bad bacterias before they wage war on your fish!

Bacteria problems are manifested in several ways. The fins and mouth of the fish may appear to be eaten away. We call this Mouth Rot and Fin Rot. Ulcers may appear. They begin as reddish spots on the skin of the fish and will eventually turn into large holes. They turn inward and infect internal organs as well. Often hidden on the underbelly of the fish we do not see them until the ulcer is in a more developed and dangerous stage. Septicemia can occur. This is infection from within and can cause your fish to spiral instead of swim. Bacterial Dropsy is another example of bacteria attacking from within. The eyes of the fish bulge as does his body and the scales along his side may stick out like a pinecone.

In extreme cases you can smell bacteria. It smells bad. If your pond smells like sulfur or rotten eggs it’s a good bet that bacteria is running rampant in your system.

Flexibacter Columnaris is a bacteria that will cause “Cotton Mouth Disease”. This appears as cottony growth on the mouth of the fish. Although this may appear to be a fungus, it is not. It is a type of bacterial infection and must be treated as such. Actual fungus growth can be, however, an indication that bacterial problems exist. Fungus feeds on dead tissue created by bacterial infection. You can treat for the fungus and still miss the culprit.

Bacteria, like parasites, are present in all water systems. The general health of the fish and whether or not the fish has been stressed play a big role in whether the bacteria becomes a problem. Highly stressed fish become targets and will come down with a bacterial infection before a less-stressed, happier fish. Bacteria can enter the fish by openings made by parasites or when a fish is injured. Infected fish also spread disease to others. Overcrowded ponds are at high risk for Ulcer Disease and the dreaded Bacterial Gill Disease.

Prevent Bacterial Outbreaks

There’s nothing better to prevent bacterial complications than a clean, healthy pond environment. Here are some tips to help protect your fish from the threat of bacterial infections:

Do Not Over-Crowd the Pond

When you crowd too many people into a room someone will get sick, even if no one was ill before coming in. Everyone needs a little elbow room, even fish.

Keep Excellent Water Quality

Imagine living, eating and sleeping in a smoke-filled room. (Some of us do!) We have the option, however, of going outside for a breath of fresh air. Fish do not. Their water is their living, eating and sleeping environment. Keep it clean, ammonia and nitrite-free!

Quarantine New Arrivals

We will never stop harping on the importance of quarantine. Each time you place a new fish in your pond without knowing that it’s okay you are playing Russian roulette with all your fish’s life.

Don’t Be a Host to Parasites

My mother always said, “It ain’t a crime to get parasites it’s a crime to keep ‘em.” — or something like that... If you have parasites in your pond, get rid of them. Otherwise the parasites will eventually kill your fish either directly or indirectly.

No More Junk Food

The old saying is true — you are what you eat. Our bodies turn to flab when we eat junk food and our fish’s bodies lose their abilities to fight off disease. That is reason #215 not to feed your fish catfish food or other food with a high content of ground corn.

Reduce Harmful Bacteria

A new product has been introduced called LymnoZyme that radically reduces the amount of Aeromonas and Pseudomonas in the water. The LymnoZyme program for reducing these bad bacterias is further explored in this issue’s article on new products.

If It’s Too Late to Prevent, Is It Too Late to Treat?

Most of the time, once you’ve had the illness diagnosed as some sort of bacterial infection, your fish will have an excellent chance of full recovery. There are exceptions. By the time the symptoms of Dropsy appear there’s usually too much damage done to the fish. There is a deadly strain of Bacterial Gill Disease that is almost impossible to diagnose and treat in time to save the fish.

Antibiotics are your best hope to fight bacterial infections. There are some strains of Aeromonas that are immune to conventional medicines so you might find attacking the problem using several methods works best.

Antibiotic Foods

Romet is available in both floating and sinking pellets. The Doc’s Prescription Triple-Antibiotic Food contains three antibiotics to cover a broader range of infections.

Chemotherapy (Medicinal Baths)

Furazone Green is one such medicine that can be used. You can perform a medicinal bath for a single fish or treat your whole pond.

Topical Scrubs

Disinfect the surface of the infection by applying a brisk scrub of either Potassium Permanganate paste or Betadine solution.

Injection of Antibiotics

Injecting antibiotics into the fish is by far the most effective method for treatment. Because of its expense we tend to reserve this method for larger fish or fish with more advanced cases.

Treat with Melafix

A new product is available that, when used in conjunction with these other treatments, has proven to be very effective. Melafix is further discussed in the New Products section of this issue.

Regardless of what we might call it — bacterial infection - Aeromonas - Ulcer Disease — the diseases caused by bad bacteria are no laughing matter. They are ugly. If detected early enough, they are treatable. By prevention and treatment you can win your war with these pathological bacteria!

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