Whenever a fish is moved or shipped it creates stress. Stress can lead to disease. The most common disease to show up is ICH. Ich is a parisite that shows up as small white spots on the fish. If left untreated it will kill the fish. This disease is one of the most important reasons for quarantining all new fish. By keeping new fish separate in quarantine for two weeks and treating them with preventative action, you can avoid spreading Ich throughout your main tank. In addition, once Ich gets started it takes at least two weeks of treatment to stop it. Ich has a cycle. When it attaches to the fish, Ich reproduces in spurs that drop to the bottom of the aquarium. These spurs provide protection against any treatment until they hatch. Once the spurs hatch the swimming Ich look for a host fish to which to attach and start the process all over again.
A simple quarantine procedure is your best defense against ICH. Most ICH can be eliminated by adding one teaspoon of salt per gallon of either plain table salt (no iodine) or aquarium salt. Keep up the salt concentration for two weeks. If you do not have a second tank for quarantine, this method can be used on your regular tank that contains African Cichlids. In some cases, salt alone will not stop ICH. If the salt does not work, the next line of defense is to add Cooper Safe at one teaspoon for 4 gallons. Again keep up the copper safe levels for two weeks before allowing it to dissipate through normal water changes. Unlike some stronger medications, Cooper Safe can be used in conjunction with salt without any bad side effects. Be careful, however, not to mix other medications with this remedy or each other. That can be toxic and fatal to the fish. There are stronger medications on the market that can be used for ICH, but, they all are more invasive for the fish and some can destroy good bacteria in the water resulting in having to go through a cycle. In my opinion, those type medications should only be used as a last resort if the salt and or Cooper Safe fail.
Salt and cooper safe also work for most fungus and bacterial infections. This makes them a simple and less evasive way to quarantine fish for two weeks as a precaution against most disease. CAS uses the salt procedure to quarantine all incoming fish for two weeks prior to sale. If a problem is spotted or suspected, cooper safe is added to the salt.This is done to help ensure that our customers are getting healthy and happy fish.
A more complicated disease that can also occur with new fish is an internal worm or internal parisite. This disease is not easy to diagnose and can slip by even the best breeders and stores. The main symptoms of this disease are a sunken belly and white stringy poop. However, these symptoms may not show up until the disease is advanced. Unforetanely, it is not uncommon for some fish to have a slightly sunken belly. This sometimes is a birth defect and other times can be a result of not eating enough. Generally, if the sunken belly is not severe it is more likely to be either a birth defect or a lack of proper nourishment issue rather than an internal worm or parisite. Still, it may be better to treat a fish like this than risk the possibility of an internal worm or parisite.
Long string poop is also not uncommon for these fish. This can happen from time to time. Most times if the poop is brown, it is not a problem. By the time it becomes white, however, it can be too late to treat effectively. Again prevention treatment is the best thing to do. Better safe than sorry with this disease.
Most fish with an internal worm or parasite will stop eating. If they get to this stage it is very difficult to save them. A pig dewormer from Southern States is the only thing that may work, but, it takes four weeks of treatment for it to be observed through the water, and a really sick fish that is not eating is very unlikely to last that long.
Until recently the only other real remedy for internal worms and parisite was to feed the suspect fish medicated flake food. The problem with this remedy is that many fish do not like the taste of medicated flake food and are unlikely to eat it. If they do not eat the food, this remedy will not work. New Life Spectrum has come out with a medicated pellet food called Hex Guard that is a better answer to this problem. This pellet food contains garlic and most fish will eat it. It also works on fish much like Ex-Lax does on people, cleaning their system out while killing the worm or parisite. Using Hex Guard for three days as directed and doing large water changes will normally eliminate both internal worms and parisite as well as treat bloat. The big catch is that the fish must eat the food for it to work. If the infected fish is too far gone to eat this food, it is best to discard that fish. The last thing you want to happen is to allow an infected fish to die and spread this disease to your entire tank. If that happens, all the fish in your tank will die rapidly.
In the past, CAS only treated fish that showed symptoms of an internal worm or parasite. As a result, some fish that came from a supplier that is no longer being used may have developed this disease and slipped through to the customer. This is not something that CAS wanted or want to happen. As a result, CAS is now adding three days of Hex Guard treatment to all incoming fish during the middle part of our two-week quarantine process. This should prevent this disease and makes our quarantine protocol far more complete.
Even with our strong quarantine protocol, we still recommend quarantining all new fish before adding them to your tank. If you do not have a separate tank for quarantine purposes, at the very least we suggest doing salt treatment to you regular tank for two weeks when a new fish is added. During these two weeks watch closely for issues and if necessary treat the entire tank with copper safe as well. If you spot a fish that develops a sunken belly or has long stringy poop, we recommend doing a Hex Guard Treatment to be safe.
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