Cotton Wool Disease in Freshwater Fish
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How do you get rid of the cotton wool disease?
Cotton disease, also known as saddle rot, fin rot, and black patch necrosis, are descriptive names for the same bacteria, columnar (Flavobacterium columns).
This bacterium is commonly mistaken for a fungus, given its pale color and raised appearance. It can infect most species of freshwater fish but is usually secondary to another primary stressor. Some strains are more deadly and contagious than others.
What is a cotton disease in freshwater fish?
The cotton disease is caused by the bacterium Flavobacterium columns. It is not a mushroom, despite its mushroom appearance. It can infect the skin and gills and is of great importance to the commercial aquaculture market.
It is rarer in the pet fish community. It is primarily an opportunistic pathogen that preys on a stressed fish with a compromised immune system. There are many strains within the species, some of which are significantly more deadly and spread more easily.
Symptoms of cotton disease in freshwater fish
The most common clinical sign of cotton disease is a raised, pale patch on your fish's skin. It can be anywhere on the body, including the face and fins.
The lesions usually have a spongy appearance similar to fungal growth. In some cases, it can spread to the gills, causing lethargy, difficulty swimming, and loss of appetite. The gill tissue may appear necrotic or pale when examined.
Causes of cotton disease in freshwater fish
Columnaris bacteria are commensal bacteria and are naturally found in healthy fish. Only when given a stressed host or a particularly nasty strain of bacteria do fish begin to show clinical signs.
It usually enters a healthy system when infected fish are added without proper quarantine. Keeping a close eye on your tank temperature is critical as columnar bacteria love warmer water (around 80F) and will cause problems faster than colder water.
Diagnosis of cotton disease in freshwater fish
It is essential to differentiate columnar species from a fungal infection. To do this, your vet will take a small biopsy from a sedated fish and place it under a microscope.
If it is indeed a cotton disease, the rods of bacteria will turn into little haystacks, while the fungi will not, and the individual hyphae may be distinct.
Additional testing may be warranted by sending a swab sample to a lab to identify your strain and understand which antibiotics will be most effective. Never "guess" with antibiotic treatment.
You can end up eliminating your biological leakage and using the wrong product or dosage, generating more resistant strains in your system.
Treatment of cotton disease in freshwater fish
All fish showing symptoms should be isolated in a hospital tank. Your vet will either prescribe an antibiotic to add to the water or provide an injectable treatment.
Injectable antibiotics will not affect your biological filter and will provide a stronger treatment option. Never try to inject your fish yourself.
Your fish may require different antibiotics if no specimen is sent for culture and sensitivity testing. A detailed history of your fish, including treatments that have already been tried, is critical in deciding which antibiotic is best for your situation.
Severely ill fish, including those with> 50% of the gill tissue affected, may require euthanasia. It is very difficult for fish to recover from such a serious infection.
If your fish's gills have become infected, it's critical to provide them with additional oxygen support from an air stone.
Since it is a secondary invader, your fish system should be evaluated for potential stressors. This includes testing the water chemistry, reviewing the fish's diet, comparing fish compatibility, and any recent fish additions or decorations. If you don't eliminate the main cause, your fish will get sick again after finishing the treatment.
How to Prevent Cotton Disease in Freshwater Fish
As with most diseases, the cotton disease can be prevented with proper quarantine. This means a completely separate system with separate filtration and other equipment for 4-6 weeks.
2 weeks is not enough and maintaining the correct temperature is very important. Watch your fish closely during this time period and watch for changes in their appearance and behavior.
If you notice something is amiss, it is critical to get it diagnosed quickly and correctly to make sure it doesn't become a bigger problem. By keeping your fish isolated, you will protect your main system from infection.
Keeping your fish healthy in a low-stress environment is also critical. Make sure all fish have enough space, a high-quality diet, and good water chemistry.
Enjoy The Video Tutorial about How to Fight Fungus on Aquarium Fish!
Source: Aquarium Co-Op
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