Being an aquarium hobbyist has both its benefits and challenges. For one, you get to enjoy having a thriving underwater environment right in your own home. What could be cooler than that? With this amazing opportunity, however, comes responsibility. Not only do you have to set up and maintain your aquarium, but you also have to take care of your fish. Many people assume that caring for aquarium fish requires nothing more than simply feeding them once a day. While this is a requirement, it is not the only thing you have to worry about. Like all creatures, aquarium fish are prone to falling ill at one time or another and it is your job to take care of them. Fortunately, this is becoming easier than ever with new advances in aquarium fish medication.
Common Marine Maladies
Keeping your aquarium clean will do a lot to help keep your fish healthy. There are certain diseases, however, to which marine tanks are particularly prone – marine velvet, brooklynella and ich. Marine velvet, also known as Amyloodinium ocellatum, is a parasitic disease that can spread quickly and affect the entire tank. This disease results in respiratory distress, loss of appetite, flashing and a grey dusty appearance on the body. Brooklynella, more commonly known as clownfish disease, is another parasite disease that infests the gills and kills quickly. Though named for the clownfish, this disease can affect other species. Cryptocaryon, or marine ich, is one of the most common marine diseases and it is incredibly contagious. This parasitic infection results in small white spots on the body and can cause skin problems, respiratory problems and abnormal swimming. All three of these diseases can be fatal if not properly treated.
Medicated Fish Food
Some marine fish diseases require internal treatments but you can’t exactly force your fish to take a pill. Neither is it practical to inject medicines into your fish. This is where medicated fish food comes in – it is a practical and effective treatment method for a variety of aquarium diseases. The problem with many medicated fish foods is that they simply combine the food and the medication in the same container. When you offer the food to your fish, you have little control over the dosage of the medication and a lot of it just ends up in your tank water. Overdoses can be extremely dangerous for fish and this method of medication can quickly result in an overdose.
In 2011, Dr. G’s Marine Aquaculture released an innovative line of frozen medicated fish foods. These foods are effective in treating both marine and freshwater diseases including marine velvet, brooklynella, marine ich and uronema. These medications are now available in refrigerated fish foods and they are safer and more effective than ever. Dr. G’s refrigerated medicated foods are available in three formulas – anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial and de-wormer. Rather than following the traditional route of blending and binding food and medication together with a gel, Dr. G created a method to actually put the medication into the food. Using the process of osmosis, Dr. G. has created a way to fill capelin eggs with medication so the fish will eat them willingly, unable to taste the medicine.
In addition to Dr. G’s medicated fish foods, developments have been made to improve existing treatments for ich. Chloroquine phosphate is made from an antimalarial drug and it has been proven very effective against protozoan parasites like the ones causing marine ich. Though this product has been available since the early 2000’s, it has been tested and improved over the years. Dosage of chloroquine can be tricky and it is recommended that you pair the treatment with regular water changes in the tank every 3 to 5 days to prevent overdose. Some research suggests that the medication may break down and become less effective under UV light, so avoid using this type of lighting while utilizing chloroquine treatments in your tank.
No matter what type of illness you are fighting or what treatment you are using, there are a few things you should remember. Always keep a close eye on your fish so you can get used to their normal behavior and catch changes in appearance or behavior quickly. Once you recognize symptoms you can make a diagnosis and start treatment. Remember, if only one of your fish is ill it is best to remove him to a hospital tank for treatment. If multiple fish (or the whole tank) are affected, dose the tank.
Hopefully after reading this article you feel a little more educated about your treatment options when it comes to marine illnesses. Remember, preparation is the best defense so keep your tank clean and keep an eye on your fish!