How to Cure Fungus on Aquarium Fish
If your fish has a white- or gray-colored growth on its mouth or body (often with a fluffy texture like cotton), it could have a fungal infection. Stressful or poor water quality can often cause fungal outbreaks. Secondary diseases can quickly develop so it is important to get the problem addressed immediately. We will be discussing both the treatment options and ways to prevent fungus from returning in this article.
When you see any symptoms of illness, the first thing we always recommend is a thorough cleaning of the aquarium. Before we begin treatment, we want to ensure that the environment of the fish is healthy and free from stress. You can see the condition of your fish by cleaning the glass. Then, you can use a siphon and vacuum the substrate to change the water. (Read this article for a step-by-step guide on how to clean an aquarium.)
Fungus is usually preventable. Therefore, the next step in treating the problem is to identify the cause. The source of the problem must be addressed before treatment can begin. If the source is not identified, then the fungus might return.
What causes fungus in fish?
Bad water conditions are common causes of fungal infections. This is why we see so many betta fish suffering from this disease. They are often kept in small containers that have no heaters or filters. Bettas prefer temperatures between 78 and 80 degrees F. This means that they require a heater in rooms below this temperature. It is important to keep your bettas in an aquarium of at least 5 gallons to stop their waste from quickly fouling the tank. To remove harmful waste compounds, it is important to do regular water changes and add live plants (especially floating) to your fish tank.
Fish can also get fungus from nutrient deficiencies. To be healthy, fish, just like humans, require a balanced diet. Feeding fish from the same jar of flakes all the time is like feeding a person only hamburgers every day. They can survive, but they are unlikely to be in top shape. Therefore, make sure to a) provide a wide assortment of foods so that they get all their essential nutrients and b) give them fresh, high-quality foods. The expiration date on the container might say that food can be used for up to three years. However, as air and moisture enter the container more quickly, food can become stale within a few months. You can freeze the food if you don’t have enough fish for the entire jar. This will preserve the freshness of the food until you are ready to use it. Avoid using your fingers to lift food from the container. This can cause mold and other diseases.
To ensure that your fish get the essential nutrients they need to improve their immune system, eat a wide variety of high-quality food.
Many livebearers like fancy guppies and mollies often get fungal infections soon after bringing them home from the pet store. This article will explain why aquarium fish that are not as hardy are becoming more common. Therefore, it’s cheaper to raise them in a mix of fresh water and salt water. Guppies that have been raised in salt water all their lives are more vulnerable to pathogens than fungus and spores.
End result: eliminate as many stressors as possible. Reduce bullying and aggression in African cichlids. For bottom dwellers, vacuum the gravel more often and ensure that the water quality is high for sensitive species. Avoid keeping shy fish close to bright lights, TVs and other high traffic areas. Consider moving older animals that have weaker immune systems into a “retirement tank” with less activity and competition.
How do you get rid of fungus on fish?
If your fish’s mouth shows signs of fungus or rot, we recommend using Maracyn. Some bacterial infections, such as columnaris, look like cottony growths around the mouth or grayish-white spots. These should be treated by an antibiotic. Make sure to clean your aquarium before you start treatment. Follow the instructions listed by the manufacturer by dosing 1 packet per 10 gallons of water and repeating every 24 hours for 5 days. Make sure to complete the full 5-day treatment of medication, even if the symptoms seem to disappear, because the infection could still be present in the fish’s system.
Maracyn or Ich-X can be combined if the fungus is found elsewhere on the fish’s skin. Ich-X is a combination of formaldehyde and methanol that are effective against fungal infections. Before treatment, clean the aquarium and remove any chemical filtration. If the fungal infection is minor, dose 1 packet of Maracyn and 1 tsp of Ich-X per 10 gallons of water at the same time. Let the medication sit for one week to ensure that all symptoms disappear. You can use 1 packet Maracyn with 1 tsp Ich-X for 10 gallons of clean water. Repeat the process every 24 hours for five days.
Salt is a great treatment for both body and mouth fungus. Any form of salt that contains sodium chloride (NaCl), can be used. However, for this article we will use rock salt or aquarium salt.
We have discovered that salt is tolerated by most fish species, including tetras and barbs as well as African cichlids. Other fish, such as anchor catfish, are extremely sensitive to salt so they should not be exposed. To make sure your fish can endure the salt treatment, start with a low concentration of 1 tablespoon of salt per 3 gallons of water. If the fish is healed after one week, gradually remove the salt via a series of weekly 30% water changes. You will need to increase salt concentration if the fungus remains active. You can read our complete article on salt dosing for detailed instructions. To give the fungus a tough one-two punch, salt can be used in combination with Ich-X.
Will Other Fungal Medications Work?
Our experience shows that herbal remedies do not work well against fungal infections. For fish that have been infected, stronger medication is required to save their lives. After years of working in a fish shop and helping hundreds of customers, we discovered that Maracyn, IchX, and Salt are the best treatments against fish fungus.
Although fungal spores will always be present in our aquariums eventually, they can usually be prevented from becoming serious infections. It is important to improve your fish’s health, provide them with the right environment and nutrients to fight off any fungal spores.
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