Whether living in their natural habitat or a home aquarium, freshwater fish are susceptible to many types of illnesses and parasites. The risk of illness or disease is increased when the fish is under any type of stress, such as poor water conditions or a sudden change in the temperature or chemical balance of the water. This stress will lower the fish’s overall immune system and put them at greater risk for disease.
Gill mites are a common parasite that feed on the blood and skin particles of its hosts. They are less than 1mm in size, but they can wreak havoc on your fish. This type of parasite is very common and can spread throughout the tank very quickly. These mites tend to latch onto the gill area of the fish, causing the fish pain and distress. The good news is that these mites can be treated very effectively if caught in the early stages.
Gill Mite Prevention
The most common way for gill mites to affect an entire aquarium is when a new fish, which has been infected with mites, is put into the tank. Many fish keeper quarantine all new fish for several days before introducing them into their normal tank. This will give you time to observe the fish for any types of diseases. If gill mites are detected, you should treat the new fish in the quarantine tank until all signs of the disease are gone.
Symptoms of Gill Mites
As the gill mites attack the fish, you will notice that the gill area of the fish is red and/or infected. The gills will be partially opened due to the effects of the mites. As the disease progresses the fish may experience some respiratory problems and can be seen gasping for breath at the top of the water. You may also notice that the fish is lethargic, because the parasite is depleting its energy. If left untreated, the disease could prove fatal.
Gill Mite Treatment
The main treatment for gill mites is a combination of sterazin and octozin. This treatment should be repeated in about five days to kill any new hatchlings that were not eliminated with the first treatment. You can also use antibiotic to treat any infection caused by the lesions the parasite leaves behind.
If you were able to quarantine the fish before adding it to the tank, you will only need to treat the new fish. However, you cannot add the fish to the regular tank until all symptoms are gone. If your aquarium has been exposed to gill mites, you will need to treat the entire tank. These parasites can spread very quickly, so immediate attention is required.
The best way to prevent gill mites is to eliminate the risk of exposing them to your aquarium. While it may take a little longer to add your new fish to your tank, the extra time you took will be worth it. In fact, you may not only save the life of your new fish, but you will also prevent unwanted diseases from attacking the fish already in your aquarium.