Freshwater Head and Lateral Line Erosion (FHLE), more commonly referred to as hole in the head, is a devastating disease the typically effects freshwater fish, but can also attack saltwater fish. This disease is very recognizable because it causes lesions on the head of the fish. These lesions may even produce a parasitic discharge that may look like small threads. This condition can be very deadly to your fish if not given immediate treatment.
Causes for Hole in the Head disease
There are several things that may cause hole in the head, including undo stress on the fish, an imbalance in the tank, or a parasitic infection. Fish living in aquariums with less than ideal water conditions may be more prone to this disease. Problems like overcrowding and poor water quality add stress to the fish and lower its ability to fight against these types of diseases.
Hole in head disease can also be caused by a nutrient imbalance in the tank. If any chemicals are off balance, it can cause harm to the fish over time. Some fish keepers believe that activated carbons may in fact remove some minerals from the water that are actually beneficial to the fish. They also believe that the lack of these minerals in the water can put the fish at risk for FHLE disease.
The most common cause, however, is a parasitic infection referred to as Hexamita. This parasite will attach to its host’s head. As time progresses the effects of this parasite can attack the gall bladder, kidney, and spleen of the fish. Once this takes place, treatment may no longer be effective. In addition, the lesions on the head leave the fish open for all types of bacterial infections that could only make the fish sicker.
Since the primary cause of the disease will be unknown, it is recommended to provide multiple treatments to ensure success. The first step is to make sure the water quality of your tank is perfect. Check water temperature, along with all chemical levels and make any necessary adjustments. Change out some of the water to provide fresh, clean water to the tank.
You should also treat the tank with an antibiotic metronidazole. It is important to treat the entire tank because you cannot be sure if the cause for the disease can spread to other fish. You can also improve your fish’s diet during treatment, by using only high quality fish food. You can also give you fish some seaweed or even cooked broccoli, just make sure that it is soft and cooled down before giving it to the fish.
Identifying and treating any fish with hole in the head disease can help to save its life. Once this disease progressive too far along, it is often difficult to cure. Careful observation of your fish on a daily basis is encouraged. This will not only help you detect hole in the head early on, but it may also alert you to other illnesses and injuries your fish has. Quick action will help you save the fish and protect the other fish living in the tank.