10 Signs Your Discus Is Sick

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So I have listed some medications to make up a home made discus first aid kit. Firstly as long as discus are fed the correct diet, given plenty of water changes, have plenty of oxygen to keep ORP levels up, they should normally be healthy. In some parts of the world, it is also known as Redox Potential.

In practical terms, it is a measurement to oxidize contaminants. To explain simply, when the river levels in the wild drop at the end of the rainy season, so do the oxygen levels in the water.

Ciguatera fish poisoning - Wikipedia

Suddenly masses of discus and other fish are caught in much smaller pools of water or river systems. Mother Nature kicks in with a disease to thin out the weakest, oldest or sick fish or else every fish in the trapped pool of water will die. Thus, ensuring only the strongest survive.

Mother Nature is cruel, but sometimes, these measures are necessary to ensure the survival of the species. This is what happens in the home aquarium, and remember a glass tank is a small trapped pool of water. So now we see how in a closed trapped system like a fish tank, how parasites and disease can build up and claim our treasured discus, or any other fish for that matter to disease. They would not normally see this in the wild. This is why disease is controlled in the natural environment.

So plenty of good water management is essential for trouble free discus keeping. I have said it before, but skimp on this, and your discus WILL let you know, believe me. But what do you do when something does go wrong? What can you do, and how do you decide which disease your discus has picked? I will go through the most common problems your discus can occur. In ALL cases I always recommend doing as large a water change as you can get away with. This is because doing a water change will do two things to help.

Firstly it will remove, or reduce the number of parasites, bacteria or pest etc, and also it will raise the ORP which will help greatly. In all cases make sure you have plenty of air stones in the water to help keep ORP up as high as possible. Because adding any medication to the water, will reduce oxygen. First one on the list is:. One side breathing of the gills. Possible diagnoses could be 1st, ammonia or nitrate poisoning. So first thing first, grab your test kits and test the water before pouring lots of chemicals in the tank.

If water parimeters are not correct, address water quality and keep up good water management. If water quality proves to be right, it must be gill flukes proprietary ectoparasite. This can be treated with a number of treatments and the newest one on the market that will do the job and has been recently passed by the new VMD laws is, wormer plus. Then on day four redose again to kill the newly young hatching parasites that could have come from the eggs that were not killed with the first dose of treatment.

Thus keeping your treasured discus free of parasites and intestinal worms, if treating once a month. Wormer plus is also much friendlier on your filter systems. Discus stands head up looking at the surface, and in some cases breathing heavy. Discus flicks and scatches on rocks, bogwood or sides of tank etc.

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This is normally ectoparasitic infestation protozoan or skin fluke reddened areas on skin and sometimes rapid breathing. Discus leans over and leans agaist rocks, wood or side of tank etc, and in some cases breathing heavy. Swoolen abdomen, protruding eyes pop eye usually due to bacterial infection. Fins or tails normally disappear exposing the bony rays. Improve water management. Discus is restless, and rubbing against rocks, wood etc. Worm like leeches can be seen clinging to the side of the body.


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These pest can measure 30mm 1. Rare to infect discus. Usally come in from live foods, but do not live long in tropical waters. White erosive sores appear on skin, reddened skin areas and fins, stops feeding. Small holes appear, then get bigger with puss coming out. Velvet disease is not normally a popular problematic parasite in a discus tank. Velvet is normally only a problem for two reasons. Ammonia being present or the pest being introduced by a new discus or any other new fish placed in the tank that is carrying the parasite.

The second way of carrying the disease is quite straight forward. This is why it is so essential to make sure you are buying your new fish from a reputable dealer that quarantines stock properly. You will know who these are, because they are still here and been around for a good amount of time.


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  5. Many have been and gone, and for a reason. This is an intestinal parasite, and can turn bacterial in extreme cases. This problem needs to be addressed quickly if the discus is to recover. Once taken a hold, it is very difficult or in some cases, impossible to get a discus back to full health after being attacked by such a parasite. Bacteria is the most other threatening pest to our discus. Discus can suffer terribly with this problem, and nine times out of ten it is this pest that has upset our discus. In our first aid kit, we have a another secret……. Bacteria does not like it. But if you add this to your discus tank it will increase hardness to soft water , so it has to be added carefully.

    Discus seem to thrive with water changing conditions anyway, so a adding a SMALL amount of salt can help. Plus if used with interpet number nine , this will wipe out a bacterial infection better if used the same time as the salt. Nine times out of ten, this alone will correct a bacterial situation, and bring back your discus to full colour if they have turned black. What it actually is, is a very bad nasty bacterial and parasite infection. So these servers can never be mixed with new discus, or the whole thing starts all over again.

    This is why some discus breeders, cull a whole fish house, strip everything down, deep clean, and re-set up and start again. The desease can also travel trough the air from tank to tank, even if any hands, nets etc have been moved from tank to tank. This is what makes keeping discus very interesting. That a lot of hobbyist and retailers alike have different opinions, and the most confusing thing for new comers to this part of the hobby is, many are right and work while some do not.

    Although many older fish fanciers still adopt this method of worming discus, and take a chance and risk it. But with so many suitable products on the market it must be safer to use the proper preparatory medicine than risk an over dose. Then lose your fish and put them through hardship and make them suffer. To explain dog and cat wormer tablets is administered according to the weight of the animal, and there is a big difference between an Alsatian dog and a discus.

    I think it very irresponsible for people these days to still adopt this practise of worming when there are proper safe aquatic alternatives available. Laws changed in November on the use of many medications including aquatic fish wormers. Until then apart from some unlicensed wormers, keepers were using some meds used for much larger animals. Many did not even know that discus or other fish could in fact be wormed or indeed could suffer with them. It is recommended to worm your discus every month to help keep background parasites and pest down to controllable levels. So how do discus contract worms and where do they come from?

    Every discus carries its own complement of worms. When not stressed or its immune system is not compromised this is not a problem. But if a fish is picked on or bullied, this is when your king of the aquarium could get stressed and suffers with an outbreak off intestinal worms. Plus the wormer I use will kill parasites and some other pests also, giving them a good mot treatment. I have to be honest and say I never ever suffer with worms in my fish and this regime could be why. Also cancelling out the if its not broken why fix it saying.

    The benefits greatly out way the disadvantages. Go thin and emaciated and eventually die? And discus that go too far and look paper-thin normally cannot be brought back I have always found. The famous pinched in look above the eyes is a sure sign of a sick or dying discus, but the fish is still feeding? This is a sure sign of intestinal worms could be within. At the end of the day these animals are at our Mercy and we have to be responsible and owe it to them if we take them in to take the best care of them, and the best way we can. For a few pounds, is it worth taking a chance?

    Many other good treatments are available in liquid types and powder forms. The method of treatment I use is wormer plus. It is a soluble powder that dissolves in the tank water but does make the water look cloudy for a day or two. Being suspended in the water the discus has no choice but to get treated and any worms in the fish will come out to try and get away from the treatment. I prefer this method to get the job done because you can also use this with any other chemical, it does not harm the bacterial filter and will not harm any plants or any other fish, even stingrays, puffer fish, and one week old baby fish fry.

    Which is useful, as you have to be very careful what you use with them. Wormer Plus is a Flubendazole based medication effective for use against gill flukes, body flukes and intestinal helminths. SeaChem Prime will also detoxify harmful Nitrate and Ammonia in the water, reducing or preventing further gill damage. If your existing discus in your established tank begins to show signs of rapid breathing, use a water test kit.

    Identifying and removing harmful nitrate and ammonia build up should be first on the list of things to do.

    Using SeaChem Prime and water changes will help restore water parameters. Look for leftover food, a dead fish or other decaying matter that could be causing your water to foul. With an established tank, you should have a routine schedule for canister filter or hang on filter clean up. All filters need cleaning at some point, the more routine your maintenance schedule the fewer fluctuations in your water quality.

    Free Shipping Available. For discus, head standing or tipsy is rare. If you do notice this, it could be a sign of poor water quality.

    Breeding discus

    To confirm, use a water testing kit and look for abnormal readings for Nitrite. If you can confirm that Nitrite and other parameters are out of range, do a water change with cycled water. If you do not have cycled water, use water treated with SeaChem Prime to remove harmful toxins from the water.

    Watch your discus, if the behavior persists, do another minor water change and continue to check in on your discus fish. The matter should resolve itself. In addition to the water changes, you can add a bit of aquarium salt to help reduce the stress your discus fish might be experiencing. Aquarium salt does increase water hardness so measure out about a tablespoon. Don't overdo it and remember the salts will evaporate and get removed with water changes.

    Leaning and even laying down can be temporary or a sign of something more serious. When discus are transported from one tank to another, typically it is using a bag. If you can imagine, the water pressure in the bag is not as great of a force on the discus. When the discus is put into a larger tank, the tank has more water than the bag. This causes pressure on the discus fish, pushing it down towards the bottom of the tank. A solution to place your discus after transportation or importation into a tank with about an inch of water in it.

    Then gradually dripping water into the tank until the tank reaches its final water height. This will allow for the discus to gradually adjust to the increasing water pressure, instead of getting crushed by the weight of a huge tank. If this is not a new discus, do a water test and look for abnormal parameters such as Nitrite, Nitrate or Ammonia. If you find and readings that are off, do a small water change using cycled water or water treated with SeaChem Prime.

    Continue to watch your discus for changes in behavior. You can also add a tablespoon of aquarium salt to help with stress your discus may be experiencing. Observing your discus having a huge or bloated abdomen is very serious. Typically caused by overfeeding, it can also be a sign of intestinal blockage or parasites. To treat, it is best to remove the discus and place it in a smaller quarantine tank.

    Medication and water changes will be easier and less costly. If you suspect you have overindulged your discus with live food and it is now stuffed to the gills, give it time to digest. Some discus know when to stop eating, others are like little piggies and will eat every last bit they can. You can place your bloated discus into a smaller quarantine tank and put a tablespoon of aquarium salt in the tank. Aquarium salt will help reduce stress and serve as a laxative of sorts. Do not feed your fish until you see it passing the digested food it has already eaten.

    Keep the tank clean, do water changes as needed and add aquarium salt as needed. So what happens if your discus is still bloated after a few days? If you feed live food, you may introduce a bacterial infection or intestinal parasite. How can you tell? If you see long stringy white feces, see the remedy below, you might have an intestinal parasite.

    If your discus fish is passing its food but still seems out of sorts, it is probably bacterial.

    For bacterial, you want to treat your discus fish with General Cure by API, a solution designed to treat a spectrum of bacterial nasties. Continue to keep your discus fish quarantined, do regular water changes and use aquarium salt as well. You should begin to see the bloated abdomen reduce in size and your discus become active and wanting to eat. Any kind of rot on your discus fish is a sign of bad water quality. It means that your water quality is bad for your fish but great for bacteria that are eating your fish alive!

    To treat, move your affected discus fish to a ten-gallon quarantine tank, do a water test to make sure your water parameters are not out of the ordinary. Treat the water with Prime from SeaChem if needed to remove toxins from water. Do regular water changes that are larger than usual. Wipe down the insides of your tank and clean up any debris in your gravel.

    Treat your tank with an anti-bacterial solution like General Cure by API to help destroy the bacteria that is feasting on your discus fish. Fin rot and tail rot is reversible and your discus fish should make a full recovery. In rare cases, missing fins can be caused by fin nipping fish like raspborras. Although the cause can be from nipping, the damaged fin can become infected by bacteria and the cycle begins. Remove fin nipping fish from your discus tank, fin nipping will not stop and it is not worth the headache.

    Quarantine: More Harm than Good?

    Discus fish are known to be a bit skittish. If they get scared enough they can bump themselves around the tank, hitting something rough enough to create an open wound or missing scales. A wound, even a small one can introduce a bacterial infection. First, make sure your tank is clear of any decoration that can be dangerous to your discus. Larger rocks, glass heaters, neon castles, etc. Although they look cool, once a discus darts off, they tend to smash into things. Note on internal tank heaters, they can burn your discus. Discus can drift either while sleeping or by being skittish and come into contact with the hot surface of your heater.

    Burns can become infected and lead to death if left untreated. Newer heaters now come with a protective cover to prevent burns to you and your fish.



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