Saturday, April 27, 2013

Betta Disease: Internal Parasites

Internal parasites are usually introduced to the fish through food--some are often found on live foods and others can hitch a ride on dry foods as eggs. Always carefully rinse any live foods and make sure you get them from a reputable source. Dry foods should be kept sealed and in cool, dry areas--such as a refrigerator. Diagnosing internal parasites can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for, often parasitized fish are treated for bacteria and end up in worse shape than they started out in. One of the key differences between an infected fish and a parasitized fish is that they tend to get sick much more slowly than a fish with a bacterial infection--whereas an infected fish would be laying around gasping all day by the time he or she lost their appetite, a parasitized fish will swim around fairly sprightly and show no interest in food. Fortunately, the most common infestations are easy to treat--if treated quickly and correctly, the fish almost always make full recoveries--however, this is a very diverse group and only the most common will be discussed here.

Internal Parasites
- Cestodes and Flagellates
-Nematodes and Roundworms

 Cestodes And Flagellates

Cestodes, or flatworms, are a common and very treatable variety of internal parasite. They live in the fish’s internal organs and muscles--over time, they can cause serious damage to the fish’s vital tissues as they leech energy and nutrients from their host. Flagellates, like hexamita, live in the digestive tract and sap the fish of vital nutrients derived from food.

Physical: Paleness, loss of body mass, ragged fins, distended belly, constipation, white, stringy, or otherwise abnormal feces.
Behavioral: Loss of appetite, the fish slowly becomes more and more lethargic.

Early stage treatment: If the fish is still eating, but you have noticed abnormal feces and other physical symptoms, start with anti-parasitic medicated food. This is the most direct way to treat the problem, but the window of opportunity for use of anti-parasitic food quickly closes when as the fish loses their appetite. Look for a medicated food with the ingredients praziquantel and metronidazole.

Later stage treatment: If the fish shows no interest in food, treat the water column with a medicated tablet for internal parasites. When choosing a medication, look for the ingredients praziquantel and metronidazole--if possible, try to find them both together in one treatment, such as Jungle’s Anti-Parasite Medicated Fish Food or Ultra Cure PX. If that is not available, choose the medication with the ingredient praziquantel and use as instructed.

Within the week, you should see the fish start passing the parasites in large bowel movements, after which, their appetite should return. It’s a good idea to start out by feeding fibrous foods--examples of which are listed in the treatment entry for Bloating and Constipation. This should help clean out the fish’s digestive system and get him or her on the right track to recovery. Keep the water extra clean in order to promote healing and prevent secondary infection.