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Bacterial Disease Treatment

Last edited - December 8, 2018

Just like human bacterial disease, fish bacterial disease should be treated with antibiotics. Any anti-bacterial medication should work, but for internal bacterial infections, food treated with anti-biotics are most efficient. Medication should contain chloromycetin (chloramphenicol), tetracycline, sodium sulfathiazole, sodium sulfamethazine, sodium sulfanilamide, or erythromycin.

List of medicines
  • E.M. Erythromycin
  • T.C. Tetracycline
  • Jungle Anti-Bacteria medicated fish food
  • Triple Sulfa
  • Maracyn and Maracyn-2


Betta fish with dropsy

Symptoms: Swollen body, scales sticking out (pinecone look)

Description: What causes dropsy is bacterial attack on the betta's kidneys. This leads to the build up of fluids in the betta's body, which then causes the body to swell and the scales to protrude. Bettas along with guppies seem to be more affected by this disease. The main identifying symptom of dropsy is a pinecone look on the fish's body. However, if not treated before this stage, it is nearly impossible to treat because by this time the kidneys have failed.

Mouth Fungus

Platy with mouth fungus

Symptoms: White cottony patches around the mouth

Description: Although it is called mouth fungus, (because of its similarity with fungal diseases) it is actaully caused by a bacteria called Chonodrococcus columnaris. In its early stages, it starts off as gray/white lines near the mouth and develops into the cottony look. This bacteria must be treated early on for a better chance of recovery.

Red Pest (Septicemia)

Symptoms: Bloody streaks on the body and fins

Description: Red pest is characterized by red streaks on a fish's body and fins and usually only occurs on fish that are already sick or weak. However, it can still affect healthy fish. Because this disease is an internal infection, the most effective way of treating it is through medicated fish food.

Scale Protrusion

Symptoms: Similar to dropsy in regards to the pinecone look, but no body bloat.

Description: Because of a betta's long flowing fins, they are very susceptible to tail and fin rot. One of the common causes is actually the fins getting torn by the sharp decorations, such as certain plastic plants. The injuries then allow the bacteria to enter and do damage. To test whether or not a decoration is too sharp, rub it with a clean pair of stockings. If it snags, it'll rip your betta's fins. Another cause is from fin nippers such as tiger barbs. In addition to that, strong filters can also rip fins, especially halfmoon bettas or other large finned varieties.

Mycobacteriosis tuberculosis (fish tuberculosis)

Gourami with tuberculosis

Symptoms: hollow stomach, emaciation, ulcers, clamped fins.

Description: Tuberculosis is a very contagious disease that is caused by Mycobacterium piscium. The underlying cause, however, is overcrowding or poor filtration. What makes this disease unique and also dangerous is that it can be transmitted to humans. Although it's rare that you get infected, always take caution when handling sick fish. It is best to euthanize that sick fish if you're not able to quarantine it because treatment is difficult and the disease is very contagious from fish to fish.

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