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Protozoan Diseases Treatment

Last edited - December 8, 2018

The best way to treat and prevent any fish disease, especially protozoan diseases is to maintain a clean aquarium by keeping up with weekly water changes. Since many protozoan diseases have a free swimming stage such as ich and velvet, water changes are a simple yet effective way of treatment. Raising the temperature to 84F also helps.

List of medications

  • Malachite Green
  • (Kordon) Ich-Attack

African/Malawi Bloat

Symptoms: loss of appetite, swelling, difficulty breathing

Description: Although this disease mainly affects African cichlids, it can still occur in other fish. Additionally,if not treated soon, enough, the affected fish may quickly become incurable. The first sign of Malawi bloat is loss of appetite. If caught in the early stages, this disease is 100% treatable, but of course prevention is key.


Tetra with chilodonella

Symptoms: color loss, gill damage, frayed fins

Description: Like many other protozoan diseases, the fish will develop slime that covers their body. When the slime reaches the gills, the gill becomes damaged. The fish will try to rub off the slime.

Costia (Ichthyology)

Symptoms: Cloudy/milky skin

Description: This is an extremely rare protozoan disease that affects the fish's scales. It is also a secondary disease meaning it is triggered when the fish is already sick and/or stressed.

Glugea and Henneguya

Goldfish with glugea and henneguya

Symptoms: large white cysts on body

Description: Fish with this disease form cysts on their bodies. They often swell and eventually die. There is no known cure but this disease is extremely rare.


Discus with hexamita

Symptoms: slimy, white mucous feces, swimming backwards, blacken in color.

Description: Hexamita is an internal protozoan disease that affects the digestive system. It also frequently occurs in cichlids, especially discus, but it can affect other fish. This disease is often confused with hole-in-the-head disease because both usually occur at the same time.

Ich (White spot disease)

Catfish with ich

Symptoms: nearly the entire body including fins will look like they were covered in salt, scratching against decorations.

Description: This is one of the most common diseases that a betta can get so it is important to always be prepared for an outbreak of ich. This disease progresses in a cycle beginning with the introduction of the parasite. The parasite attaches on to the body of the fish for nutrients and then leaves the fish to reproduce. The parasite falls to the aquarium floor where it turns into a cyst and multiplies. The cyst breaks and out comes more free swimming parasites. The best treatment is to raise the temperature to 84F as this will greatly shorten the parasites' life span. Coupled with frequent small water changes to remove the free swimming parasites, the ich would quickly go away.

Neon tetra disease

Neon Tetra Disease

Symptoms: Pale scales, abnormal swimming

Description: This disease was first discovered on neon tetras, hence the name. However, this disease can affect other fish. When the protozoa attacks a fish, it causes white patches to appear. Similar to ich, the protozoa forms cysts which then burst, releasing more. Currently there is no definite treatment other than to keep the water clean and do small frequent water changes.

Velvet (rust)


Symptoms: clamped fins, difficulty in breathing, yellow/gold dust on body.

Description: This disease is similar to ich except instead of being covered in what looks like salt, the betta is covered in gold dust, which is best seen when light is shined on it. It is also highly contagious and affects the gills first.

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