Columnaris is a common bacterial disease which affects tropical fish. It is often mistaken for a fungal infection due to its mouldy or cottony-like appearance. The mouth and fins of the fish may show signs of corrosion. Once the gills get infected the fish will begin breathing rapidly due to lack of oxygen. Gradually sores start to emerge on the body.

In some less common occasions, the disease will infect only the internal organs, and no external symptoms will be displayed.

Cause: Columnaris disease is caused by bacteria, and is mostly a direct result of poor water quality. The disease is highly contagious and may be spread through infected fish, contaminated nets, specimen containers, and even food.

Tips to avoid a Columnaris outbreak in your aquarium.

• Quarantine new fish for a minimum of two weeks

• Maintain high water quality

• Ensure that fish have a balanced diet

• Disinfect nets and other equipment before using

Treatment: Anti-bacterial medications should be successful at curing Columnaris if the disease is discovered and treated at its early stages.

• Add aquarium salt to enhance gill function (1 table spoon for every 5 gallons of water)

• Treat with an antibiotic

Terramycin has proven to be quite effective both as a bath, and when used to treat foods for internal infections.

It is advisable to treat infected individuals in a separate quarantine tank, to avoid removing the good bacteria from your aquarium. If there are a large number of infected fish then your aquarium should be treated.

Because the bacteria thrive on organic wastes, it can be controlled by regular water changes and vacuuming of the gravel, and avoid overfeeding your fish.


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