To write an article about a disease without
any medical training is very difficult and perhaps not even appropriate.
An article about a fish disease should be written by a veterinarian.
It’s just that among the veterinarians I have been in contact
with, very few are experienced in dealing with infections in fishes.
We who have kept several kinds of mainly African cichlids, at least
know how it feels to have all your fish bloat and die and god knows
we have tried all the tricks in the book to make it STOP in time. I
cannot cure bloat but I can try, this is what I have come up with, this
is my story.
For quite some time I was walking around with
a stupid smile on my face thinking that the fish keepers who got this
disease were just sloppy with their tanks and that those who filled
up their fish room cabinets with medications were just hypochondriacs.
There’s nothing a little clean water and salt can’t cure.
Today, if there is one thing about this that I can tell you for a fact,
it is that it can happen to anyone. I’m not saying this because
I think I’m the perfect fish keeper. I have seen loads of fish
rooms kept a lot better than mine and it has struck them as well from
time to time.
The disease in tropical fishes normally referred
to as Bloat remains a mystery. I think it must be one of the most popular
subjects discussed by keepers of cichlids from the lakes Malwi and Tanganyika.
Even though several fish keepers claim to know exactly what this is
their often conflicting stories actually tells me that they don’t.
We know what it looks like, we know that they die and we know what type
of medication to give them, or do we?
The basic symptoms of bloat are loss of appetite,
white thin stringy droppings, difficulties in keeping the balance, fish
sitting on the bottom of the tank or lingering at the surface and finally
bloating in which case the fish is already doomed.
I had kept my group of 22 wild caught Tropheus
moorii “Kala Island” for 2½ years. There had been
ups and downs and a few deaths. Sometimes they wouldn’t eat all
that well, sometimes they would have some bad looking droppings but
some larger water changes, some salt, less food, maybe a little higher
temperature was all that was needed to turn them back into the regular
piranha style behaviour at feeding time. But all of a sudden things
were different. I just couldn’t get them to come out of it. I
went to talk to a person that has been dealing in cichlids for over
30 years which was the person who’s opinion I respected the most
at the time. We talked back and forth about what this disease really
was and the discussion pretty much ended in him saying,
-I’m really not sure but "this" and "this"
often works as a cure.
The dominant male of my group
of T. moorii "Kala Island". One of the great losses to bloat
in my fishroom
I tried curing them with a medication for
internal bacterial infections with the substance Nifurpirinol as the
active ingredient. The whole group died on me. This is not to say that
Nifurpirinol does not work. I have had several successful treatments
using this drug but in the case with my “Kala Island” it
was a failure.
It is important to try to sort out what caused
the disease. In most cases it is due to some kind of stress. Fish can
become stressed in many ways. There can be to few hiding places, a dominant
male can have to few females to chase, lack of oxygen, poor water quality,
to little space in general. The cause of Bloat can also have to do with
an improper diet such as too much protein or fats for fish who are mainly
vegetarians in the lake, or that you switch from one type of food to
another too quickly. However I have witnessed several cases in which
it has been impossible to come up with an explanation.
From the causes mentioned above the fish can
become infected by three types of bacteria all causing close to the
same type of symptoms. One is a common type of bacteria that lives in
an environment where oxygen is present. In this case the Nifurpirinol
works fine and you can use some type of medication from you LFS containing
Then there are cases caused by anaerobic bacteria,
this is a bacteria that lives in closed mechanisms where there is no
oxygen available. In this case you need a medication containing Metronidazol
as the active ingredient. In my part of the world (Scandinavia) there
is a drug called Flagyl available against prescription containing Metronidazol.
If you call a veterinarian and tell them what you need it for you will
probably get him to prescribe it.
The third kind is caused by parasitic and
protozoan infestations. In this case you should treat with a medication
containing Trichlorphon as active ingredient such as Clout which is
a popular medication for pretty much all kinds of fish disease in the
The problem here is that one fish keeper sees
something wrong with his fish, he pours some Clout into the tank, the
fish gets better, he goes on an internet forum and claims that Clout
saved his fish. Maybe his fish would have gotten well with just a water
change? Then my fish aren’t well, I read his post, I pour some
clout into my tank but my fish die. Maybe my fish would have gotten
well from Nifurpirinol? In most cases fish keepers claim that only one
of these two kinds of bacterial infections is the real bloat. Why this
is I do not know.
As you can see I wont be able to sort it out.
I don’t know if these medications interact with one another in
a harmful way but to me it seems like they should all be put into one
tablet. Now this is difficult since a few of them are only available
against prescription and cannot be purchased in a normal pet shop. Whatever
kind of medication you use here is a few hints on how to do it.
If your fish are still eating try mixing some
medicine into their food. If you feed shrimp mix this is easy if you
use pellets you can dissolve the medication in a few drops of water
and then soak the pellets in it.
If your fish are not eating, which is normally
the case, this is how I do it:
This time it is a large group of Tropheus
sp. red "Lupota" that has gotten infected. As you can see
I have started to empty the tank so it will be easier to catch the fish
without stressing them too much.
Bring out a plastic container. A wider type
like in the picture is better than an ordinary bucket since there will
be more water in contact with air in order to get more oxigen into the
Get out a few air pumps. If you dont have
any laying around borrow some from your other tanks or frinds tanks.
Im sure they can live without them for a few hours. Get as many as you
can, these are the ones I had laying around the house.
Fill the container with water from the infected
tank and get the pumps working in it.
Pour the medicine into the water. In this
case I am using Aqua Furan in which Nifurpirinol is the active ingrediant.
I use as much medication as you are supposed to use for 500 liters according
to the instructions, only in my case i pour it into only 8 liters.
The airpumps helps you mix it well into the
Gently place the fish into the container with
Keep the fish in the medication for about
30 minutes. While you do this you empty the tank were the fish were
completely and fill it up again with tap water. I dont clean the tank,
gravel, or filters since the fish cant be away from it that long. What
ever might be left in there will be very diluted as you fill the tank
back up again anyway.
Now the tank is filled up with tapwater again
and the fish are let back in there. Now all you do is cross your fingers
and pray. You can repeat the process after about three days.
As far as dosage goes I cant really say. I
started out with quite small doses that was recomended to me. Since
then I have done 10 times as powerful doses and fish dont seem to be
botherd by that. When it comes to Metronidazol i suggest 200 mg for
10 liters of whater in intesive baths like this. If I medicate directly
in the main tank I use 200 mg per 50 liters and change the water after
Finally, I hope you dont have to go through
this ever but if you do I wish you the best of luck. You will need it.