Sick Fish? Be Patient

Most aquarists have to deal with sick fish at one point or another. There can be many reasons for one or more of your fish to be sick. Bad water quality, parasites and bad diet are some of the reasons.

One of the main problems with having sick fish is that aquarium owners don’t have a whole lot of patience when it comes to finding out what is wrong with the fish and then getting it back to full health. This is just human nature, we want quick results!

I had a situation a few months ago where I bought a relatively healthy looking Hippo Tang from the local fish store. He was rubbing on the rocks a bit at the store, like Tangs sometimes do, but he looked healthy and was eating well. So I took a gamble on him.

Within days of getting him home, the rock-rubbing got way worse and he developed some white blotches on his stomach area. It wasn’t ich, but it was something that I didn’t like to see. None of my other fish got sick, just the new Hippo Tang. He could have been stressed, he coulda had a parasite, it’s hard to say.

It takes time

The point is, it took a lot of patience to get him back to health. I had to come up with a quick contingency plan and set up a quarantine tank. I never had to move him to the quarantine, but was ready to if I needed to.

What did I end up doing to get him back to health? Basically I just fed him a lot of different types of high quality fish food and waited. I hoped that the increased food would help build immunity and keep him flowing with enough nutrients to battle whatever it was that he had.

After about 3 weeks he returned to normal, but only after looking quite horrible for quite some time. I thought for sure on several occasions I was going to lose him, but I just kept feeding him lots of good frozen foods and seaweed. He kept eating, kept rubbing on the rocks, and kept eating some more.

Now he’s healthy as ever, but wow did I ever have to be patient to get him back to that point.

Internet paranoia

One of the main problems I ran into was that when searching Google for information on how to bring this sick Tang back to good health, I ran into too many differing opinions. If I would have tried every recommendation for similar situations that I ran across, I would have probably just made the situation worse. Being overloaded by the information on the Internet about the possibilities of what was causing my fish to be sick made me really paranoid.

I had to just take a step back and get to the heart of what all the various methods of treating a sick fish came down to. Basically, I just had to keep him well fed, make sure he was getting enough nutrients to make sure that he could naturally battle what he had, and I had to be patient and wait.

I ran across all kinds of medications that seemed to be quick fixes. I didn’t try any of them. And it’s a good thing too. I probably would have jumped the gun, trying to make him healthy too quickly, stressed out the fish even more, and killed him fast.

What’s my point?

All I’m trying to say is that if you have a sick fish, don’t just start dumping all kinds of medications in your aquarium and taking drastic measures to cure them. If you search the Internet quickly for a quick remedy, you’ll be quickly overloaded by way too much information. You’ll probably treat your fish for something that it doesn’t even have, stressing it out more.

If you really think you need to medicate a fish, get input from an expert before doing anything. Don’t just take a guess at what the fish ‘might’ have and then treat that. You might be wasting time and money if you jump the gun like that.

Take a step back and think about what the fish requires to be healthy in the first place and make sure that all those things are in check. Check water parameters, change water, make sure the fish are well fed and eating, and if the fish is meant to stay alive in captivity then it probably will, just take good care of it and be patient.

About Luke

the owner and caretaker of a 75 gallon aquarium in his home studio. Good times.

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