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How do you spot a sick fish? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A


How do you spot a sick fish?

How do you spot a sick fish? Sharon – Romeo, MI

You treat your pets like children so it is easy to understand how upsetting it can be when one of them falls ill or does not feel well. While your children are able to tell you where it hurts, it is a bit more difficult to figure out what ales your fish. For this reason alone it is a great idea to focus on prevention instead of waiting to cure. What can you do to prevent fish illness and how can you tell if your fish may be coming down with something?

Keep your pond clean and healthy by providing adequate filtration, aeration, and regularly cleaning and adding beneficial bacteria to the pond. A DefensePAC is a great tool to help maintain water quality and a Pond Vac cleaning your pond easier and more enjoyable. When performing water changes use Pond and Fish Conditioner to detoxify any chemical or heavy metal contaminates in the water as well as reduce fish stress and improve their slime coat which makes them less susceptible to disease. Dosing your pond with Pond Salt will also help improve their slime coat and gill functions further ensuring healthy and happy fish.

If your fish still manage to fall under the weather the will almost always show some inconsistency in their behavior that will give you a clue as to what is going on. When fish are stressed or ill they will tend to be lethargic and less social, often just floating in one area away from your other fish. If they have anchor worm you will see them rubbing on rocks or the wall of the pond which is known as flashing. You can also visually inspect your fish for signs of illness. Deterioration of their fins, mouth or gills can indicate poor water quality or parasites. Look for loose or odd looking scale formations and sores on the body of the fish.

There are three steps to follow to nurture your sick fish back to health. First, since most illness is due to stress or water quality in their environment you will want to provide some temporary relief from the source. Start by performing a 25% water change in the pond to get some fresh water into the system. If only a few fish seem to be affected you may also choose to set up an isolation tank and treat just the affected fish. Next add salt and be sure both the pond or isolation tank has adequate aeration.

Step two is to identify the fish sickness based on their symptoms. Take pictures, examine the fish for and cuts, redness or inflammation in the gills and record their habits. Once you’ve identified the symptoms you can choose the next course of action which may involve additional medications or treatments.

The final step is to reevaluate your normal pond routines. Go back to see if there is anything you should change to prevent illness in the future. When dealing with sick fish it is always important to focus on preventing issues before they have a chance to ruin your ponding season so you can spend the majority of your season playing with your pets instead of playing doctor.

Pond Talk: What have your experiences been playing doctor? Have you avoided sick pets? How?

Pond Logic Pond & Fish Conditioner

4 Responses

  1. How do I control or get rid of the foamy froth that seems to affect my pond, without using chemicals?

    The foamy stuff seems to stop the skimmer from skimming until I go thru: washing the filter, cleaning the basket of the foamy stuff and/or keeping a hose dripping into the skimmer box with a slow drip into the filter box to “break” up the foam.

    • Hi Carol,

      Foam is usually caused by an excess build up of nutrients. You can do a partial water change to help get some fresh water in the pond and then evaluate your situation. Make sure you have proper filtration. Be careful not to over clean the filters. Make sure to have plenty of plants, minimal fish and minimal feeding. Also adding natural bacteria will assist your filter system. These steps should reduce your nutrient level and remove the foam.

  2. Can I use Green Clean Grandular Agaecide in my pond with snails in it.? Thank You

    • Gracie,

      Algaecides are not usually reccomended with snails. To be on the safe side I would stick to using natural bacteria as much as possible for pond maintenance.

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