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Neon Tetra Disease

Brief Description

One of the darker aspects of fish keeping has to be identifying and treat successfully diseased fish. One of the worst diseases that can strike your tank is Neon Tetra disease. As of yet I can think of no-one that has manages to treat this disease and cure their fish as it spreads rapidly through the tank. This disease is quite common but often cases are not reported as symptoms are not diagnosed correctly and it will also affect other species of fish, not just the Neon Tetras.

It received its name as it was first reported in the Neon tetra but there have been countless cases where it has infected nearly all members of the tetra family, cichlids like Angelfish, Rasboras and barbs have all fallen victim to it. Goldfish are also prone to this disease yet Cardinal Tetras seem to be resistant to it.

Angelfish and Goldfish may take longer to show the symptoms than the smaller tetras but this does not mean that they will beat the disease; they should still be removed from the tank as soon as possible.

What causes this disease?

Neon Tetra disease is caused by a sporozoid known as Pleistophora Hyphessobryconis. This forms cysts in the muscles and internal organs of the infected fish, inside the cysts, spores are then formed which spread to healthy tissue until it has taken over the whole fish. The reason that the infection spreads so rapidly in an aquarium is because once a cyst reaches the open water it will burst releasing the spores to infect other fish. This problem also occurs when the host fish has infected kidneys and the spores are passed through the fish waste releasing them into the tank. Once a healthy fish ingests the spores, it will become infected instantly through the intestines. The newly hatched spores burrow through the intestines and the whole cycle is repeated as muscle tissue becomes infected.

Symptoms of Neon Tetra disease:-

There are a couple of initial signs that something is amiss with the fish. The first one is that it becomes restless, especially at night when it would normally rest. It will start to swim away from the shoal as though to protect them from infection. Secondly its swimming style will become more and more erratic; it will soon become very obvious that the fish is not in full health.

Secondary symptoms of the disease as it really takes hold are whitening of the body, particularly along the spinal area. As the disease progresses even further, the whitening will intensify and spread to all of the body. The spine may become twisted or curve upwards and lumps will appear on the body of the fish as the cysts are developing in the body tissue.

Fins will start to rot, notably on the caudal fin but this is more than likely a secondary infection that has taken hold along with bloating of the body as well.

Treatment of Neon Tetra disease:-

There is actually no cure for this disease. All that can be done is to remove any infected fish as soon as possible to prevent it spreading to all of your stock.

There are preventative measures that can be taken to try to avoid infecting the tank. Keeping your water quality high will help; any new fish that have been purchased must be placed in quarantine for 2-3 weeks to make sure they are perfectly healthy. When going to the pet stores, never buy fish from tanks that have sick or dead fish in them. Shoaling fish should be observed swimming together, if any of the fish are solitary, avoid buying them.

If you are unlucky enough to have this in your tank, the spores will not be removed as soon as the infected fish have been removed. It may be necessary to strip down the tank and clean everything in a reliable parasitic treatment. Allowing the tank and décor to dry out thoroughly will kill off some of the spores but not all. Some keepers have reported cures for this disease, to the best of my knowledge, I know of no scientifically reports stating that this is true.

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