The following is a list of things to keep in mind when treating disease in the aquarium. The list is in chronological order. In other words, do number 1 first, then number 2 and so on. This list is the result of many lessons learnt and fish lost.
Number 1: Do your research!
Apart from a few cases of fungus, I was incredibly fortunate to avoid infectious disease for the first six years of my aquarium hobby journey. Eventually, as would be expected, I encountered the infamous white spot or ich. However, unlike many beginners in the hobby, I didn’t wonder why there were white spots all over my fish. I knew instantly what the disease was. This was because I had researched diseases in the past to prepare myself for the inevitable eventuality. As with all diseases, whether fish or human, the quicker the disease is identified the more likely that the affects will be minimised. So, here is my advice, fish-keeper to fish-keeper; spend an hour over the weekend researching various aquarium diseases. Start by finding a list of common diseases and work from there. Write down a short summary for each, including symptoms and treatment. Then, next time your fish contract a disease you will be able to quickly identify it and take the appropriate steps to limit the impact upon your fish.
Number 2: Water changes!
As with most things, prevention is better than treatment. Water changes are your greatest weapon in preventing disease. Poor water quality is the number one cause of disease. Poor water quality is akin to sending a child to school on a cold winters day in shorts and a t-shirt. The child is bound to get sick!
Even when your fish have already contracted a disease, the first thing you should do is perform a large water change. Not only does this improve water quality, it removes any free pathogens from the aquarium. This is especially true in the case of ich.
Number 3: Don’t panic!
Umm… not sure I need to explain this one!
Number 4: Follow the dosage recommendations!
One of the worst things that you can do in the case of disease is to under-dose or overdose. Under-dosing may render the medication ineffective, as it is too diluted to produce the required result. This simply means that the disease will continue to fester unabated.
Overdosing may outright kill your fish, depending on the medication being used. Here, a respect of the medications potency is in order. Many aquarium medications are actually poisons diluted down!
Number 5: Learn from your mistakes!
Learning from your mistakes is critical. Albert Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” However, in order to effectively learn from your mistakes, you need to document them in some way. For me, this means that I write down what I did to treat a specific disease, whether or not it worked and any modifications I would make next time. Simple, yet effective. I would encourage you to do the same.