Gill Infection in Fish: Branchiomycosis; Prevention, Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Gill Infection in Fish: Branchiomycosis; Prevention, Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Just as we have lungs, fish have gills. Lungs and gills both serve the same purpose.

Lungs are no doubt an important organ of our body. They do help us breathe.

If something goes wrong with your lungs, you may either end up dead or have to endure a life time of suffering.

So, imagine the same thing happening with your fish. Gill infection is often fatal and fish usually die within days or months – depending on how serious the infection gets.

Gills are the organ that helps in breathing and if they go bad, there is no way you can save your fish. Hey! I am not trying to scare you here. This is basically the bitter truth.

Branchiomycosis is an acute infection of the gills that can cause high mortality and respiratory distress in many species of ornamental and freshwater fish such as the Koi, the eel, the bass and the perch.

It has been reported primarily in Europe and Taiwan but also in the southeast USA.

The two most commonly isolated species are Branchiomyces sanguinis and B. denigrans which have different host specificities and distributions.

The organism attaches to the gill surface and forms hyphae which penetrate the tissue and damage the blood supply to the area. Spores can be released and develop on the floor of the tank in favorable conditions (25-32°C, low oxygen, low pH).

 – wikivet.

Branchiomycosis (Gill Rot) is a deadly gill infection that can easily be triggered in an aquarium environment where the water is not kept clean.

So, it is nothing but the sanitation issue that can be easily avoided if routine cleanup is maintained.

I have encountered so many lazy people in my life that would seldom change the water of the aquarium. Even after my constant poking, they thought that it is okay to not change the water!

Well, it is never okay not to prioritize your fish’s hygiene. Cleanliness is the only way to help extend your fish’s life.

What are the causes of Branchiomycosis?

Fungi called Branchiomyces demigrans and Branchiomyces sanguins is the main cause behind such gill infection.

When the ponds or the aquarium get flooded by debris and decaying matters, it triggers a variety of infection. You never really know what types of diseases are lurking in the aquarium, if it is not maintained properly!

Now fungi and parasites both are deadly. These diseases become active when the temperature is above 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

These Fungi are deadly so if your fish already caught it, that could literally be the end of your dear fish. Therefore, treatment is something which you shouldn’t really be worried about right now. Prevention is the prime thing you need to focus on.

What are the symptoms?

  • Healthy gills are reddish brown in color. When tissues start dying in the gills, they become mottled. (Mottles are the patches or the spots of various shades formed on the body.)
mottled-gills
Mottled Gills
  • The gills start rotting and the fish suffer from breathing troubles.
  • Their skin gets patches of gray colors and by then, it would be a clear indication that the fish have a serious disease.
  • The infection so caused first attacks the gills. Once it has infected the gills, it spreads all over the skin in a gradual way.
  • Being sluggish can be a very common symptom. Respiratory issues will often lead to lethargy. The fish may also isolate themselves because they will feel extremely sick.

Is there any treatment available?

Unfortunately, the symptoms are recognizable only at a much later stage when the infection had already invaded into the body.

At this point of time, Branchiomycosis cannot be treated or even if you try and cure it you won’t be successful in saving your beloved fish. And since it is a breathing organ, the fish die due to respiratory problems.

However, if you can get hold of the disease at the earliest, we have good news. Treatment is available and you can heal the fish and eradicate the infection.

It is best to take an expert advice before you start the treatment. You may have to find a pro, a piscine specialist – fish doctor.

I am saying this because the treatment may include scrapping the grayish fungus from the fish’s body. It also takes experience. Also, the right ratio of salt is required to treat the fish and the aquarium.

There are other chemicals like Methylene Blue used to treat the infected area. So, it is best to go to a professional and seek for help.

How do I prevent it?

  • Maintain the aquarium temperature to match the fish’s habitat in the wild.
  • As I have already mentioned above, cleanliness is the only thing that can help the fish live long. Changing the water every alternate day or in a routine (Bigger the tank less frequent the water change) and ensuring that the filter is working properly is the best way to save your fish from these deadly diseases.
  • Do not let any debris stay in the aquarium. Remove them the moment you see them.
  • Quarantine the diseased fish and treat them separately. This way you can prevent the spreading of the infection.
  • Ensure that the pH level is exactly as required. It should neither be low nor high. Take the help of a test kit. You can get one from your local pet store.

Did your fish ever suffer from Branchiomycosis? Share your story with us. Did you treat it? If so how? Comment below and let us know your views!

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