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Diseases in Tropical Fish

Seeking Expert Advice on Fish Health from a Licensed Veterinarian

(The First Tank Guide)

Fish keepers are often driven to seek expert advice when one of their beloved pets becomes ill (or at least they should be). The expert to which these individual need to be speaking is a veterinarian. Unfortunately, there are very few veterinarians who will see a fish or even talk to a fish owner about their fish's health.

Why Bother with a Veterinarian, Then?

This makes it even more important to all fish owners that they speak to a veterinarian when they have questions about their ill - or possibly ill - fish. By speaking to veterinarians about their fish when something like this comes up, veterinarians will begin to see that there is a market in caring for fish and will begin to either see fish or hire on staff with the requisite expertise.

What Can I Do in the Mean Time?

Unfortunately, in the mean time, this leaves fish keepers in a poor state. Fish diseases are difficult to identify accurately, and treating them successfully and quickly is almost always dependent on accurate - and early - diagnosis. Accurate diagnosis, in almost all cases requires tissue sampling and/or biopsy or necropsy, and these issues take us back to seeing a qualified veterinarian or fish pathologist.

What About Other Sites that Recommend Specific Medications?

The staff at many pet stores and even the owners of various web sites will often attempt to shovel out advice on diagnosing fish illnesses and the appropriate treatments. However, anyone who is providing you with this kind of advice without seeing the fish in question - and probably taking samples and having them analyzed in a lab - is, in fact, doing a disservice to the fish keeper.

Without performing the appropriate laboratory tests on the samples of the disease or tissue samples from the fish, the advice you are given is highly suspicious. You are just as well off to merely review the medications available at your local pet shop and select the one that best suits the symptoms you are seeing as to ask the store employee what medication you should get.

The one exception to this is when an employee from a good pet store helps you to select a medication by asking you questions about what symptoms or signs you are seeing, and pointing out medications that address those symptoms. The employee should not make a recommendation on a medication, only point out to you what symptoms claim to be treated and asking you about other symptoms you have seen. The other thing that the employee of a good pet store will talk to you about when you come in to talk about your sick fish, is the routine maintenance you perform on your tank, your tank population, and the water conditions you maintain.

Remember, if your fish is ill, it is important that you consult a veterinarian regarding the fish to get an accurate diagnosis.

"You have reminded me that it takes time and patience and if it ain't broke don't try fix it. Thank you for that. Your articles are well written, and for me just reconfirmed what I already know to be the best way to keep fish. I wish you good luck in anything you may do in the future."
November 20, 2013
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"Thank you for taking the time to write me. That was great advise. I went out and bought a 46 gallon bowed tank. We love it and the fish seem to really enjoy it. I am going to bookmark your web page not only because of the great information but you seem to want to help us new fish keepers and our new fish!"
June 30, 2002
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