This is a great resource for answers, help, & advice to aquarium and pond questions not found elsewhere; With regular posts & article updates.
In our research; we use aquaculture, horticulture, medical, & university research to compile many of our articles.
Neon Tetra Disease; Sporozoan Fish Infection
NEON TETRA DISEASE (Identification, prevention and possible treatment of):
Also the similar infection; FNT Disease (False Neon Tetra Disease)
(Scroll further into the article for FNT)
This term is often a catch all name for diseases of Neon Tetras specifically and many other fish as well, especially other Tetras.
The usual cause is by a Sporozoan (parasitic spore-forming protozoan which reproduce sexually and asexually in alternate generations by means of spores); Pleistophora hyphessobryconis, although there are other causes including many fungi that will imitate this Sporozoan infection.
The true Pleistophora hyphessobryconis infestation is very difficult to treat, and basically impossible to treat in the later stages of this infestation (which is when most aquarists first notice this disease). However, contrary to popular opinion on the web and elsewhere where many are just repeating what they hear elsewhere it is somewhat treatable in the early stages and VERY preventable from spreading.
Occasionally rare gram positive bacteria will also cause these symptoms (fading, loss of color, etc.) which require a different course of action.
ABOUT THIS INFECTION:
The disease cycle begins when parasitic spores enter the fish after the fish ingests infected food or organic debris, such as the bodies of dead fish, or live food (often Tubiflex Worms). After the spores enter the intestinal tract, the newly hatched embryos burrow through the intestinal wall and produce cysts within the muscle tissue. These muscles containing the cysts begin to die, resulting in a pale whitish tissue.
Initially the only symptom may be restlessness especially when lights are turned on and off. The infected fish often will stop schooling with others of their species. Soon the swimming becomes more erratic and the tell tale symptom of the white muscle tissue becomes apparent.
Other fish are susceptible to this infestation as well, this includes and is not limited too:
*Many Danios (including White Clouds)
Symptoms in order of progression:
• Restlessness and sensitivity.
• The fish become more isolated
• The fish has difficulty swimming (at this point treatment will generally fail)
• The tell tale white/ pale tissue appears.
• As cysts develop and produce more spores, body may become lumpy or irregular.
• Often in advanced cases spine may become deformed or curved.
TREATMENT (and more importantly; stopping the spread of this disease):
A medicated bath with Methylene Blue is the first step. To prepare this bath I use 1 teaspoon 2.303% solution per 5 gallons (double dose recommended on most Methylene Blue Remedies) in a bath of aquarium water from the tank the fish you wish to treat came from, I usually use about a ½ gallon of water, however you may use less.
Measurement of the Methylene Blue does not need to be too precise as this bath should only be used for about 30 minutes and Methylene Blue is safely overdosed (for fish in baths, dips, or bare hospital tank, however overdosing in established aquariums can kill beneficial nitrifying bacteria). This bath’s effectiveness is improved further by the addition of salt (at 1 teaspoon per gallon) and Metronidazole at double the normal tank dose.
Make sure you keep the water in a warm area, as in a cold room the water temperature can drop rapidly which would stress the fish. Do NOT pour this water back into your display aquarium when finished. This can be performed twice per day.
Adding Erythromycin to this bath at double recommended tank dose can improve results (especially for FNT Disease)
This bath is helpful for the both “True Neon Tetra Disease” and false neon tetra disease (FNT Disease).
In the tank you need to treat with Quick Cure , or ParaGuard-Parasite Treatment combined with either Furan 2 or Metronidizole.
Medicated Wonder Shells are excellent as a follow up treatment or for mild infections.
Continue this treatment for 7-10 days.
If at all possible I strongly recommend attaching a UV Sterilizer after treatment or removal of sick (or dead) fish. This device will help in the spread of disease and improve Aquarium Redox (which improves immunity).
For more information about UV Sterilization. Please read this article:
ULTRAVIOLET STERILIZATION; How UV Sterilizers Work.
This article explains the benefits and myths about aquarium and pond UV sterilization. It is also essential for UV Sterilizer to remain effective for prevention and Redox aid, that you change your UV Bulb every six months (regardless of some claims by less than honest long life, yet low output UV Bulb sellers)
A medication containing Metronidazole or an additional treatment of Metronidazole in tank can be very helpful as well (note: this is infestation is difficult to treat and takes a "medication cocktail" approach to defeat).
In the even more rare cases of FNT disease Erythromycin may be effective (I still recommend the medicated Methylene Blue bath). See False Neon Tetra Disease (FNT) section of this article below.
PREVENTION & ANECDOTAL IDENTIFICATION
It is noteworthy (based on my “house calls”, emails, customers, etc, in my years of Aquarium Maintenance & answering questions online) that the majority of Tetra Disease diagnosis are incorrect. Sadly this disease is often misdiagnosed by many who are not really that knowledgeable.
Here are (in order of most common) misdiagnosis causes of Neon Tetra Disease:
• Ammonia or Nitrite Poisoning
• Poor fish stock that was recently purchased, often suffering from the residual effects of Ammonia poisoning due to poor shipping/handling methods or simply genetic in-bred Neon Tetras (or other fish)
• Long term poor aquarium health maintenance procedures, this includes regular water changes & vacuuming, aquarium chemistry methods, and much more. Even proper aquarium lighting play a minor role in fish health (as with most other animals and plant life).
Basically locating a good source for your Tetras and other fish (& sticking with it) that are easily infected by Neon Tetra Disease (& FNT disease) and following all or at least most of the procedures outlined in the article; “Aquarium Disease Prevention”, this disease should actually quite rare.
In fact I have not nor have our sister Aquarium Maintenance company’s regular full service clients had a case of this disease in quite some time (years as of this update). Most cases were diagnosed with “occasional” service customers or online/forum questions.
I will note it is common to confuse true Neon Tetra Disease caused by the Sporozoan; Pleistophora hyphessobryconis with other diseases such as many fungi infections and often gram positive bacterium, this is called False Neon Tetra Disease or FNT Disease and is generally caused by less common gram positive pathogens.
These false infections often do not have the symptoms leading up to the white/ pale tissue and the discoloration is more faint and much less white and defined than True Neon Tetra Disease.
As with True Neon Tetra Disease caused by Sporozoans, a medicated bath is an important first step, however in tank (or better hospital tank) treatment should consist of a primarily gram positive “cocktail” such as Erythromycin, possibly adding either Medicated Wonder Shells, Liquid Fungus cure, or even Kanamycin.
Please note that these combinations (that all start with Erythromycin) are Extremely hard on bio filter bacteria, so use in a quarantine/hospital tank is strongly recommended.
As lesser strength in tank cocktail, but less harmful to bio filtration would be Melafix & Pimafix.
As a side note, I have observed FNT disease (not True Neon Tetra Disease) when many cycling aid products have been used, and since many use aerobic/gram positive Heterotrophic bacteria (possibly Actinomycetes), there may be a relation. This is only an observation, but I have noted this on several occasions with many Tetras (as well as few Danios/Rasboras), so I would cease the use of these products if FNT Disease is suspected. I should note that I have not observed this with the better Cycling aids such as Fritz or the newer Stability.
If all these steps are followed my success rate in stopping the spread of this disease is nearly 100% and treating early stages at around 20% to 50%. If you cannot add the UV Sterilizer, the other steps will still help a lot, especially in stopping the spread. However, it is important to follow as many as possible of these steps as Neon Tetra Disease does not spread in the same manner as other protozoan infections such as Ich or velvet, making it difficult to treat. This is why this “treatment cocktail” is required.
|Other Recommended Reference Sites|
|-A useful source for current Aquarium Information and Resources (Pond too). Basic and in depth articles from Aquarium Lighting, Filtration & Filter Troubleshooting, Fish Nutrition, Aquarium or Pond UV Sterilization, Ich, Pond Care, Nitrogen Cycle, and much more. Well researched and up to date aquarium and pond articles, answers, help, and links. Based on 33 years Professional experience & research in Los Angeles and now in Oregon. This Aquarium and Pond Information resource is a must read for any aquarist serious about current aquatic information and articles|
|For a friendly, Knowledgeable, aquarium forum with in a family atmosphere, Aquarium Forum; Everything Aquatic & Board is an excellent place to go for information, help or simply to share your love of the aquarium and pond hobby and help others. A superior place for information over such places as Yahoo Answers|
|FISH AS PETS; Articles and commentary of Interest to the Aquarium Hobby; Such as Parasite Retailers,|
Planaria & Detritus Worms in Aquarium, Melafix Dangers; what is known, & Celestial Pearl Danio, Galaxy Rasboras