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AngelFish Disease, Virus


AKA Angelfish Aids, Angel Virus

By Carl Strohmeyer
Updated 3/20/14

This can be a very virulent and devastating disease.
All exposed angelfish that are not immune will come down with symptoms within 2-4 days of exposure. Sometimes sooner, as “Angelfish Aids” as it is sometime known as, is highly infectious.

I witnessed many angelfish from fish farms in Southeast Asia that came in as carriers of this virulent infection in the 1990s; as a result many large angelfish breeding operations closed and there was a shortage of angelfish in the retail trade.
During this time, I found some small scale angelfish breeders that were able to avoid exposure to this virus and keep me and others supplied with healthy stock


Angelfish Virus, Aids
Clamped fins, excess slime, listless with nose pointed up slightly, usually with the fish on the bottom of the aquarium (unlike Gill Flukes which would have the fish at the surface).
It has an approximately 3 week infectious period. This disease is quite virulent and if an angelfish survives the virus, it may become a carrier for up to six months.

These symptoms can also be caused by other infectious diseases such as Ichthyophonus fungi infections (which are internal), but show similar external symptoms in later stages of the disease.
However one major difference in external symptoms is that the progression of Angelfish Aids/Virus is much quicker than Ichthyophonus, often going from healthy and vibrant to sickly to death in as little as 3-5 days.

Do not also confuse Angelfish Aids/Virus with internal worm infections such as Nematodes or Annelids as these parasitic worm infections often have a bulge in the lower abdomen near the vent, or worms protruding from the anus. As well the progression is again generally not nearly as quick as Angelfish Virus/Aids. Often internal parasite infections can go on for weeks of slowly more noticeable symptoms.
Parasites such as Gill Flukes cause some similar symptoms, although again the progression of Gill Fluke symptoms is much slower than Angelfish Virus as often gill fluke symptoms slowly appear over a week or more time.
Further Reference: Fish Parasites; Worms, Nematodes, Gill Flukes, Treatment, ID

If you suspect that a quarantined fish has this virus, I recommend that you destroy the fish. The risk of spread is too high to keep a potentially infected fish around.

Here is a video of the fish pictured above in a video format; this fish is showing most of the classic symptoms of Angelfish Virus from which I have seen many times (especially during outbreaks during the 1990s).
I also sent the video link to friend in the professional maintenance business that confirmed this.
The other possible diagnosis is Gill Flukes, however as per the owner of this angelfish, the progression of the disease, nor the fish resting on the tank bottom does not indicate a diagnosis of Gill Flukes.


Video Courtesy DaharkazAngel

This is where there is not clear evidence (scientific that is), all I have is my observations as well as speaking with other aquarium maintenance professionals experience and brief non-scientific articles about Angelfish Virus.
I will provide a few observations/theories (please note that these are not proven at the time of writing this article):


Since immunity is the objective, it is important to keep the angelfish comfortable while giving the immune system time to fight this virus (if it can).
Part of the problem is this virus moves so fast, the fish’ immune system cannot respond quick enough, so optimal conditions is a must.
This includes the little known among aquarists parameter of Redox Balance which may be quite important for immunity during times of viral infection)
Also as per Redox, it is noteworthy that my incidence of Angel Fish Virus deaths was considerably higher in aquariums kept in low pH environments under 6.5. This is likely due to the poor Redox balance in low pH aquariums since acidic environments are oxidizing and allow for little or no Redox Reduction!!

Secondary bacterial and Fungal/Saprolegnia infections are also often issues during Angelfish Aids infections from my experience.

Further Information/Reference:
Understanding the Aquarium Redox Potential for Fish Health



Although I have given a method of treatment, please do not let me give the reader too much false hope; as even with strictly following this treatment regimen, chances of success are less than 50% from my experience (many aquarists choose to put the fish down rather than to treat and this is a valid option in my humble opinion as well).
However I have also had success with this treatment regimen (much more so than doing nothing), so if you are willing or able to strictly follow it, you may have success.

Either way, with success, failure, or putting the fish down; prevention of spread to other angelfish (or some other fish as well) should be considered.
Multiple water changes, optimum water parameters, UV Sterilization, and holding off from adding other angelfish for 3-6 months should all be considered.

Further Information:
*Aquarium Cleaning, Water Change Methods, more
*Aquarium Chemistry; For Optimum Water Parameters

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In Chronological order of writing with the newest at the top
  1. Aquarium or Pond Bio Load
  2. Tuberculosis in Fish
  3. PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting
  4. Head Pressure in Aquarium and Pond Water Pumps
  5. Betta Fin Rot
  6. Angelfish Virus/Aids
  7. Activated Carbon
  8. Fish Baths/Dips as an aid to treatment
  9. Streptococcus gram positive bacterium in aquariums, Eye Infections
  10. Hydrogen Sulfide
    production in anaerobic De-Nitrification for Aquarium/Ponds
  11. Fish Shipping
  12. Aquarium Size, Fish Stunting
  13. Aquarium Algae,
    BBA & Brown Algae in particular
  14. Aquarium Salt (Sodium chloride) in Freshwater Aquariums
  15. Betta Habitat; Wild Bettas to Domestic Betta environment parameters
  16. HITH; Hole in the Head Disease
  17. Aquarium Protein Skimmers, Ozonizers
  18. Power Head/ Water Pump Review
  19. Molly Disease/ Mollies in an Aquarium
  20. Basic Fish Anatomy, Fin Identification
  21. Aquarium Moving/ Power Failures
  22. Octopus as Aquarium Pets
  23. Aquarium Nitrates
  24. Ichthyophonus protists, fungus in fish
  25. Aquarium and Pond Filter Media
    Types; Mechanical, Bio, Chemical
  26. Aquarium Water Conditioners (also Pond)
  27. Fish Parasites; Trematodes & Monogeneans; Annelids and Nematodes;
    Flukes, internal worms, Detritus Worms (often confused with Planaria), Micro Worms
  28. Aquarium Silicone Application;
    DIY Aquarium Repair & Glass thickness
  29. Pond Veggie Filters; DIY Bog Filter
  30. The difference between Plaster of Paris and Aquarium Products such a Wonder Shells:
    Identification, prevention & Treatment
  32. AQUARIUM TEST KITS; Use & Importance
  33. SEXING FISH; Basics
  34. Chocolate Chip, Knobby and Fromia Starfish
  35. Freshwater Velvet & Costia
  36. Usnic Acid as a Fish Remedy
  37. Aquarium Heaters; Types, information
  38. The Lateral Line in Fish, Lateral Line Disease
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  39. Tap Water use in Aquarium; Chloramines, Chlorine
  40. Can Black Ghost Knife fish give an electric shock?
  41. Bio Wheel Review; Do Bio-Wheels really work?
  42. How do Fish Drink?
    Use of RO Water
  43. Cyclops, and Predatory Damselfly larvae
  44. Betta with Dropsy;
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  45. pH and KH problems in African Cichlid Aquarium
  46. Aquarium Gravel, which size?
  47. Blue green algae, Cyanobacteria in Ponds/Aquariums

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