Velvet Treatment



Velvet disease (also called gold-dust, rust and coral disease) is a fish disease caused by dinoflagellate parasites of the genera Amyloodinium in marine fish, and Oodinium in freshwater fish. The disease gives infected organisms a dusty, brownish-gold color. The disease occurs most commonly in tropical fish, and to a lesser extent, marine aquaria.

Life Cycle. The single-celled parasite’s life cycle can be divided into three major phases. First, as a tomont, the parasite rests at the water’s floor and divides into as many as 256 tomites. Second, these juvenile, motile tomites swim about in search of a fish host, meanwhile using photosynthesis to grow, and to fuel their search. Finally, the adolescent tomite finds and enters the slime coat of a host fish, dissolving and consuming the host’s cells, and needing only three days to reach full maturity before detaching to become a tomont once more.

Pathology. Velvet (in an aquarium environment) is usually spread by contaminated tanks, fish, and tools (such as nets or testing supplies). There are also rare reports of frozen live foods (such as bloodworms) containing dormant forms of the species. Frequently, however, the parasite is endemic to a fish, and only causes a noticeable “outbreak” after the fish’s immune system is compromised for some other reason. The disease is highly contagious and can prove fatal to fish.

Symptoms. Initially, infected fish are known to “flash”, or sporadically dart from one end of an aquarium to another, scratching against objects in order to relieve their discomfort. They will also “clamp” their fins very close to their body, and exhibit lethargy. If untreated, a ‘dusting’ of particles (which are in fact the parasites) will be seen all over the infected fish, ranging in color from brown to gold to green. In the most advanced stages, fish will have difficulty respiring, will often refuse food, and will eventually die of hypoxia due to necrosis of their gill tissue.

Every 100 ml of Velvet Treatment can treat 3,000 litres of water. Leave biological filtration running. Switch off UV sterilizers, ozonizers and remove zeolite and carbon before use. This treatment contains colour dye, avoid contact with clothes and furnishings. Dosage: 1 ml per 30 litres of water. You will require 4 separate applications to complete the course of treatment. By adding the treatment on days 1, 2 and 3 the product safely compounds in strength and does not burden the already stressed fish with a hard hitting formula. The final dose on day 6 is a preventative measure to try and ensure the parasite does not re-occur. Do not use when rays, momyrids, shrimps, sturgeons or when related species are present. Do not use simultaneously with other medications. Allow at least 48 hours to elapse when changing treatment. Suitable for tropical freshwater and coldwater aquaria. Perform partial water changes on the days between medication dosages.

Carefully observe your fish to be sure that velvet does not recur after treatment. Monitoring and maintaining your water temperature is critical to ensure the parasite is completely eliminated from your aquarium. Many online forums will recommend raising your water temperature to speed up the parasite life-cycle. Unfortunately, in doing so, you may stress out your fish so be sure they are species that can tolerate warmer water temperatures before raising the temperature.

To prevent the parasites and diseases from entering your aquarium, all new additions, including fish, invertebrates and plants, should be quarantined in a separate tank using separate equipment for four to six weeks. Quarantine will be slightly shorter at higher temperatures. Do not manipulate your fish’s ideal temperature range in order to shorten your quarantine period. This can stress your fish and make them susceptible to many diseases and parasites.

All new plants previously kept with fish should be quarantined. By keeping plants isolated from all fish and inverts for at least two weeks, the parasite life cycle will break as there are no fish to feed on, and the parasite will die off. Parasites require a fish host to complete its life cycle. Use these two weeks to beef up your plants with some extra fertilizer since transport and handling can easily damage aquatic plants.

In order to improve your fish’s overall health and wellbeing, be sure to maintain good water quality at all times and feed an appropriate diet. Keep up with a regular maintenance schedule. Check in on all your fish on a regular basis and understand their normal appetites and behaviors so you can quickly judge when something is wrong. If you suspect something is wrong with your fish, contact your aquatic veterinarian as soon as possible.

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