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The Top Way To Fight Whirling Disease In Aquarium Fish

Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by admins

Do you want to know about whirling disease in aquarium fish?  This article will provide you with key information about the disease and how to avoid this problem in your fish tank. 

If you have ever seen a fish with whirling disease, you will know it is not a pretty sight to see.  The fish end up swimming in fast, endless circles, chasing their tail.  This is where it gets its name, “whirling” disease.

Unfortunately, in many cases whirling disease will cause fatality.  So the best way to ensure this from happening is to avoid the issue altogether.

This disease is caused by a parasite named Myxobolus cerebralis.  This parasite can be found in fish and in certain kinds of worms.  If you avoid introducing these worms to your fish, you will greatly reduce the risk of whirling disease in aquarium fish. 

Once you notice a fish displaying symptoms of whirling disease, you should remove the fish immediately.  This can help limit the spread of the disease to other fish in your tank.  

This article will explore more detailed information about whirling disease, why it happens, and possible ways to mitigate it when it occurs.

Keep reading now to understand whirling disease in aquarium fish.  You should leave this article feeling confident on this topic.  

What Are The Symptoms Of Whirling Disease?

As mentioned before, if you notice a fish displaying symptoms of whirling disease you should take action immediately.  This is why it is important to understand the symptoms.

There are a few symptoms to look out for at an early stage.  Some are more obvious than others. 

One of the clearest signs that you have whirling disease in aquarium fish, is that the fish is chasing its tail.  This will look like the fish is spinning in quick circles over and over.  It is very easy to recognize because this is not normal fish behavior.

So, what is happening inside the fish at this point?  Well, once it becomes infected with the parasite, it begins to spread inside the fish’s body.  

The parasite specifically attacks the fish’s head and spinal cartilage.  Once it reaches the head, it can start to grow very quickly.  This puts a lot of pressure on the internal organs of the fish.

When the fish is whirling in your tank, it will be unable to eat or swim effectively.  In nature, if a fish has the whirling disease, it can quickly be consumed by an outside predator.  

Some other symptoms to watch out for is a discolored tail.  The tail will look darker than before.  

Also, the spine may start to look twisted.  This is a sign that the parasite is spreading rapidly in the spine area.

The last thing to look for is any signs of a deformed head.  If you notice this, you may need to start considering whirling disease as an option.

Keep in mind that fish normally do not show physical signs of the disease until 35 to 80 from when the parasite has entered the body. 

Read more about: How to Make Tap Water Safe for Fish?

What Does Whirling Disease Do To Fish?

The main fish that are affected by the whirling disease are freshwater fish in the Salmonoid family.  According to the University of Alberta Canada, “The parasite has a complex life cycle that requires a salmonid fish and an aquatic-worm, Tubifex tubifex, as hosts.

This includes species like rainbow trout, whitefish, and cutthroat trout.  Certain types of fish in the Salmonoid family are impacted harder than others.

In the worst-case scenario, whirling disease results in death. The University of Alberta Canada says that “Young fish are most vulnerable, with mortality rates reaching up to 90%.”

This means that the severity of the parasite infection depends on the size of the fish.  If the fish is larger, it may not kill it.  

So be sure to pay attention to your small fish.  

But how do these parasites enter? How does whirling disease in aquarium fish occur?  

Well, in nature these Tubifex worms are found in the bottom of muddy swamps.  If the worms contain the parasite and meet a salmonid fish, it is a recipe for disaster.

However, when whirling disease in aquarium fish is found, it is most likely because the breeder was using tubifex worms as a source of food for the fish.   

Unfortunately, tubifex worms are considered one of the cheapest food sources for fish. They are also particularly high in protein.  So, it is not uncommon for fish farmers to resort to using it as food.  

If you are buying fish for a cheap price, one of the reasons could be that it is fed with tubifex.  So pay careful attention to discounted fish prices. 

When you get your fish from a low-quality or unreliable source, it is not uncommon that your fish is already infected with the parasite when you get it. 

How Do You Treat Fish Whirling?

Sadly, for young fish, it is practically untreatable.  Your fish are going to die.  The best way to “treat” fish whirling is to avoid exposure to the parasite altogether.

To do this, you have to trust your supplier and ask if they have been fed by tubifex worms.  Since the parasite affects the cartilage of the fish, it is harder for them to establish in older fish.  

Once a fish reaches about 800 cm long, its cartilage has fully grown into its bones.  This means the parasite will not be able to spread.  

If you notice your small fish spinning in circles you most likely should remove it from your system and let it die peacefully.  

Whirling disease is non-transferrable to other animals, so no need to worry about that.  

How Do You Treat Fish Whirling

Learn more about: How to Remove Snail Eggs from Aquarium?

It is very sad if you discover whirling disease in aquarium fish.  Not only does it mean you waste money, but also a fish’s life is lost.  

That being said, it is always good to understand the different diseases so that you can potentially avoid them.

If anyone has experienced whirling disease in aquarium fish, share your experience here.  

For the rest, feel free to comment and ask questions below.


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