14 Common Angelfish Diseases and Illnesses With Their Treatments

Many aquariums are graced with angelfish, thanks to their striking appearance and elegant swimming. Nevertheless, angelfish are susceptible to the specific diseases that affect most fish genera. As an angelfish owner, this guide about common angelfish diseases and illnesses will undoubtedly provide insights into your fish’s health and well-being. 

The common angelfish diseases and illnesses include Hexamita, gill flukes, mouth fungus, dropsy, and ich. These diseases are caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses, fungi, and nutritional deficiencies. On top of that, environmental factors like poor water quality and stress could also make your fish ill. 

In this article, you’ll learn about the 14 common angelfish diseases and illnesses that can cause death if not addressed urgently. I’ll also discuss how to treat these common angelfish diseases. Keep reading! 

14 Common Angelfish Diseases and Illnesses With Treatments

1. Angelfish Hexamita

Angelfish Hexamita disease

Usually, Hexamita is associated with the hole in the head disease because the parasite Hexamita spp. is one of the causes. The microscopic parasite lives in the intestinal tract of the fish.

The predisposing factors to angelfish Hexamita include:

  •          Poor water quality
  •         A poor diet
  •         Overcrowding in the tank

A healthy fish can still carry the Hexamita parasite, albeit in small numbers. At this stage, the parasite doesn’t harm your fish until its immune system is weakened. The parasite takes advantage of the weak immunity and multiplies rapidly in the intestines, causing infection.

As the disease advances, the parasite population migrates to the head. That’s when you see lesions and tissue damage on the head epidermis.

Symptoms of Angelfish Hexamita

  • The early stage of the disease begins with tiny pits or pimples on the head. The holes later opens up, if not treated, causing lesions.
  • The fish loses its appetite over time.
  • The fish becomes less active and entirely passive to the point of receding on the tank floor.
  • Presence of white and slimy feces
  • Fish skin changes to a darker hue
  • The abdomen may swell

Treatment for Angelfish Hexamita

Medical treatment of Hexamita involves using of metronidazole (Flagyl). Follow your veterinarian’s prescription and instructions when giving the medication.

Usually, the medication can be administered through medicated food if the fish is eating normally. Alternatively, you can provide it through a bath treatment.

Also Read: Black Molly Pregnancy Stages and How to Prepare for Delivery

2. Angelfish Gill Flukes

Common angelfish diseases and illnesses

Like Hexamita, gill flukes are parasitic and makes the fish’s gills develop a reddish tint. 

Usually, the parasites attach to the fish’s gills and suck blood from them. In the process, the fish finds breathing difficult when the parasite population increases significantly.

Gill flukes are flatworms, commonly the monogenean flukes. Their scientific name is Monopisthocotylea.

When they attack the fish, they target the gill cavities, mouth parts, and skin. The parasites begin their lifecycle from the intestines, where they lay eggs. When eggs hatch, the larvae migrates to the gills for attachment.

Symptoms of Angelfish Flukes

  • The fish develops spots or redness near or in the gills and around the surrounding skin.
  • There is plenty of mucus production as the parasites multiply in numbers. Usually, the mucus is white or yellow.
  • The fish becomes lethargic, and when they swim, they do so with their heads facing down.
  • There’s loss of appetite even though food is available.
  • The fish struggles to breathe due to mucus accumulation in the respiratory surface (gill cavities).
  • There are signs of seizures as the parasites increase and advance.

Treatment for Angelfish Gill Flukes

The best form of treatment is preventing these parasites from multiplying. 

You should ensure proper tank sanitation by frequent cleaning, regularly changing the water in the aquarium, and quarantining new arrivals.

The vet should recommend medications for the current condition. Fenbendazole, praziquantel, and potassium permanganate are some of the best you can use for treatment. 

3. Angelfish Mouth Fungus

Angelfish mouth fungus is caused by a gram-negative bacterium, Flavobacterium columnare. This is a common bacterium in most aquariums under normal conditions. However, it doesn’t affect the fish until there’s damage to the fish’s body.

So, if your fish happens to have a wound and its immunity declines, the bacteria migrate into the wounded tissues. They will start multiplying and colonizing the tissues, causing rotting around the mouth area, gills, and face.

Symptoms of Angelfish Mouth Fungus

  • Cotton-like growths with a fluffy texture near the mouth, in the face, and gills.
  • Labored breathing when the disease advances
  • There’s more mucus produced in the gills and the head
  • Fins are roughed up
  • Sores and lesions appear on the skin

Treatment for Angelfish Mouth Fungus

Usually, vets administer antibiotics like kanamycin and phenoxyethanol

However, you can prevent angelfish mouth fungus by observing a high level of tank sanitation. You may also use aquarium salt to help with the prevention.

4. Angelfish Dropsy

Angelfish dropsy disease

When your fish’s immunity is compromised, a bacterium enters the system and causes dropsy. Dropsy is a disease that makes the fish’s belly appear swollen

When the fish gets infected, an excess buildup of fluids occurs in the body, causing swelling.

Predisposing factors to this disease are primarily prolonged stress due to aggressive tankmates.

Symptoms of Angelfish Dropsy

  •          Bloated bellies
  •          Protruding eyes
  •          Labored breathing
  •          Reduced appetite
  •          The fish looks lethargic
  •         The fish’s scales are sticking out

Treatment for Angelfish Dropsy

Make sure you take the fish to the vet for early diagnosis. When it’s in the advanced stage, you can hardly do anything to prevent your fish from dying.

When dropsy is diagnosed earlier by a veterinarian, they usually prescribe anti-bacterial medications for treatment. You can add these medications to the fish’s food for easy administration.

Alternatively, bath treatment with Epsom salts (1/8 teaspoons added to 5 gallons of water in a separate tank where the fish is transferred) can help flush out the bacteria. 

5. Angelfish Ich (White Spot Disease)

Angelfish ich disease

Angelfish ich occurs as white spots distributed throughout the fish’s body. It’s caused by parasites and sudden environmental changes such as temperature and stress.

Unfortunately, ich is a highly contagious disease that causes direct tissue damage to the fish’s skin. 

Symptoms of Angelfish Ich

  • Whitish spots on the body
  • Itchy body as fish rubs against objects in the tank
  • Folded fins
  • The fish struggles to breathe if the spots affect the gills

Treatment for Angelfish Ich

Treat your fish in a separate tank using anti-parasitic medication prescribed by the vet. 

For example, copper sulfate can flush out the parasite effectively. Alternatively, increase the water temperature to get rid of the parasite. You should raise the water temperature in the aquarium to 90℉ (32.22℃) to kill the parasites.

Aquarium salt can also help alleviate the parasite when added to the aquarium water. 

6. Angelfish Velvet Disease

Angelfish velvet disease

Also referred to as the Gold Dust Disease, velvet disease is caused by a parasite called Piscinoodinum. The parasite is transmitted through new fish, plants, or contaminated equipment.

When it strikes, your fish’s body appears to secrete excess slime. The body is also covered in gold, brown, and green cysts.

Symptoms of Angelfish Velvet Disease

  • The body is covered in gold cysts
  • There is excess slime production on the fish’s body
  • The fish is characteristically lethargic
  • The fish loses its appetite
  • Rapid breathing

Treatment for Angelfish Velvet Disease

Early treatment of the symptoms is required for effective disease management. 

You can treat your fish by quarantining it in a separate tank. The temperature in the quarantining tank should be between 85 to 90℉ (29.44 to 32.22℃).

You may also add aquarium salt to the water. Another option is adding formalin, acriflavine, or copper sulfate to the tank. However, you must only do these after receiving a go-ahead from your vet.

7. Angelfish Anchor Worms

Anchor worms are small crustaceans that invade the fish’s scales and flesh. They are macro parasites—hence you can easily see them with the naked eye.

Anchor worms, which are not real worms as you have seen, are caused by new fish introduced into the aquarium.

Symptoms of Angelfish Anchor Worms

  • Visible worms on the scales
  • The fish experiences oral cavity problems
  • There are skin patches and red lesions on the fish’s body
  • Rubbing against objects in the aquarium

Treatment for Angelfish Anchor Worms

Provide bath treatment using potassium permanganate. This kills juvenile anchor worms on the new fish. 

You should also quarantine all new fish before introducing them in the aquarium.

Usually, veterinarians prescribe the Dimilin medication to kill both the larvae and adult anchor worms in the aquarium.

8. Angelfish Fin Rot

Angelfish fin rot

Caused by a bacterial infection, angelfish fin rot damages the fin of the fish it infects. Usually, the fin tissues start to rot from the edges toward the base.

If not managed at the early stage of infection, the rot spreads to the rest of the body, destroying tissue. 

Predisposing factors to angelfish fin rot include fin damage, poor water quality, weak immune system, stress, and previous infections

Symptoms of Angelfish Fin Rot

  • Fraying fins
  • Fin inflammation
  • Whitish spots on the fins
  • Difficulty in swimming at an advanced stage.

Treatment for Angelfish Fin Rot

You can use vet-approved antibiotics or antifungals but remember to change the water daily to avoid the negative effects of the antibiotics. 

Moreover, improve the husbandry practices you provide to the fish, for example, enhanced water quality and regular tank cleaning.

9. Angelfish Virus Infection

A highly contagious disease, angelfish virus infections can take down your fish in only a few days if not treated promptly. 

The infection weakens the fish’s immune system very fast because it’s virulent.

Symptoms of Angelfish Virus Infection

  • The fins of the fish are folded against its body
  • Fish loses appetite
  • Fish produces excess slime on its body
  • Loss of energy and the weak appearance of the fish
  • Fish resort to settling at the bottom of the tank
  • The nose of the fish is slightly pointed up

Treatment for Angelfish Virus Infection

Ensure you quarantine the infected fish in a quarantine or hospital tank. No light should be provided in the tank to allow the fish to relax and prevent the negative effect of light on medications. Usually, medications decompose under prolonged lighting. 

You should also treat the aquarium tank with Seachem Para Guard

Moreover, ensure to change the tank water by no more than 10 percent to maintain high-quality levels.

You can also add Mardel Maracyn to the water to prevent secondary infections.

10. Angelfish Popeye Disease

Angelfish popeye disease

Popeye disease makes the fish’s eyes swollen and bulging from their sockets. In addition, the eyes appear cloudy in some fish.  

The most common causes of Popeye disease are injury, infections, and poor water conditions.

Symptoms of Angelfish Popeye Disease

  • Eyes appear swollen and protruding from sockets
  • You may see blood or discoloration in the eye
  • Eyeball may rapture
  • Swollen body
  • Clamped fins
  • The fish becomes inactive
  • Fish hides most of the times

Treatment for Angelfish Popeye Disease

Vets prescribe medications based on what caused the disease. 

For example, if the fish has an eye injury, vets recommend palliative care using aquarium salt to relieve the swelling.

Additionally, check on the water chemistry and maintain high water quality. If infections are the cause, quarantine your fish in a separate tank for treatment.

11. Angelfish Swollen Bellies

Angelfish swollen bellies or big stomachs can result from excess fluids in the body, as noted in dropsy disease, spawning (swollen appearance due to egg formation), poor digestion, or internal parasites.

However, don’t assume your fish is preparing to spawn when you see a big stomach. It could also mean other issues, including diseases.

So, be keen on the signs accompanying the swollen belly. If lethargy, loss of appetite, and other disease symptoms come up, call your veterinarian for help immediately.

12. Swim Bladder Disease

When the swim bladder isn’t functioning correctly, the fish will have a swim bladder condition.

The swim bladder is an air-filled organ that supports the fish’s movement. A fish with swim bladder disease will struggle to maintain buoyancy in water.

Swim bladder disease is not caused by a singular factor but rather a collection of issues ranging from infections, physical abnormalities, and environmental factors.

Symptoms of Swim Bladder Disease in Angelfish

  • The fish sinks to the bottom of the tank
  • The fish swims upside down
  • Distended belly
  • The fish struggles to stay upright

Treatment for Swim Ballder Disease

You can treat your fish with swim bladder disease by doing proper water maintenance (maintaining high water quality), proper feeding, and maintaining a suitable water temperature.

You should also consult the vet for antibiotic administration if the issue is caused by infections.

13. Angelfish Cotton Wool Disease

The cotton wool disease, also known as cotton mouth disease, is caused by the bacterium Flavobacterium columnare. Confused for a fungus, it appears raised and with a pale color.

Usually, the bacterium thrives as a secondary infection. Some of its strains are deadly and can spread to other fish quickly.

Symptoms of Angelfish Cotton Wool Disease

  • Pale gills
  • The fish is lethargic
  • The fish struggles to swim
  • Loss of appetite
  • There are raised patches on the skin of the fish

Treatment for Angelfish Cotton Wool Disease

Use specific antibiotics prescribed by the veterinarian. You can add to the water, or the vet can inject the antibiotics into your fish.

Never inject your fish on your own – leave that for the vet.

14. Hole in the Head Disease

Angelfish hole in the head disease

Hole-in-the-head disease is common among angelfish and is often confused with Hexamita. The condition is not caused by one factor but a combination of many factors, including the parasite Hexamita spp. itself, stress, poor bio-filtration, poor nutrition, and low water quality.

Symptoms of Hole in the Head Disease

  • Pits appear on the head and lateral line
  • Excess slime production on the skin
  • Loss of appetite

Treatment of Hole in the Head Disease

Ensure you tell your veterinarian right when you notice symptoms. Anti-parasitic medications are provided to manage the parasite Hexamita if it’s the primary cause.

However, carry out proper husbandry practices in general to manage other potential influences like environmental issues. 

Furthermore, you should feed the fish high-nutrition feeds such as cichlid flakes, pellets, shrimp, and bloodworms. Also, ensure to control aggressive fish by finding them another home.

Final Thoughts

Understanding common angelfish diseases and illnesses is crucial for any devoted aquarium enthusiast. 

By being aware of the symptoms and causes of these ailments, you’ll be able to administer the appropriate treatments promptly. This is an excellent way to safeguard your angelfish’s health and well-being.

Since prevention is the key, remember to maintain a clean and balanced aquarium environment, provide a nutritious diet, and practice regular observations. This way, you’ll witness the fish’s vibrant colors shimmering through crystal-clear waters, a testament to your commitment as a responsible caretaker.

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