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A systematic scientific approach to aquatic life keeping results in reduced costs and increased efficiency and enjoyment. One aspect of the pond livestock hobby and business that sorely needs improvement and continuous updating is disease diagnosis and treatment; both on arrival and ongoing for perceived maladies.
If you do a survey of the scientific and popular literature on the this topic you'll agree; what is shown are incomplete and conflicting reports of how to deal with any given disease condition. Relying on experimentation and hearsay in these times of little or no adequate quarantine is courting expensive disaster.
This Section reveals the combination of factors and types of "disease" and encourages you to develop and utilize a system to accumulate and make useful data on how to acclimate new livestock and diagnose and treat on-going diseases.
Disease/Health Definition and Model
First of all a definition and a very useful model of disease. Disease is "any condition deviating from a normal or healthy state". As such there are several ways to classify disease conditions. The Following list are the most prevalent types:
1) Environmental Disease:
Are developmental disorders resulting from chemical and physical anomalies.
2) Social Disease:
Is the manifestation of disorders as the result of interaction or lack of interaction of an organ ism with others of its own or other species.
3) Nutritional Disease:
Results from chemical imbalance due to improper feeding and/or diet.
4) Infectious Disease:
Are those unhealthful conditions at attributable to bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
5) Parasitic Disease:
Are those unhealthful conditions attributable to "organisms living in or on another species in which the host is harmed" including Protozoans, "worms", crustaceans and others.
6) Genetic Disease:
Concerns inherited disorders.
Much has been written regarding the interactions between water quality, stress and propensity for disease. It is critical to understand the relationship between your livestock: 1) Initial State, 2) Suitability of the Environment you're placing it in and, 3) Pathogenicity, or degree of infectiousness of disease-causing organisms.
The three interlocking circles symbolize the interrelationship of these factor groups. All conditions of health/disease are environmentally mediated. Indeed, an organisms "life-state" is the manifestation of agreement between itself and its indistinguishable environment.
Generally, by optimizing two of these three sets of factors, you will be able to keep livestock alive. In particular, it is important to pick out organisms that have an initial state of health and potential (genetic heritage) for continuing in your set of conditions.
The Disease-Management System: Rationale:
The advantages to a systematic approach to managing livestock are obvious. In view of the many hours and money that can be lost, the varied tasks and skills involved, the separation of duties, a working written step-by step approach to livestock management is vital. Relying on oral tradition or "hoping" others will know and will do "what needs to be done" is risky at best.
I want you to know right up front that this part of pond-keeping is very difficult. Many business people, hobbyists and friends are willing to help you; however beware, there is a lot of mis- and dis-information and outright voodoo in this field. Fish health is still an art and quasi-science in my opinion. Understand that most advice is un-substantiated, non-scientific opinion; as with your own health, get a second and third and...
How can you go about an approach of weeding out what works? By reading/recording, developing and implementing a systematic treatment system.
Whatever Organizational Structure you have for your pond/landscape (or if you're in the business of ornamental aquatics), someone will have to be responsible and accountable for Livestock Management; in particular, introduction, diagnosis and treatment.
A Systematic Approach:
I suggest that you develop a notebook, or binder with paper with sections for treating livestock on arrival and for on-going maladies. This involves a five-sectioned division in your notebook/binder for the following:
1) On Arrival:
How to deal with the livestock on arrival. What to do in the way of dips/baths, quarantine, problems to look out for.
2) On Going Treatment:
Section two involves on-going treatment of livestock. These are specific medications and application parameters; for example for white-spot disease:
Treatment instructions: Ich, full dose malachite or malachite/formaldehyde preparation. Retreat every three days.
Warning: Toxic to scaleless fishes, like American catfishes.
3) Symptoms, Treatments:
Involves diseases, observable symptoms and treatments. Example: Ich; white spot disease, Ichthyophthiriasis.
Cause: Ciliated protozoan, always present, waiting to super-
infest fish in weakened state. Usually brought on by a sudden drop in temperature. Some species especially prone, some relatively immune.
Appearance: Small white dots, @ 1/16 " diameter spread over fish. Like salt sprinkled over fish sides.
Warnings: Easily spread with nets, water. On-going, strong strains harder to treat.
Section four is a reference to medications, food preparations, other concoctions, like acclimation dips, for example:
Preparation: About one ounce of stock formaldehyde solution in one "pickle" bucket system water.
Purpose: Reduce spreading of infectious and parasitic diseases.
Alternative: Permanganate solution.
This is your reference file. Example, Nelson Herwig, Treatment of Fish Diseases; Available at public library; good practical information for specifying treatments.
References are listed by name and page number on the pages where you record the information in sections one through four.
Treatments are necessary on arrival and on-going to ensure adequate health of livestock. The development and use of a Treatment System as detailed here, serves to educate, standardize, and with proper application, systematically reduce losses. The actual treatments you employ should be recorded and analyzed in a reasonable, consistent, documented process; in a separate area (Treatment Book) in your pond log.
You may have the savvy and want to computerize this Treatment System and develop it in your own way. Whatever way you go, just do it! The last thing a person dealing with livestock needs is to have problems right off with sick, weak fish. Please use a reasonable, consistent practice that is documented to assist you in developing and repeating practices for proper treatment of your livestock per your conditions. Doing these things systematically pay!