Fish Health - Gill Disease

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I could fill this site with what's called gill disease.

Gill disease is down to the fishes condition. we are back to water quality again. As with any infection first think water water water and test test test.

Do a pH test twice. If you're happy with this, then do a gill scrape. This why I'm on call 24 hour in summer months, and now with the changes in the climate, through the winter as well.

Combined with the Israel fluke, the cool water fluke in this country now ensures gill problems are not restricted to the warmer months.

Gill scrapes have to be done because a fish at the surface can have problems ranging from a wasp sting to branchiomyes, dactylogyrus and other parastic diseases.

First you must identify the cause before any action is taken. You need to do what's called a gill snip. This is done by first lifting the gill cover (known as the operculum) using fine (sharp) scissors. The best type is iris tenotomy scissors. Snip a small amount of the gill lamellae (not too small a piece) from the top of the operculum - either end it doesn't matter - place the snip on a slide with 2/3 drops of saline (6gm pure salt-100mil pure water).

Using your microscope, look for big targets (low magnification 10 times objective). Look for gill fluke and white spot.

Gill damage can also be caused by contaminated food (old or damp) entering the blood stream, which in turn reaches the gills.

Chemical pollutants/ garden chemicals damage the make up of the gill epithellium. This causes the epithelial sheets to lift from the blood vessels, also causing accumulation of fluids.

Lamellar fusion occurs when several or more secondary lamellae fuse together.

Hypertrophy when cells individual ones get to large hyperplasia - uncontrolled cell growth - the epithelium becomes mass of cells, not a thin sheet, so the exchange is much reduced.

Blood supply to the gills can get damaged when fish is exposed to poor water conditions. Blood vessels can burst leading to lamellae aneurysm - the secondary lamellae swell up with escaping blood. Blood vessels get congested with blood cellular products, reducing blood supply from the gills, thus cutting oxygen supply to the tissues of the fish

Note: when you turn away to look up what you have found remember to turn miroscope light off to keep specimen alive. Only have light on when your looking down the scope.

If none of the above is found now comes the hard work. Come a way from the scope and do a check list:

Have you done all your water tests?
Is there any thing you may have missed?
When did the last new fish go in the pond?
Has one of your neighbours been spraying?
Are you under a flight path where aircraft dump fuel?
Have you introduced new fittings or changed the pump recently?
Have any friends been round helped you with netting a fish using their nets?
Have you used a watering can that is not your normal one?

If none of the above give you a clue, then contact me without delay. Don't email, phone my mobile 07889 540 083 because time now is our biggest problem - I don't carry a magic wand - once the fish stress levels rise then secondary problems start to show themselves. What was a minor problem can become a fish killer.