- Hole in the head disease
are susceptible in marine aquaria.
The symptoms are well described by the name. First, the fish will develop small, grey, pin-hole abrasions around the
eyes and head. As the disease progresses, it spreads down the lateral line. These lesionswill grow and if not treated, can lead to secondary infections and may eventually kill the fish. [cite web | title = Freshwater Hole in the Head Disease | publisher = Peteducation.com | work = Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc. | url = http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=16&cat=1791&articleid=2586 | accessdate = 2007-07-08 ]
There is much debate as to the cause of HLLE. Very little scientific research has been done on the topic, and most information available is anecdotal.
Removing carbon from the filter is a commonly suggested remedy for the disease. It is suggested that the carbon may either a.) add fine carbon particles to the water that irritate the skin, b.) leach
phosphates and other potentially harmful chemicals into the water, or c.) remove minerals that are important to the health of the fish. Though there have been many reports of affected fish recovering after carbon has been removed, no studies have substantiated these theories, and most aquariums use carbon while still having healthy fish.
Many people believe that hexamita, a flagellated protozoan, is to blame. HLLE and hexamita infections are often seen in the same specimens. [cite web | title = Head and Lateral Line Erosion | work = Nathan Henderson | url = http://www.masla.com/fish/hlle.html] However, HLLE can be found in many fish who do not have a hexamita infection, suggesting that a hexamita infection may cause stress or interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals causing malnutrition, which may be the actual cause of the disease. Hexamita may also be a secondary infection common in fish already weakened by HLLE.
Individual studies have shown that improvement in
nutritionwill help symptoms most effectively. Key vitamins in preventing or curing HLLE seem to be Vitamins A, C, and D. Adding these vitamins to the diet of affected fish usually leads to improvement, however, deficiencies in any of these vitamins do not always lead to HLLE, so nutrition is also questionable as a cause.
It has also been suggested that HLLE is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by stress. [cite web | title = Hypothesis of Head and Lateral Line Erosion in Fish | publisher = MarineAquariumAdvice.com | work = Terry D. Bartelme | url = http://www.marineaquariumadvice.com/hypothesis_head_lateral_line_erosion.html] The disease does not appear to occur to fish in the wild, only those in captivity, supporting the idea that stress and unnatural living conditions are to blame. Anything that reduces stress appears to help in the prevention and recovery from this disease.
Some preventative measures are outlined below.
filtrationand more frequent partial water changes
* Enriching frozen or dried food with liquid
vitaminsupplements, especially A and C
* Including foods that are enhanced with vitamins, such as
* Including greens (fresh or frozen) in the fish's diet
* Decreasing the amount of beef heart as it lacks many critical nutrients and contains saturated fat which is unnatural in fish's diets.
* Removal of
activated carbonfiltration (It is suggested that mangroves added to the refugiumor more frequent partial water changes be used to replace carbon as a nitrate exporter.)
* As feeder fish contain little nutritional value, it is recommended to offer them only occasionally.
* Many fish stores sell medication that can be used to coat food. This medication works from the inside-out, and is very effective.
* Feeding chopped
garlicis also effective.
* Sunlight has been shown to help, though whether that is because the light directly affects the fish or because it encourages the growth of beneficial microalgae and bacteria is unknown.
* Products that replace the slime coat can prevent secondary infections and aid in healing.
* Maintaining an optimum and consistent pH level for the type of fish you have reduces stress.
Beta glucanhas also been suggested as a possible cure or preventative. [cite web | title = Hypothesis of Head and Lateral Line Erosion in Fish | publisher = MarineAquariumAdvice.com | work = Terry D. Bartelme | url = http://www.marineaquariumadvice.com/hypothesis_head_lateral_line_erosion.html]
The specimen should regain energy within the first several days of the treatment and the damaged tissue will gradually repair. It is important to follow the above steps as a preventative measure. This is not just a treatment plan, but a life style that encourages good health for Oscars and other susceptible aquarium fish.
You can see examples of HITH or Hole In The Head at [http://www.cichlidmadness.com/node/1 Cichlid Madness (HITH and what it looks like)]
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