Neon Tetra Disease
A tiny parasite with a big name causes neon tetra disease, a disease that is
named after the species in which it was first recognized. Plistophora
hyphessobryconis is a spore that penetrates the gut of the fish, migrates to the
muscles and ultimately causes the fish’s death. Although neon tetra disease is
named for the neon tetra, it infects other tetras as well as other types of
The first symptom of neon tetra disease is whitish patches that appear to be
below the skin surface. These patches are very obvious in neons because they
hide and eventually destroy the colorful red and bright blue-green stripes of
the fish. The spores create cysts in the muscle tissue of the fish, which swell
and finally burst and release other spores, which further infect the fish.
Eventually some spores are released into the water either through the skin or
through waste matter. Other community members ingest the new spores during
feeding and new infections begin creating a cycle of infection and death that
can decimate an entire aquarium if left unchecked.
There is no cure for neon tetra disease. Some cures are claimed but none are
effective. The best-known treatment is to locate and destroy infected fish.
However, a word of caution before you empty out your tetra tank: there is also a
bacterial infection that your tetras might contract that is called “false neon
disease”. Some hobbyists experience success in treating false neon disease. If
you suspect your fish have one disease or the other, you may want to quarantine
affected fish and treat them for false neon disease.
There are also preventative measures you can take to safeguard your aquarium
against the introduction of neon tetra disease as well as many other disease and
parasite infestations. Whenever you buy new fish, it’s best to quarantine them
for a couple of weeks in a separate tank. Making sure that fish you add to your
community tank are healthy and parasite free is the best way to keep a lively
and attractive aquarium.
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