Discus fish are great, but you likely know that these fish are prone to certain health issues. They can get sick easily when they become stressed.
Many discus fish diseases are simple enough to treat. You just need to catch things fast, diagnose what’s wrong, and treat the fish accordingly.
However, some diseases are more problematic than others. The discus fish disease that owners fear the most is the discus plague.
Discus plague has the potential to wipe out your discus fish and it’s something you need to know about. Read on to learn about this disease so that you can do your best to protect your fish from it.
What Is Discus Plague?
Discus plague is a type of viral disease that is highly contagious. Some enthusiasts have taken to calling this condition discus flu as well.
The disease itself hasn’t been researched by scientists at the time of writing. So the only information about discus plague comes from discus owners.
All of the information about this disease has been compiled from anecdotal evidence. The disease doesn’t have a scientific name nor is there a known treatment at this time.
There’s enough information out there that many enthusiasts feel they have a good idea of what this virus is, though. Most say that discus plague is a type of herpes virus that impacts discus fish.
The disease is also capable of infecting other fish such as angelfish, Oscars, severums, and more. Discus plague was first noticed in the 1980s.
What Is the Cause?
The cause of discus plague appears to be some type of herpes virus. However, this isn’t official information because research has not been done on the topic.
People think that the disease is caused by a herpes virus based on how the disease works. For example, discus fish only seem to get one type of the virus once.
Discus plague seems to act like a virus. As discus fish recover from discus plague they can have antibodies that will fight off the type of virus that they had.
There may be various forms of discus plague. At this point, not enough is known about the condition to give clear answers.
Eventually, a proper scientific study of discus plague might come to light. Until such a time, you can only rely on anecdotal evidence from other discus fish owners.
What Are the Known Symptoms?
There are many symptoms that are associated with discus plague. One of the most common symptoms that people notice involves discus fish having trouble breathing.
You might see your fish start breathing rapidly when it’s in the early stages of discus plague. It’s also common for discus fish to exhibit unusual behavior when they’re sick.
These fish might start swimming up and down the glass of the tank. Sometimes they will do this in the corner of the aquarium.
Occasionally, discus fish will show signs of peppering when they have discus plague. This means that black spots will show up on their bodies.
A lack of appetite is another common symptom to look out for. The discus fish might hide more often than usual when they’re sick as well.
It’s normal for sick discus fish to produce excessive amounts of mucus. Your fish might have a thick mucus coat while it’s sick.
Flashing is common as well. You’ll see the fish rubbing against objects in the tank.
Are There Any Treatments?
Sadly, there isn’t a known cure or treatment for discus plague right now. Since this disease has yet to be researched you can only hope for the best.
Discus fish can survive discus plague if you take action. You just can’t cure the virus or get rid of it entirely.
Discus plague can kill discus fish if you do nothing. The virus itself isn’t usually what kills the fish, though.
Instead, the fish die due to secondary infections and other complications. To help your fish survive, it’s recommended to do what you can to boost the fish’s immune system.
This means keeping the water quality in the tank pristine. Feed your fish high-quality foods and make sure that the temperature of the water is high enough.
Many enthusiasts recommend raising the water temperature to 92 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s thought that this will boost the immune system substantially while also helping with metabolic functions.
If you see signs of bacterial infections, you can treat the fish with medications. Be sure to change the water multiple times per week to keep the fish safe, too.
Preventing Discus Plague
Preventing discus plague is mostly about being careful. You want to be wary when bringing new fish into the tank.
Quarantine new fish for a few weeks before bringing them into the main tank. It’s also wise to quarantine new aquatic plants simply to be on the safe side.
Focus on keeping the water quality high and feeding your fish well. Avoid situations that will stress the fish such as keeping them in overcrowded fish tanks.
You simply want to do what you can to keep the fish’s immune system boosted. If you handle the basics well and quarantine newcomers you’ll be doing all that you can.
Is Discus Plague Common?
Yes, discus plague is considered to be a common disease. This virus seems to impact many discus fish.
As mentioned above, you can take steps to protect your discus fish from the virus. It’s not something that you can outright prevent, though.
Discus plague is highly contagious and can be taken from one tank to another. Often, fish will get discus plague when they’re introduced to new tank mates.
You might buy new discus fish from the store and put them in the main tank. Unbeknownst to you, these fish might have discus plague.
This is why quarantining newcomers is such a good idea. You want to avoid transferring discus plague from one tank to another if you can.
Of course, there’s only so much you can do. If one fish in your tank gets discus plague, it’s very likely that the other fish will as well.
Will a Quarantine Tank Help?
Most people don’t bother to use quarantine tanks when treating discus fish for discus plague. You can use a quarantine tank if you think that some of your fish aren’t infected yet.
The idea behind using a quarantine tank is to avoid getting the other fish in the tank sick. Discus plague seems to be so contagious that you might not be able to prevent the spread even if you move the fish.
The other fish in your tank might have discus plague even if they aren’t showing symptoms just yet. Regardless, quarantine tanks might be helpful.
Just focus on treating the fish by keeping it healthy and boosting its immune system. If all goes well, your discus fish will survive this disease.
Knowing more about discus plague will allow you to take action fast. You know what to look for and you understand the danger that is presented by this virus.
The lack of real scientific research into this topic makes it tough. You only have anecdotal information from other discus fish owners to use as a resource.
Discus plague appears to be a type of herpes virus. It can make your fish sick and it might even die.
Often, the fish will die from secondary infections or getting other diseases due to having a compromised immune system. You have to do what you can to boost your fish’s immune system to help it survive.
Take action and do what you must to protect your fish. Try to prevent discus plague by quarantining incoming fish and keeping your tank in excellent condition.
This is a disease that can be very stressful to deal with due to the lack of concrete information out there. Even so, your fish can survive a brush with discus plague.
It’s not something you want to have happen in your fish tank, but you can deal with it. Do your best with the information that has been provided and take care of your fish.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.