If you see that your gouramis are starting to look unhealthy, then it’s going to be normal to worry. You don’t want your fish to be sick, but the first step of helping them will be figuring out what is wrong.
Sometimes gouramis will get a disease that is known as “hole in the head” disease. It’s a very serious condition that can decimate the gouramis in your tank.
It’s going to be quite important to be proactive about treating the fish. You want your gouramis to get better, and it is possible to treat them if you act swiftly.
Below, you’ll learn all that you need to know about hole in the head disease. This will ensure that you’re able to take the right actions for the sake of your fish.
What Is Hole in the Head Disease?
Hole in the head disease is also referred to as hexamita. This is actually a pretty common disease that impacts mostly freshwater fish such as gouramis.
It’s called hole in the head disease because of the symptoms. You see, fish with this disease will develop lesions on their heads.
These erosive lesions can look really gruesome. It’s certainly something that will be a big danger to your gouramis.
If you catch this disease early enough, then you’re going to be able to treat it. However, you should know that some fish will die from this condition.
It isn’t actually the lesions that kill the fish, though. Instead, the lesions wind up causing the fish to get secondary infections.
The secondary infections are what usually wind up killing the fish. To give your fish the best chance of survival, it’s best to start treating it right away.
Learning as much as you can about this condition will make it easier to know what to do. It’s a troubling situation to be in as a gourami fish owner, but you can help your fish to survive.
What Causes This Disease?
Researchers have not yet been able to determine the exact cause of hole in the head disease. There are some ideas, but there isn’t a 100% accurate answer to this question.
The parasite known as hexamita is thought to be one of the primary causes. This is a parasite that typically infects the intestinal tracts of fish.
The infection can then spread to other areas of the body such as the kidneys, spleen, abdominal cavity, and elsewhere. When this situation progresses, the lesions that are associated with hole in the head disease will start to appear.
Some also suggest that vitamin and mineral imbalance will cause hole in the head disease. It’s possible that improper nutrition might be to blame for the condition.
Likewise, poor water conditions can exacerbate the situation. When fish aren’t being fed well and they are living in dirty water, they’re going to become stressed.
Stress causes fish to develop compromised immune systems. It makes sense that they would be more likely to get infected by parasites such as hexamita in this state.
It’s also possible that the use of activated carbon could be linked to this disease. However, it should be stated that this possibility is still being researched.
The symptoms that you want to look out for will be pretty easy to spot. Mostly, you’re going to be looking for the lesions on the head.
These lesions should appear at various locations on the head and also the lateral line. You’ll see that the holes will start to become larger as time passes.
Secondary infections can and will start to set in. During this time, you’ll likely notice that the fish will have a loss of appetite.
If you don’t take action, then the fish will likely die. This is why you must know how to treat the fish properly.
Treating the Condition
You’ll need to do several things at once to successfully treat this condition. First, you should know that you’ll need to treat the fish using antibiotic medication.
This will help the fish to get rid of the hexamita parasite that is causing problems. You’re also going to need to closely monitor the water conditions to ensure that they’re excellent.
Try to improve the nutrition of the fish by feeding it high-quality foods. It might be beneficial to add some fresh and frozen foods to the diet of the gouramis.
Instead of just giving them fish flakes, you’ll be feeding them frozen brine shrimp and other such nutritious foods. Just ensure that the fish are eating well.
For the best results, keep infected fish in a quarantine tank. This makes it easier to treat the fish.
Over time, you should see that the fish will start to improve. It’s not going to happen overnight, but you can get the fish back to being healthy again.
If you waited too long to start treating the fish, then it might succumb to the illness. The secondary infections could get really bad and it’ll be hard to clear things up even with antibiotics.
Do your best to catch things as early as you can. It’d be better to start treating the fish soon because it’ll lessen the likelihood that the fish will develop severe secondary bacterial infections.
Prevent This From Happening Again
Prevent this from happening again by taking really good care of your gouramis. One of the best things that you can do is to just be good about keeping the fish tank clean.
Do regular water changes while keeping an eye on the pH balance of the water. Adjust things as necessary so that the fish will have a healthy environment to live in.
Try to ensure that the fish get enough minerals and vitamins. Feed them a balanced diet instead of just giving them fish flakes all the time.
Fish flakes are good for gouramis to eat, but it’s better to mix things up and give them other types of food sometimes. If you’re able to do all of this, then it should be unlikely that your fish will get hole in the head disease.
You don’t want your gouramis to get hole in the head disease. It’s something that could kill them if you don’t treat them early enough.
Thankfully, you can prevent the fish from getting most diseases by taking good care of them. Take care of the water parameters and do your best to give the fish nutritious foods.
If your fish does show signs of this disease, then be ready to take action fast. Quarantine the sick fish and treat it with antibiotic medication.
It should be able to bounce back if all goes as it should. This is a scary type of disease for your gouramis to get, but it doesn’t have to be the end of them.
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.