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Common Tiger Barbs Diseases and Illnesses

Common Tiger Barbs Diseases and Illnesses

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Generally, tiger barbs are considered to be very hardy fish. They are fish that are easy to take care of and they should do well in your aquarium.

If you do a good job of feeding the fish and giving them the right environment, they will live for a number of years. However, the fish are still going to be susceptible to certain diseases and illnesses.

Keep reading to learn about different types of tiger barb diseases and illnesses. This will ensure that you know what to look out for as a fish owner.

Being a proactive fish owner is important. You want to try to catch issues with illnesses and diseases before things get too bad.

Early detection can help you to save the fish in many cases. Of course, some diseases are much worse than others.


Snakeskin Barb With Ich or White Spot Disease
Snakeskin Barb With Ich or White Spot Disease

Ich is a very common problem that tiger barbs have to deal with. This condition is characterized by white spots that appear all over the body of the fish.

This is actually a type of parasitic infection caused by the protozoan parasite. It’s an illness that is going to make your fish very uncomfortable.

The most noticeable symptom is the white spots that appear on the body of the fish. You might also notice that the fish will start rubbing up against objects in the tank.

They do this in an effort to get rid of the white spots. It doesn’t work, but the tiger barbs will try to do this for relief anyway.

Fish that contract ich will have fins that are folded against their bodies. They’ll also start to experience breathing issues when the white spots appear on the gills.

Eventually, the tiger barbs might start swimming in strange ways. They’re also likely to stop eating.

Thankfully, ich is a condition that can be treated. You’ll need to put antifungal treatments in the tank.

It’s also recommended to raise the temperature of the water to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Aquarium salt can also help you to get things back to normal in the tank, but you must only use the recommended amount to avoid harming the fish.


Female Betta With Dropsy Disease
Female Betta With Dropsy Disease

Dropsy is a very problematic disease that can cause tiger barbs to die if you don’t treat it fast. Sadly, fish often succumb to this disease because it isn’t always easy to notice it in the early stages.

This condition is caused by a bacteria called Aeromonas. This bacteria is naturally in aquariums, but it can infect your fish if they have compromised immune systems.

Generally, dropsy will only impact fish that are in poor health or fish that have become stressed. If the water conditions are bad, the fish might be so stressed that they will become susceptible to dropsy.

There are many symptoms of this disease that you should be aware of. Fish that have dropsy will become very lethargic.

They will eventually develop bloated bellies as well. You might notice that the scales of the fish will start sticking out.

Sometimes you’ll see the tiger barbs breathing rapidly when they have dropsy. This condition is very serious and might kill the fish.

In early stages, dropsy can be treated using antibiotics and Epsom salt treatments. In later stages, it’s most likely that the tiger barbs will die when they have dropsy.

Swim Bladder Disease

Goldfish With Swim Bladder Issues Swimming Upside Down in Tank
Goldfish With Swim Bladder Issues Swimming Upside Down in Tank

Swim bladder disease is something that happens when the swim bladder isn’t working properly. A swim bladder is an organ that many fish possess that is responsible for controlling buoyancy.

It’s a gas-filled sac that inflates and deflates as necessary. When the sac is obstructed, it won’t be able to do what it needs to do.

Most often, this happens when tiger barbs become constipated. They might eat too much and wind up having swollen bellies.

The belly presses against the swim bladder and causes it to malfunction. This will make the fish unable to swim normally, and you might even see the tiger barb start swimming upside down.

To solve this issue, you want to alleviate the constipation. This can be done by feeding the fish a boiled pea and making it poop a lot.

Fin Rot

Patriot Betta With Fin Rot
Patriot Betta With Fin Rot

Fin rot is a type of bacterial infection. Tail rot is essentially the same thing as fin rot.

This is an incredibly common disease in freshwater aquariums. It’s caused by different types of bacteria becoming prevalent in the fish tank.

It happens when you don’t do a good job of keeping the aquarium clean. If you haven’t been cleaning the tank or doing water changes often enough, it’s more likely that your fish will contract fin rot.

Fish that get fin rot will have their fins start rotting away. The fins might look as if they have been completely shredded due to the severity of the bacterial infection.

Often, you’ll see other parts of the body start to develop a milky-white appearance. This occurs during later stages of the disease.

Fish will also develop problems with swimming when they have fin rot. It makes it hard for them to get around.

You’ll be able to treat fin rot or tail rot by using antibiotics. Specifically, you want to use antibiotics that target gram-negative bacteria.

It’s also important to do big water changes to try to get things in the tank back to good. Note that fins that have been impacted by fin rot will not grow back.

Velvet Disease

Emperor Angelfish With Gold Velvet Disease
Emperor Angelfish With Gold Velvet Disease

Velvet disease is also sometimes referred to as gold dust disease. This disease causes your tiger barbs to become enveloped in a yellow or light brown film.

It’s a very serious condition that can easily kill tiger barbs. It’s a parasitic disease that attacks the body.

This disease causes cysts to form. The cysts wind up breaking through the skin of the fish.

These cysts can be either yellow, gold, or green. Fish that have velvet disease will usually have their fins folded against their bodies.

You might see that the tiger barb has skin that is starting to peel off. The fish might start rubbing up against objects, too.

General lethargy is a common symptom of velvet disease and so is a loss of appetite. This is a serious problem and your fish will die if you don’t treat it fast.

To treat velvet disease, you want to start treating the fish as soon as you recognize the problem. This is a disease that spreads rather fast.

Quarantine sick fish and treat them using copper sulfate. Some choose to treat fish with methylene blue or formalin instead.

You’ll also want to raise the temperature and black-out the tank. There’s no guarantee that your fish will survive, but it should if you catch things early enough.

Hole-in-the-Head Disease

Purple Tang With Head and Lateral Line Erosion or Hole in Head Disease
Purple Tang With Head and Lateral Line Erosion or Hole in Head Disease

Hole-in-the-head disease is often referred to as Hexamita. This is because it’s said to be caused by the Hexamita parasite.

This is a potentially fatal parasitic disease that will cause your tiger barb to experience many issues. Hexamita can cause tiger barbs to develop lesions on their heads and flanks.

These lesions might appear as bloody sores. They can get really nasty looking as the disease progresses.

You might see that the tiger barb will start to lose color. Color fading is a common sign of Hexamita.

Fish with this disease usually lose their appetite. They also start to become very lethargic over time.

To treat this issue, you must improve the water conditions. Fix any problems with water parameters and ensure that the tank is clean.

Treat the fish using antibacterial or antibiotic medications. It’s also wise to raise the temperature of the water.

Gill Flukes

Black, Gold, and Silver Angelfish in Tank
Black, Gold, and Silver Angelfish in Tank

Gill flukes are another type of parasitic infection that you need to know about. These parasites are mostly known to attach to the gills of fish, but they can also attach themselves to other parts of the body.

Tanks that aren’t being maintained properly will be more susceptible to gill flukes. Overcrowded fish tanks can also play a role.

Signs of gill flukes will be obvious when looking at the gills of the fish. The gills will start to look as if they have been chewed or shredded in some way.

The areas where the gill flukes are present will generally be covered in excessive amounts of mucus. You’ll also see red areas on the fish where the gill flukes are located.

Inflammation and irritation are common. You might see tiger barbs rubbing against objects just as they would when they contract ich.

To treat gill flukes, you must give the fish anti-worm medications. It’ll kill the parasites and help your fish get back to normal.

Mouth Fungus Disease

Cotton Mouth Fungus on Black and Yellow Angelfish
Cotton Mouth Fungus on Black and Yellow Angelfish

Mouth fungus disease can be a serious problem for tiger barbs as well. Under normal circumstances, the bacteria that causes mouth fungus disease won’t negatively impact tiger barbs.

This changes when tiger barbs become stressed. If the tiger barbs are stressed due to poor conditions in the tank, they might become infected.

When tiger barbs have weakened immune systems, they won’t be able to fight off the bacteria. You might notice the face, gills, or mouth of the fish becoming covered with a cotton-like substance.

The fins of the fish will start to look ragged. Tiger barbs experience excess mucus production when they have this disease, too.

Rapid breathing is common because it’ll get tougher for the fish to breathe normally. As the disease advances, you might start noticing lesions and other sores appearing on the fish.

Treatment is going to be a straightforward process. You can clear this disease up by giving your fish antibacterial and antibiotic medications.

You should also address any issues that are causing your fish stress in the tank. For instance, you might need to do a better job of keeping the tank clean.

Anchor Worms

Anchor Worms With Egg Sacks on a Fish
Anchor Worms With Egg Sacks on a Fish

Anchor worms will be yet another type of parasitic infection. These are small types of crustaceans that can attach themselves to fish.

Typically, anchor worms attach themselves to the dorsal areas and fins of tiger barbs. It’s an annoying condition, but it’s not too dangerous so long as you treat the fish when you notice the problem.

You should see that your tiger barbs have red spots on their bodies. You’ll notice inflammation as well as ulcers on the body.

It should be possible to spot the anchor worms themselves, too. They can be either red or a whitish-green color.

When fish have anchor worms, it’ll become tough for them to breathe. You’ll likely spot your tiger barbs having issues with labored breathing.

Treating anchor worms will require you to give the fish a salt or formalin dip. This should get rid of the parasites and help to get things back to normal.

You could also try treating the entire tank with potassium permanganate. Some fish owners even choose to remove the parasites with tweezers.

To prevent this disease, quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank. You should also quarantine new plants to be on the safe side.


Male Betta Fish With White Tumor on Side
Male Betta Fish With White Tumor on Side

Finally, lymphocystis is a common disease for freshwater fish. This disease has the potential to disfigure your tiger barbs.

It’s caused by an iridovirus. This isn’t something that’s usually fatal, but it’s still problematic.

What this virus does is it infects fibroblasts and transforms them. It does the same thing to connective tissues.

This ultimately causes the impacted cells to experience hypertrophy. The symptoms of this disease are simple enough to notice.

You’ll see growths on the skin that resemble cauliflower. These growths can also appear on the gills and they can disfigure the tiger barbs.

There isn’t a treatment for this disease that is currently known. Some experts say that antiviral treatments are effective.

Typically, the fish will heal over time without treatment. Although they might be left slightly disfigured.

Final Thoughts

You’ve now learned about various diseases that can impact tiger barbs. Knowing about the different illnesses will help you to understand what to look out for.

Be careful and try to monitor your fish regularly. If you notice that there’s something wrong, it’s best to try to identify the problem right away.

Often, being able to get the fish better will be about catching the disease early enough. Of course, some diseases are much deadlier than others.

Prevent diseases by keeping the fish tank clean and doing your best to care for the fish optimally. If you’re doing a good job monitoring the conditions in the tank, your fish will be much less likely to get sick.

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