Have you ever heard of hole in head disease? Also known as lateral line erosion, or lateral line disease, Hole in head disease is a common issue that can affect many fish species. It causes holes to appear in the fish’s scales along its lateral line, giving the appearance of multiple holes in its head. While it’s fatal to many fish, it can be treated by keeping your water clean and at the right temperature to prevent secondary infections from occurring.
If you’ve ever seen pictures of fish with bulging eyes, inflamed skin, or gaping holes in their heads, chances are they were suffering from a hole in head disease. This condition can affect nearly any freshwater fish and is one of the most common diseases you will encounter in your aquariums or ponds. Fortunately, it’s also fairly easy to prevent, as long as you know what to look out for and take action before it becomes too severe.
Lateral Line Erosion, or hole in head disease, affects nearly 100% of fish afflicted with this disease, and it is one of the most common fish ailments around. The exact cause of lateral line erosion has not been definitively determined, but a number of theories exist.
This blog will give you all the information you need to identify hole in head disease as well as treatment options, prevention strategies, and even tips on how to take care of your fish despite the presence of hole in head disease.
What causes hole in head disease?
The most common cause of this disease is a parasite called Hexamita. It is common for these parasites to affect the intestine track, but they quickly spread into the lateral line as well. After some time, secondary bacteria and infections may develop along the lateral line as the disease progresses.
Hole in head disease is a type of injury that has various causes. The most common cause is due to lateral line erosion (LLE), which occurs when fish rub against hard surfaces. Another potential cause may be behavioral or environmental factors such as excessive scratching caused by external parasites.
Lateral line erosion or hole in head disease may also develop after severe drops in water temperature or sudden exposure to high temperatures, even if there are no signs of physical trauma.
Lateral Line Erosion (LLE) commonly occurs at times of high stocking density, overcrowding, and periods of intense feeding activity associated with mass medication campaigns. Hole in head disease can also occur in newly introduced fish into an aquarium environment especially when they’re under stress.
A freshwater hole in the head syndrome is not considered to be infectious or contagious but it can spread rapidly among individuals present within an aquarium system although it cannot infect other species of fish.
Is Hexamita contagious?
No. Hexamita will only spread to other fish if they come into direct contact with one that is carrying it. If your fish are living in a cycled aquarium with strong filtration, then you should have no worries about spreading Hexamita through your tank because it cannot survive without a host.
If you must add new fish to an established tank with infected ones, then you should quarantine them for about two weeks (and maybe longer) before adding them to prevent others from getting sick.
Hexamita is a type of fish parasite that has several forms. It’s caused by an organelle called Oikomonas Hexamita and can be found in any fish species, though it tends to appear more often among aquarium fish.
What are the symptoms of Hexamita
The most common symptoms of Hexamita include weight loss and lethargy, but there are two other less obvious signs: Hole in the head disease and lateral line erosion. All three are related to parasitic infection, specifically Hexamita invaginata which infects freshwater catfish and carp.
When you first notice your fish displaying any sign(s) of these diseases, it’s essential to treat them as soon as possible before Hexamita causes serious damage or kills them altogether!
What are the early signs of a hole in head disease?
Hole in head disease has several more telltale signs, an infected fish may twitch its head rapidly and lose balance. It may also have difficulty staying upright or moving forward because of seizures. Finally, an infected fish can have an unsightly hole on its head — exactly where it got its name.
If you find holes or missing scales around your fish’s face or gills, they could be suffering from hole in head disease. These holes will typically get worse over time as bacteria multiply, so it’s important to treat your fish right away.
Aquarists may also notice their fish swimming with a slight tilt on one side, asymmetrical gill movements, or even seeing a slight dent or depression on one side of their head.
Before Lateral Line Erosion has taken place, an aquarium owner may notice small lumps on their fish’s head. These bumps may appear to be quite pearly or fleshy (depending on how far your fish is). These lumps are caused by the infection of parasites within a fish’s body. A good sign of an early hole in head disease is when a newly purchased fish has sores on its head.
Is hole in head disease of fish contagious?
Yes. Lateral Line Erosion (LLE) is a contagious disease that can affect more than one fish if proper precautions are not taken. It is very important to prevent other fish from being infected with hole in head disease by following all of your quarantine protocols closely!
Following these rules can help to keep your fish healthy and safe. The lateral line is located on each side of most freshwater fish just behind their eyes. A healthy lateral line will be clean and light-colored.
Can humans also get hole in head disease of fish?
Yes. Humans can get hole in head disease. It is often called lateral line disease because of its location on that part of fish. People can become infected by handling diseased fish or by swimming with them. The early symptoms are flu-like illness that comes on quickly.
Most humans who contract lateral line disease experience mild symptoms or none at all. Cases of hole in head that are contracted by humans are usually minor and quickly go away on their own. However, fish caught from a body of water known to harbor the disease can be dangerous to consume because of the possibility of ingesting Cyprinid herpesvirus 1 (CyHV-1). Humans with compromised immune systems may be susceptible to more serious effects.
How to treat hole in head disease of fish
Lateral Line disease can be treated, although very hard to treat, using common aquarium medications. Antibiotics are used to treat external bacterial infections while lowering stress is also important. Both of these factors will help keep a fish’s immune system healthy as well as make it more comfortable during its recovery process.
Stress will also lower your chances of success with treatment for hole in head fish disease since stress lowers your fish’s immunity making it much easier for you to transmit infections to it.
Since lateral line disease can be difficult to treat, there are some things you can do at home to help ease symptoms. Changing your aquarium’s water regularly is a great first step; since that might not remove all of the parasites infesting your fish’s body and head, you can also consider adding 1-2 teaspoons of Epsom salt per 10 gallons of water.
Another option is adding a small amount of garlic or grapefruit juice to your tank. Although neither has been scientifically proven to treat lateral line disease, it doesn’t hurt to try!
The most effective treatments are copper sulfate, formalin (formaldehyde), praziquantel, or salt. If you do use treatment, it’s important to read product labels carefully and follow dosage instructions closely. Keep up with medications; don’t let them go dormant. Also keep an eye out for signs of stress: open sores on gills, fins, skin lesions on the body, and holes near the base of fins or tail.
Can fish recover from hole in head disease?
Yes. Fish can recover from hole in the head disease as long as it’s diagnosed properly by a veterinarian and treated early. Here are some steps to help your fish get better from a hole in head disease:
- Identify if you have a hole in head infection with a vet.
- If possible, isolate infected fish to avoid spreading the disease to other fish tanks.
- Remove any carbon filters from your tank. Carbon filters may absorb certain medications that could be harmful to your fish.
- Consider purchasing an ultraviolet light (UV) filter for the treatment of aquatic diseases such as hole- in the head disease. Most UV treatments require three to five days depending on water temperature, but are generally harmless and leave no residue in water after treatment.
- Water changes may also help reduce the stress placed on fish during treatment.
How long does it take to cure hole in head disease?
It can take anywhere from a few days to several months for hole in head disease to run its course. The actual hole appears as an ulcerated spot on your fish’s head (or sometimes behind its eye) so that it looks like a little black hole. However, you might notice odd behavioral symptoms before you see any external physical signs of infection; affected fish may stop eating or swimming normally for a short time period before developing more visible symptoms.
Will salt cure hole in head disease
Salt can help fish fight off other diseases as well as a hole in head disease. It is not a cure for this disease though. This is mainly because salt will not penetrate fish scales which are a layer of skin around each fish. Use caution when using salt in aquariums, you do not want to change your fishes’ water too often or expose them to large amounts of salt for extended periods of time. It is best to only add small doses during treatments.
How to prevent hole in head disease
Hole in head disease can be prevented by improving water quality (keeping water clean and aerated), using quarantine tanks for new fish, practicing good netting techniques to avoid transferring parasites between bodies of water and treating your fish regularly. It is important to limit direct contact with wild fish while they are still alive so as not to transfer diseases from infected lakes.
Once you bring a wild-caught fish into an aquarium, it is most likely already exposed to many of these diseases, and curing them may prove impossible; once a fish shows symptoms of a hole in head disease or any other parasitic infection, treat it immediately before it spreads to other healthy members of your aquarium.