Discus fish disease: How to treat your discus when they stop eating.
Every week someone calls me with this question. My fish have stopped eating, what medicine should I use to treat them. My question to them is always?
- Have you changed the water in the aquarium?
- Did you change out the carbon in the filter if used?
The reason I ask these two questions before giving my answer, is that half the time this is all that’s needed to stimulate their appetite. If they have done the above them my answer is simply raise the temperature. This will always stimulate appetite and end their hunger strike. I would start by heating the tank up to 88-90 degrees, leave it there for a few days, and if they don’t start to eat go higher.
What has worked for me, which I stumbled on back in the late 70’s, is that heat is my friend. Once a month I would do a prophylactic heat treatment. I would turn the heat up to 94 degrees, leave it there for 4 days then turn it back down to 86. I realized after doing this each month all the fish would eat aggressively and grow evenly. I did not realize at the time that this heat treatment was killing the protozoan parasite that robbed the fish of nutrients and therefore would not allow them to grow. In other words heat at 94 degrees kills the parasite in the gut of the discus fish. There is no need to medicate. In fact the medicine you would use needs to be ingested, and if the fish are not eating you can’t get it to where it’s needed, in their stomach. This heat treatment will also work to cure discus fish which are extruding white stringy feces.
So heat is your medicine which kills the protozoan parasite that is causing the fish to go on a hunger strike, and if caught early will work 95% of the time. The added benefit is the discus fish will eat more and go through a noticeable growing spurt after the heat treatment.
You can set up a smaller hospital tank which might be easier to heat. Heat it up to 94 degrees and leave the discus fish in the warm aquarium for 4 days then lower to 86 and put the treated fish back with the others. There is a reason to put this sick recovering fish back with the others, when the recovering fish sees the others eating it will be more inclined to take interest in the food too. If after a week he is not feeding aggressively then repeat the process. The second attempt has a greater success rate.
If you have questions about this treatment or other diseases feel free to contact me. I have been able to help many hobbyists over the years diagnose and treat discus fish.