Columnaris Information and Symptoms
By Rachel Hunt (Mushi)
Columnaris is commonly mistaken for a
fungal problem, it is NOT a fungus, it is caused by Flexibacter bacteria.
Columnaris can be particularly difficult to diagnose as there are many
symptoms associated with it.
Image © Danelle
Symptoms can include:
gray or clear stringy-looking "fungus" hanging off the betta's body or
fins. Again, this is not actually fungus, but the Flexibacter
White or gray patches that look like mold or a slime
covering, usually on the body (and most commonly around the dorsal area).
White "pimples," generally around the chin and mouth area.
or gray tufts of "fungus" (often looks like cotton candy) anywhere on the
body, but especially around the mouth, gills, or edges of
Lesions anywhere on the body, generally beginning in the dorsal
area. Redness and swelling are not uncommon.
In the later stages of
infection, the bacteria will begin to eat away at the fish's scales, often
leaving behind a red or brown looking bloody area surrounded by
fungusy-looking tufts of bacteria.
The Betta may also have clear,
stringy feces and may be lacking appetite.
Columnaris is highly
contagious. Any fish in a community setting showing signs of Columnaris
should be removed to a hospital tank and treated seperately. A watchful
eye should be kept on the fish remaining in the community for signs that
they may be developing the disease.
"Rain" © EmmeyJade
Image © Rachel
Columnaris can be extremely difficult to treat, so it
is recommended that medication be started as soon as the disease is
properly diagnosed. As suggested above, remove the fish to a
hospital/quarantine tank if it is normally kept with other fish. High
temperatures will accelerate the course of the disease, so it is best to
keep the affected fish at around 75-76 degrees F to slow the progression
of the bacteria.
Columnaris is a gram-negative rod bacterium, and
should be treated with an antibiotic that is effective against
gram-negative bacteria or a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Kanacyn (Kanamycin
sulfate), Spectrogram (Kanamycin sulfate and Nitrofurazone), Tetracycline,
or Furan 2 (Nitrofurazone) are all good choices. I have also heard of
people getting good results with medicated foods containing
oxytetracycline, but if your fish is having problems with its mouth due to
the infection, this may not be an option.
is often a sign that your water conditions are not optimal for the fish.
To keep water quality optimal and reduce the risk of your fish contracting
Avoid rapid, frequent temperature changes.
overstock your tank. If you do overstock, be aware of what you're doing
and keep up with the tank maintenance.
Do not overfeed. Rotting food
adds to tank pollution, if the fish don't eat it, clean it up before it
Feed the fish a variety of foods so that it does not
have any nutritional deficiencies.
Always quarantine new fish for at
least 2 weeks to reduce the chances of intruducing a disease to a healthy
Water quality is the most important step in preventing
Columnaris, tank maintenance is key.
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