Velvet disease in guppies is extremely serious, and you should do everything you can to eradicate it as soon as possible. In this article you’re going to find out what causes velvet, how to treat it, the symptoms, and most importantly how to prevent it from happening in the first place.
So keep reading to find out everything you need to know about velvet in guppies!
What Is Velvet?
Before you begin to treat velvet, it’s a good idea to know what it is. Velvet is caused by parasites known as Oödinium. As well as going by the name velvet, it may also be called ‘rust’ and ‘gold dust disease’.
As you can probably guess, when your guppy suffers from velvet, you may notice they may have what looks like gold dust over their bodies.
What Causes Velvet In Guppies?
You obviously know that velvet is caused by a parasite. So the question isn’t really what causes velvet, but what conditions allow the parasite to infect your guppies.
Here are the most common ones.
New Tank Makes And Plants
New tank mates and plants can often carry bacteria, parasites, and fungal spores into the tank, that weren’t there before. Even if they seem healthy, they may still be carrying the parasite that causes velvet.
Poor Water Quality
Poor water quality is probably going to be the biggest reason that your guppies catch velvet. The worse your water quality, the more likely it is to start harboring parasites and bacteria that make your guppy sick.
As well as this, a poor diet is also going to increase the chance that your guppies are going to suffer from velvet. If you’re not giving your guppies a good diet, then they’re going to have a weakened immune system.
And obviously, when they have a weakened immune system, they’re going to be open to infection. In fact, your tank water will often contain things that will make your guppy sick, but as long as their immune system is strong, they won’t be able to infect them.
They’re Already Sick
When your guppy is sick, they’re going to be opened up to a whole other range of illnesses such as columnaris, ich, and fin rot and of course velvet.
This is due to the fact that their immune system has been weakened. But it’s not just disease that can weaken your guppies’ immune system.
What Are The Symptoms Of Velvet In Guppies?
If your guppy is suffering from velvet, then, fortunately, there are going to be plenty of symptoms to help you spot it. While some of them are easy to spot, some of them may be a little bit harder.
Coated In Gold Dust
The biggest symptom of velvet, and the one that normally confirms that the diseases is what looks like a gold dust coating over your guppy.
Believe, it or not, this isn’t actually the disease itself, but your guppies body trying to fight off the parasite.
Rubbing Against Things
This is one of the earliest signs of infection on your guppies skin, however, it may not be necessarily caused by velvet.
Your guppy will be rubbing their body against things in an attempt to remove a parasite or infection of their skin. As well as this, you may also notice their body twitching as well as they try to shake it off.
When your guppies immune system is trying to fight off the infection it’s going to cause their breathing to become much more laboured. You’ll notice this when their gills look like they’re struggling.
(However, if your guppy does have trouble breathing, then they may also need an air pump.)
As your guppies start to become weakened by the parasite, they’re not going to move around as much or be nearly as energetic. You may also notice they spend more time, in one spot of the tank or even trying to hide.
Once again though, this isn’t necessarily only caused by velvet, and in fact, there are a whole range of things that can cause lethargy, including the temperature of the tank.
Loss Of Apetite
Lastly, another early symptom of velvet is that your guppy may lose their appetite.
Once, again this can also be a sign of many things. However, if you do notice that your guppy has lost their appetite, then make sure you begin keeping an eye on them to try and figure out what’s wrong.
If you don’t think it’s velvet then it could also be dropsy, fin rot, constipation and swim bladder disease.
Clamped fins occur when your guppy is infected with a disease, and they’re feeling uncomfortable. It’s common in fish that have velvet, however, it’s not a symptom specific to velvet.
As your guppy becomes more infected, their skin may begin to detach from their body, and ulcers will begin to form. Ideally, you should never let velvet get to this stage of infection.
The two reasons this may be happening is that your guppy is constantly rubbing against things removing the skin, or that the parasite is eating into them.
(If you notice that skin is detaching from your guppies fins though, it could be fin rot.)
What Stages Will The Symptoms Of Velvet Be In?
When you’re watching your guppy, the first thing you may notice is that they’re rubbing against things and twitching to remove the parasite.
When the disease worsens, they’ll begin to feel lethargic and lose their appetite. They may also hide in certain areas of the tank as well as clamping their fins by their side.
One of the first main symptoms you’ll notice is difficulty breathing, which will then be followed by a velvet-like film beginning to cover areas of your guppies body. Which will be gold in color.
This is when you should definitely begin treating for velvet.
How To Treat Velvet In Guppies
Fortunately, velvet is quite easy to treat, and if you catch it early enough your guppies should make a full recovery. However, before you treat your guppy for velvet, make sure you consult a professional for the best advice.
While this is the method I’d personally use, it’s always best to seek the advice of a professional.
Step 1: Move Your Guppy To A Quarantine Tank
The first thing you should do is move the infected guppy or guppies to a quarantine tank. This is so you reduce the chance of it spreading to other fish as well as being able to medicate the infected ones properly.
Step 2: Water Change
You should add about 50% of the old water from your tank into the quarantine tank, filling the rest of both tanks with conditioned water. This is going to reduce the levels of the parasite in both tanks as well as not changing the water parameters too much for the fish in your quarantine tank.
Step 3: Raise The Water Temperature
While you should never normally keep your guppies in water that is this hot, sometimes you don’t have a choice. So over the next 24 hours slowly raise the water temperature in your tank to 84°F.
It’s important that you do this over time, otherwise your guppy could go into temperature shock which may kill them.
Step 4: Turn The Lights Off
Oödinium’s makeup includes chlorophyll, so just like a plant, it’s dependent on light. When you’re treating your guppies you should turn off the lights to help starve it.
This is going help kill of any excess Oödinium floating around in the water.
Step 5: Add Aquarium Salt
Adding aquarium salt will help treat your guppies velvet, and also build their strength back up. When you’re adding aquarium salt to your tank you should always read the instructions on the packaging.
However, generally you’ll need to add 1 tbsp of aquarium salt for every 5 gallons of water. Before adding the aquarium salt to your tank, you’ll need to dissolve it in a small amount of tank water first.
And never dose the same water twice. Instead perform a water change before adding more salt.
Step 6: Add Copper Sulfate
If the above steps aren’t working, then the next step is to add copper sulfate to the tank. Just remember if you’re going to add copper sulfate to a tank, make sure you remove the chemical filtration media and any invertebrates and plants, as it can kill them.
I’d recommend using Sea-chem Cupramine Copper. To use it just follow the instructions on the outside of the bottle.
However, treatment of this kind can normally take 10 days. If you follow all the advice above though, your guppies should make a speedy recovery.
How Do You Prevent Velvet In Guppies?
Ideally, instead of treating velvet, you should try to prevent it from happening in the first place. Fortunately, this is relatively simple to do. And if you follow the steps below you’re going to drastically reduce the chance that your guppies will suffer from velvet.
Quarantine New Fish And Plants
Whenever you plan on adding new fish and plants to your tank, you should quarantine them for 2-4 weeks first. This way you’ll notice any signs of illness (not just velvet)
While plants aren’t going to be affected by fish diseases, they can still carry them. So it’s important you quarantine them as well.
Keep The Tank Clean
You should also make sure you’re keeping the tank clean. By doing this, you’ll help keep the water healthy for your fish and reduce the chance of them becoming infected with velvet.
The main ways to keep the tank clean include using a filter, changing the water regularly, removing any waste, and vacuuming the gravel.
Quarantine Sick Fish
You should also make sure that you’re quarantining any sick fish in your tank as well. They’re only going to increase the chance of your other fish becoming infected with illnesses. And once their immune system has been compromised, it’s much more likely they’ll contract velvet.
Make Sure They Have A Good Diet
A good diet is essential to your guppies health and immune system. You should be feeding your guppies high quality fish flakes as well as balancing their diet with live food and blanched vegetables.
When you’re choosing live food to give them mosquito larvae, brine shrimp and daphnia are your best choice. And if you can’t give it to them live, make sure you give it to them frozen or freeze-dried.
Keep An Eye On Your Fish
And lastly, make sure you’re keeping an eye on your fish. So if you do notice that something isn’t right, you’ll catch it earlier. Ideally, you should be giving each of your fish a visual inspection every day.
Is Velvet Fatal In Guppies?
If caught early enough then velvet generally isn’t fatal. However, if you leave it then it could well kill your guppies. The fatality rate of velvet is going to increase the longer your guppy has it.
Is Velvet Contagious
Velvet is extremely contagious and you should do everything you can to stop the rest of your fish getting it. This is why it’s so important to make sure that you’re quarantining any guppy that already has it. So it doesn’t spread to the rest of your fish.
Now you know what velvet is, how to treat it and most importantly how to prevent. The most important thing to remember is that when velvet is caught early enough that it can be treated.
And of course if you notice any guppy with velvet you should remove them from the tank right away as it’s extremely contagious.
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