Flexibacter columnaris

Common Names: Flexibacter columnaris
Mouth fungus
Bacterial mouth rot
Cotton wool disease
Salinity: Freshwater
Description: This is a bacterial ailment caused by the flexibacter columnaris bacterium .Identified in 1922 Commonly mistaken for a fungal infection because of the characteristic cotton tufts at the infection site. The common names reflect this misidentification. The tufts are caused by the filamentous structure of the bacteria. This an almost omnipresent bacterium in aquaria, and usually only infects those fish suffering from injuries, weakened but other diseases, and dietary deficiencies. Its growth and spread once a foothold is established can be radical. Deaths within 24 hours have been reported especially when the infection site is a pre-existing deep wound. Once this bacteria reaches the bloodstream the condition of the fish will worsen significantly. Usual cases will if untreated debilitate fish to the point of death within two weeks. Optimum growth is acheived at 28-35c, and consequently is a common and seriously prevalent disease in aquaculture. All species of freshwater fish are susceptible to this disease. Primary sites of infection are the mouth, fin and gill edges , although not limited purely to these locations. In severe cases it can cover the entire body of a fish. Infections near the gill area are particularly deadly as infection stimulates the production of plaques on the gill tissue,and this reduces oxgen exchange, and the production of permanent scar tissue may mean the fish is damaged for life. Specimens with severe gill infections rarely survive, and die from suffocation. Sometimes an affected fish may show circular lesions instead of fluffy growths. It is a severe ailment, at any level. Very progressive, and when one fish is affected in community it will act as a breeding ground that will ensure even other healthy fish will eventually be overcome by infections.
Symptoms: Spots
Treatment: Furanace (available in FURAN brand medications) is the only truly effective treatment for both internal and external symptoms of columnaris. Other medications that are effective externally include oxytetracycline, and sulfamerazine administered as long term aquaria treatments.Dipping treatments include copper sulfate,oxolinic acid and potassium permanganate although these will only be effective at the early stages of infection. The lack of treatments able to treat the condition internally are one of the reasons so many keepers fail in attempting to beat this problem, suffering repeated bouts of fluffy grows, and often eventual debilitation and death of the fish even when external symptoms have subsided.Again it is worth reiterating that only furan treats this condition internally as well as externally.
Comments: A common bacterium , and a common secondary infection, this is one of the most prevalent aquarium killers, and is much misunderstood, misdiagnosed and often mistreated ailment. Treatment must be aggressive and persistant until all traces of infection are eliminated. Allowed to persist , it will wipe out an aquarium population, including all species of fish. This is also a major killer of wild fish , and as such there must be no increased risk of it reaching watercourses. Dispose of all dead specimens of infected fish either by burning, or correct medical disposal. While flexibacter columnaris is almost omnipresent in aquaria and water bodies above 10c around the world, corpses represent a significant agent of high level transmission, and should be disposed of with the utmost care.
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Submitted By: longhairedgit
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