Before adding any treatment to your Aquarium, Pond or treatment bath:
1. Make sure you have a correct diagnosis of the problem.
Before you can successfully treat any disease it is important to know what it is you are treating. Until you have a correct diagnosis, you will not be able to choose the most appropriate remedy for the problem. Many parasite problems occur because of changes in the water quality. If a disease is suspected, test the water for pH. nitrite and ammonia to make sure there is nothing you need to do before applying the treatment. It is true that many different parasite (or bacterial) infections require the same treatment and it is tempting to put a treatment in the pond just to see if it "does the trick". While this may work many times, it is not "best practice".
2. Remove adsorbent filter material - carbon, zeolite etc.
Nearly all the disease treatments available to fishkeepers have organic active ingredients (even those which claim to contain no chemicals.) These organic chemicals are removed by filter materials such as carbon, zeolite etc. So it makes sense to remove them before adding a treatment so that the treatment level is not reduced below the effective concentration.
3. Switch off UV.
As in 2 above, ultraviolet light destroys organic chemicals and, if left on during a treatment, will destroy the treatment. Some treatments may even be made toxic by the action of UV light. Switching off the UV during treatment is a sensible precauton. Leave the UV off for at least a week and 10 days if possible to give the treatment the best chance of doing its job.
4. Increase Aeration - remember that oxygen levels may be lower in the morning.
Many disease treaments can reduce oxygen levels but none of them will be harmed by extra aeration so it makes sense to increase aeration if possible especially if treating during warm weather. Also, remember that oxygen levels may be lower in the morning because the submerged oxygenating plants actually consume oxygen during the night when there is no light. For this reason, always leave fountains running continuously during treatment.
5. Allow plenty of time to observe fish.
It is important to treat sick fish as soon as possible after a diagnosis has been made. However, bear in mind the time of day, as mentioned in 4 above, as well as the time you have to watch the fish after adding the treatment. Never chuck the treatment in the pond and then go straight off to work or out shopping. Even if you have used the treatment many times before, there is always a possibility that the fish may react badly this time and you need to be there to change water or increase air or do whatever is needed if there is an unexpected reaction.
6. Do not mix medications.
NT Labs Malachite and Formaldehyde can be used together according to the instructions supplied. We do not recommend mixing any other treatments especially those from different manufacturers because you can have no idea what the effect might be. There are, however, one or two myths about treatments which seem to be widely held as true. One of these is never to use formaldehyde when there is salt in the water. The only theory we have heard about why this should be is that the presence of salt will make the formaldehyde come out of the water as a gas. This seems a bit strange to us since formaldehyde is used in marine aquariums where the salt level is very much higher without any problems. We can find no scientific reason not to use formaldehyde when there is salt in the water.
7. Leave 7-10 days between treatments if no improvement is seen.
Allow time for the treatment to have an effect and to break down naturally before adding another treatment which may react with the first. If no improvement is seen after the first treatment, check the diagnosis and make sure that the treatment is appropriate. Malachite and Formaldehyde, for example, are not appropriate treatments for skin and gill flukes, fish lice or fin-rot. Although they may help by removing any skin parasites which could be aggravating the problem, the main symptoms will remain. Examining a skin scrape under the microscope may reveal skin parasites and flukes together. Then you need to decide which is the most important problem to treat. If you see loads of different parasites in a skin scrape, the best treatment may be a simple water change because such a mixture of diseases indicates poor water quality unless, of course, the fish have just been bought and put in the pond without quarantine.
8. Be careful of water temperature.
Adding a treatment to a pond where the water is very cold will probably not do any harm, nor will it do any good. We recommend not treating if the water temperature is below 10 C( 50 F). Of course, if it is an emergency and the fish look likely to die without treatment, you can treat when the water is colder. The point is that, if the water is cold, the metabolism of any parasite, bacteria (and the fish itself) is greatly reduced. As the temperature falls, the fish become dormant and stop feeding. This is because the chemical reactions going on in the fish's body are much slower and not enough to digest food properly. Also, the fish is not using much energy when it is dormant and doesn't need to create more by digesting food. Treatment chemicals will also react more slowly in cold water, or not work at all. So it is unlikely that the fish will benefit from treatment when the water is very cold. If the water is very warm, it has a reduced oxygen holding capacity and adding a treatment may reduce this further thus causing oxygen stress which could make the fish worse. So we recommend avoiding treatments when the water temperature is above 25 C (77 F). Obviously, if the situation is very urgent and nothing can be done to reduce the water temperature, the treatment will have to be used and even more care taken to watch how the fish react.
Always follow any specific instructions regarding feeding given on the label of the treatment. If the fish are sick and not eating much anyway it will be better not to feed for a few days at the start of the treatment until the fish recover and are actively looking for food again. In general, NT Labs food products neither react with treatments nor affect filters and fish can safely be fed whilst there is treatment in the pond. If, however, the biological filtration system should be damaged by the addition of a treatment, feeding the fish could cause raised nitrite and ammonia levels which could stress the fish further. Regular, routine testing of the water will show if this is happening and allow you to decide what action, if any, is needed.
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