If you believe your discus fish has the hole in the head disease, you will need to treat your discus fish with two medications. The first medication will treat for parasitic infestation, most likely of a nasty little flagellate called Hexamita. The second medication will treat and prevent bacterial infections from setting in.
What you will want to do is remove the discus fish with the hole in the head disease and place it in a quarantine tank. For best results and cost savings, try to use a smaller ten gallon or twenty-gallon tank. By using a smaller tank, you use less medication and can also carry out larger water changes if needed.
Simply follow the directions on each of the treatment packages for best results. Keep your quarantine tank bare bottom with a small hang on filter that helps remove debris from the water. Do not use carbon in the filter as this will remove the medication and well you will be wasting a lot of time and money. Feed lightly during treatment, enough to where your discus fish can eat all the food with little to leftover food. Siphon out any uneaten food and carry out water changes as recommended by the medication.
Because discus fish are rather large, place a cover over top of the tank. Discus fish have been known to jump clear out of a tank and smaller quarantine tanks typically do not come with hood covers. Placing shelf or light diffuser with something weighted on top will help keep the discus fish from jumping out of the tank.
Quarantine tank placement should be kept away from high traffic areas in order to provide the sick discus fish with a stress-free environment. Avoiding direct sunlight will also go a long way in keeping water temperatures from fluctuating as well as keeping UV light from preventing the full strength of the medication.
What Causes Hole in the Head Disease
The scientists are still debating what exactly causes Hole in the Head Disease. One likely and popular theory is the presence of a flagellate parasite called Hexamita. This nasty little parasite infects the intestinal tract, then spread to the gall bladder, abdomen, spleen then kidneys. As the parasite spreads the holes in the head begin to appear. The really gross part is small white threadlike parasitic larvae pop out of the holes. Then bacterial infection sets in and now you are battling two fronts, parasitic infestation, and bacterial infection.
What Does Hole in the Head Disease Look Like?
It's pretty easy to spot the hole in the head disease as it shows up in a couple of ways. Below we describe the most common ways hole in the head disease is seen in discus fish.
Face Holes: The first is on the discus fish face between the eyes, forehead and nostril area. Almost begins to look like your discus fish has an extra set of nostrils, then progressively the holes become larger and nastier. When secondary bacterial infection sets in, the holes can become oozy or have bacterial growth. Quarantine and treatment must be done quickly for the best chances of survival and success.
Side Holes: Sometimes holes progress along the side of the fish on what is called the Lateral Line. The lateral line system is very important as it is a series of tubes along the skin surface that connects to sensory organs and nerve endings, which in turn send signals to the brain. The lateral line system enables the discus to feel or sense pressure, temperature, and movement in the water. When the hole in the head disease strikes a discus along the lateral line, all these systems become compromised and death can come quickly.
Final Thoughts on Treating Hole in the Head Disease
Remember that Hole in the Head Disease is completely preventable. Feeding your discus fish high-quality food will help avoid introducing parasites like Hexamita. Making sure you carry out plenty of water changes and filter your water to provide the best possible environment for your discus fish will go a long way. No discus fish keeper is ever out of the woods when it comes to discus fish disease, all it takes is one new discus that skipped quarantine because you just had to have it in the tank. Take the necessary precautions to avoid disastrous consequences.