What is the difference between bacterial and fungal disease?

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neverenoughgallons

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maybe someone has a good explanation...
 

H Farnsworth

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I'd have to say everything is different? For starters bacterial infections are caused by either gram negative or gram positive bacteria which are single celled organisms. Fungi are eukaryotes meaning they have more than one cell. Both have a few similarities but for the most part are very different in treatment. For instance antibiotics will not kill fungi.
 

AvalancheDave

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FishGirl38

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Oooo, yes, *rubs hands together* here we go. So, of course, the organisms or pathogens that CAUSE these infections are biologically different - and that's what makes them...well, different. They're different species of pathogens.

Alright, so bacterial infections are much more common than true fungal infections. For fungus, think dirty. They thrive in dirty water. For bacteria, think pathogenic, they thrive in either oxygen rich, or oxygen poor environments and they can be present in the water column with healthy fish without you even knowing (without actually affecting your fish).

Fungal and bacterial infections present VERY similar symptoms, which is the biggest problem with treating them. Fungal infections will be white and fuzzy or hairy. Fungus grows on top of a fish's body. Whereas bacterial infections will present grey/white/fuzzy or cottony but instead of growing on top of the fish, they typically grow into the fish, eating away at flesh and gills - this is bacteria.

Essentially, if the fish is in a well maintained tank and has cottony, white or grey lesions, than it's being affected by a bacteria.

If the fish has hairy or fuzzy batches growing and protruding from its fins or mouth, AND its kept in a tank that isn't properly maintained, than it's likely a fungus.

Fungal and bacterial infections can EASILY and most commonly infect fish after said fish has already wounded itself - these infections present as SECONDARY infections. Either to physical wounds (like how we cut ourselves and said cut gets infected) or to initial primary infections - like a parasitic infection that has promoted the onset of a bacterial infection.

Fish have natural immune systems though - A healthy fish will not be hindered by bacteria or fungus present in the aquarium so long as it's slime coat and subsequent internal immune system is healthy and strong.

Going into gram positive and gram negative...these two terms have to do with an identification staining process, essentially, gram positive bacteria have different cell walls than gram negative bacteria do - because of this, medication that affects gram negative bacteria typically WILL NOT affect gram positive bacteria and vice versa. Ever purchased a fish medication that 'didn't work' - that was probably why.
 

A201

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I think an easy way to distinguish between the two is: Fungus feeds on dead & decaying bio material. It's often a secondary infection.
Bacteria feeds on living bio tissue.
 

H Farnsworth

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Well said Fishgirl, where you been all my life?
 

FishGirl38

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H Farnsworth said:
Well said Fishgirl, where you been all my life?
LOL, working my life away at a fish store, what's happening. xD and thank you. :).
 

AvalancheDave

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Also strange is that so many people recommend erythromycin even though it affects mostly Gram positive bacteria while nearly all bacterial infections of fish are Gram negative. It's also not absorbed well from water yet almost everyone who uses it just dumps it in the water.
 

FishGirl38

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And can I just note, gram negative medications are increasingly HARDER to find...seachem has some pretty effective products but.......I actually made a chart cuz I'm that much of a nerd over this stuff and...I found 2 medications that would work for some specific gram negative bacteria...but there are TONS of options for gram positive, but again, the most common are gram neg.....so how does that help the fish keepers?.....lol.
 

AvalancheDave

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Kanaplex underdoses kanamycin 17X less than what's recommended in veterinary texts and is probably why it often doesn't work.

There are a lot of options for Gram negative outside the commercial products.
 

FishGirl38

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AvalancheDave said:
Kanaplex underdoses kanamycin 17X less than what's recommended in veterinary texts and is probably why it often doesn't work.

There are a lot of options for Gram negative outside the commercial products.
Ha, outside commercial products. Of course there are, but us lowly fish hobbyists don't have access to them. Dx. I know these active ingredients exists outside of 'General Cure' (for example), If only I had a license to purchase said ingredients. xD.

That's very interesting though, and most of us hobbyists are over here trying not to 'overdose' on medications like these. hmph.
 

DoubleDutch

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A201 said:
I think an easy way to distinguish between the two is: Fungus feeds on dead & decaying bio material. It's often a secondary infection.
Bacteria feeds on living bio tissue.
I think bacteria feed on both.
 

KingJamal2

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FishGirl38 said:
Oooo, yes, *rubs hands together* here we go. So, of course, the organisms or pathogens that CAUSE these infections are biologically different - and that's what makes them...well, different. They're different species of pathogens.

Alright, so bacterial infections are much more common than true fungal infections. For fungus, think dirty. They thrive in dirty water. For bacteria, think pathogenic, they thrive in either oxygen rich, or oxygen poor environments and they can be present in the water column with healthy fish without you even knowing (without actually affecting your fish).

Fungal and bacterial infections present VERY similar symptoms, which is the biggest problem with treating them. Fungal infections will be white and fuzzy or hairy. Fungus grows on top of a fish's body. Whereas bacterial infections will present grey/white/fuzzy or cottony but instead of growing on top of the fish, they typically grow into the fish, eating away at flesh and gills - this is bacteria.

Essentially, if the fish is in a well maintained tank and has cottony, white or grey lesions, than it's being affected by a bacteria.

If the fish has hairy or fuzzy batches growing and protruding from its fins or mouth, AND its kept in a tank that isn't properly maintained, than it's likely a fungus.

Fungal and bacterial infections can EASILY and most commonly infect fish after said fish has already wounded itself - these infections present as SECONDARY infections. Either to physical wounds (like how we cut ourselves and said cut gets infected) or to initial primary infections - like a parasitic infection that has promoted the onset of a bacterial infection.

Fish have natural immune systems though - A healthy fish will not be hindered by bacteria or fungus present in the aquarium so long as it's slime coat and subsequent internal immune system is healthy and strong.

Going into gram positive and gram negative...these two terms have to do with an identification staining process, essentially, gram positive bacteria have different cell walls than gram negative bacteria do - because of this, medication that affects gram negative bacteria typically WILL NOT affect gram positive bacteria and vice versa. Ever purchased a fish medication that 'didn't work' - that was probably why.
That was a very good explanation!
 

Oriongal

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FishGirl38 said:
Fungal and bacterial infections present VERY similar symptoms, which is the biggest problem with treating them. Fungal infections will be white and fuzzy or hairy. Fungus grows on top of a fish's body. Whereas bacterial infections will present grey/white/fuzzy or cottony but instead of growing on top of the fish, they typically grow into the fish, eating away at flesh and gills - this is bacteria.
Yes. This is an example:
20200227_061423.jpg

That is not a wound that was secondarily infected by bacteria or fungus. It's a wound *caused* by an external bacterial infection, presumably columnaris by the way it presented. It ate into the fish's flesh.

Columnaris also can present as a fuzzy white or gray spot on top of the skin; this isn't a great pic but the white dot is columnaris.
20200227_071349.jpg

It's a confusing infection because it can present so many different ways - from no visible symptoms at all (as an internal or gill infection that usually kills quickly), to the classic 'saddleback' like this:
20200227_064616.jpg

To mouth infections like this, that can be confused with the fungal infection saprolegnia:
20200227_064332.jpg

As you say - if it's eating away tissue, it's probably bacterial (and probably gram-negative). If it's occurring in a tank with good water parameters, it's also probably bacterial.

I'm not sure that I have ever run into a true fungal infection, but the last few years columnaris especially has been rampant in guppies and swordtails, whether bought locally or online.

FishGirl38 said:
Fungal and bacterial infections can EASILY and most commonly infect fish after said fish has already wounded itself - these infections present as SECONDARY infections. Either to physical wounds (like how we cut ourselves and said cut gets infected) or to initial primary infections - like a parasitic infection that has promoted the onset of a bacterial infection.
These also tend to be more often bacterial than fungal, even with us. Bacteria are more present in the environment, and it also goes back to your previous point about water parameters as well. If it's occurring in clean/good water, suspect bacterial infection first.
 

Sprinkle

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Oriongal said:
Yes. This is an example:
20200227_061423.jpg

That is not a wound that was secondarily infected by bacteria or fungus. It's a wound *caused* by an external bacterial infection, presumably columnaris by the way it presented. It ate into the fish's flesh.

Columnaris also can present as a fuzzy white or gray spot on top of the skin; this isn't a great pic but the white dot is columnaris.
20200227_071349.jpg

It's a confusing infection because it can present so many different ways - from no visible symptoms at all (as an internal or gill infection that usually kills quickly), to the classic 'saddleback' like this:
20200227_064616.jpg

To mouth infections like this, that can be confused with the fungal infection saprolegnia:
20200227_064332.jpg

As you say - if it's eating away tissue, it's probably bacterial (and probably gram-negative). If it's occurring in a tank with good water parameters, it's also probably bacterial.

I'm not sure that I have ever run into a true fungal infection, but the last few years columnaris especially has been rampant in guppies and swordtails, whether bought locally or online.



These also tend to be more often bacterial than fungal, even with us. Bacteria are more present in the environment, and it also goes back to your previous point about water parameters as well. If it's occurring in clean/good water, suspect bacterial infection first.
Please tell me that these fishes are alive.
 

Oriongal

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Sprinkle said:
Please tell me that these fishes are alive.
Unfortunately, only one of them survived (the one with the dot). These are older pics, from when I was still learning the hard way how many different ways columnaris could show up myself.

I have subsequently saved fish who had lesions almost as bad as that first fish, though; by taking them out and swabbing the lesion directly with merbromin once or twice daily, quarantined with daily water changes and only salt added. I've treated others successfully by swabbing with hydrogen peroxide when the lesion was still small, not into the flesh. I've had survivors using the Kanaplex/Furan2 regime, and still others treated successfully with only methylene blue and salt. (Most arrived ill and were treated in initial quarantine.)

What I choose usually is driven by how close the infection is to the gills. Hydrogen peroxide will kill if it gets into the gills undiluted, and I'd presume merbromin wouldn't be nice on the gills either.
 

A201

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IMO, the best treatment for Columnaris is prevention. Special attention to water management & selection of stock goes a long way towards the avoidance of disease.
Over the years I've encountered only a small handful of fish that contracted Columnaris and companion diseases such as Mouth Rot. As indicated in above posts, curing Columnaris is possible, but marginal at best. In all my cases, I quickly removed the infected fish & euthanized. The disease has always been specific to an individual fish & has never spread.
The manufacturers of Kanaplex &
Furan 2 are probably making a mint off
of products that rarely work.
Over the past five years, I've been a member of several fish forums. The dreaded Columnaris infection is a daily topic. I usually recommend the noted meds, but also suggest the option to euthanize. The percentage of recovery is so small that recommending treatment seems unwarranted.
 

DoubleDutch

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A201 said:
IMO, the best treatment for Columnaris is prevention. Special attention to water management & selection of stock goes a long way towards the avoidance of disease.
Over the years I've encountered only a small handful of fish that contracted Columnaris and companion diseases such as Mouth Rot. As indicated in above posts, curing Columnaris is possible, but marginal at best. In all my cases, I quickly removed the infected fish & euthanized. The disease has always been specific to an individual fish & has never spread.
The manufacturers of Kanaplex &
Furan 2 are probably making a mint off
of products that rarely work.
Over the past five years, I've been a member of several fish forums. The dreaded Columnaris infection is a daily topic. I usually recommend the noted meds, but also suggest the option to euthanize. The percentage of recovery is so small that recommending treatment seems unwarranted.
Applause applause. Good thinking.

The aquabrands florish by meds that often don't work. The Dutch met Esha 2000 (wonder-med) is such a med.

I recently read the thought that meds (and especially antibiotics) only buy time for a body to fight an infection itself. A verrrry interesting thought to me. This is different in case of parasital diseases btw.

In all cases there are two possible outcomes

The fish recovers. Then "the med did this" Question is : did the med this or did it cure on its own
The fish dies. "It was too late to treat"
No responsibility needed / taken for failure hahahaha.

Also interesting is to see that in countries antibiotics are forbidden (like my country) the results aren't drastically different than where antibiotics are used.
 

Oriongal

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Unfortunately I don't usually get much choice of stock selection.

There's only one local store where I am, and they basically only carry assorteds (swordtails - I have not had any fish with columnaris to date other than swords and guppies). The three chain stores in my area, one of them nearly always has sick livebearers, and the others it's hit and miss.

So, I end up getting a lot of them online, and that also is hit and miss even from well-established places. I quarantine everything; treating an entire 300-gallon pool for infection or parasites would get expensive quickly.

I don't really mind treating fish in quarantine. I have nothing to lose at that point, they've already traveled with whatever other fish are in there with them, and none of them are going into the regular population unless I'm sure they're healthy. I do have more successes treating them now than failures; and given the cost of shipping replacement fish (if I just euthanized them instead), I have little to lose by trying.
 

A201

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Oriongal I think you have a lot of skill and provided excellent advice regarding the proper & effective way to treat Columnaris. Very informative post.
 
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