Nutritional deficiency in fish
Symptoms of nutritional deficiency in fish
The symptoms vary according to what is deficient in the diet. For example, protein deficiency may cause stunted growth. Vitamin C deficiency will cause immune deficiency, skin lesions and spinal deformities. An excess of starchy foods or fats will cause liver, kidney and other metabolic problems internally. Lack of vitamin A will cause stunting, blindness and bleeding in the fins. Lack of vitamin B will cause discolouration, anemia, loss of appetite, gasping with rapid gill movements and unusual swimming behaviour caused by muscle and nerve malfunctions in the fish.
It has to be noted that different species of fish require different amounts of the various vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Fish in the wild never suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Fish in ponds and on fish farms hardly ever suffer from nutritional deficiencies. It is thought that pond fish will eat the odd insect that falls into the pond, while many insects lay eggs and larvae into ponds for the fish to feed on. This provides the often necessary bit of nutrition needed. Also algae grows in the pond due to sunlight and the fish will browse off this too.
It is only captive fish kept in aquaria that are fed on a poor diet that suffer from nutritional deficiency.
Treatment of nutritional deficiency in fish
Treatment is a matter of providing a good balance diet and taking into consideration the type of food the fish actually eat in the wild. Wether it is vegetation, algae, insects, worms or other naturally occurring food. Then you must try to imitate this as best as you can. Feed with some dried food for the balance of vitamins and supplement with some live or frozen food and with fresh green vegetable matter such as lettuce or spinach leaves.
One final problem can be caused by overfeeding. Fish food can contain too much protein or starch as a percentage. The fish will eat the same quantity of dried food that it finds in the wild but will actually consume a much higher level of protein or carbohydrate causing health problems. This is a common problem in Malawi cichlids that eat large quantities of algae in the wild, but in the aquarium they will instead eat a large quantity of fish food with high protein and carbohydrate content. This will cause Malawi bloat and is a wide spread illness in Malawi aquariums.
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