What is Oödinium pilularis?
Oödinium pilularis is the technical term for the parasitic infection more commonly known as Rust, Gold Dust Disease, and Velvet Disease. For the sake of popularity, I will refer to this illness as Velvet disease.
Velvet is one of those diseases that is more difficult to detect but can be easily prevented. As I have mentioned before, poor water conditions including unacceptable temperature levels or frequent variations in water temperature can cause stress in fish. Just like any human or animal, stress lowers immunities. Naturally this leads to higher susceptibility to any water-borne pathogens and parasites.
A siamese fighting fish with Velvet disease will exhibit classic signs of illness such as appetite loss, lethargy, and clamping fins against the body.
The most notable signs that will differentiate this illness from others are first observed as glancing on rocks or ornaments in the tank. When any fish rubs against objects in their habitat shows signs of a parasitic infection. Parasites irritate their skin and scales much like fleas or ticks affect other animals.
To pin point a betta fish velvet infection you will need to watch for a gold dusting on the body. It could be yellowish or a rusty colored film. As the disease progresses you will notice weight loss and rapid gill movement. In advanced cases, there have been many reports of skin peeling.
What to do when betta fish velvet is apparent?
Turn out the lights. This strand of parasite is related to the algae family. Algae suffocates without any uv rays or lighting so it is best to keep your fish in the dark. Oödinium pilularis relies on light for life. Also raise the water temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit to help speed the process of suffocating the organisms.
To treat Oödinium pilularis, or velvet disease, adding aquarium salt and an aloe-based stress coat tonic will improve survival rates greatly. I cannot stress enough how important these two things are for treating and preventing disease. Aquarium salt and aloe reduce and kill water-born pathogens. They also promote healthy mucus and increase immunities in all fish. The stress on your betta fish will reduce greatly with these aids and can be used as a future preventative for all illness.
After these natural methods have been exercised please follow the next steps. It would be wise to follow them even if your tank is in the early stages of Oödinium pilularis.
Velvet is very contagious. You must be sure to treat your whole tank even if you do choose to isolate the ill. When treating an isolated betta fish, the product BettaZing is a highly reputable medication used to treat velvet disease. However, there are certain precautions to follow. Wear gloves while measuring and treating. This medication could be harmful to humans and stains skin and fabrics. I also know there are some tank mates that do not react well to BettaZing. This is why I only recommend it for isolated betta splendens.
When treating a full tank, a safe method is a 10 day copper sulphate treatment. Be sure to follow directions according to the strength you purchase. The black carbon filter must be removed prior to any medicating. Finally, remember that a water change could be a very healing benefit for your fish. Whatever medication you choose will demand a water change.