How to Treat the Livebearer Disease

How to treat the Livebearer disease

Livebearer disease is a catch-all term used to describe many disorders that commonly affect livebearers (or fish that bear live young). You can get shimmies or wasting disease, body fungal, and many other ailments. First, diagnose and treat your fish for the specific type of livebearer illness.


Why Are So Many Diseases Called “Livebearer Disease”?

Livebearers are frequently raised in hard water or brackish environments (see this article for more details), and when they get brought into our fully freshwater aquariums, their bodies start to crash, their immune systems become compromised, and it’s easier for pathogens to attack. Many times, people unknowingly buy a very stressed out group of livebearers who catch the next illness that comes along and wipes out all the fish in their tanks. Because hobbyists aren’t skilled at diagnosing fish diseases, this outbreak is often called “livebearer disease”. There are many fish diseases, but the most common ones that your livebearer will have is fin rot, internal parasites, fungus or some other commonplace condition. To prevent the spread of such infections, we highly recommend quarantining all fish that enter your home, feeding them high-quality foods to boost their health, and treating them with preventative medications (like vaccinating a new puppy).

We were concerned about the health problems that new livebearers face. Therefore, we sought out ichthyologists to help us narrow down the selection of fish medications. Based on our research, we narrowed down the search to three broad-spectrum medications – Mardel Maracyn, Aquarium Solutions Ich-X, and Fritz ParaCleanse. Over the years, our fish store has seen thousands of fish. Every fish is treated with this trio. This article will show you how to prevent illness in your fish by using these medications at home.

Quarantine drugs in a trio

Shimmies, Shimmying, or Molly Disease

Shimmying can be seen in mollies or other livebearers. The fish will rock its body in a snakelike motion, moving in a shimmering motion. Shimmies can be caused either by:

– Fish may “shiver” to heat up at low temperatures. – Low pH levels, where their skin is burning from acidic water.

This is the most serious problem, as most farm-raised bees are raised in either hard or brackish water environments. For the past 30-40 year, the standard wisdom has been to add salt in order to treat shimmying of African cichlids or livebearers. “Livebearer salt” not only contains sodium chloride salt (e.g., regular table salt and aquarium salt), but also a mixture of calcium, magnesium, electrolytes, and other minerals that are essential for healthy biological functions. One of the reasons we don’t recommend salt is that it can damage plants and snails when used in higher amounts.

Mollies can shimmy if they were raised in brackish (partly saltwater, partly freshwater) environments.

If your livebearer is shimmying, provide the optimal living conditions with higher pH levels from 7.0 to 8.0, warmer temperatures between 76deg and 80degF, and increased mineral content. If you have soft water, minerals can be easily added with supplements such crushed coral, Wonder Shell, and Seachem Equilibrium. If your tap water is extremely hard, simply doing more frequent, partial water changes may be enough to bring additional minerals into the aquarium. Just remember that the fish you bought may have been sitting at the wholesaler and fish store for a long time in fresh water with no minerals. If the damage is already done, and the treatment wasn’t performed quickly enough, it might not be possible save the fish.

Wasting Disease, Skinny Disease

One example of wasting diseases is when you buy 20 fish. Five of the fish look extremely skinny after a month, while the rest of your fish are fine. The five fish that died eventually die, but a few months later you see five more fish becoming thinner and dying. This is due to internal parasites like tapeworms and camallanus worms. The parasites steal nutrients from the fish’s body, causing weight loss and organ damage in the long term.

Tapeworms infest a fish’s digestive system and can cause intestinal blockages. Some symptoms include stringy poop and weight loss, but the disease can be hard to accurately diagnose without examining the feces under a microscope. That’s why we recommend that every fish gets a preventative treatment of ParaCleanse, which contains an antiparasitic drug called metronidazole and a dewormer called praziquantel. You should repeat the ParaCleanse treatment approximately two to three more weeks after the initial one to make sure that all eggs hatching new eggs are also eradicated.

Tapeworms may be hard to identify without a microscope.

If ParaCleanse does not stop the wasting disease, you may need to try another kind of dewormer. Fritz Expel-P is very effective for treating roundworms, camallanus red worms, hookworms, and even planaria in your aquarium. Most internal parasites are not visible to the naked eye. However, camallanus and hookworms can easily be identified visually. Medications like Expel-P that contain the active ingredient of levamisole or flubendazole work by paralyzing the adult worms so that they can be expelled by the fish and removed using an aquarium siphon. To eliminate any parasites remaining, you should re-dose the tank with the dewormer two to three weeks following the initial treatment.

Worms are particularly easy to spread because their eggs are passed through fish waste and livebearers are excellent scavengers that tend to consume infected feces. While worms also affect other species like angelfish, they usually don’t kill them because the parasites are so tiny in comparison to the large cichlids. The worms that infect a guppy or small livebearer are smaller and can cause serious health problems.

How to Prevent Livebearer Disease

Preventing illness is the key to fish health. If you are looking for new livebearers, these guidelines will help:

1. Provide the proper water parameters with a pH of 7.0 or higher and lots of minerals in the aquarium. Use crushed coral, Wonder Shell, or Equilibrium to help boost your mineral levels if needed. 2. All new fish should be kept in quarantine for at least a week to check for signs and symptoms. Consider treating them with the trio of quarantine medications to prevent the most common diseases. 3. If the fish are being kept in quarantine, you can provide a low-stress environment that will help them heal from their travels. They should be kept away from other aggressive fish and fed plenty of healthy food.

If your fish exhibits a different set symptom and you doubt they have livebearer’s disease, you can check our articles on other fish diseases with detailed instructions.