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For the health of your fish...
The protective coating of fish….. A little anatomy
knowledge goes a long way in fish keeping.
It is always amazes me how many fish keepers
know so little about a fishes anatomy. Knowing and
understanding the anatomy of the fish you keep can
drastically improve the life span and health of the
fish you choose to keep.

One of the most important disease prevention
systems a fish has available in its anatomy is its
protective coat or slim coat. Many of you may be
fisherman and have caught fish from local streams,
lakes, or rivers. Stream or river trout are known for a
very thick coating of slime coat. Catfish are also
another species of fish that have a very thick layer of
slime coat. You may have felt these slime coats
when you have caught these species in the wild. All
fish have this protective layer on them and it acts as
the first line defense against parasitic infections,
bacteria, and other diseases that a fish may

So now we know what the slime all over our fish is
and what it does. Now we need determine what
arrests or harms the slime barrier or coating that is
natural to our fish we keep. There are many
reasons a fishes slime coating may be
deteriorated. The first and most common reason
for deterioration of slime coating is stress on the
fish in the aquarium setting. So what causes stress
to fish in the aquarium? The main causes of stress
are poor water quality, fish compatibility, incorrect
water changes, and also constant movement of the
fish we keep.

First we will discuss poor water quality. Poor water
quality consists of many water perimeters. Each
fish we keep requires different water perimeters
and thrives in a different type of water setting.
Ammonia and nitrite poisoning are the two most
common types of erroneous water quality. This
stems from un-cycled tanks and housing too many
fish with too great of a bio-load that the filter can not
hold. When water perimeters are consistently
above acceptable levels the fish has an increased
stress level as it is harder for them to even do the
very basic swimming and hovering around the tank
after extended times. Poor water quality causes the
fish to become lethargic and the slime coating of
the fish begins deterioration. Nitrates, gh, and kh
can also be causes of poor water quality.

Second we should discuss fish compatibility. No
two fish are always going to be compatible with
each other. Fish that are not suited for same
aggression, size, water temperature, or even water
perimeters will suffer increased stress and allow
for the deterioration of their protective slime coating.
For example goldfish and tropical fish should not
be kept together as they require different water
temperatures. The water temperature will not be
adequate for one or more fish in the tank and
cause increased stress and could lead to the most
common tank infection, ich. Also fish that are
different sizes and aggressions should not be kept
together. Fish that are smaller and less aggressive
will be tormented and tortured until finally they
those their slime coat and end up falling victim to a
bacterial infection.

Third we should discuss incorrect water changes.
New water added to the tank causes increased
stress to the fish if not properly treated and the
temperature controlled before entering the tank.
Inconsistent water temperatures and water quality
during water changes is a large part of increased
fish stress as well. Chlorine entering the water kill
beneficial bacteria and harm the fishes slime
coating if not properly treated with a product like
prime, stress coat, start right, or aquasafe. Water
conditioners should always be used in water
changes to eliminate the harmful chlorine and
chloramines in tap water.

Finally we should discuss constantly moving the
fish. Fish will not tolerate constant changes to there
environment. Many fish will pout or refrain from
eating for many days after being moved to a new
setting with different tank conditions. This is not
extremely harmful if they will not eat though. Fish
have fatty oils in their livers and can live on days
from the fatty oils that are naturally provided to them
in digestion. However constant netting of the fish or
contact with the fishes body, for example petting the
fish, deteriorate the fishes slime coat and make it
very susceptible to bacteria or infections. The
constant stress caused by chasing the fish while
netting it also causes a great deal of stress. If you
have ever watched the local fish store net your fish
you will see that the fish loses its color commonly
while be netted and transferred. Many times it will
not regain the color until days in your tank. The
color loss is caused by increased stress and this
also depletes the much needed slime coat.

In conclusion a fishes slime coat should not be
disturbed at any time unless absolutely necessary.
Not bothering the fishes slime coat will allow the
fish to live longer, more stress free, and be prone to
less bacterial infections or parasites. When netting
a fish or after a water change use a product like
stress coat that will add electrolytes to your tank
and also increase the fishes natural slime coat.

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Slime coat...