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Columnaris (Cotton Wool Disease)

Columnaris (Flexibacter columnaris) or Cotton Wool Disease is another bacterial infection. The common name comes from the white tufts that develop around the mouth and spread to the body and fins, often leading to ulcers and a thin appearance.

Often mistaken for a fungal infection because of its mold-like lesions, Columnaris is a common bacterial infection in cultured fish, particularly livebearing fish and catfish. Its name is derived from columnar shaped bacteria, which are present in virtually all pond environments.

The bacteria are most likely to infect fish that have been stressed by such conditions as poor water quality, inadequate diet, or handling and shipping. Columnaris can enter the fish through the gills, mouth, or via small wounds on the skin. The disease is highly contagious and may be spread through contaminated nets, specimen containers, and even food.

Treatment with anti-bacterial medicine is usually effective.

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