How to Treat an Oscar Fish With Hole in the Head Disease

Written by naomi bolton Google
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How to Treat an Oscar Fish With Hole in the Head Disease
Oscar fish belong to the cichlid family and are susceptible to hole in the head disease. (Red Tiger Oscar image by Mike Price from

"Hole in the head" disease or "head and lateral line erosion" in fish is caused by four conditions. These factors include poor water quality, incorrect diet, Heximita infections and the use of dusty charcoal. This disease targets the sensory organs around the face, head and lateral line region, causing tissue loss and deep pits in the skin of the affected fish. Hole in the head disease commonly affects fish in the cichlid family, most noticeably Oscars and discus. The procedures and treatment described here are for a 50-gallon aquarium.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Three, 10-gallon buckets
  • 1-pint container
  • 3-foot long, 0.75-inch diameter transparent plastic pipe
  • 10-fl oz bottle of Tetra AquaSafe
  • Handful of filter wool
  • Frozen prawns
  • Liquid vitamin for aquarium use
  • Insulin syringe
  • Sharp knife
  • Bottle of 80 tablets of Octozin from Waterlife

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  1. 1

    Fill a 10-gallon bucket with tap water. Add 5 teaspoons of Tetra AquaSafe to the water. This product removes chlorine from the water, which if left, will damage the fish's gills.

  2. 2

    Use a transparent plastic pipe to drain 10-gallons of aquarium water into the second 10-gallon bucket. Discard this water.

  3. 3

    Replace the old water with the freshly made up water. This is done to dilute any serious water pollution, without stressing the fish by doing a complete water change.

  4. 4

    Repeat the 10-gallon water change with chlorine free water, twice more. Perform one water change per day.

  5. 5

    Thaw a frozen prawn. Draw 0.1 units of liquid vitamin into an insulin syringe and inject into the flesh of the prawn. Cut the prawn into bite sized pieces and feed to the ill fish. This improved and vitamin-enriched diet will assist the fish to fight the Heximita infection.

  6. 6

    Remove the filters from the aquarium and place in the third 10-gallon bucket. Remove the filter material and discard the charcoal. Use a tooth brush to clean debris from within the filter and rinse the filter under running water. Replace the old filter wool with new wool. Do not replace the charcoal, as the dust from this filter material can aggravate hole in the head. The charcoal will also remove any medication from the water, which you do not want at this point.

  7. 7

    Add 25 Octozin tablets to a 1-pint container of aquarium water. Mix thoroughly and pour into the aquarium. This is a medication to treat the Heximita, which is a protozoan parasite. Repeat the treatment for three consecutive days. Add the medication after doing the water change.

  8. 8

    Turn off the aquarium lights and disturb the fish as little as possible.

  9. 9

    On the eighth day after you begin treatment, do a 50 per cent water change. Use water that has been treated with chlorine remover.

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