Book Review--Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment by Edward J Noga, M.S., D.V.M.

A review of one of the few go-to textbooks on fish disease management.

  1. A sick tang.
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    Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment by Edward J. Noga, M.S., D.V.M.
    • Hardcover: 536 pages
    • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (July 7, 2010)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0813806976
    • ISBN-13: 978-0813806976

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    The author of this book is Professor of Aquatic Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Zoology at North Carolina State University, and Adjunct Professor of Marine Science at University of North Carolina. So, he certainly has the credentials to talk about fish disease management.

    This carefully researched and annotated 500+ page book is not for everyone. It is a serious textbook, complete with 48 pages of literature cited, and filled with everything you might want to know about fish diseases and possibly more than a few things that the hobbyist doesn't need to know.

    There is information, for example, on how to prepare slides for the microscope and how to culture bacteria. And even if you never want to do that at home, there are lots of great photos for you to see what the microscopic organisms look like.

    Nevertheless, there are not a lot of serious books about fish disease, and this is one of them. So, if you're a nerd, and you want to know things like when and how to use zeolite instead of activated carbon or how scientists dose praziquantel in the laboratory, then you might want a copy of this book on your shelf.

    Photos related to Brookynella infections.
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    The book is divided into three sections and contains 17 chapters total. The first section is all about how to diagnose properly and do a clinical workup. There is even a chapter on how to do a postmortem and how to interpret clinical findings. Part II is called "Problems". This section covers all the different maladies that you may come across, what they look like, and how to diagnose them.

    Part III is Methods for Treating Fish Diseases, and the author covers all the different medications used and how to use them. You will find in this section the common drug treatments that aquarists have heard of like chloroquine diphosphate, malachite green and methylene blue, but there is also plenty of information on things we don't commonly talk about like magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) to treat hexamitosis or eugenol (derived from clove oil) for sedation. There are a couple of pages devoted to how to euthanize humanely.

    The book includes a very good glossary, and a template form for fish diagnosis. There is also a good-sized section in the back on suppliers of both pharmaceuticals and equipment.

    As you read this book review, perhaps you are wondering, "but does the author spend time talking about saltwater fish or is this book mostly about freshwater fish?" And that's a good question. The answer is, yes, he spends considerable time on marine fish disease and treatment.

    This book (second edition) was published in 2010. In the beginning of Chapter 1, Noga gives us some statistics: that roughly 71 million homes in the US have pets, and 15 percent of those homes have aquarium fish. He also states that of those approximately 11 million homes with fish, 95 percent of those are freshwater fish. So, based on those numbers, more than half a million homes in the US have marine fish aquaria, and worldwide he says that there are between 1.5 and 2 million homes with marine aquaria.

    (More recent statistics suggest that 2.5 million homes in the US have a marine aquarium with a consistent upward trend over the last 20 years. That's four times the numbers Noga suggests. There was also recently a big discussion about these statistics on the forum.) Based on these statistics, I would have expected much more information in the book about freshwater than saltwater fish, but this is not necessarily the case. I did not feel while reading that the topic of marine fish was given short shrift.

    I found a couple of pages each for freshwater ich and marine ich, and a couple of pages devoted just to marine velvet, for example.

    The book is filled with unexpected gold nuggets if you read it cover to cover. For example, you will find good diagrams illustrating how to give a fish an injection and more information than I ever knew existed on how to feed a sick fish. And, yes, you can give a fish oral medication via a stomach tube. Good luck with that.

    I recommend this book highly and without reservation. I was pleasantly surprised at its readability and accessibility for the layman and hobbyist. Yes, there may be some more recent treatment guidelines for certain illnesses, but overall, the information is abundant and relevant.

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    Author Profile: Cynthia White

    Cynthia received her BA in English from NYU a long long time ago. She has been a freelance writer and editor for over 20 years. Now she is a writer and editor on staff at R2R, where her forum nickname is @Seawitch. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband, three special-needs dogs, and three saltwater aquariums being set up.

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