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Bacterial Tufts & Viral Nodules

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Bacterial Tufts

So, I borrowed this terminology from Dr. Charlie Gregory: https://www.aquaveterinarian.com

It basically refers to white growths on the fish that are bacterial in nature. They oftentimes start out looking like Ich (or sometimes as small as Velvet) and then look more like Lymphocystis nodules as they grow in size. Bacterial tufts can be skinny, wiry looking white growths or look like raised thicker white dots.

Two ways to distinguish these from Ich trophonts:

  1. Bacterial tufts will remain on a fish for > 7 days. Ich trophonts typically disappear within 7 days.
  2. Bacterial tufts will protrude outward from the fish, and dangle off and sometimes even get blown by the flow. Ich will appear to be just under the epithelium (outer skin layer).

More from Dr. Gregory: Paracanthus "hippo" tang and naso family tangs commonly get vibrio bacterial tufts when stressed from poor water whemistry or fish aggression that look a lot like cryptocaryon. Most common difference is tufts do not appear on eyes, are usually along lateral line or face, and of course stain as bacteria and not visible as protozoans under microscope.

Viral Nodules

To complicate things even further is fish will sometimes get viral nodules as well, and they can look exactly the same as bacterial tufts!! Again, Lymphocystis nodules are the closest comparison: Lymphocystis


No medications should be used. I've found that just keeping the fish in clean water, utilizing good nutrition and food soaking Vitamins/Beta-glucan seems to clear both in time: Vitamins & Herbal Remedies

Hippo Tangs seem to be most susceptible, especially right after they come out of copper (probably because it suppresses their immune system).


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Below is a video of a Tiger Angel with virus nodules:

And the associated skin scrape:


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This is incredibly helpful, finally a decent resource to help break apart the myth of "harmless transient ich" on hippo tangs.

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