The gill is a very important organ in any tropical freshwater fish. For humans the act of breathing happens in the lungs. The exchange of carbon dioxide gas for oxygen gas is an important function for all living creatures. But aquarium fish do not have lungs as humans do. Instead, they have filaments on either side of their throat: the gills.

How the Gill Works

Although most people are aware that fish use their gills for breathing, these organs do much more than simple gas exchange. As the water moves over the filaments of the gills, they exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. Fish take water in by the mouth and push it outward over the filaments of the gill. The delicate structure of the gills of aquarium fish makes them very important for maintaining the health of your fish.

Gills and Fish Health

There are a number of ailments that fish in freshwater aquariums can suffer affecting the gills. Columnaris (also called Cotton Wool Disease) may leave yellowish gray patches on the gills. Velvet or Gold Dust Disease can leave gold to white spots on the fish, and the animal can have difficulty breathing because of damage to their gills. Parasites such as copepods can also damage the gills. Ammonia poisoning causes the gills to become red or bloody, leaving the fish gasping for air. Fortunately, all of these can be treated if caught quickly enough.

Keeping the Fish Breathing

Good aquarium maintenance is the most certain way of preventing these ailments from damaging your fish’s gills.  Some of the ailments mentioned above require medications for the fish in order to combat the ailment. Something like ammonia poisoning can be remedied by improving your cleaning routines and making sure tank filters are working properly. Some of the diseases are contagious, however, and  a full cleaning and disinfecting of the tank may be necessary, in order to keep all your fish healthy.

Making sure that regular maintenance of your aquarium is very important for the health of your fish. How frequently you do a thorough cleaning of your tank can depend on the size of the aquarium. If you do not feel confident about your own ability to do the cleaning, especially if you are dealing with the aftermath of a contagious fish disease, look to an aquarium cleaning service like Aquatech Aquarium Service for expert help and advice.

Careful attention to your fish can ensure they get proper care and thrive. Make note of whether there seems to be discoloration around your fish’s gills or if they seem to be having a hard time breathing. If you notice that one of your fish is ailing contact experts to determine what specifically you need to do to bring them back to good health.