White feces in fish, also called white stringy poop, is a fairly common symptom in both freshwater and marine aquarium fish which not always accompanies a certain disease. However, most of the time, the lumpy and/or white stringy feces (or sometimes even yellow poop) in discus fish is a sign of fecal disorders such as internal diseases and in particular, parasitic infections. Bacterial infections can be the other disease-related reason for white stringy feces in tropical fish and Symphysodon discus.
If you see yellow to white feces and/or the long, lumpy, stringy, and segmented poops present in the tank water or hanging from the fish’s anus, then you should be concerned about possible diseases such as intestinal parasites, internal infections, high levels of stress, and etc. Even though the white segmented poop is usually a symptom of internal parasites among discus, it is not always the case and white stringy feces is not necessarily a sign of a certain disease and can be caused by so many other factors.
In this article, I introduce and state the symptoms and signs, causes, and possible treatments and cures for white feces/long stringy poop in tropical discus fish. I will be trying to make you able to distinguish normal poop from abnormal, distinguish disease-related conditions from non-disease-related, diagnose the reasons and causes, and finally choose possible right medications to treat the condition.
Non-disease-related Causes for White Feces in Discus
Although, in most of the time, the white lumpy feces in discus could be an evidence of existence of a disease, it is not always the case. So before using any medications, make sure whether your discus needs it or not and bear in mind that all drugs and medicines have potential side effects, so unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics and anti-parasite medications carries major risks for fish health . Here are the most common Non-disease-related causes and reasons for stringy white poop in discus fish.
Stress: Indigestion, Diarrhea & Digestive Disorder
Long-term exposure to stress, regardless of where the stress comes from, lead discus and all other sensitive fish to serious health problems such as indigestion, conditions like diarrhea, and other digestive disorders. As a discus keeper, you must be able to diagnose, reduce and stop the roots of stress in the aquarium environment and especially discus tank. Sudden changes in the water parameters and tank environment, as well as, high levels of ammonia and chlorine can be the possible causes of stress. Also, stress can be caused by an excessively bright tank or the presence of disease. There should be many other causes of stress in a discus fish that only can be diagnosed by the discus keeper. You will need to regularly check your aquarium and fish, since any change in the appearance or behavior of a discus may be a sign of stress.
Diet: Poop Color, Shape, and Texture
The fish diet can affect the color or consistency of the poop, particularly if the food is new to your discus digestive system. A very common example of if this condition is when you added like spinach, Spirulina algae, peas, Magnesium sulfate(Epsom salt), etc. in fish food or beef heart mix. Any dried fish food should be soaked for couple of minutes first to avoid digestive upsets. Discus can hardly digests high fiber vegetables and greens, so it is highly recommended to boil them before adding to beef heart mix. Some medications and multivitamins can also change fish feces in different ways. By the way, not-eating or eating very little, can have the same outcome.
Examples of a bad or low-quality diet are when it consists of too much fiber and/or fat, when there is a grow or color hormone in it and when there is a sudden change in it. If your fish is not eating or is overfeeding then that can also change fish feces color to white as well. White segmented feces can be also a result of a beefheart-only diet in discus.
Disease-related Causes for Discus White Stringy Poop
As mentioned above, diseases are the most usual reason for white feces symptom in discus. These diseases and infections can be either primary or secondary and they also affect fish poop either directly or indirectly. For example, some of them affect digestive system only by imposing a lot of stress to fish and not directly! Any ways, here are some of the most common disease-related reasons for stringy poop in fish.
When a discus has long stringy poop, the first thing that comes to mind is Internal parasites. These internal parasites could be either intestinal protozoa or intestinal worms. Among all intestinal protozoa, Hexamita is the most notorious cause of white poop in discus. Other than Hexamita, some believe that Spironucleus which is known for causing hole in the head disease in fish can also change the poop color and shape. Some of the most common worms that can affect tropical fish especially discus are tapeworms such as cestodes, flukes such as trematodes, and roundworms such as nematodes. These parasites can be spread and introduced through new plants, fish and other objects into the aquarium and discus tank.
Internal Bacterial Infections
Internal bacterial diseases and infections such as bloated stomach, swim bladder(also known as gas bladder), rectal infections, dropsy, etc. are some common causes for white and long stringy feces. Antibiotics are effective against these internal bacterial infections.
Treatment, Cure, and Medication for White Stringy Feces in Discus Fish
Since it is just a symptom of an underlying disorder in fish, there is no certain medication or treatment to cure it. In other words, you can not cure white feces/long stringy poop condition without knowing its causes. Medication for protozoan infection is different from that of parasitic worms. By the way, non-disease-related cases might not need any medication at all.