Kmuda's Bacterial Pitting Treatment

Written by Kmuda. Posted in Health and Disease

Treating Skin Ulcers in Fish

While fighting an initially loosing (and reoccuring) battle with a John Satisfaction Syndrome Like" pitting disease in my Oscar, I developed a combination of meds that finally cured the fish. This treatment regime has subsequently been successfully employeed in several instances of bacterial pitting in other fish. So it is detailed here for future use.

Bacterial Pitting Diagnoses

Often times, bacterial pitting is misdiagnosed as HITH. The defining difference is that HITH starts on the head and spreads down the lateral line, only reaching the gills once it has reached advanced stages. Bacterial Pitting will (usually) start elsewhere on the body. In most “non-injury-related” cases, bacterial pitting will start around the gill area.

Examples of ”JSS like” Bacterial Pitting of fish prior to treatment:

Tiger Oscar with Bacterial Pitting

Tiger Oscar with Bacterial Pitting, another view

Bacterial pitting is commonly the result of a wound becoming infected. This can entail anything from a minor scrape to huge chunks of flesh being gouged out. Afterall, Oscars are clumsy fish. This treatment regime was developed trying to cure my Oscar of bacterial pitting that began as a result of a minor scrape, creating a wound that would not heal, and began growing larger. It has subsequently proven effective against other bacterial ailments, including ”JSS like” wounds.


You need three med's (plus salt, I use Canning Salt):

  • Seachem NeoPlex
  • Seachem KanaPlex
  • Seachem Paraguard
  • Canning Salt (although any salt will work)

Use each med for a 1 week run, with the salt used during the duration of treament as well as post treatment. If the fish is eating, start with the NeoPlex. If he is not, start with KanaPlex.

Treatment Process

  • Step 1: Perform a large water change, introducing a salt dosage of 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons.
  • Step 2: Dose with NeoPlex. A single dose of NeoPlex is good for 1 week.
  • Step 3: After this week, perform another nice large water change, still maintaining the salt dosage.
  • Step 4: Dose with SeaChem KanaPlex. KanaPlex is dosed every other day. So dose, wait a day, perform a medium water change (still maintaining the salt dosage), dose again, wait a day, another medium water change (still maintaining the salt), and dose again. Wait a day, perform another medium water change, and dose with SeaChem ParaGuard (step 4)
  • Step 5: Paraguard is dosed daily. I would perform a decent water change midway through the week.

Additional Treatment Notes:

  • You maintain the salt dosage throughout the treatment and for several weeks following.
  • As previously mentioned, if the fish is not eating, flip steps 1 and 2, starting the dosage with KanaPlex.
  • If you see dramatic improvement after any of the treatments, repeat that treatment for another week before moving on to the next treatment.

Both NeoPlex and KanaPlex are a bit difficult to size. A 5 gram container of KanaPlex is enough for 1 dosage of my 120 gallon tank (actually, it's a bit more than enough). A 10g container of NeoPlex is enough for 1 dose on the same tank.

You also need to order enough medications for repeated treatments. My Oscar, after the first round of treatment, appeared to a have a complete cure, only to have the issue rebound again a few months later. Subsquent treatments appear to have resolved the problem in that he has been pit free for the better part of a year and the last two “scrapes”, which always brought on the onset of subsequent pitting, have healed on their own (without additional treatment).


Below is a pic of the same fish in the beginning of this article, with these pics being taken the week after all treatments are completed.

The treatment is working =)