Vitamin C Hole
in the Head:
Attempt to Cure an Oscar's Hole in the Head Disease with a Natural
Source of Vitamin C
and Well-being of Ornamental Fish More Similar to Human Health than
by Josh Day
(updated July 11 2008)
in the Head disease, or HLLE (head and lateral-line erosion) is
a common disease that strikes many large cichlids. Cichlids are
South American freshwater fish such as oscars, angelfish, discus,
and severums. You'd know an oscar if you saw one.
mine below, a red Oscar afflicted with a moderate case of hole in
you can see, hole in the head isn't pretty.
hole in the head is treatable and rarely fatal if you catch it on
time and immediately begin treatment. And thankfully, my fish's
case looks much worse when shot by a flash-equipped camera. Watching
him swim and feed in my tank, the average eye wouldn't even notice
anything wrong with him.
a summary of what's believed to cause hole in the head:
bad water conditions (nitrates over 60 ppm)
diet and nutrient deficiency
of carbon filtration over a long period
tough to nail down the exact trigger. Nobody really understands
this disease... we don't even know if it's a disease or a condition.
The aquarium hobby is rife with heated discussions about hole in
the head and what causes it and what cures it.
do regular water changes on my Oscar tank, but nitrates had been
over 80 for some time. This may have caused the hole in the head.
I'd also been using a powerful carbon and resin filtration for at
least three months, so that may have been the culprit too (though
this theory is generally not accepted and many hobbyists believe
it's been roundly debunked).
I have a theory of my own.
of vitamin c has been reported in many hole in the head outbreaks
(though this in no way could definitively be the sole cause). I
feed my Oscars a nutrient-packed pellet diet, as well as occasional
bloodworms and beefheart. On paper his diet is ideal.
I happen to know something about vitamin c that many people, especially
fish hobbyists, don't know.
majority of vitamin c supplements, as well as vitamin c-added nutrients
for non-human use, does not contain real vitamin c. What's used
instead is a compound called ascorbic acid.
what Dr. Ben Kim has to say about ascorbic acid:
you take a look at a variety of vitamin C supplements, you will
find that the majority of them contain only ascorbic acid or a
compound called ascorbate, which is a less acidic form of ascorbic
acid. Ascorbic acid is NOT vitamin C. It represents the outer
ring that serves as a protective shell for the entire vitamin
C complex, much like an orange peel that serves as a protective
shell for an orange.
vitamin C found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables contains
the following components:
* Bioflavonoids (vitamin P)
* Factor K
* Factor J
* Factor P
* Ascorbic Acid
you take only ascorbic acid found in your synthetic vitamin C
tablet or powder, your body must gather all of the other components
of the full vitamin C complex from your body's tissues in order
to make use of it. In the event that your body does not
have adequate reserves of the other components, ascorbic acid
itself does not provide the same range of health benefits that
the full vitamin C complex does. (Dr.
this be the case in non-humans as well? I don't know, but it's worth
a shot to experiment.
begun soaking pellets in water sprinkled with Real
Vitamin C. After time the pellets will soak up the vitamin c
and provide the fish with the entire spectrum that is this important
vitamin and not just one aspect.
also cut feedings back to every other day, turned up the temperature
in the tank, and included live earthworms, frozen bloodworms, and
canned peas in the oscar's diet. I have also changed out 50% of
the water (too much too fast, my friendly bacteria in the tank has
died off somewhat) and removed the carbon filtration.
cured two severe cases of hole in the head in the past with discus
solely by feeding quality frozen bloodworms and implementing frequent
I don't see any results in five days, I'll be forced to treat with
the medicine metronidazole, which has been proven to fix
hole in the head. Unfortunately, I've never had any luck with this
in the past. Metronidazole did nothing for my discus and I lost
several clown loaches with internal parasites while undergoing intense
throw out your bottle of rock vitamins (ascorbic acid) and give
the real deal a try. If you aren't interested in true vitamin c
powder, you can get vitamin c through the foods below:
the vitamin c powder has not been as effective as I had hoped.
news is they are not any bigger, so that's at least something.
minced garlic and a vitamin-rich food to the treatment. I also do
frequent small water changes, and this seems to help the most as
I think I can tell a difference after a water change.
oscar had a head-on collision with a sharp piece of driftwood and
tore his forehead wide open in two areas above the eyes, exposin
deep white flesh. I upped the vitamin c and garlic (an anti-fungal
and anti-bacterial herb). I also fed fresh live earthworms.
two days the lesions healed and today you can barely see the battle
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and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements
have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and
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cure or prevent any disease.