Seven Parasites Harmful to Your Tropical Fish


Seven Parasites Harmful to Your Tropical Fish

Just like any other creature, your fish can suffer from disease
and parasites. When fish have parasites they are very contagious.
If a fish actually has parasites, it’s highly recommended to
separate the fish in question from all the other aquatic life in
your fish tank. Taking the fish out of the aquarium into a
portable container is probably the best way to do so. Otherwise
the parasites will most likely spread through the whole fish tank
until all fish are infected. Below is a list of seven parasites
that are common among tropical fish:Fish lice — this parasite is tricky because
it is so hard to spot. This parasite will hide itself by taking
on the same color as its host. The host fish will try to get
rid of the lice by rubbing its body against stones, plants or
along the side of the tank in an effort to try and remove them.

Anchor worms – these parasites are females and
have an anchor shaped head, which they use to burrow its way
into the flesh of its prey. Once they bury themselves into the
fish there may be a little bit of bleeding on the fish where
the head has attached itself. You may also be able to see a
little worm or tentacle that is white protruding out from the
spot where the parasite is attached. Because this parasite’s
head is anchor shaped it is difficult to remove, and if pulled
out by force may cause the fish to suffer a bleeding wound.

Leeches – Leeches feed on blood and should be
removed as soon as possible. Although the leech leaves the fish
as soon as it is full, the blood loss might be lethal for
delicate tropical fish. Pulling off the parasite by grasping it
can cause regurgitation and leave parts of the leech’s jaw
attached to the wound, increasing the risk of infection. A
better method is to use a fingernail to break the seal of the
oral sucker at both ends of the leech. Start off with the small
end and then continue with the larger end. The leech will
detach its jaws as soon as the sucker’s seal is broken.

Flukes – There are two common types: While
skin flukes attach to the skin of your tropical fish and cause
swelling, gill flukes will make it hard for the fish to
breathe. The gills will turn pink and the fish will probably
stay at the water surface where it can breathe easier. These
skin flukes can cause localized sores and swelling.

Ichthyophthirius – The so-called ‘ich’ or
‘white spot’ is the most common tropical fish disease, caused
by probably the most common freshwater parasite. The typical
behavior of an infected fish includes loss of appetite, rubbing
itself against objects, flashing and hiding abnormally. Once a
fish in your fish tank is infected, quarantine is necessary to
prevent the fish from spreading the tropical fish disease to
the other tank inhabitants.

Piscinoodinium – The microscopic parasite
causes the ‘gold lust disease’, named after the golden patterns
that will appear on the scales of your fish. Once your fish are
infected, the tropical fish disease can be treated with copper
salts, which destroys the parasites in your water.

Hexamita – these parasites are also known as
hole in the head disease. They are basically internal
parasites. These are harmful to your fish when he is weak
because of age, stress or bad water conditions.

In order to prevent any form of parasites and fish disease, take
good care of your fish and the fish tank. Here are some tips to

  • Since nearly every parasite can be spotted, make sure
    to take a good look at your aquatic friends every
    day. Check for visible parasites such as worms,
    leeches, or flukes on the fish’s body. Fighting the
    parasite before it develops can prevent the outbreak of
    a tropical fish disease.
  • Remove parasites manually from the fish; follow-up treatment
    is vital to prevent bacterial or fungal growth.
  • Look to see if your fish has cloudy eyes, white patches or is
    gasping for air, rubbing on objects and is
    listless. Fish lice could cause these symptoms.
  • Internal parasites will cause loss of appetite, listlessness
    and erratic swimming.
  • Note redness, irritation and/or threadlike worms coming from
    the fish’s tail area. If accompanied by bloating,
    these symptoms indicate a nematode infestation,
    also known as roundworm. Nematodes live in the
    intestines and should be treated carefully.
  • Look for any unusual small white or gold speckles resembling
    powder on the fish.
  • Watch the fish swim, to make sure it doesn’t look unstable or
    its fins seem clamped (folded back) to their body.


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