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Related FAQs: Freshwater Disease, Freshwater Disease 2, Freshwater Infectious Disease, Infectious FW Diseases 2, Infectious FW Disease 3, Infectious FW Disease 4, Infectious FW Disease 5, & Finrot, Dropsy/Dropsical Conditions, Freshwater Fish Parasites, FW Fish Parasitic Disease 2, & FAQs on: Diagnosis/Identification of Parasites, Internal Parasites, FW Parasite Treatments, Freshwater Protozoan Parasite Diseases, Diagnosing/Identifying FW Protozoan Diseases, ( Ich/White Spot Disease, Freshwater Velvet, Sporozoan Parasites, Whirling Disease, Hexamita/Octomita in Freshwater Systems,) & Freshwater Disease, Freshwater Medications, Nutritional Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease, Betta Disease 1,

Related Articles: Understanding Bacterial Disease in Aquarium Fish; With a gallery of bacterial infections, a discussion of 'Fish TB', and a listing of major antimicrobial medications with examples available to fishkeepers By Myron Roth, Ph.D., Ich, White Spot Disease, Freshwater Maintenance, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks,

/The Conscientious Aquarist Series: Health/Disease:

Freshwater Fish Infectious and Parasitic Diseases

By Bob Fenner

Yes, there are true fungal diseases of fishes

With careful selection, quarantine and acclimation procedures most instances of fish parasite problems can be outright avoided. However, all aquarists should be aware of the most common types of disease, including parasitic.

There are several species of protozoans and larger (bacteria, fungi complaints are called infectious) animals, mainly worms and crustaceans, that infest freshwater fishes. Some of these have direct (no intermediate host) while others have complex (having one or more intermediary hosts) relations. Wild-caught livestock is especially prone to such troubles, and without adequate precautions (mainly isolation, quarantine) their problems can run rampant in our aquariums.

Below is a list of what the most commonly encountered species of freshwater fish parasites are, what they look like grossly (w/o the use of a microscope) on fishes, and the most established means of their eradication.

Parasites/Description, Name/Symptoms, Cures:

Virus:

Lymphocystis (virus); Glugea, Henneguya (sporozoans) Lymph. White clumpy or nodular growths, generally at base of fins. Improved water quality, possibly removal by hand

Funguses:

Saprolegnia, Achyla. Funguses. Body Fungus; appear as white or gray fluff or patches on body, fins. Improved water quality, malachite, formalin, sulfa drugs
Ichthyosporidium (Ichthyophonus). Fungus Black or yellow nodules, ulcers on or under skin. Improved water quality, nutrition
Columnaris, Fungus Mouth Fungus; appears as white or gray fluff on the mouth Improved water quality, malachite, formalin, sulfa drugs

Bacteria:

Aeromonas. Bacteria Dropsy; distended abdomen, scales protrude at right angles, redness Furan compounds
Bacterial Hemorrhagia, Bacteria Red Pest, Secondary Bacterial infection, red streaks on fins Furan compounds, antibiotics, improved water quality, nutrition
Bacterial Fin Rot, Bacteria Dissolving fins Furan compounds, antibiotics, improved water quality, nutrition

Protozoans:

Ichthyophthirius multifilius. A holociliate protozoan. Ich or White spot; appears as pin-head pumps on the fishes body, fins. Fish scratching. Elevated temperature (mid-80's), malachite, copper, silver solutions.
Oodinium ocellatum et al. A dinoflagellate Oodinium,Velvet or Rust; appears as a white or golden sprinkling on body, fins. Fast breathing. Absence of light, malachite, copper solutions.
Head and Lateral Line Disease. Hexamita (Octomita). Protozoan Pits in head and along in pits of lateral line system. Metronidazole (Flagyl), improved nutrition (vitamins, iodide)
Pleistophora. A sporozoan Neon Tetra Disease (affects other species); listlessness, whitened areas of mid-body. No known cure. Removal of affected specimens.
Costia (Ichthyobodo), Chilodonella, Trichodina. Protozoans Called by causative organism; cloudiness on skin. Labored breathing, lethargy. Potassium permanganate, malachite and formalin, copper, salt baths
Tetrahymena needs to be added to the ciliated protozoans section alongside Chilodonella, Trichodina and Costia. I've personally battled this nasty and it really IS a fish killer in closed systems. PaulV.
Some Excellent Micrographs of FW Protozoans by Paul Vaughn
Chilodonella, per scale and 800X

Tetrahymena 400X and an RBC?

Flatworms; Platyhelminthes

Metacercariae. Digenetic Flukes Flukes. Red or Black nodules under skin. Organophosphates
The BEST suggested treatment for the Platyhelminthes/flatworms section is by far and hands down, Praziquantel (AKA, Droncit or Biltricide). It is 100% nontoxic to humans, fish, crustaceans and biofilter. PaulV.
Dactylogyrus, Gyrodactylus. Monogenetic Flukes Body or Gill Flukes; lethargy, chewed gills, pale skin, drooping fins, emaciation Organophosphates, formalin, salt baths
Some Excellent Micrographs of Dactylogyrus by Paul Vaughn, 80X

Cestodes, Tapeworms Tapeworms. White or gray nodules under the skin, distinctive worms in the gut. Organophosphates

Crustaceans:

Crustaceans on skin. Argulus, Ergasilus, Lernaea Larger (visible with naked eye) hanging on to hosts sides, gills with hooks, scratching, redness Organophosphates
For the crustacean parasites, Dimilin is my favorite as it too is nontoxic to the bio-filter and fish. Please consider adding this to the treatment column as the first choice. PaulV.

Environmental:

Exophthalmia, protruding eyes Pop-eye. Gas embolism, toxins, some parasites Epsom salt
Head and Lateral Line Disease. Hexamita (Octomita). Protozoan Pits in head and along in pits of lateral line system. Metronidazole (Flagyl), improved nutrition (vitamins, iodide)

About Prevention:

As the saying goes... "an ounce... is worth a pound of cure". There are three sets of factors that determine livestock health and its reciprocal disease. Of these the elements that are prevention: livestock selection, proper environment, and not allowing the introduction of pathogenic (disease inducing) organisms are germinal.

About Suitable, Stable Environment:

All diseases are to some degree environmentally mediated... some caused directly as a consequence of too inappropriate circumstances, or too variable of ones. Much goes into defining an environment. Water quality, foods/feeding/nutrition, the role of tankmates, physical make-up... And these factors are species specific; different for different types of life. And may be age/size specific as well; with individuals living in another set of circumstances preferable with growth.

About Quarantine:

Not many people do so, but having a separate system, placing new livestock there for a couple of weeks for quarantine is one of the best practices you can engage in to assure your success. Quarantining newbies does a few important things for you. It gives the new livestock a chance to "rest up" before becoming embroiled in a new social dynamic. Most importantly for or topic here, this time allows for the development and possible treatment for infectious and parasitic disease... without it spreading to your main/display system.

Bibliography/Further Reading:

FishDoc.com

Freshwater Infectious and Parasitic Disease 7/28/07 Hi Bob! Thanks for adding me to the WWM Crew. If there is anything I can do beyond answering queries, let me know. I'll do my best to help out in any way I can. I DO have a couple suggestions. I think that this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm needs a couple additions and subtractions. Tetrahymena needs to be added to the ciliated protozoans section alongside Chilodonella, Trichodina and Costia. I've personally battled this nasty and it really IS a fish killer in closed systems. Copper should be removed from all corresponding treatment columns as it shouldn't be on the freshwater page for obvious toxicological complications when using it in freshwater species of fish. In my opinion, there is too thin of a line between the levels needed for effective treatment and an overdose. Regardless, Copper is so far down the hierarchal list of chemicals for treating freshwater protozoans that it really should be relegated to a strictly saltwater treatment. Just a thought.... The BEST suggested treatment for the Platyhelminthes/flatworms section is by far and hands down, Praziquantel (AKA, Droncit or Biltricide). It is 100% nontoxic to humans, fish, crustaceans and biofilter. I would seriously consider adding this to the list as the first choice in treatment. It can and will reduce a lot of mortalities due to the other, more toxic remedies such as Potassium Permanganate, Formalin/Malachite Green and organophosphates (fluke tabs?). For the crustacean parasites, Dimilin is my favorite as it too is nontoxic to the bio-filter and fish. Please consider adding this to the treatment column as the first choice. Thanks for looking into this Bob. Do you have any input on my thoughts outlined above? <Am in agreement entirely, will addend. Cheers, Bob/Chuang Tzu/Fenner> Twothless (Paul)

Re: Some contributions 7/28/07 Once again, Hi Bob! <Pablo> I swear this is the last time I'll pester you.... <Never a bother> At least for a while.... I have several good videos and some great photos of the following: Tetrahymena Pyriformis, Chilodonella (Cyprini/Piscicola and Uncinata, both facultative) as well as a species of Dactylogyrus. I've searched and found no place where there's a compilation of photos regarding disease or parasites. If there is such a place, can I donate my media? <I will gladly help you find such... or aid us in putting them on WWM with an offer to others there> Also, should I be making general queries such as these to Sabrina instead of bogging you down? <I do wish Sab had enough time to help us> I know your already inundated with "Dear Bobs"..... Thanks again, Paul <Might I ask, where did you make these images? BobF>

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