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FAQs on Freshwater Worm Parasitic Diseases: Diagnosis/Identification

Related Articles: Freshwater Diseases, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Ich/White Spot Disease, Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks, Invertebrates for Freshwater Aquariums by Neale Monks,

Related FAQs: Worm Parasites 1, Freshwater Worms, (Freshwater Worms of All Kinds): & FAQs on: FW Worm Disease Treatments, & FAQs on Parasitic Worms by Group: Platyhelminths/Flatworms: ( Flukes, Planaria, Tapeworms and Leeches), Acanthocephalans, Nematodes/Roundworms (e.g. Camallanus),... Anchor "Worms": See FW Crustacean Parasitic Disease, & Aquarium Maintenance, Freshwater Medications, Freshwater Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish Parasites, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease, Ich/White Spot Disease,

Rosy Barb stringy droppings again (and weird male guppies)     7/28/15
Hi Crew! I've had some adventures in my aquariums since I last wrote, either the new beacon tetras, or the guppies I got a bit later (or perhaps some plant-borne copepods) brought in Camallanus worms which I did not notice during quarantine. It probably would have gotten a lot worse if not for one of the guppy fry getting infested. Because she was so small the worms became obvious a lot sooner, so I was able to treat the fish sooner.
I knew what I was seeing straight away thanks to info I'd read on Wet Web Media. Praziquantel had no effect on its own, but I had success with Levamisole.
<Correct. Prazi is rather less effective than people think.>

All the beacon tetras and all the female guppies shed dead worms, although sadly the guppy fry was too small and weakened to pass the worms and didn't survive. I saw no further sign of infestation even after the second dose a
couple of weeks later. To my surprise, throughout the infestation the rosy barbs never showed signs that they had worms, and never shed any dead ones while everyone else was passing them. I would have thought they would
easily get infected due to their habits of eating anything off the bottom of the tank and taste testing every dropping in
case it's food in disguise.
<Fish are believed to be able to develop some resistance to parasites, including worms.>

Anyway it has been a couple of weeks since the last worming and the affected fish are looking much better. However this week I noticed a couple of the smaller rosy barbs with long white streamers of droppings, much like
what caused me to write my original email. It's been a long time since I've seen the rosy barbs with this issue and I had thought whatever the cause, it had long passed by itself.
This time I was better prepared, and the streamers were longer and easier to catch than last time. I'd bought myself a student microscope during the Camallanus incident, very handy to identify a pink worm I had found in my
snail tank as being a ribbon worm, not a Camallanus worm. So tonight I had some fun searching through the stringy poo looking for anything suspicious.
Once out of the bright lighting of the tank, the droppings do appear to be coloured not white, but they seem to be coated in mucous. Mostly it looks like plant matter with the occasional piece of insect-like particle, which
I am guessing might be pieces of brine shrimp, but in a piece that was mostly mucous I spotted something moving. It looks very much like something wiggling inside an egg. By eye I thought I saw eyespots, but then I wasn't sure any more. Even zoomed in to x100 it's very hard to work out what is what, but I took a picture (see attached) and managed to take a couple of videos, one in focus where the critter doesn't move much, and one where I was trying to adjust the focus and lighting, which makes for an awful video, but the critter moves a lot more so maybe its easier to get an idea of what shape it is (this video gets a bit better at the end).
https://www.youtube.com/v/fZ9F2_KeypM&vq=hd720
https://www.youtube.com/v/m07g3xHKV9U&vq=hd720
Any idea if this fellow or more likely, its parent, could be the cause of the stringy poo in some of the rosy barbs? Whatever it is, it's survived the two courses of Levamisole dosing (and I was soaking the food as well as treating the tank water). If it's something that doesn't belong in the gut
of a fish, how do I treat it?
<The multiple eyes are curious, and suggest to me a Platyhelminth of some sort. I don't see any hooks (typically seen among Cestoda) or suckers (Digenea, Monogenea). So some sort of Trematoda seems probable to me. But really, this is something you need to show a parasitologist. Multiple rounds of anti-helminthic drugs should fix the problem, but at the same time, if the fish are otherwise healthy, you might not need to worry about.
It's probably pretty common for wild-caught fish to have low level parasite infections, and if other environmental and dietary parameters are good, these parasites cause no harm.>
Now, on to the guppies. After 4 + 6 + 11 + 13 guppy fry I have separated the females from the males; I have ended up with 3 female and 8 male adult guppies so the poor females needed some respite. They aren't fancy guppies, they are feral guppies collected from waterways around Darwin, NT and have reverted to a mostly wild look after surviving predation from the local gudgeons, grunters and Pest Management Department.
<Sounds like lovely fish, and I'm glad you could provide a nice home for them.>
Anyway, since the females have been removed, some of the male guppies have taken to shooting up and down from the bottom to the surface in the corners of the tank. I had thought they were evading each other or perhaps the
larger fish, but after watching it doesn't seem like they are reacting to a threat inside the tank. Any idea why they're behaving like this? Perhaps looking for an adjacent tank full of females to leap in to?
<Seems sensible... finding ways to move to somewhere with female fish. I have some surplus male Limia (a close relation to Poecilia) in a catfish tank and they often exhibit this sort of behaviour.>
My tank is fully covered so I'm not worried that I'll lose any, but I am worried that they're acting a bit demented compared to usual. Is this behaviour indicative that something could be wrong? Or are they just confused by the corner and can't work out where to go?
<Well, yes, Guppies are pretty stupid.>
Thanks once again for providing such a great resource and so much good advice.
Cheers,
Bronwen
<Thanks for the kind words. Neale.>




Mysterious red "worms" 8/5/10
Hello Crew,
<Neale>
This time I'm asking the questions!
Three of my female Ameca splendens have spent the last few hours producing masses of red threads from their vents. The threads aren't wriggling but do seem scarily worm-like. The worms are a few inches long, but as thin as hairs. Any ideas what they might be?
Cheers, Neale
<Only guesses w/o images of higher resolution... These are most likely Nematodes... though could be other worm groups. A good idea to treat (through the foods) with an anthelminthic, and of course NOT to mix these fishes with others till they're rid of these lumenal parasites. BobF>
> Hello Bob,
> I've actually sent WWM a question today, about strange red worms. It's in the FW inbox. Obviously I can't answer this one or I wouldn't have sent it!
> Cheers, Neale
<Have just looked, responded... do you have a "loupe" of ten power or so you could focus, take an image through? Or better a 'scope of some sort? Need to see the head/regions, perhaps make a cross-section through the esophagus (tri-radiate in Nematodes...). B>

Re: Mysterious red "worms" 8/5/10
Hello Bob,
<Neale>
I think I established what they are: algae.
<Hmm>
This morning I took an Anubias leaf from another tank and put into the Ameca tank. The leaf was covered with really long thread algae. I wanted to see if the Ameca would eat this stuff. Well, I took out the leaf just now
and it was pretty well scrubbed of thread algae. My guess is that whilst passing through the digestive system of the fish, the green pigment is removed, and so the tell-tale red pigments of the Rhodophyta becomes
obvious -- just as if you'd prepared them in the lab with ethanol.
<Ahh!>
By eye at least, morphology is the same. Plus, this explains why three fish are egesting red threads at exactly the same time, and within a couple of hours of the Anubias lead being stuck in the aquarium!
Since I've had these Ameca a year now, I'd expect to have seen parasites before now, if Nematomorphs or whatever are the issue.
<Agreed>
Cheers, Neale
<And you. B>

Re: Tiny worm-like parasite, FW Angels 1/21/10
Dear Neale,
<Amy,>
I began treatment for parasite infestation Jan. 18 evening. I used a medication containing Praziquantel, Diflubenzuron, Metronidazole, and Acriflavine according to the instructions on the packaging. It was the only medication at any nearby fish stores that advertized to get rid of anchor worms and copepods. The parasite has cleared out (at least visibly), but there has been drastic deterioration of the angel's fins. It looks like he may have a secondary fin rot infection.
<Very probable. The anchor worms break the epidermis, and this is how secondary infections get started.>
The dorsal and pectoral fins seem to have stabilized. However, there is still some loss occurring on the anal fin and the caudal fin is completely gone. Of the latter, all that remains are a few rays and a very red and inflamed base.
<Yes, likely bacterial; treat promptly.>
Shortly after removing the carbon from my canister filter, the ammonia and nitrate levels showed traces, but returned to normal by morning.
<If the carbon was more than a couple of weeks old, it'd be working as biological filter media (and the covering of bacteria is precisely why carbon needs to be replaced with fresh carbon every couple of weeks, at least, if you want it to work as carbon). Removing biological media can knock back filter efficiency if you don't leave enough live biological media behind. Moreover, some medications can and do harm biological filters, sometimes slightly, sometimes severely.>
All my other fish seem to be unaffected. Is it safe to do a partial water change and start treating for fin rot (if that is the problem)?
<Likely is.>
Should I try adding a bit of salt to the tank or dip?
<Salt pointless here. You do need a suitable anti-Finrot medication.>
Any treatment suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again for your time.
Sincerely,
Amy
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Tiny worm-like parasite -- 1/22/10
Dear Neale,
<Amy,>
I would like to thank you again for all the time you have invested in answering my questions. If I may be so bold, there are a few more I would like to ask...
<Fire away.>
The instructions on the anti-parasite medications advise a 48 hour wait before medicating again. I looked up the active ingredients and it appears that at least one causes kidney damage with prolonged exposure.
<Not a problem in this case. For one thing, freshwater fish's kidneys work rather differently to our own, so problems detected when medications are used in humans may not occur with fish. Moreover, most medications sold for use in aquaria have a very short lifespan in the aquarium, typically becoming metabolised within a day. So while all medications are poisons at some level -- including those doctors prescribe for humans -- if used as described by the manufacturer, there's little risk of causing harm to your fish. Indeed, not using the right medication can end up doing far more harm by allowing the pathogen free rein to harm your livestock. So, in short, use a medication for the full duration as described by the manufacturer.
Don't do half doses and don't skip days of treatment on a whim.>
So, I plan on treating for fin rot (with Maracyn unless there is something else you recommend)
<A useful medication, but strictly for bacterial infections rather than worms. Do also note that most medications are formulated to be used ALONE.
Mixing multiple medications in one aquarium is unwise. Standard operating practise is to complete one course of medication, do a 50% water change, and then start another course of medication the following day. Some aquarists like to run carbon in the filter overnight between the two courses. Carbon removes organic chemicals, including medications, which is why you always remove carbon (if you use it) while medicating. In practise the carbon step isn't essential because the bacteria in the filter will metabolise unused medications quite quickly.>
tomorrow afternoon in hopes to save the healthy fishes' nephrons.
<!!!>
However, there is no longer caudal fin to treat on the adult angelfish.
<Can grow back.>
In addition, The base of the caudal fin is sloughing scales and the remaining scales are protruding. To top it all off, the bloat around his belly has worsened, there is red speckling below his right pectoral fin, and fine scales are protruding along the ventral side (the attached photo shows his current condition). Again, water conditions are good and none of the other fish show any signs of illness.
<Unfortunately, septicaemia is quite common once Finrot has progressed down to the base of fins. Since this is an internal bacterial infection, this is best treated with antibiotics, preferably via food rather than added to the water.>
Is it in the angelfish's best interest to continue medicating, or am I prolonging the inevitable?
<By no means; given treatment, there is a chance the fish will recover.
Very small fish rarely do, but Angelfish are just large enough they might pull through.>
If the infection has gone septic, will a fin rot treatment be effective?
<Finrot medication that acts externally will not have much impact on septicaemia. Maracyn by itself isn't particularly useful, but Kanamycin Sulfate and Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Triple Sulfa have both been used successfully. Follow the instructions on these carefully.>
If he does pull through, is there a reasonable chance that he will see any regrowth?
<Fins can regrow provided at least some of the bony rays remain.>
Lastly, does the bloat indicate that there is already irreversible kidney damage?
<Not necessarily.>
Thank you again for your time and expertise.
Sincerely,
Amy
<Good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

A worm question (Horsehair worms; stingrays) 10/17/08 Hello, <Hi,> was just wanted to know I notice some of my ghost shrimp have worms in there intestines are to believe they are Gordian Worm, a.k.a. Horsehair Worms...one died bc the worm killed it but I never notice them b4 on my shrimp I feed these shrimp to my Motoro stingray which I have had for about a week I know they are prone to roundworms and tapeworms but I was wondering if I did feed some shrimp that had these in them can they kill my ray I called the pet store where I got my ray and they never really heard of these worms really and are not sure if they will harm the ray they feed there ghost shrimp to there rays and had no prob but they never looked at there shrimp to see if they had worms so they could be feeding ones that do so I don't know what I should do I don't want my ray to die and I don't know if I should get new shrimp the other ones seem to not have these worms in them..should I continue to feed them to my ray or go and get new ones?????? <Sheesh... not even a period or comma. Do please review our very modest "fee" before writing: we expect e-mails to be spell checked and written with proper grammar. Not much to ask, and the point is that we depend on properly formatted messages so that we can share them with other site visitors. The better Google can index our pages, the more people will view our pages, and the more revenue our advertising generates to pay for bandwidth. It's a simple deal really.> HELP!!! PLEASE KINDA SCARED FOR MY RAY I LOVE HIM!!! <Horsehair worms are not likely to cause your Ray any harm. Most parasites are species-specific, and while they may be harmful to the shrimp, they are unlikely to adapt to the particular anatomy of your Stingray. If you're really that bothered, don't use the shrimps. Earthworms are a very safe food if collected from an area that is "organic", i.e., not sprayed with chemicals. Most rays love earthworms. There's no reason to use live food with most Stingrays anyway, and a varied diet of mussels, prawns and squid is easily provided using foods sold for humans.> thanks Maria <Cheers, Neale.>

Sick fish and some sort of parasites 10/25/07 Hello. How is everything? I am once again, in need of your guidance. I have a 55 gallon tank with 2 great filters. I have 3 adult mollies, (5) 3 month old mollies, 2 dwarf gouramis (male and female), and 7 adult mm platies and (2) 3 month mm platies. My tank is 6 months old and is well established. On Saturday 10/20/07 I cleaned the tank out and scrubbed the walls of it. There was some sort of white almost microscopic worms all over it. Where could this come from??? I use algae tablets and clean the walls every Saturday. I noticed last night my molly with a beautiful tail has fin rot, so I began treatment last night with some medicine. Maracyn. I removed carbon from filters. This morning the white skurmmyworm things are BACK....and are everywhere. Any advise. and 2 of my mm platies are covered in slime...so they going to die Melissa <Hi Melissa. The worms are either free-living nematodes (thread worms) or free-living planarians (flatworms). In either case, they're harmless. But they are an indication that your tank has a lot of organic material lying about, because that's what they eat. In a clean tank, these worms are simply not a problem. So, given your other problems, I'd worry less about the worms and more about the water quality. Mollies and Platys are both sensitive to water quality, and Finrot and Fungus, the problems you have, are caused directly by poor water quality. Have you checked the nitrite and ammonia levels in your aquarium? These need to be zero. Furthermore, Mollies have very little tolerance for nitrate, so nitrate needs to be less than 20 mg/l. Regardless, "cleaning" an aquarium has very little to do with scrubbing the glass. Indeed, tanks that are covered in algae and look messy can have superb water quality. Conversely, plenty of superficially clean aquaria have terrible water quality. So, make sure you are doing all the basics: Don't clean the filter too often, and when you do (maybe once every 2-3 months) do no more than rinse the media in a bucket of aquarium water. Don't waste your filter space with carbon; instead, fill it with biological media. Sponge, filter wool and ceramic media all work great. Make sure you do regular water changes. 25-50% per week is a good amount. You tank isn't heavily stocked, so you should be fine keeping these fish. One last thing: Mollies do much better in brackish or salt water than they do in freshwater. Adding 4-6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre makes all the difference. If you absolutely must keep your Mollies in freshwater, it is ESSENTIAL that the water is spotlessly clean (zero ammonia and nitrite, and minimal nitrate) and that the carbonate hardness is very high (at least 8-10 degrees KH). Otherwise, keeping Mollies becomes an uphill struggle against disease. Platies tolerate slightly brackish water very well, as will most other livebearers. But Dwarf Gouramis not so much. For now, you need to treat your fish with a combination Finrot/Fungus medication; Maracyn should do the trick. Do make sure you remove carbon before using it though. Lots of people forget this critical step, and wonder why their fish medications never work! Once you're done, remember: Fish are basically very healthy and trouble-free animals -- provided you give them the water conditions they want! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick fish and some sort of parasites 10/25/07 I should have mentioned that everything is reading PERFECT. Zero ammonia and zero nitrate. The pH is 7.0....I really don't know what is wrong. I am using Maracyn powder packets with carbon removed. How do I get rid of these little white worm things. They are really grossin' me out and are very unattractive. They have multiplied very fast. Also.....my mollies had a ton of babies......they are doing well it seems.....and have been in the tank for about 4 days. Thank you so so much for all your time <Well, for a start, pH 7 is way too low for livebearers, so that's likely a problem. What this pH says is that your water likely lacks mineral content. When keeping livebearers, the general hardness (dH) and carbonate hardness (KH) are the keys to good health. Test the water and find out. You want at least 5 degrees KH, 12 degrees dH, and ideally above 10 degrees KH, 20 degrees dH if you want your Mollies to do well. Nice and hard water should have a pH around 7.5-8.0. There are two approaches here. Firstly, you can add Malawi salts to the water each time you do a water change. Malawi salts are NOT tonic salts. Malawi salts are added to the water like tonic salts though, and once dissolved into the bucket of water will raise the hardness very effectively. A 50% dose relative to what you need for Malawi cichlids should be fine, so if the box says it'll treat 100 litres, it'll do 200 litres in your aquarium. Alternatively, you add crushed coral to a filter. As the water washes past the crushed coral it will absorb hardness minerals. Likely every month you'll need to clean this crushed coral because bacterial slime makes it ineffective over time. So compared with adding Malawi salts this is "cheap and cheerful" but a little more work. It goes without saying that while all livebearers like "rock hard" water, not all other tropical fish do, so you need to choose tankmates with care. This is why you have to research fish before buying them. But please understand this: if your water chemistry is too soft and acidic for livebearers (which it seems to be) they will never stay healthy. Simple as that. Do you know anything about gardening? It's like trying to grow heather in an alkaline soil: the plant wants an acid soil, so however much you try to help the heather, it'll just die. As for the worms -- their numbers are directly proportional to the food in the tank available to eat. Cut back on the food you give your fish, and remove uneaten food at once, and Mother Nature will take care of their numbers! They'll die back gradually. Really, these worms aren't a problem, and in a stable, properly maintained aquarium you hardly ever see them. Cheers, Neale>

Gourami with worms-- 09/17/07 Good afternoon. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I have found much information on my problem but I'm still not sure exactly which action to take. I have a planted 75 gallon FW tank. About 2 months ago I had a rainbowfish that had a swim bladder problem that turned out to be a very bad case of worms. It happened right after I got back from a long weekend to find out that my fish sitter didn't notice the filter had stopped running. I was unable to save him using PraziPro. I was concerned that the entire tank might have a problem but didn't want to overreact so I did not treat the tank. <Ah, your first mistake: you MUST treat the tank wherever communicable diseases are suspected. Used properly, medications pose no risk to your fish, filter, or plants.> Fast forward to last week and I had a breeder net in to try and save some Cory cat eggs. They didn't hatch but I did see worms on the netting after about 3 days. <Those wouldn't be intestinal worms. If anything, they're more likely to be planarians (flatworms). These are harmless as far as your fish go, being free-living scavengers, but they will eat eggs and to a lesser extent very small fry. Many ways to remove them, but the easiest is simply to keep some sort of fish that eats them, such as gouramis or Paradisefish.> I did a 25 gallon water change and treated the tank with PraziPro. Within 24 hours one of my gouramis had stringy white feces and stopped eating. The next morning his belly was a little swollen. I was hoping that he would be able to pass what I'm guessing must be worms. <Perhaps.> It has been 5 days now and he is in no better shape. He is not eating and I have not seen him pass anything since that first day. His belly is now very swollen this morning. <Because you've delayed treatment, the worms have become a worse problem. There's nothing you can really do except treat the tank and hope for the best. That said, worms by themselves don't normally cause dramatically rapid loss of health. Usually what you see is gradual emaciation of the body while the body cavity itself (sometimes) swells up abnormally. Bacterial infections are much more rapid, and tend not to be associated with gradual emaciation (though they can be) but more normally things like loss of colour, lethargic behaviour, loss of appetite, odd social behaviour, and so on.> I'm not sure that Epsom salt would work because from what I've read I think it must be a bacterial infection. <Likely won't make any difference. Epsom Salt is a muscle relaxant, and helps fix constipation, when coupled with extra fibre in the diet. It isn't a miracle cure.> The rest of the fish seem to have no issues from the treatment. Could you please tell me what direction I should take? <Re-dose the tank with anti-worming medication if you're sure its worms. Otherwise, assume its an internal bacterial infection, and use an antibiotic or antibacterial.> Other than taking care of him, is there anything else I should do to the tank? Should I remove the old plants or gravel? Should I treat with a second round of PraziPro for good measure? <Do a big water change to flush out any remaining medication, and then repeat the PraziPro or add the antibiotic/antibacterial as you decide is required. Unless stated to be safe, don't use two medications at the same time. As ever, remove carbon from the filter if you're using it.> Thank you for your time, Carol <Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: Gourami with worms-- 09/17/07 Neale, Thank you so much for the quick response. I truly don't know what to believe his problem is. Because he started passing the white stringy feces and started to swell after using the PraziPro should I assume it is worms? <Hmm... stringy faeces usually indicate bacterial or more often protozoan parasites. Hexamita is the classic example. PraziPro will do little/nothing to help here, since it's an anti-helminth drug. Erythromycin is a good starting place for internal bacteria, but Hexamita and other Protozoans will need other drugs, like Metronidazole. I think I'd tend to try the Metronidazole first, and see what happens. My gut feeling is this is a protozoan infection, but obviously without seeing the fish, I can't be sure. Worms, you see, are relatively uncommon in aquarium fish because they have complex life cycles that cannot usually complete in an aquarium or fish farm. By contrast protozoan gut parasites are quite common, and though usually harmless, under certain conditions become a problem.> I'm just not sure. What do you think is more likely due to the timing, worms or internal infection? If you believe it is an infection should I hospitalize and treat with Furan-2 or something else? <Unless you're treating for physical damage such that the fish needs to be isolated so it can rest or feed, it's usually a good idea to treat the fish AND the aquarium. For one thing, many fish get stressed when they're moved about, especially schooling fish. Also, it's likely anything that infected one fish has infected the others, even if it isn't currently doing any harm.> Thank you again for your time, Carol <Good luck, Neale>

Re: Gourami with worms-- 09/17/07 Neale, Thank you yet again for the quick response. I'm curious, is it possible that my rainbowfish had a parasite and not worms? They came out of him everywhere (from under his scales & he vomited them for lack of a better term) when I started treatment with PraziPro. They looked like very short tan worms. They moved around quite a bit once out of the fish until they died. Bob Fenner had me treat him with Metronidazole first and it did not help him. So he had me try the PraziPro and that's when they started coming out of him. <Does indeed sound like worms of some sort.> For my current treatment the bottle suggests raising the temperature to 85 - 90 degrees for Cichlids and Discus. Should I do the same? <Yes, worth a shot, but raise the temperature a degree at a time per day, and don't go above 85 until you're sure everything is happy. Boost the aeration a bit, too.> Also, are there certain fish that can't have the Metronidazole? I also have frogs in this tank. <Don't know the answer to this. Should be fine, but keep an eye open for any odd behaviour and act accordingly.> Thanks, Carol <Good luck, Neale>

Help with internal parasites, again... Mollies 9/1/07 Hello Crew! <Greetings.> I've had a few long chats with Tom about my Mollies with internal parasites. This has proven as hard to get rid of as ich and killed many fish. <Curious. My first question when people have problems with mollies is whether they are keeping them in freshwater or in brackish/marine conditions. In the former case they seem to me to be irredeemably delicate, and successful maintenance requires excellent (i.e., zero nitrate) water quality. In brackish/marine conditions mollies are basically indestructible. For me, it's a no-brainer: if you want to keep mollies with the minimum fuss, keep them at 25-100% seawater salinity (~SG 1.005-1.018). Ich/Whitespot cannot survive under such conditions, Finrot and fungal infections are extremely rare, and internal parasite "spores" (or whatever) cannot survive the saltwater conditions so cannot infect healthy fish.> It all started when we lost one small black balloon Molly, and then realized that her companion was getting way too thin and had the red worm-thing sticking out her anus. We tried Metronidazole and a variety of other medicines, but she died despite our frantic attempts at a cure. <Why did you use Metronidazole? That's a drug primarily for internal bacteria and to a less extent protozoan parasites. As far as I know, it has no effect on multicellular parasites such as worms. For those, you need something worm-specific (i.e., an anti-helminth drug) such as PraziPro or Sterazin.> So, when we got two new balloon Mollies, we treated them in the quarantine tank with PraziPro (which is supposed to be effective) before we let them join the two remaining healthy fish. We added them to our apparently unaffected two remaining bigger Mollies, who came from a different dealer (one orange male and one spotted female). We lost the male two weeks ago (within three days he stopped chasing the females, then one morning was lying at the bottom of the tank gasping, then he was dead, no symptoms of anything). My boyfriend just called to tell me the spotted female died today, and apparently she has this red worm-thing again. What's worse, one of the two living Mollies has a distended anus with some white tube-like stuff protruding. <This is a dumb question perhaps, but are you sure the problem here is worms? Parasitic worms generally don't cause quick deaths. What you tend to see is a gradual loss of condition or a failure to grow or put on weight. By their nature, most of these intestinal parasites have evolved not to kill the host outright, since they die when the host dies. Wild fish commonly carry a parasite load, but otherwise aren't harmed. Nine times out of ten, mollies die from nitrate poisoning, Finrot, fungal infections, or acidosis. This is especially true when the die "quickly". Gasping, for example, is a good sign of respiratory distress, which can be caused by poor water quality and a too-low pH. Just a reminder, mollies in freshwater conditions (if you're foolish enough to keep them thus) need three specific things: zero nitrate, pH 7.5-8.2, and hardness not less than 20 degrees dH. In brackish/marine conditions, the sodium chloride will detoxify the nitrate so that isn't an issue, and the other salts in the marine salt mix will raise the pH and hardness automatically. Please note that "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt" won't do anything other than mitigate the nitrate, so are a greatly inferior product when keeping mollies.> He's moving them to our quarantine/treatment tank as we speak and will start treating with PraziPro again. Should I also give them Metronidazole? I know they can be mixed, but it's not supposed to be super effective against those kinds of parasites. In any case, I'll follow your advice. <PraziPro yes, Metronidazole no. As a rule, unless a qualified animal healthcare professional has said otherwise, you should NEVER mix medications. The synergies between two or more drugs are unknown, and potentially lethal. But more importantly, sit down and review your water conditions and chemistry. If you're keeping your mollies in freshwater, please understand that you will always be fighting to keep them healthy. It's just the way it is with mollies. While they are certainly freshwater fish in the wild, in aquaria they just don't do well kept thus. Spend any time reviewing the livebearer e-mails here, or postings on fish forums, and you'll see that there are always bucket-loads of messages about sick mollies.> Now, the only remaining animals in the tank are a Nerite snail and two Amano shrimp (maybe a few Cherry shrimp too but we haven't seen them in a while). <Ah, now the good news here is both Amano shrimps and Nerite snails are salt-tolerant, so you can raise the salinity of the tank to SG 1.003-1.005 without problems, should you choose to do so.> Do I need to treat the main tank to ensure that all parasites are gone? The fish are apparently reinfecting each other, and I want to ensure that they don't get sick again when I put them in the main tank. Do I need to leave the aquarium fallow? If so, how long? Do I hunt the shrimp and move them out, then treat the whole tank? Help! <Yes, you need to treat the tank. Yes, you will probably need to remove the shrimps, as they tend to be sensitive to medications.> Do I need to treat the Betta and his Eclipse III too? He used to be in the same aquarium as the Mollies, he might have been exposed... <Probably not, unless you see some symptoms.> I know many people say that healthy fish "strike a balance" with their internal parasites and live in apparent health for years with them. This hasn't proven true for me, those are nasty little bugs (and tough too, after a week of PraziPro the worm was still hanging on) and I'd be extremely glad to be rid of them, once and for all. <My suspicion is that you're dealing with mollies that are fundamentally stressed, and the worms are at best an "excuse" for them to wave a little white flag and give up.> Those have to be from the LFS, and they must have lived for months with the things in their digestive systems without showing any signs, since we haven't given them anything else but Nori, flakes, sinking pellets and bits of corn for about a month. They also get frozen bloodworms, and occasionally brine shrimp, but they're both Hikari brand that's supposed to be well sterilized. <The foods you list should be fine. Do bear in mind mollies are primarily herbivores, and the ratio of green to meaty foods should be of the order 80% to 20%. In fact, feeding them exclusively on vegetable-based fish foods (livebearer flake, Spirulina flake, algae pellets) would be entirely acceptable.> I really don't want to battle internal parasites AGAIN!!! <If you want healthy mollies, keep them in brackish/marine conditions. If you want to have to deal with "disease of the month" with your mollies, keep them in freshwater. That's Neale's sage advice for the day.> Thank you so much for your advice... once again! Merci beaucoup! <You're welcome.> Audrey <Neale>

Re: Help with internal parasites, again... -- 09/01/07 Hi again, Neale! <Hello Audrey,> Thank you for such a detailed answer. It did make me feel slightly like I was a bad fish owner, but maybe I deserve it for waiting so long to do what I know I should be doing.... > <Curious. My first question when people have problems with mollies is whether they are keeping them in freshwater or in brackish/marine conditions. *blushing*... I know, I know... All right... I won't ask any questions again until I do the switch to brackish... I've been planning on it for ages, but I was waiting until after we got the new apartment more or less organized so we could move everyone to a brand new 30 gallons... Looks like this is the signal to get a move on... Incidentally, we never detect any nitrates. We have plants and a healthy dose of algae so I suspect they get used up before our test kit can detect them. We also had a light fish load, four very small Mollies (balloon variety, they never grew) in 10 gallons (I know, too small, we'll wait until we get the 30 gal we're planning on before we get any more fish, but with the move we've had to buy essential furniture before we can think of a new aquarium). The LFS tells us we can put 10 Mollies in a 10 gallons... (!?!?!?!?!?!) Let's just say we have learned very quickly to take their advice with a big grain of salt :-) pH was always at least 7.5 and climbed very slightly during the winter, high enough that I didn't want to risk most of the fish they sell in the LFS, who need neutral or slightly acidic water. I guess the big problem is with (hardness? alkalinity?), I need to learn what scale it is measured in but the water here is a steady 9. You're going to say too low, I know. We used to add livebearer salt, but after reading your advice (worthless, waste of money, etc. unless used for a specific problem), we stopped adding it to the tank a few months ago. We'll drop by the marine LFS this afternoon and pick up some marine salt. <Ah, you seem to understand what's going on, so there's not really much more to add. Mollies just aren't as easy as everyone thinks, with the result that lots of them (most?) get sick and die rather quickly. I'd compare them to goldfish in this regard -- they seem easy, but they're not. For aquarists who want to stick with freshwater, I always recommend platies or swordtails instead. On the topic of pH and hardness, it's almost always safe not to worry about these (within reason). Most common freshwater fish (as opposed to brackish water ones!) can adapt to a wide range of values, so Neons, for example, may *prefer* pH 5.5, near-zero hardness, but they'll *thrive* at pH 8, 20 degrees dH if acclimated to it carefully and otherwise looked after properly. What matters isn't so much the values as the *stability* -- what most fish hate is pH and hardness levels that bounce around. In other words, get fish that are already thriving at the retailer, keep them in your local water conditions, and use good filtration and regular water changes to optimise water quality while diluting the background water chemistry changes that happen in freshwater tanks anyway.> See... sometimes it takes fish dying so that we learn. Another red flag should have been that they've never bred... we thought our male was sterile because try as he may, he could never get one of them pregnant. In retrospect, maybe they were just in the wrong conditions to breed. <Quite possibly. But just as likely the fry got eaten or sucked up the filter or whatever.> > <Why did you use Metronidazole? Ah, well, because the only symptom we had was one dead emaciated fish and one very thin, formerly very plump, fish and we didn't know what she had, and this was recommended by the marine LFS and was the only thing we could find FAST! The local LFS have never heard of a cure for internal parasites. They just let them be. We did our best on short notice. And then we did more research, and found out about Praziquantel and other medicines, and tried to get some locally but *nobody* sells it around here, we called about 6 places, so I tried to mail-order it, but the two Canadian mail-order stores I know of didn't have it in stock, so we ordered Jungle Labs medicated food, which they wouldn't eat, and then we ordered Gel-Tek, which does contain some Prazi, but that didn't work, and finally the mail-order place got some PraziPro in stock, but by the time we tried that I think it was too late and the fish died, with three very visible red tails sticking out of her anus. But at least we'd finally got to the right medicine - I think. <I see. Sounds rather bad luck.> > <This is a dumb question perhaps, but are you sure the problem here is worms? Parasitic worms generally don't cause quick deaths. What you tend to see is a gradual loss of condition or a failure to grow or put on weight. I think this is exactly what we were seeing, but didn't recognize it in time. We've had some of those fish for six months and they haven't grown. It's just so gradual that we don't notice until the fish are too feeble to function properly. They seem fine, and then one morning they're not quite right, and a week later, they're dying. They never get to the not eating stage. I'm not saying their death can't be due to something else, and it might be more than one factor, but my test kit tells me the pH is steady at 7.5 and that there are no nitrates. What I see is fish that won't grow, and that after a few months just stop functioning. When the male died he hadn't chased the females for about a week, maybe more, we just didn't notice at first... I feel bad for not noticing those things, but they happen so gradually... and when we did notice something wasn't quite right we didn't know what the problem was. <OK. Again, you seem to have a sense of what's going on already, so all I can add here is a second opinion. Often, fish deaths come about from multiple small factors acting in concert. Much as with sickness in humans. So you need to watch for the small signs and act swiftly. Odd behaviour is often one of the very best clues, and a lot of experienced fishkeepers will hardly ever need to use test kits because they can spot when things aren't right in established tanks because the fish aren't doing what they should be doing. I don't recommend that approach for beginners of course!> > <PraziPro yes, Metronidazole no. As a rule, unless a qualified animal healthcare professional has said otherwise, you should NEVER mix medications. Ah, but in this case, we know they can be mixed safely because most general anti-parasite medicines contain at least those two, and sometimes other medicines too. But if you say Metro is worthless in this case, I won't use it. This is my understanding as well, but sometimes we bow to people of superior knowledge, so I was asking just in case, because I have some in my fish medicine cabinet... <I'm not an expert on antibiotics for fish -- they're essentially prescription-only in the UK, so when you get them, the vet will tell you exactly how to use them. I'm happy to let others give you relevant advice here. But me, I prefer to use medications sequentially. It's also important to identify the problem before using the medication; scattergun approaches are risky because many medications can stress the fish, and if they aren't fixing one problem, they could end up causing another. Mollies should be fine, but things like loaches and pufferfish often react badly to medicines, and stingrays and invertebrates can be killed outright. So you need to treat medications with respect. Identify the disease, choose your drug, and look out for side effects.> > <Ah, now the good news here is both Amano shrimps and Nerite snails are salt-tolerant, so you can raise the salinity of the tank to SG 1.003-1.005 without problems, should you choose to do so.> Yup, that's exactly what I was planning on when we got the 30 gal. I didn't want to do it with the Cherries in there, because from what I read they're not salt-tolerant at all, and I can't put them with the Betta because he'd rip them apart (he did it before, so we tried some cheap Ghost shrimp, and only found shrimp bits...). I was also trying to find a supplier of Bumblebee Gobies, for the future, and I have lists and lists of salt-tolerant plants, and know the ones we have now *should* make the switch (Bacopa, Anubias, Java fern, and Vallisneria in "quarantine" so we can screen for snails). We're all ready. We just haven't done it yet. <Very good. I'm not sure whether Cherry shrimps are good in brackish or not. I'd personally risk it, at least to SG 1.003. Shrimps tend to be salt tolerant (many, though not Cherries) have a marine stage in their life cycle, as is the case with Amano shrimps. Acclimating slowly is perhaps the key. I keep (and inevitably breed!) Cherry shrimps and have found them to be rather robust animals, for their size. All your plants are good brackish water denizens, and assuming you have enough light and good substrate for them, will adapt readily. You've also got a nice mix there. When people rely solely on slow-growers like Java fern and Java moss, they end up with algae problems. Throwing in some Bacopa and Vallis should help a great deal. Indian fern is another good algae-beater that tolerates low-end brackish.> > <My suspicion is that you're dealing with mollies that are fundamentally stressed, and the worms are at best an "excuse" for them to wave a little white flag and give up.> Then I'll work under this assumption. I promise not to bother you again with my Mollie troubles until they're safely in brackish water. Then, if I'm still having problems, I'll let you have a go at it :-) <Heh! Brackish water doesn't fix everything, and it certainly won't cure infected mollies of things like intestinal worms. But what it does do is make them orders of magnitude more robust, and the salinity also suppresses many external parasites as well as the infective stages of certain internal parasites. This is why brackish water fishes have a reputation for being so hardy.> > <The foods you list should be fine. Do bear in mind mollies are primarily herbivores, and the ratio of green to meaty foods should be of the order 80% to 20%. In fact, feeding them exclusively on vegetable-based fish foods (livebearer flake, Spirulina flake, algae pellets) would be entirely acceptable.> Yes, they've been getting Nori at least a day out of two. I tried peas but they don't eat it, but they do like corn. I'll try broccoli next. Can you believe I haven't ever seen a vegetable-based flake around? Sometimes I feel aquarium shops around here are 20 years behind the times... Even the sinking "algae" pellets have fish flour in them, sometimes even as the first ingredient, so they're not really vegetarian... I've been looking for something called "Spirulina flake" but haven't seen it, just regular flakes with Spirulina among the other ingredients. *sigh*. Maybe I'm simply not looking in the right places. In the meantime, we got some Nori for free at the local sushi place, we just ask for a sheet when we pick up some takeout and with only four small fish, it lasts a long time... and the Amano love it too. <Interesting. I picked up Spirulina in a grocery store called Hy-Vee in Lincoln, Nebraska over Christmas. So I suspect it's a case of looking out for the stuff while you're on your travels. It isn't critical though. You might even grow your own: a plastic goldfish bowl placed outdoors and filled with water will quickly develop a nice flora and fauna including insect larvae and thread algae. Yum, yum! I love taking this approach, because my "live food ponds" become interesting aquaria in their own right.> Interesting unrelated tidbit, our Betta eats everything, either floating, sinking or lying at the bottom of the tank (flake, sinking pellets, Betta food, live shrimp, dead shrimp, bloodworms and brine shrimp, peas, corn, everything we ever put in his tank). He even tried Nori. Well... he tried it the first time we gave it to him, but stubbornly refused to taste it ever again :-) I guess even the most wide-ranging tastes have their limit :-) <Indeed! But that's the right approach to feeding fish. Let them have a little of everything.> Thank you again, and sorry to be such a bother :-) Audrey <Not a problem. Good luck, Neale>

Help with possible parasites 5/25/07 Good Morning, <Its good evening here in Merrie Olde Englande.> I have a question regarding one of my female neon swordtails. She is a full grown adult that I have had approx. 6 months. First of all tank parameters: Ammonia - 0 Nitrites - 0 pH - 7.4 Nitrates - 25 Tanks size - 55gal, tankmates are platies, guppies, other swordtails, and one Pleco. <All sounds fine.> I noticed a strange growth inside the fish about 1/4" from her tail. It appears to be circular. The fish swam next to the light and I could see through the tail and that's the only reason I saw it. She has been acting very healthy and normal. Eating very well, in fact just dropped about 15 fry. You can start to see the lump on the outside if you look very carefully, however, nothing is protruding outside the scales. The other fish in the tank are doing very well and also the many fry are doing fine. <If the swelling is inside the fish and in muscle tissue (rather than the abdomen) then almost certainly a benign cyst or tumour. Quite common in fish. No real cure, but no real threat to your fish either. But without a picture, impossible to say for sure quite what this is.> I have done considerable research to see what this may be and the only thing I can come up with is a digenetic fluke. <Rather unlikely, because of the complex life cycle most of these flukes have. Pond fish sometimes get them, but indoor fish almost never.> Any suggestions will be appreciated. I understand that if it is a fluke the life cycle requires an intermediate host such as a snail. I do have a few snails in the tank. <Indeed, but usually very specific snails. The chances of you having a worm that worked in both the fishes and the snails in your aquarium have to pretty small.> Doesn't look like there are many reliable cures for this other than removing the fish and the intermediate host. Can I expect to have a major problem from this or is this something that healthy fish can live with or overcome. Thanks in advance. <Since it's almost certainly just a cyst or benign tumour, there's not much to be done. Provided the fish can swim properly and the internal organs are impacted in any way by the cyst, the fish should remain healthy. Cheers, Neale>

Worms in my tank 4/10/07 Hello, I have been reading your site and it has been really helpful, but to be sure I just wanted to explain my situation and see what you thought. I have a 75 gallon freshwater tank with one Jack Dempsey cichlid and a algae eater (not sure of the real name) <Algae eater is probably Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, a nasty son-of-a-gun and a Jack Dempsey is one of the few fish that would be able to handle it. Big (30 cm), greenish fish with distinctive spiracle (opening) above each gill slit.> They both seem very healthy, very vibrant in color. I was looking very closely and I saw very thin hair looking worms that didn't really move. The only reason I new they were living things is because I poked one with my finger and it squiggled. There are only a few of these worm things and I was wondering if it was a parasite from my Jacks stomach. <Unlikely. If parasitic worms sometimes come in with wild-caught fish, but they don't wiggle about in the gravel. If you see a swollen belly and/or worms protruding from the anus, then parasite worms are possible. Otherwise these are harmless nematodes or Oligochaetes that have (for example) come in with live food.> The only reason why I'm concerned with this is because lately he hasn't had and appetite. Any thoughts on this? <Try using garlic to stimulate appetite. You can even buy ready-garlicked frozen food! Also try starving the fish for a few days, and then offering something new. Maybe some seafood or a bit of whitebait instead of the usual flake and pellets. One thing aquarists often overlook is dried food loses its savour after a while. Though safe to use for months after opening, after about 4 weeks it doesn't smell strong enough and many fish ignore it. If you buy big tubs, divide it up, freeze most of it in a dry container, and remove only a portion at a time. Maybe check for constipation (yes, happens to fish too) a remedy by offering green foods such as cooked peas.> Thanks for your time, <No probs. Cheers, Neale> Jennifer

Wormy Arowana - 02/27/06 I have a 12" Arowana that had a lump on his right side. I tried to treat it with Prazi-pro, and salt but to no avail. I thought he may have developed dropsy but that was his only symptom, so I treated him with Maracyn II after the Prazi and salt but that didn't work either. So, I decided to perform surgery. I used Eugenol as the anesthetic (clove bud oil) then made a small incision under the scale at the backside of the lump. I couldn't believe what I saw. I removed a 3-4" pink worm with a white head all curled up in a ball. He is doing fine know and I am using the Maracyn II as an antibiotic. I was wondering if you could identify the worm and give me some tips on how to prevent this again? My water is perfect and I also have a very healthy teacup ray and clown knife. Thanx Mark Galary < These fish are always wild caught and could have picked up all kinds of intestinal critters like flatworms or tapeworms. Use a medication with Praziquantel in it like Parasite clear, or PraziPro to prevent further problems.-Chuck>

Judging LFS, Fancy Rams 9/16/05 I usually deal with saltwater aquariums and reef aquariums, but a particular fish caught my attention one day while walking through my LFS. This is generally a store that I hate as most the workers can't answer questions and the animals always seems to be dying (fish) and the mammals always suffering from dirty cage neglect. <It is usually best to avoid purchasing from such places, as they will only continue to replace the animals that you've bought....> Okay.. venting over.. so I came across a fish which they referred to as a gold veil angel ram. Basically a long-finned gold ram with an angel fish shaped body. The colorations and disposition of the fish caused me to immediately fall in love with the fish and I proceeded to plan my future purchase. Originally I bought a few for my grandmothers aquarium that I take care of.. the 3 I placed I've had for over 3-4 months and they're doing great. I also moved my aquarium at my parents house inside for my sister (as I don't live at my parents house) and got it up and running with plants and driftwood and fish.. the plants are really taking off.. but I have to focus on the pH as it's a little too basic for Microgeophagus. <Okay> Here's the problem.. I bought 5 of them from my LFS today and they came with a problem. They have this little tumor like cysts in their bodies some of them 1 or 2 .. but no more than 3.. they are about half the size of a grain of rice.. probably even smaller, they react like normal and don't show any signs of being sick.. now.. here's the reason I bought them.. This fish I haven't been able to find online and this is the only fish store on Oahu that gets them in stock. <Perhaps another/better store would order them for you?> And worse.. they only get them 1-2 times a year and normally by the time they get them in stock they're sold out. So yeah.. I took the chance.. So.. back to the tumor like things.. they appear to be brownish in color.. they aren't translucent.. but you can see them clearly through the fishes body.. at the moment I have the 5 in a 5 gallon hospital tank being treated with paragon. I wish I could get a picture for you guys but I don't have a digital camera. I can try an borrow one and get one too you by next week.. but if anything I'm more curious as to if this is something fatal, curable, or whatever other possibilities there are. <Chuck's archived response to you can be found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/ramfaqs.htm . Though I agree with Chuck's suggestion that they are digenetic Trematodes (that's, external parasites, similar to worms, that require different animal hosts at different stages in development - the snail/bird/fish parasite he suggests is one), I would also propose that these things could in fact be tumors or granulomas, possibly even from mycobacteriosis.... In any of these cases, treatment is of no help, and in the case of mycobacteriosis, treatment is very, very unlikely to effect a cure and may even be harmful.> Otherwise.. I'd also like it if someone could give some background information on them as I know they're probably a product of inbreeding. Either way. Any info would be greatly appreciated. <Indeed, they are not natural in color or shape. I can't find much on this "new" body shape; though, I've seen "balloon" rams (similar to balloon mollies) as well.> Thanks -Jonathan <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Getting On the Right Track With Black Spots - 05/31/2004 Someone else has asked about this problem and wanted to know what caused the black spots and the answer was about the quality of the water. <Mm.... Might help to have more background on your specific problem. Not having the other FAQ in front of me, I don't know about the other person's scenario, but it will be difficult to aid you without details of your situation.> I understand that probably is the cause but the question of that person as well as myself is are the black spots due to a fungus or a bacterial infection because the treatment is different. <Really, without details, I can only give you a generalized answer, based on assumptions.... I can assume that you mean the "classic" 'black-spot' disease, which is a digenetic fluke - a parasite, passed to the fish from another animal - which appears as small, black spots, like bits of pepper on the fish, almost. For this, there isn't really a great deal you can do to treat, but it shouldn't be terribly life-threatening. If the fish is horribly infested, it might be worthwhile to try a Praziquantel bath, or try treating orally with Levamisole or Piperazine, but I really don't know how effective this would be. 'Course, with this assumption, I might be WAY off track - perhaps you have some other disease in mind.... Ah, I realize now, I don't even know if you're talking about a fresh or saltwater tank.... If you can, please get back to me with more information - fish affected, type & size of aquarium, other inhabitants of the tank (especially presence of snails - the first host of the fluke responsible for 'black spot'), how long the tank's been established, how long you've had the affected fish (newly acquired fish may bring along 'black spot' if they were collected in the wild or raised in a pond), water parameters.... anything else of note.> Yes, I know to change the water and correct the problem for the future, but I wish to treat specifically with medication but don't know if I should use an antibiotic or an antifungal???? <Again, without details of your situation, I cannot give you an answer; without details to try to diagnose with, I don't know if your fish has 'black spot' or a common cold.> Please Help. <Would love to, really; please do get back to us; I'd be delighted to give you a better answer, once I have a better understanding of what's happening in the tank.> Thank you <Thanks for writing in - wishing you and your fish well, -Sabrina>

Electric blue crayfish worms??? I have trying the product Maracide now for the past seven days and the worms are still on my electric blue lobster (crayfish). <Yes... this product is for infectious disease agents...> I have tried to take some pictures to show you <Very nice> but as I said before the worms are so small you can't really see them. He has a small white marking on the top of his head and near the bottom of his tail were the worms stick out of. He also has about a hundred or so on the bottom of his belly. The worms are not on anything else in the tank. I also have a blue crayfish in with him and about 25 or so guppies. None of which are infected. I am sending a few pictures and hopefully you will be able to see what I'm talking about. The worms in the picture are located in the middle of his eyes. Hoping to hear from you soon Thanks <Mmm, you can/could try actual Anthelminthics, compounds that are toxic to worms, but not (much) to other invertebrates. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fshwrmdisfaqs.htm and the next Related FAQ file, and the links where they lead you. Bob Fenner>

Gourami with Swordtails Well, it's not the Gourami's survival with the Jack Dempsey that I'm worried about as much as the swordtail's survival with the Gourami. But you don't sound too worried about it. < They should get along fine as long as they are pretty close to being the same size.> I have a new question though, I just brought in some (I think it was frog weed? something like that, but its not duckweed) from a pond supply store and I put it into a 10 gallon with snails only (gold and black mystery snails (2)) and after a while I notice tiny white worms EVERY WHERE!!!! Glad I didn't have any good fish in there. What are they? < Probably plant leeches.> And how do you eliminate them? < Fluke tabs will get rid of them fairly quickly.> The plant I have floats on top of the water and is supposed to grow like crazy, didn't pay much for it and I would like to keep it, but if its too much trouble because of the worms I'm good with getting rid of it. < The Fluke tabs will work and you can keep your plants.-Chuck>

Worms! Hello again. I have recently written in about my Pleco and the headache I'm sure he gives himself. I have a 90 gallon fresh water, with live plants and community fish. 16 gallon water changes every 2 weeks with aquarium salt added in. My new problem is I came home this morning and I discovered that one of my fish looked like it had a fire cracker explode in it. This is one of the fish I brought home for feeders and it didn't get eaten. It just grew. I thought that maybe some of the fish got at it, but this was not a small fish. And I try to be as careful as possible when getting new fish. That they aren't aggressive. So what I want to ask is, is there a parasite that could make my fish "explode"? It was the strangest thing I have seen. While fishing out parts of the fish. I notice that there was a worm like thing on the cover of the tank, on the under side. I have thought about clearing out, the tank and starting over, this weekend. Would it be a good idea to save about half the water in the tank, or should I start right from scratch? I was going to turn off the filter and siphon out the top part of the tank and reuse it and then take another 45 gallons, and let it stand for a couple of days. Does that sound like a good idea? I have no where to store 90 gallons of water and I don't have a smaller tank to place my fish in, so I cant wait the 2 weeks to cycle the tank. Thanks for your help Lukas <Sounds like your fish have worms. These are common in wild caught fish, like most plec's or fish bred outside, like most feeders. Breaking down the tank will not help. Try here for medicated de-worming flake. http://flguppiesplus.safeshopper.com/31/cat31.htm?452 And once again I warn about offering feeder fish unless you can QT them for at least a month. Don>

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