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Old 03-02-2004, 12:55 PM   #1
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worms? parasites? leeches? Something eating the fish!

Help! Something is eating my son's fish. The plecostamus died this weekend and we didn't know anything was wrong with it until it was too late (because it always hid out inside the lava rock and we never saw it). Upon removing the body, and placing it in its plastic bag to await proper burial, I noticed it had small circular holes in its fins. Looking closer at the bagged fish, I then saw small leech like worms. I know leeches only suck blood and these gross little things obviously eat holes. What are they? I looked over the rest of the plecostamus body and didn't really see any other damage, but it is harder to tell on its dark body. There are two black fin tetras left in the tank. I have noticed one has a round hole in one of its fins. We changed the water, boiled the lava rock in case anything was living in there, and I have begun treating the tank with something called quick cure just because we have it and maybe I'll get lucky that it covers our problem. To be sure, I need to know what these little wormy things are called.
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Old 03-02-2004, 04:01 PM   #2
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parasites

Welcome to Aquarium Advice fishmom!
I responding mostly to bump this so it will get noticed some more. I'm not sure what kind of parasites you have but I'm sure someone here does. Hopefully the right people will read this soon. In the meantime you could also do a search through the site for parasites on freshwater fish and see if you can find something. There are a ton of posts, there's a good chance that someone has already talked about it... but let's hope someone has some answers for you... Sorry to hear about your sons pleco.
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Old 03-02-2004, 09:25 PM   #3
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Hmmm... this is a tough one! Could be one of three things. I'll explain....

1. Anchor worms - these attach to your fish and suck from it
2. Gill/Fin Flukes - sorta like anchor worms, just a different species I think
2. Argulus "fish lice" - Are nasty little things that attach and suck from your fish, just like human lice.

All three have to be removed from the fish by hand and are free swimming. I would get some parasite medicine and treat the tank anyways, just to be safe. Jungle makes some Parasite Clear, a pretty good med to use. Let me see if I can find you a link or something for some more info.
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Old 03-02-2004, 10:20 PM   #4
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Actually...could be a fourth thing....leeches! Though they're not common in tropical aquaria...there are a number of fairly small leeches that occasionally come in on a wild-caught fish or on pond-raised feeder fish. Anchor 'worms' aren't really worms...they are parasitic crustaceans. So are 'fish lice'. Gill/Fin flukes aren't exactly worms either.

I must say that in my experience I would NEVER remove any of the above named parasites from my fish by hand (or tweezer...or anything else). The Jungle product (Parasite Clear) that Devilishturtles mentions is the best medication that I've found for external macroparasites (to differentiate from tiny protozoan parasites like 'Ich'). It will kill any of the four above-named parasites without killing your fish, as long as you dose carefully according to the directions.
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Old 03-02-2004, 10:42 PM   #5
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Ok, tomorrow I head for the pet store for Parasite Clear. Since devilishturtles response, I have looked up 1-3 and am leaning towards them being flukes. They are not white and are not anchored in (I pulled two off the fins of one of the tetras before receiving Fruitbat's reply, the tetra was not happy but at least they are not munching on him all night). I have been staring at the gills on the fish and still cannot tell if anything is bothering them there. I am pretty certain they are not leeches. Anyway, would there be any benefit to removing the gravel before treating and getting new gravel after treating? Can the gravel harbor these things or just the fish? Take the lava rock out, boil, and put back in after treating? Any benefit? Can snail harbor these or just vertabrates?
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Old 03-02-2004, 11:21 PM   #6
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[center:56d2f588f3] Welcome to AA, Fishmom [/center:56d2f588f3]

These may help in the future--
Freshwater Diagnostic Charts:
http://www.aquatronicsonline.com/hobbyist/hobbyist3.htm
http://www.clubjungle.com/fish_chart.pdf
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Old 03-02-2004, 11:32 PM   #7
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Fruitbat, can the parasite medicine kill the parasite that is already connected to the fish? I thought, and from what I have read, that if it was already attached that it had to be physically removed? BTW, TOTALLY forgot to mention leeches. I have heard of them before, but haven't actually studied them at all.

Anyways, before treating you should try and remove your fish if you can to a different tank (if you have a different tank that is). The parasites are free swimming little buggers, so there are chances that they could be anywhere I would imagine. A good dose with the medicine, if you follow all of the directions and treat long enough, should get rid of them. In addition to Jungle's Parasite Clear, you can also use Coppersafe by Mardel.

If all else fails, and nothing works, try using Maracide by Mardel. It actually treats the fish, not the water by breaking down the slime coat of your fish, releasing the medicine on your fish's body, and the covering it with a new layer of slime coat. Pretty cool, but kinda strong, can't be used with anything else. Only reason I mention it is if for some reason nothing works, but it will! Okay, enough ranting...

Sounds like your doing good by boiling the rock and stuff, that should kill them all.... I don't see any reason to get new gravel unless you want to and then this would be a good excuse too Not sure about the snails, but with what ever medicine you choose to use, read and make sure that your snail will be ok, you might have to move it for a while. Ok, Good luck with things, let us know how it goes, and BTW, welcome to AA!
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Old 03-03-2004, 10:59 AM   #8
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Devilishturtles....in my experience...yes, it kills parasites that are already attached. I had a serious infestation of 'anchor worms' in my tank a few months ago. The parasites almost exclusively attacked my gouramis...I never did see any on my Tiger Barbs or any of my loaches (though they were 'flashing' during the infestation). A couple of my gouramis had so many of these crustacean parasites on them that they looked almost hairy!

I treated the aquarium with Parasite Clear according to the instructions on the package and treated a second time as per the recommended schedule. All of the parasites disappeared with the first treatment (including the ones that were already attached to the fish). I did NOT remove the fish from the aquarium during the treatment and I did not notice any effects from the treatment on my water parameters, even though the product contains Acriflavine (in small amounts) which is a broad-spectrum antibiotic dye. It does give your water a slight bluish/greenish hue which disappears promptly with carbon filtration.
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