No aquarist wants to see their fish get sick, making the question of how to get rid of parasites in fish tank units a valid concern. As aquarium hobbyists, we feel sad when we see our fish not eating, moving sluggishly, or showing signs and symptoms of parasitism.
Veterinarians can help you determine the parasite infecting your fish. However, you can also observe some measures to get rid of little white worms and other harmful organisms in the fish tank.
Keep reading to learn how to remove parasites from the aquarium and out of your fish’s life.
Table of Contents
Types of Parasites in Fish Tank
Choosing the correct fish medicine for parasites requires understanding the two major fish parasite categories: ectoparasites and endoparasites.
Ectoparasites live on the fish’s body surface, including the fins, skin, scales, mouth, and gills. Examples are Trichodina nobilis, Oodinium, Gyrodactylus, and Dactylogyrus.
Meanwhile, endoparasites live in fish body organs, blood, gastrointestinal tract, and other tissues. Examples of fish endoparasites are trematodes (flukes), cestodes (tapeworms), and nematodes (roundworms).
Treating internal parasites in fish is a must because they can damage internal organs and cause death.
Here is a list of some of the most common parasites in fish tanks.
- Ichthyophthirius or Ich – causes “white spot disease,” appetite loss, abnormal hiding, and incessant rubbing against objects
- Fish lice – very tricky to spot because they camouflage themselves
- Anchor worms – can be challenging to remove, often causes bleeding on fish
- Leeches – blood-sucking parasites
- Flukes – affect the skin or gills
- Piscinoodinium – causes “gold lust disease”
- Hexamita – causes lesions on fish head and white stringy feces
What Causes Parasites in Fish Tanks?
Aquarium fish parasites do not enter the fish tank by themselves. The most common method of parasitic infestation in aquariums is the introduction of new fish (especially wild-caught) into the aquarium without undergoing quarantine.
It is the most natural way to cause parasitic infections in fish.
Most fish parasites are microscopic and live inside the fish or other organisms that fish eat (i.e., small snails and shrimp). When fish eat these organisms, they also ingest the parasites.
Introducing new fish to the aquarium can spread parasites to the original fish tank “inhabitants.” Quarantining new fish for up to six weeks can help prevent such a spread.
If the new fish do not get sick within the quarantine period, you can safely introduce them to the aquarium. If they become ill, you can give them parasite treatment and consider adding the fish to the stock after full recovery.
Ways to Get Rid of Parasites in Fish Tank
What to prepare: Treating fish parasitism requires fish parasite medicine. You can ask your veterinarian about the most appropriate medication.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you know if you have parasites in your fish tank?
Observing your fish for any unusual behavior and physical changes should give clues about the possibility of having a parasite in aquarium units.
For example, frequent rubbing of the fish’s body against an aquarium object can indicate anchor worm infection. You might also notice inflamed body parts or whitish-green threads extending from the fish’s skin.
Other signs include oversecretion of mucus on the fish’s body, unusually fast gill movements, reddish skin, deformed fins, listlessness, protruding scales, bloating, salt-like spots, and frequent gasping for air at the water surface.
What temperature kills parasites in fish tank?
Ninety (90) degrees Fahrenheit is enough to kill parasites in fish tank units, especially Ichthyophthirius multifiliis or “Ich.”
Elevating the water temperature to this level for several days should eliminate these parasites without harming fish as they adapt to the temperature change.
What eats parasites in aquarium?
Yunnanilus cruciatus (hovering Zebra loach), Rhinogobius rubramaculatus (red-spotted Goby), and Macrobrachium peguense (boxer shrimp) can eat and kill worms in fish tank units, especially Planaria (flatworm).
Other species that can get rid of worms in fish tank units include Botia, Macropodus opercularis (Paradise fish), Betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish or Betta), and Anentome helena (hornet snail or assassin snail).
What is the average lifespan of parasites in a fish tank?
Freshwater aquarium parasites have a highly variable lifespan, ranging from three days to five weeks. The life cycle variability depends on water temperature (50 degrees for five weeks and 70 degrees Fahrenheit for four days).
It is also worth noting that parasites can have direct (fish-to-fish) and indirect (involving at least two hosts) life cycles. They can also have a free-living and parasitic phase, impacting the parasite’s lifespan.
How to get rid of parasites in fish tank units is an issue not to be taken lightly by a newbie or seasoned aquarist. Although the methods we shared in this article are straightforward, parasitic infections deserve a more professional approach.
Veterinarians can diagnose the correct parasitic infection affecting your fish and wreaking havoc in the tank. Only with a conclusive diagnosis can vets determine the best possible treatment plan.
It seems more prudent, on our end, to prevent parasitic infections by quarantining all new fish species for several weeks before adding them to the aquarium.