Mastering Freshwater Aquarium Ecosystems
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Fish Health (Cont.)

Tapeworm and Capillaria

Photo of Capillaria and a tapeworm taken from the gut of a discus that was fed a regular diet of California blackworms. Photo by Dr. Thomas B. Waltzek.

Symptoms of a severe Capillaria infection include, fish turning dark, becoming emaciated, and lethargic. Discus as well as other tropical fish that have a heavy population of Capillaria in the gut will often pass white stringy feces.

Capillaria worm with eggs

Photo of Capillaria with eggs inside taken from the gut of a discus that was fed a regular diet of California blackworms. Photo by Dr. Thomas B. Waltzek.

Diagnosis of a Capillaria infection can be done by examining gut contents of a dissected fish under a microscope and finding the worms or it's eggs. Fecal discharge can often contain the eggs of Capillaria. Capillaria eggs look like medicine capsules under a microscope.

Treatment for Capillaria includes heat therapy 90°F (32°C) and/or medicating with praziquantel (PraziPro). Other medications that may be effective include fenbendazole, trichlorofon, and mebendazole.

Spironucleus

Spironucleus is often mis-identified as hexamita in fish. Both hexamita and spironucleus look very similar under the microscope, but recent research suggests that only spironucleus is found in tropical fish. Spironucleus is an internal parasite that is often found in seemingly healthy fish. Spironucleus is commonly seen in discus, but it is also in other fish. When environmental condition deteriorate spironucleus can infect many organs of the fish. The most common symptoms of a severe infection of spironucleus are white translucent feces, fish stop eating, and the fish becomes emaciated. Hole in the head (HITH) symptom (an environmental condition) is often incorrectly attributed to spironucleus.

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