Parasite -- 01/17/10
Dear Bob Fenner and friends of WetWebMedia,
I have some pictures of a parasite that I believe emerged from
one of my fish - I think my Vlamingi Naso Tang was the host. Two
reasons make me think the Vlamingi was the host. First, it is the
biggest fish in my tank and the worm is big. Also, the Vlamingi
was exhibiting strange behavior recently. Just about a week ago,
I was sitting for a while beside the tank, throwing kisses toward
him when he opened his mouth really wide. It was like he wanted
me to look in it! I mean I could look down this fish's
throat! I was utterly mystified and fascinated. I think the worm
may have come out of his mouth,
<Mmm, likely "the other end">
and this behavior was related to his attempt to his process of
A little history: I had a problem with Ich, and tried to treat it
at first (Jan. 6) with PraziPro. After several days, and
worsening Ich, I used Copper sulfate (Jan. 9) - in a dose that
was prepared for my tank by Dan Gilboa, a marine biologist who
now oversees the care of my tank. I found Dan through Bob's
referral to Jim Stime. About a year ago, my angelfish was deathly
ill and I needed the help of someone with expertise. Finally we
found that the tank was riddled with flukes and PraziPro cured
Anyway, my tank is between 300 and 350 gallons and contains the
Naso Vlamingi (about 12" long), a Purple Tang, a Cuban
Hogfish, 2 Clownfish, 3 Damsels, a Half Moon Angelfish (about
7" long), a Bodianus bimaculatus, a Foxface (Lo Vulpinus), a
Tuskfish, and a Bannerfish.
It is not a reef tank, and due to the use of copper a year ago
(which was suggested by my previous aquarium service company),
the live rock was presumed to be less "live". Much to
my surprise, following the copper treatment this time, little red
worms came out of the rock! So I guess I did a good enough job of
removing the previous copper (with Poly filters) to allow life to
return to the rocks.
Presently, the Ich seems to be under control - nearly all the
fish, except the clowns, had been visibly infected. They all seem
fine now, with appetites returned and no visible spots, except
for a little something on one of the Angelfish's eye - so we
aren't completely rid of it yet.
The worm came in two sections: first I found half of it at the
bottom of the tank (see the picture with the clownfish - I
photographed it before taking it out of the tank) on Thursday,
which is 8 days after treatment with PraziPro and 5 days after
treatment with copper. Then this morning, Saturday, the other end
came out, right after I put food in the tank (I netted it before
it sank and got some good pictures in bright light - see the
second and third photos). I know the worm wasn't in the tank
moments before the feeding, because I spent several minutes
observing the fish before feeding them. I can't say for sure
where it came from, but the Vlamingi's size, and the odd
behavior of opening it's mouth very wide makes me think it
was the host.
Any ideas about what it is?
<Mmm, yes. Appears to be an Acanthocephalan.... a
thorny-headed worm... See Google re...>
When I found the first section I thought an earthworm got into
the tank! Then, when the other section came out this morning,
seeing that round head, it alarms me: what a sinister looking
parasite! Is it a tape worm?
<Mmm, my bet is elsewhere>
The head looks like a seed pod with concentric raised points and
is lighter in color. Altogether, counting both sections, it must
have been at least 5 inches long.
Would be good to know what invaded my fish! If it has left eggs,
I presume I need to dose with PraziPro one more time.
<A good choice>
would help calculate the possible gestation period - though I
have no idea how these things reproduce.
Ever thanks for your feedback, advice, and support,
This is the first section that appeared Thursday (about 2
This is the second section (at least 3 inches) that appeared
<Thank you for sending this along. Bob Fenner>