Flukes – General Guidelines

Discussion in 'Fish Disease Treatment and Diagnosis' started by Humblefish, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Louisiana Reef Club Expert Contributor

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    Many thanks to "Newsmyrna80" for writing this. Reposted with her permission.

    Some facts:
    Flukes are not true flukes. They are actually parasitic flatworms belonging to the class of Monogeans.

    There are 13 families of flukes. However, only three families infect saltwater fish.
    1. Ancyrocephaladae – common to freshwater, brackish and marine fish. They have 14 hooks which insert into the fish’s skin to maintain contact. They are oviviparous (egg layer). They are not host specific and they prefer the fish’s gills and esophagus.
    2. Gyrodactylidae – common in freshwater but can be found on saltwater fish. They have 16 hooks and are viviparous (live bearing). This family of flukes is considered “Russian dolls” meaning that a live daughter is inside the mother and the live daughter can also be carrying a live daughter.
    3. Capsalidae – common in saltwater fish. They have 2 hooks and are oviviparous. The most common genus of Capsalid found in saltwater aquaria is the Neobenedenia. It is host specific, attacking angelfish, butterflyfish, and elasmobranchs, to name a few targets and location specific (face, lips, and eyes). However, if a fish has an extensive infestation the fluke will find somewhere else on the body to host.

    Luckily for aquarists, the life cycle of flukes has been researched due their ill effects on aquaculture farming and the fishing industry. Extensive studies have been done on Neobenedenia, the most common in saltwater aquaria.

    Life Cycle

    At 78-79° F eggs hatch within 4-6 days. Once the egg hatches the oncomiridium (ciliated larva) finds a host and crawls on the body to their preferred site. Once they dig their hooks into the fish’s flesh they feed on it for 17-19 days. At that point it has matured to an adult and it begins to lay eggs. The cycle starts over. At lower water temperatures, 34-36°F the timeline can extend to 5-6 months.

    Symptoms

    Fish can become lethargic, swim near the water surface, develop clamped fins, hide in the corner of the aquarium or behind rocks, lose appetite, shake the head, flash, or scratch. They may exhibit yawning, cloudy eyes and loss of color at the insertion site. For example, Neobenedenia prefers the face, lips and eyes; therefore you may notice the skin color faded in those areas. If flukes are present in the gills they may be swollen and pale, increase respiration, and begin piping (gulping air at the water surface). Fish generally become less tolerant of low oxygen conditions. Secondary infections are also very common. Some fish may not show any symptoms at all which is why quarantining is so important.

    Treatments

    Because flukes are naturally clear a visual confirmation is nearly impossible. Confirmation of flukes can be obtained via a freshwater dip. After 3-5 minutes the fluke will become opaque and dislodge from the fish. Although helpful, it is not a necessity, to identify the fluke’s family to aid in treatment. A microscope can confirm a species, however, Neobenedenia, can be seen with the naked eye.

    1. Praziquantel or Prazipro – There have been several studies demonstrating various applications of Prazi. For practicality only a couple is listed. Prazi does not kill flukes. It induces uncontrollable spasms to where the fluke dislodges from the fish and continues to spasm. Studies have shown that after 10 hours the fluke dies. Prazi is very gentle on fish to the point it can be overdosed with no ill effects. The exception is wrasses. They are able to handle the 2.5 mg dosage but anything over that can be detrimental. It has also been reported that Prazi is safe to use in a reef aquarium with minimal casualties such as feathers and other worms. A word of caution: Prazi can act as an appetite suppressant. It also depletes the oxygen in the tank so be sure to fully aerate during treatment.
    a. The most common method of dosing Prazi is dosing 2.5 mg for 5-7 days, then performing a water change, and finally redosing the full amount for another 5-7 days. A third and fourth dose may be necessary. Prazipro is reportedly (via personal communication with Hikari) “out of the water” 72 hours after the initial dose. However, once treatment is concluded it is recommended to do a large water change and add carbon to remove all traces of Prazi.
    b. Another method is to do (2) 40 hour baths 48 hours apart in 5 mg/L Prazi.
    NOTE: In 2013 research done, as reported in Aquaculture Volumes 404-405 Prazipro was shown to be 82% effective against Neobenedenia girallae.

    2. Hyposalinity – Scientific research also showed hyposalinity at 15 ppt for 2 days eliminated juvenile and adult flukes. When maintained for 5 days, egg hatching was prevented.

    3. Formalin dips – Water temp <70° 250 ppm for 30 minutes, water temp >70° or formalin sensitive fish 150 ppm for no more than 45 minutes. These dips can be repeated every 5-7 days. As always with formalin aerate for at least one hour prior to dip.

    4. Freshwater dips – can be effective against skin flukes, however, it is ineffective against flukes in the gills.

    Monitoring the fish for 30 days after treatment has concluded is important. Fish may continue to scratch after treatment due to their skin healing from the fluke’s hooks that were inserted into their skin. Confirmation of eradication can be confirmed by performing freshwater dips, skins scrapes and fin clipping. Obviously these should only be done by those with experience.

    The lifecycle without a host can be completed within a few days. An adult can live up to 6 days without a host. After an egg hatches the oncomiridium must find a host within 36 hours or it will die. A fluke cannot attack an invertebrate or coral. There are no reports of flukes or eggs lying dormant as in Cryptocaryon. Equipment can be cleaned with hot water and bleach and thoroughly dried. As with all parasites and diseases avoid cross contamination with hands, equipment, water and food.

    (prepared by Newsmyrna80)

    Another good source of info on flukes can be found here: http://fisheries.tamu.edu/files/2013/09/Monogenean-Parasites-of-Fish.pdf

    Flukes on a fish:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Dead flukes in a freshwater dip:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    An adult Neobenedenia sp. detached from its host:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
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  2. RMAS0934

    RMAS0934 Active Member

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    Silly question but, when you treat with Prazi, does it matter how long the air stone is running for? Can you overuse during treatment? Also, if you are using a sponge in the hob filter (used bio-spira on the sponge), is the sponge something you would remove during treatment? There is no carbo in filter with the sponge, fyi. Thank you!
     
  3. ZoaCollector

    ZoaCollector Aquatic Specialist

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    Prazi pro can lower the oxygen level in a hospital tank because it causes bacterial blooms which lowers the dissolved oxygen level. Most fish are ok with this however some wrasses don't fair well.
     
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  4. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Louisiana Reef Club Expert Contributor

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    If you are just using the air stone to provide additional O2 while treating with Prazi, you only need to turn it on just prior to dosing. However, if the air stone is your primary source of gas exchange for the entire QT, I recommend running it for at least an hour or two before adding fish.

    Yes; as mentioned above wrasses are especially sensitive to overdosing. FYI; you never want to overdose with any med. If in doubt, underdose a little. Overdosing medications usually does more harm than good, and is a leading cause for fish deaths in QT.

    Sponge stays in, carbon always comes out. This applies when using all medications.
     
  5. RMAS0934

    RMAS0934 Active Member

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    As always thank you! I was concerned that the air stone could be overused, as it's been running all night. I'll remove it when I go home on lunch. I currently have a .75-1 inch fancy white clown and a 1 inch blue spotted puffer in qt. Got them home last night. The puffer ate dinner like a pig but the clown didn't really eat(he ate at the lfs though). I did notice after about an hour of being home that the clown had a white stringy substance and figure it to be an internal parasite so I started the Prazi. Neither really ate breakfast. I suppose if by tomorrow night they haven't eaten I should do a water change and maybe add the carbon for a few days then try again?
     
  6. jetmaker

    jetmaker Valuable Member

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    Yup tipacle lfs fish.
     
  7. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Louisiana Reef Club Expert Contributor

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    Depending upon which ones you get, they can last for a pretty long time in SW before needing to be replaced. I'm a fan of these because I hate little microbubbles in the QT: http://www.amazon.com/Lees-Pet-Products-ALE12520-Disposable/dp/B0002APU62

    Prazi can suppress appetite, especially for the first 24 hrs. Give the med 72 hrs before doing a WC.
     
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  8. RMAS0934

    RMAS0934 Active Member

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    Appreciate your help!!
     
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  9. Alisha

    Alisha Active Member

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    Would you say this treatment is stressful on a fish or should I give it a try? I got a pair of fish over the weekend they seemed fine and ate like pigs yesterday, but now one of them is not interested in any food, mouth seems to be open wide like it's hard to breathe, will do a lap around a rock then take a break as if he's out of energy from the short lap. Please let me know what you think, thanks.
     
  10. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Louisiana Reef Club Expert Contributor

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    Prazipro will only help if flukes are afflicting the gills. Otherwise, it only delays a more suitable treatment. I would first perform a FW dip to check for flukes (see below):

    Freshwater Dip: Provides temporary relief for Brooklynella, Flukes, Marine Velvet disease (Amyloodinium); possibly even Ich & Uronema marinum (both unproven). Can be used to confirm the presence of Flukes.

    How To Treat - Fill a bucket with RODI water, and use a heater to match the temperature to the water the fish is coming from. Aerate the water heavily for at least 30 minutes prior to doing the dip, then discontinue aeration while performing the dip. Fish aren’t overly pH sensitive for short durations like this, but you can squirt a little tank water into the dip just before the fish goes in to help bring it up.

    Place the fish in the freshwater (FW) dip and observe closely. It is not unusual for them to freak out a little at first. Also, tangs are notorious for “playing dead” during a FW dip. The important thing is to watch their gills; they should be breathing heavily at all times during the dip. If breathing slows, it’s time to exit the dip. Dip the fish for no longer than 5 minutes. Multiple dips may be done, but it’s important to give your fish a day to recuperate in-between dips.

    For flukes, use a dark (preferably black) bucket so you can see if tiny white worms fall out of the fish (especially out of the gills) at around the 3-4 minute mark. The worms will settle to the bottom, so you can use a flashlight to look for them there as well.

    Pros - Provides temporary relief for a wide range of diseases in a chemical free environment. Can “buy you more time” until a proper treatment can be done.

    Cons/Side Effects - Not a permanent “fix” for any disease, as FW dips are not potent enough to eradicate all of the parasites/worms afflicting the fish. Some fish can have an adverse reaction to a FW dip by appearing unable to maintain their equilibrium once returned to the aquarium. If this happens, hold the fish upright (using latex, nitrile or rubber gloves), and gently glide him through the water (to get saltwater flowing through the gills again). It is also a good idea to place the fish in an acclimation box until he appears “normal”.
     
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  11. Alisha

    Alisha Active Member

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    Thank you!
     
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  12. cdare99

    cdare99 Member

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    What would be the best treatment for a fluke in a Flame Angels eye
     
  13. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Moderator Emeritus Article Contributor Expert Contributor

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    Give it a freshwater dip first then go for the prazipro. Once they reach the eyes, it's pretty bad..... the FW dip will help reduce the stress from the spasming and dieing flukes when the prazi hits them.
     
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  14. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Louisiana Reef Club Expert Contributor

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    +1 If the eye looks "popped out" or turns cloudy following Prazipro treatment, that usually means an infection has set in. Treat with a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Kanaplex; or Erythromycin is the antibiotic of choice for eye infections.
     
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  15. Smite

    Smite Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I just completed 4 weeks of copper in my QT on Saturday. I did a 50% water change. Now, 2 days later I witnessed my fire goby flash several times. I see no spots, but I know that's usually a later stage. I'm wondering if maybe my treatment was unsuccessful? Or could I possibly have flukes? Could the fish have survived that long with them?

    My B&W clowns face seems to be slightly pale more pale than usual. The ich I was battling was very aggressive, so I didn't do a prazipro treatment first.

    Is there a tell tale sign to distinguish the two by symptoms?

    I still have until 4/16 for my tank to be fallow. I'm considering just going hypo for the rest of the time they have in the QT tank but would like to hear suggestions as well.
     
  16. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Moderator Emeritus Article Contributor Expert Contributor

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    You can always do a fresh water dip to confirm flukes. They could still be a bit itchy from the wounds caused by the ich healing over as well. Fish can survive with flukes for quite a while. Prazi is easy enough to get a hold of and to administer and that would deworm the fish for you..... which is a practice I highly recommend for any fish going through QT.
     
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  17. Smite

    Smite Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks!

    I'm going to order some prazi right now and monitor for spots.
     
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  18. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Louisiana Reef Club Expert Contributor

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    Unfortunately, parasites & worms inside the gills have the exact same symptoms. The only way to confirm flukes is by doing a FW dip. If no flukes are present, you can usually zero in on an external parasite being the culprit; unless an environmental factor is in play affecting the gills (exs. contaminant in the water, ammonia).

    I highly recommend all new fish be treated with Prazipro or some other praziquantel based medication in order to deworm. Just to eliminate flukes from the equation. If you are treating a sensitive wrasse, just underdose slightly to compensate for that.
     
  19. Smite

    Smite Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks, maybe I'll try a fw on one of my hardier fish, like a clown and see if anything falls off. I'll look up images for flukes and see what color bucket will make it easiest to see.
     
  20. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Louisiana Reef Club Expert Contributor

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    @Smite See below in red.

    Freshwater Dip:
    Provides temporary relief for Brooklynella, Flukes, Marine Velvet disease (Amyloodinium); possibly even Ich & Uronema marinum (both unproven). Can be used to confirm the presence of Flukes.

    How To Treat - Fill a bucket with RODI water, and use a heater to match the temperature to the water the fish is coming from. Aerate the water heavily for at least 30 minutes prior to doing the dip, then discontinue aeration while performing the dip. Fish aren’t overly pH sensitive for short durations like this, but you can squirt a little tank water into the dip just before the fish goes in to help bring it up.

    Place the fish in the freshwater (FW) dip and observe closely. It is not unusual for them to freak out a little at first. Also, tangs are notorious for “playing dead” during a FW dip. The important thing is to watch their gills; they should be breathing heavily at all times during the dip. If breathing slows, it’s time to exit the dip. Dip the fish for no longer than 5 minutes. Multiple dips may be done, but it’s important to give your fish a day to recuperate in-between dips.

    For flukes, use a dark (preferably black) bucket so you can see if tiny white worms fall out of the fish (especially out of the gills) at around the 3-4 minute mark. The worms will settle to the bottom, so you can use a flashlight to look for them there as well.

    Pros - Provides temporary relief for a wide range of diseases in a chemical free environment. Can “buy you more time” until a proper treatment can be done.

    Cons/Side Effects - Not a permanent “fix” for any disease, as FW dips are not potent enough to eradicate all of the parasites/worms afflicting the fish. Some fish can have an adverse reaction to a FW dip by appearing unable to maintain their equilibrium once returned to the aquarium. If this happens, hold the fish upright (using latex, nitrile or rubber gloves), and gently glide him through the water (to get saltwater flowing through the gills again). It is also a good idea to place the fish in an acclimation box until he appears “normal”.
     
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