HELP! Fish lice / argulus

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Seamusson

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Sep 9, 2017
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I just discovered today that my cold water tank has fish lice! I am seeking advice from anyone who's had to deal with them. Looks like a real challenge.

They must have come in with a couple of adulescent gold fish I introduced a couple of months ago. They showed no signs of illness or infection during quarantine, but given the lifecycle of these nasty critters, it could take up to 60 days before we'd really see them.

While we still see no sign of them on the 2 goldfish, we've discovered several on our 2 dojo/weather loaches. These are the only 4 inhabitants (after about a half dozen 8 year old minnows mysteriously started going crazy & then belly up about a week ago... which I now expect was because of the lice).

It appears that the only way to get rid of them is to break their 30-60 day lifecycle. I'm trying to work out a strategy, and welcome any advice.

I haven't found a way of treating the whole home tank with some sort of pesticide/bromide. If there is one, I'd love to look into it. Else, this looks like a huge hassle:

The tank is 30 gal, fully grown with plants I've been growing for as long as over 8 years now. And I've a 10 gal QT with lots of younger plants and about a half dozen young minnows.

The big problem seems to me to be that argulus lay their eggs on plants & rocks. I can already see one patch of eggs on a leaf of my 9 year old giant anubius.

At the same time, adults are attached to the loaches and/or crawling around them, so how to QT them without just bringing the parasites into the QT?

All the while, there are agulus at various phases of their lifecylce floating around in the water column.

The plants are a big problem: I'd hate to get rid of them after so long, but I'm not sure that I can be sure there aren't any eggs left on them -- the very large dwarf anubius will be almost impossible to fully inspect. They would have to be quarantined for well over 60 days to break the lifecycle of the argulus. Perhaps I could do that in a bucket or something.

All of the substrate will have to be replaced or sanatized in some way, and all of the other decore such as wood & terracotta pots left to completely dry out over a few days, I expect.

As there are nearly a dozen phases of molting in their lifecycle which occur in the water column, I'll have to ditch all of the water too, and sanitize the water filter & tank itself (with vinegar, I'm thinking).

So, I'll be starting from scratch cycling the home acquarium, yay!

Meanwhile, what to do with the fish? I'm thinking I'll need to give them all a formalin bath (I've no idea how to do that) before putting them in the QT. I don't expect a salt bath would be effective as argulus are crustaceans and have both salt & freshwater species.

But now what? It's a 10 gal tank and can't sustain 2 jouvenile goldfish and 2 mature loaches for too long. Not long enough for the home tank to fully cycle naturally.

Goldfish & weather loaches are hearty fish in less than ideal water conditions for sure, so perhaps we could get away with a quick cycling of the home tank and move them back from the QT within a week or two. Perhaps I'd have to formalin bath them all again on the way back?

But even after all of that, how can I know I've finally got rid of them?

I wide open to any advice battling these parasites.
 

Tifftastic

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Sep 9, 2008
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Tiff
I know you have plants, but would it be possible treat with copper? Copper will pretty much kill all invertebrates. Another treatment I have read is potassium permanganate, if you can get your hands on it we use it here at the Uni to treat, well a lot of things. You might not have to treat long enough to kill the plants, we usually treat for four hours and then dose the system with sodium thiosulfate (active ingredient in water conditioner) to deactive the pp and then change 50% of the water. It shouldn't harm the plants and if you do it for a week, I bet you kill the parasite. You can remove the ones that are attached by plucking them off with tweezers as well. If you can get all the plants safely into a bucket for a few days a copper treatment may be possible.

Additionally, for sea lice fish farms treat with ivermectin, its an over the counter dewormer (in the US) for horses and livestock (sometimes dogs) that you can get at most feed stores. I wouldn't recommend it without a lot of research as it can be a bit toxic at the wrong dose. But if the other two methods don't work out, it may be worth a try.
 

tarheel96

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Sep 9, 2017
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Mike
Dimilin-X Koi & Goldfish Treatment: Anchor Worm Fish Lice Flukes

A search will turn it up. The active incredient is diflubenzuron. It's supposed to be non toxic to fish, plants and the biofilter and ends the life cycle of anchor worms and fish lice.

One teaspoon treats 500 gallons. The entire 8 oz bottle treats 25,000 gallons.
 

Seamusson

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Sep 9, 2017
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Thanks T tarheel96 ! This looks like exactly what the dr ordered. Now if I can just get my hands on some.

Dimilin-X Koi & Goldfish Treatment: Anchor Worm Fish Lice Flukes

A search will turn it up. The active incredient is diflubenzuron. It's supposed to be non toxic to fish, plants and the biofilter and ends the life cycle of anchor worms and fish lice.

One teaspoon treats 500 gallons. The entire 8 oz bottle treats 25,000 gallons.
 

fishorama

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Jun 28, 2006
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Dimilin-X Koi & Goldfish Treatment: Anchor Worm Fish Lice Flukes

A search will turn it up. The active incredient is diflubenzuron. It's supposed to be non toxic to fish, plants and the biofilter and ends the life cycle of anchor worms and fish lice.

One teaspoon treats 500 gallons. The entire 8 oz bottle treats 25,000 gallons.
My chemist husband thinks this will work safely too & break down fairly quickly. You can use carbon in your filter to remove traces along with large water changes. You can retreat if needed.

PP (potassium permanganate) is something my discus friends used for various ills. It used to be sold at Sears by the water softener products. I don't know if other chains carry it (HD, Lowe's, True Value). Tiff is right, sodium thiosulphate is the "undo".

Copper will render your tank invert unsafe...forever! In gets into the silicone & doesn't go away. This is a tx of last resort to me...& my ethical sense would require me to tell any "next tank owner" to know that I'd treated with copper at any time...but who is to know in a used tank? Beware!

Good luck! Anchor worms are something I hope never to deal with.
 
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