Fish lice are the largest known parasite to attack freshwater fish, especially goldfish and Koi fish. Instead of attacking home aquariums, fish lice are most commonly found in outdoor ponds. This can make treating them effectively very difficult and timely. However, without proper treatment, all the fish in your pond could eventually die.
Fish lice are visible to the naked eye, but they may try to hide in places on the fish’s body that make them hard to see. They have powerful claws and hooks that they use to latch onto the fish. They will use their hooks to puncture the skin repeatedly to make it easier to feed on the skin particles and blood. This can be extremely painful for the fish.
These lesions on the skin of the fish also make the fish more susceptible to many types of bacterial infections. In addition, lice can carry an array of diseases and infections with them that can easily be transmitted to its host. It is imperative that you try to eliminate any infestation as quickly as possible.
Symptoms of Fish Lice
As the lice attack the fish, you will notice the fish trying to rub against the rocks or bottom of the pond to find relief from the pain. Your fish may also stop eating and become lethargic due to lack of energy. Due to blood loss, the color of the fish will start to fade and the fish will spend more and more time at the bottom of the pond. If your fish are displaying any of these symptoms, take a closer look at their body. You should be able to detect fish lice quite easily.
Effective Treatment and Preventative Measures
Female lice can lay up to 2,000 eggs at a time, which can lead to a full lice outbreak within just days. Immediate treatment is required. If possible, you can pull the affected fish out of the water and use tweezers to remove the lice from its body. If this is done, Neosporin should be used to treat the lesion. In addition, a salt treatment and a treatment specifically for fish lice should be use. It is also recommended to use an antibiotic to treat the fish for any infections caused by the infestation.
Since these parasites can spread very quickly, you may need to treat the water four or more time before all the lice are gone. Continually, check your fish over the next several weeks to ensure there is not another outbreak of lice. Many pond owners regularly treat their pond for lice just to be safe. This type of precautionary treatment will protect your fish against this dangerous parasite.
Many people also quarantine any new fish for up to two week before releasing them into their pond. This will not only protect your pond against fish lice, but you may also be able to prevent numerous other diseases from entering your pond. Inspect your new fish on a daily basis and treat any disease as soon as it is detected.