Lernaea, commonly referred to anchor worms, are tiny parasites that attach to freshwater fish. The common goldfish and koi fish are at the greatest risk for attracting this type of parasite. Soon after mating, the male anchor worm will die, but the female will search for a host, such as your fish. The parasite will burrow deep enough into the body of the fish to reach the muscles. In many cases, the anchor worm will leave half of its body outside of the fish. The parasite will live off its host blood for several months, at which point it will leave the host, release its eggs, and eventually die.
Dangers to Your Fish
There are several dangers anchor worms present to your freshwater fish. First, as the parasite feeds off the fish’s blood, it will drain energy from the fish and leave it in a weakened state. If the anchor worms have burrowed far enough to reach the muscle, it will cause the fish great pain and discomfort. However, the most dangerous effects are when the anchor worms remove itself from the host and leaves behind a gaping wound. This puts the fish at great danger for infection and other diseases, which could be fatal.
Symptoms of Anchor Worms
Many times, it is easy to tell an anchor worm has attacked your fish because they leave a portion of their body on the outside of the fish. This portion is visible to the human eye, and it will look like a thin threads hanging off your fish. These threads are usually green and white in color. Another common symptom you may notice is that your fish will be constantly rubbing against the rocks and decorations you have in your aquarium. They do this to try to remove the anchor worm from their body. This can cause injury to your fish, as well, if it rubs too hard against the rocks.
Effective Treatments For Anchor Worms
Not only will anchor worms put your fish at greater risk for injury and illness, but your fish will also be in pain and discomfort. This means that immediate action is required. Potassium permanganate is the most common treatment used to fight anchor worms.
You can use this chemical to treat the entire tank or by giving your fish a 20 to 30 minute “dip” bath. When doing a tank treatment, add 2 mg of potassium permanganate for every liter of water in your tank. If you opt for the dip treatment, use 10 mg of potassium permanganate for every liter of water, and be sure not to let your fish in this water mixture for more than 30 minutes.
Another option is to pull the parasite out using a pair of tweezers. However, if you are not careful or the parasite has burrowed too deeply into the fish, you could cause even more damage. Immediate treatment for your fish or the fish tank will safely rid your aquarium of dangerous anchor worms. Since eggs can mature in as little as 14 days, it is recommended to keep checking your tank and repeat the treatment if any additional anchor worms are detected. This will keep your fish healthy and happy.
Last update on 2019-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API