How to Treat Parasites in Aquarium Fish
When you buy an aquarium fish, did you know that it has traveled from a fish farm to a wholesaler to a pet store before it got to you? This means that your fish could have acquired an internal or external parasite. Wild-caught fish have a higher likelihood of contracting parasites than wild-caught. Aquarium fish are often not kept in the store for long enough to check for parasitic diseases. The following antiparasitic medications may be necessary to treat visible parasites, a swollen body, skinny disease, a hole-in the-head, or unusually discolored poop.
Hikari is known for producing high-quality fish food, but their Pond Solutions and Aquarium Solutions product lines also make excellent fish medicines. After testing dozens of ich medicines in the United States, we have determined that Ich-X is one of the most effective formulations for treating ich (or white spot disease), other external protozoan parasites, and mild fungal infections. Ich-X is used to treat all fish entering our fish shop before they are sold to customers. Its active ingredients include formaldehyde, malachite-green chloride, and is safe for scaleless fish and invertebrates.
If your fish appears to have a lot of white salt crystals, it may be ich. That’s why it’s good to always have first aid medications like Ich-X on hand.
There are two types Ich-X: Aquarium Solutions IchX is for small tanks and Pond Solutions IchX is for large tanks. These steps will help you use Aquarium Solutions IchX
1. Do a water change and clean the aquarium. You should get rid of all chemical filtration (such as Purigen and activated carbon) or UV sterilizers. 2. One teaspoon (5 ml), Ich-X for every 10 gallons water is recommended. 3. Replace one-third the tank water once every 24 hours. 4. Continue daily treatment for at least 3 days after you last see any signs of disease.
Pond Solutions IchX is more powerful than Aquarium Solutions IchX. Follow the same directions, but with a dose of 1 teaspoon (5 ml), per 50 gallons. Read our complete article for more information on how to identify and treat ich.
Fritz ParaCleanse is another tested medication we use to preventively treat all new fish entering our retail stores. It can be safely used with Ich-X. It is used to cure internal parasites and some external parasites, such as:
– Tapeworms (e.g. skinny or wasting diseases) – Gill and skin flukes, (e.g. Gyrodactylus species). – Hole in the head (HITH), disease (e.g. Hexamita, Spironucleus)
ParaCleanse has praziquantel for worms and flukes. It also contains metronidazole to kill bacteria and protozoans. It is safe for scaleless fish, fish fry, snails, shrimp, and aquarium plants. If you suspect that your fish might have one of the parasites listed, please follow the manufacturer’s directions. You shouldn’t use half the doses. Otherwise the medicine may not work.
1. Clean the aquarium, and get rid of any UV sterilizers and chemical filtration. 2. Dose 1 ParaCleanse packet per 10 gallons water on Day 1. 3. On Day 3, take 1 packet ParaCleanse to 10 gallons of drinking water. 4. Do a 25% water exchange on the aquarium on Day 5. 5. To give your fish the best chance of recovering and gaining weight, wait 2 weeks before you administer any other medication. For them to pass the deadworms, you should feed them food rich in fiber and rawage such as shrimps, daphnias, algae wafers and Repashy Soilent Green. 6. Repeat the 5-day treatment after 2 weeks by following Steps 1 through 4. (Eggs don’t get affected by the medicine so we need to wait for the new eggs to hatch. It takes 2 weeks for internal parasites to be completely eliminated in stores before fish can be sold. 7. [Optional] Repeating the 5-day treatment two times will eliminate the majority of parasites. For a second treatment, wait two weeks.
Tapeworms eggs do not react to most medications. We must wait until the new larvae hatch so that we can treat them. That is why we recommend redosing after 2 weeks once they have hatched.
ParaCleanse doesn’t cause severe side effects so you can give multiple treatments to your fish. However, it can be a little expensive on the wallet, so try putting your fish in a smaller quarantine tank so that there is less water volume to dose.
Should the fish be medicated with food or water? It can be difficult to manage medicated fish food. Because they are sick, sick fish will often not eat as much or as often as normal. It can be difficult to track how much medication each fish is receiving, so it may be that some fish are taking too much and others too little. Meditated food might be an option if only one fish is being treated and they are still eating well. For multiple animals we recommend medication that dissolves in the water. We can then treat each animal with the same medication.
What is the treatment plan for the Quarantine Med Trio? After you have given your fish a 7-day soak with ParaCleanse and Ich-X, follow these instructions, starting at Step 5.
PraziPro has higher levels of praziquantel. It is recommended for use when ParaCleanse may not be strong enough, or if we are having problems with certain shrimp parasites, such as Vorticella japonica or Scutalleria japonica.
Similar to ParaCleanse, PraziPro is safe for fish, invertebrates, plants, and beneficial bacteria, and it’s primarily used to treat tapeworms, flukes, flatworms, and turbellarians. Follow these steps to use PraziPro
1. Clean your aquarium and get rid all chemical filtration or UV sterilizers. 2. Use 1 teaspoon (5 ml), PraziPro for every 20 gallons of water. 3. Allow the medication rest for 7 Days. You can repeat the dosage as often as you need, but not more than three times per day.
Wild-caught fish often contain lots of parasites that may require three rounds of treatment to fully deworm.
PraziPro is used to deworm puffers in our personal tanks. First, we treat ParaCleanse for 5 days and then wait two weeks. Next, we perform a second 5-day ParaCleanse treatment and wait for a month. We then use PraziPro for our final deworming treatment.
Pond Solutions CyroPro was specifically formulated to deal with external parasites, such as anchor worms and fish lice (e.g. Argulus) The active ingredient of cyromazine works by preventing parasitic insects and crustaceans from molting their exoskeletons. Therefore, it is safe for fish, plants, and snails, but consider removing your shrimp, crayfish, and other crustaceans before treatment.
1. Perform a water change in the aquarium or pond, and get rid of any chemical filtration and ultraviolet sterilizers. 2. Give the CyroPro a good shake and 1 teaspoon (5 ml), per 50 gallons. 3. For at least 21 consecutive days, change the water and continue the treatment every 7-days. If you have missed a treatment day, you will need to restart the treatment.
External parasites, such as fish lice (see above) or anchor worms, are easily seen by the naked eye. They can often be found on pond fish such as goldfish and koi.
The water changing before CyroPro is administered helps to remove excess nutrients and refresh dissolved oxygen levels.
Fritz Expel -P is a quick-acting dewormer that can be used to treat parasites such a planaria, roundworms, nematodes (such camallanus redworms), nodularworms, hookworms, and other parasites. Infected fish might experience anemia, rapid breathing, a swollen body, red worms leaking into the anus, loss appetite and swelling.
The active ingredient is levamisole hydrochloride (HCl), which causes paralysis and death of the worms, but it will not harm your biological filtration, aquarium plants, invertebrates, or healthy fish.
Fritz ParaCleanse is a multi-treatment program that ensures all eggs are hatched. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding dosage and dosing.
1. Clean your aquarium and get rid all chemical filtration or UV sterilizers. 2. One packet of ExpelP for every 10 gallons of water. 3. After 24 hours, do a 25% water change, making sure to vacuum the substrate with an aquarium siphon to remove any paralyzed worms. 4. After 1 week, repeat the treatment to get rid of any new worms that hatched out. 5. Continue the weekly treatments as needed until the worms have disappeared or the fish are regaining weight again.
Bonus: Aquarium Salt
Aquarium salt is useful for external parasites but not for internal ones. The salt works by dehydrating the parasites to death before the fish (which have more mass and stored water) are affected. For complete instructions, see our full article on how to treat sick fish with salt.