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It does not matter what kind of fish species you are keeping in your aquarium, saltwater and freshwater fish can have nematode worms. Although indeed, it is not possible to prevent the growth of nematodes entirely, the fish suffering due to nematodes may be treated.
But before finding out how to treat nematode worms, you must find out what these worms are and how do they look like. Nematodes come from the Nematoda Phylum, which is a genus or species of worms. These species of worms can be very harmful to the fish if the infection caused by these worms spread. They are also known as Camallanus worms, and there are many types of these worms seen in aquariums.
Worry not! There are certain ways in which you could get rid of the nematodes that have made a habitat in your aquarium. One of the crucial steps involves quarantining the infected fish. But sometimes, it may be difficult to identify the infected fish.
In this case, there are other ways that you could get rid of nematodes in aquariums such as tank cleaning, gravel cleaning intensively, and also through chemical treatment.
With all that being said, buckle up to find out more about how to save your fish from nematode infestation to ensure a healthy environment for your fish.
Know the Term: What Are Nematodes?
Nematode worms are from the Nematoda Phylum genus. An interesting fact is that nematodes do not only infect fish but may also affect humans. They inhabit the polar, arctic, tropical, saltwater, and freshwater environments. These microsized worms have over 20, 000 species.
The Camallanus genus is the most common type of nematode worm to infest the fishes. Cappilaria worms are also found in aquariums. Sometimes, nematodes are also spotted in plants and even in the soil. But it is important to note that the two most common types of parasitic nematode worms are Cappilaria and Camallanus, which are extensively found in aquariums.
Heads up: You may find it difficult to differentiate among the species of nematodes without expert help and even a microscope.
Can Nematodes be Harmful to Fish?
Nematodes may be disastrous for fish if the infection gets out of hand. Nematode species may travel throughout the bodies of the fish affecting their vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, etc. The fishes die when the nematodes result in secondary infections in these vital organs.
Knowing About the Stages of Life of the Camallanus Nematode Worms
The Camallanus nematode worms have different stages in their lives. To know how these worm species breed, have a look at their life cycle stages.
1. The free-living or free-swimming phase
This is the first stage in the life cycle of the Camallanus worms. During this stage, the worms have a resemblance to threadworms. They are tiny and white at this point. They are so tiny that a microscope is needed to see them.
2. Molting Phase or Infestation of Intermediate Hosts
In this stage, the worms infest a host fish. The nematode worms achieve a reddish-brown color as they start feeding on the blood proteins of the fish. While the worms are inside the host fish, they will feed on the food particles and also the living tissues of the fish.
The nematode worms lay eggs in the digestive tracts of the host fish. They then appear through the feces again. In this way, the life cycle stages are repeated.
3. Second Molting Stage in the Host Fish
After hatching, these nematode worms will infect the intermediate host. This intermediate host will be the food source of the final host fish. When the intermediate host or the food source of the final host fish is ingested, the life cycle of the nematodes starts again.
Ways to Get Rid of Nematodes in Aquarium
Since nematodes thrive in dirty water habitats, your best bet would be to keep the aquarium water clean. The main reason why nematodes get the environment to multiply is because of the high bacteria count inside the aquarium.
To minimize the emergence of increased nematode growth, you could implement the following preventive measures.
1. Installing a Good-Quality Filter
A good quality filter may remove the toxic waste products that build up inside the fish tank. It also removes the excessive nitrates and ammonia in the water. This will ensure a clean environment for the fish.
Installing a high-quality filtration system will also effectively remove the waste that causes nematodes to breed. Therefore, it is good for minimizing the chances of nematode infection in fish.
2. Replace the Dirty Water Regularly
An alternative to installing a filtration system would be replacing the dirty water regularly. Depending on how crowded or how less crowded your aquarium is, you should be changing the water frequently.
You must replace the majority percentage of the water from the fish tank at least once a week. At least 50 percent of the water from the aquarium should be replaced per week.
3. Lower the Temperature Setting
Nematodes flourish in warm water conditions. Therefore if you are using a heater, you need to ensure that the water temperature is not too high. Do not heat the water to more than 800 F.
4. Chemical Treatment to Treat Nematodes
The parasites such as nematodes may be treated using special kinds of internal and external chemical treatment. The chemicals used in this process are known as Fenbendazole and other chemicals such as Methylene Blue.
If there are any kinds of decorations inside the fish tank, then use hydrogen peroxide to clean these as well.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Do nematodes cause harm in an aquarium?
Nematodes are parasitic worms that may infect the fish population. There are different kinds of nematode species that may infect the fishes. These parasitic worms travel through the entire system of the fish and may infect their vital organs.
What is responsible for the growth of nematodes in aquariums?
Dirty water is responsible for the growth of nematodes in aquariums. The bacterial count in the water causes nematodes to grow. The nematode affects the immune response of the fish. The weakened immune system of the fish causes the worms to multiply inside the fish.
What do nematodes feed on?
These worms feed on materials such as bacteria, fungi, algae, dead organisms, and living tissues.
Nematodes are the most common types of parasitic tiny worms that infect the fishes in the aquarium. The worms infect a different variety of fish. To ensure that there is no growth of nematodes in your aquarium, you may take the preventive measures of installing a good-quality filter, replacing the dirty water, lowering the temperature, or even using chemical treatment.
With all of that being said, we sincerely hope you can bid farewell to your nematodes in aquarium for good measure!