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Intestinal Tetrahymena or other Intestinal Protozoa Parasite?


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  • Regular Member

Hi All, 

 

I've taken some fecal samples of my goldfish and noticed a shocking volume of what I believe to be an intestinal protozoa parasite that looks exactly like these under the microscope:

 

I found on this forum that tetrahymena rarely attacks internally, but I have many goldfish that now have this in their feces.  

 

There are hundreds of them in each fecal sample.   

 

I cannot find any information as to what other type of parasite they could be.  Does anyone know if tetrahymena is often found in goldfish feces or if this is a different type of protozoa that I could treat with Metronidazole?

 

Thank you!

 

 

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  • Regular Member

Sorry this was my first post and just noticed the rules for posting in this forum:

 

Test Results for the Following:

* Ammonia Level(Tank): 0ppm

* Nitrite Level(Tank): 0ppm

* Nitrate level(Tank): 30ppm

* Ammonia Level(Tap): 0.5

* Nitrite Level(Tap): 0

* Nitrate level(Tap): 0

* Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines): 7.2

* Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines): 8.2

Other Required Info:
* Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? API master kit w/ drops 

* Water temperature? 72 degrees

* Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running? 125 gallons, 1 year

* What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)? 2 hiker XL sponge filters and 1 cascade 1000

* How often do you change the water and how much? Typically 75% once/week


* How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change?  1 day, 30%

* How many fish in the tank and their size? 9 fancy goldfish, 4 adults, 5 juvenille

 

* What kind of water additives or conditioners? Seachem Prime

* What do you feed your fish and how often? soilent green 3 times daily

* Any new fish added to the tank? Brought in fish from outside pond

* Any medications added to the tank? None

* List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank.  Fish are quarantined before entering this tank (apparently I didn't do a good job).  Treating with Prazipro (or parasite guard if a new fish had anchor worms), salt treated fish in QT at .3%.

 

 

* Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? Bloating

* Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? Lethargy, buoyancy issues, color fading

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  • Helper

Hi there! Are your fish showing symptoms? Any worrying behavior or physical condition like bottom sitting, thinness, or floating in the current?

Goldfish live in symbiosis with many parasites, and it is only when a fish becomes weakened and a parasite load blooms in terms of population that we have problems. Healthy fish often have all manner of microorganisms living in and on them to no ill effect. If you are seeing behavioral changes or physical symptoms like stringy feces, lesions, what have you, we can assist with that. But if your fish are healthy I wouldn't treat for parasites, no.

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  • Helper

Sorry this was my first post and just noticed the rules for posting in this forum:

 

Test Results for the Following:[/size]

* Ammonia Level(Tank): 0ppm[/size]* Nitrite Level(Tank): 0ppm[/size]* Nitrate level(Tank): 30ppm[/size]* Ammonia Level(Tap): 0.5[/size]* Nitrite Level(Tap): 0[/size]* Nitrate level(Tap): 0[/size]* Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines): 7.2[/size]* Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines): 8.2[/size]Other Required Info:[/size]* Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? API master kit w/ drops [/size]* Water temperature? 72 degrees[/size]* Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running? 125 gallons, 1 year[/size]* What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)? 2 hiker XL sponge filters and 1 cascade 1000* How often do you change the water and how much? Typically 75% once/week[/size]* How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change?  1 day, 30%[/size]

* How many fish in the tank and their size? 9 fancy goldfish, 4 adults, 5 [/size]juvenille

 

* What kind of water additives or conditioners? Seachem Prime[/size]

* What do you feed your fish and how often? soilent green 3 times daily* Any new fish added to the tank? Brought in fish from outside pond[/size]

* Any medications added to the tank? None[/size]* List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank.  Fish are quarantined before entering this tank (apparently I didn't do a good job).  Treating with Prazipro (or parasite guard if a new fish had anchor worms), salt treated fish in QT at .3%.

 

 

* Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? Bloating[/size]* Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? [/size]Lethargy, buoyancy issues, color fading

Thank you for the details! I see that you are noting some symptoms. In this case I'd recommend first servicing your filter and seeing if you cannot get your nitrates down a bit through some detritus removal. Then I'd obtain Seachem Paraguard in a nice big jug and treat the entire tank until a week after the last symptom has disappeared or a minimum of ten days. If you're still seeing symptoms after ten days we may need to quarantine the affected fish and treat with additional medication, but I think Paraguard is your safest and least invasive first step in a tank with multiple affected fish.

Along with serious detritus removal and filter servicing you may also benefit from increasing the temperature over the next few days to 78 degrees. This will speed up the life cycle of your parasites and help the treatment be more effective, more quickly.

Any questions or clarifications needed?

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  • Helper

Oh! And it should go without saying but if you have any bags of carbon in your tank or filters, please remove them for treatment :)

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  • Regular Member

When you say "buoyancy issues", do you mean floating or sitting?  If it's floating, you might want to back off of the feeding, try a fast and/or try some different foods.  Some fish get floaty on Solient Green, especially if they eat it 3 times a day.  You could also try adding some Epsom Salt.  I agree with Arctic Mama that keeping the nitrates below 20 would also be good.

Edited by Jared
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  • Regular Member

Wow.  Thank you for all the quick and great responses. 

 

Some more info concerning the fish.

 

Some fish have feces that is coming out as just the casing, clear and stringy.  It's not constant, but when I look at the casing under the microscope, I see hundreds of these parasites.  

 

Concerning the buoyancy.  One fish in particular who has never had any swim bladder issues since I have owned him has been both floating at the top of the water and then sinking uncontrollably like a rock within hours of one episode of the other.  His poo in particular is riddled with this.   

 

I will clean the filters progressively (not all at the same time as to not kill the BB cycle), acquire some paraguard and start taking some samples.

 

Has anyone seen this before in their fishes stool?

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  • Regular Member

Okay, if you can post a youtube video of the fish, that would help us to observe the behavior.  I will try to look up your microbes later tonight when I have more time.

Edited by Jared
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  • Regular Member

 

The orange telescope has lodged himself into the plants to prevent from floating away.  Right before I took this video, he excreted a clear stool that did not have much structural integrity.   Everyone else is acting normal, but the ryukin and oranda (Both males) in this video are much more bloated than they normally are, you can see the bloating particularly by their vent.  Everyone is higher energy in the morning, so I may be able to get a video of the bottom sitting and variations in swim bladder control later today.

 

Thank you for the help.

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  • Regular Member

Metronidazole only works against internal parasites when fed to the fish.  I wouldn't risk developing immunities to this valuable medication by treating something that may be a parasite.

 

Seachem says Paraguard works for external parasites. 

 

I would like to try an alternative treatment -- epsom salt (MgSO4) in food -- that works on intestinal hexamita,  an intestinal protozoan parasite.  I don't know if it works on all intestinal protozoan parasites, but you won't hurt your fish trying.   You will find research references as well as instructions in the link.

Edited by shakaho
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  • Regular Member

I definitely will not treat with metro in food without first determining what these actually are.   I wish my microscope would take video so I could post.  :-/  But these buggers look exactly like the tetrahymena in the video I posted.  I also still suspect the tetrahymena because 3 of the fish in this tank were brought inside from an outdoor pond.  This pond has plants that had been purchased from a pond store which could have carried detritus with the tetrahymena on them.  I also understand that protozoa are going to exist everywhere but the volume of these in the fishes stool is what is most disconcerting.  

 

I've read about epsom salt in the food before.  Haven't bought the paraguard yet and since this is definitely an internal problem.  Going to clean filters progressively first with a small water change as to not disturb the cycle.   

 

Thank you for all the help.  I'm very excited to have found such a responsive forum

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  • Helper

You shouldn't actually have an issue with filter cleaning if you're just shaking out detritus, squeezing sponges, or rinsing pads in tank water. It's only if you're tossing media or using a chlorinated water source that you will be negatively affecting your beneficial bacterial populations. Don't be afraid of giving any media a good knock or rinse, so long as it is in tank water.

I personally have not had issues with Paraguard lacking efficacy internally, because it essentially acts as a low grade neurotoxin for the parasites just like formalin or malachite green, but with much lower toxicity to the fish. However if you want to try to Epsom food first it won't hurt. Don't combine those two treatments, as we don't know how nicely Epsom plays with Paraguard. Pick ONE to try first.

Edited by Arctic Mama
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  • Regular Member

Cool.  I won't combine those two treatments.  I may try the epsom salt first since I don't have Paraguard easily accessible and will have to amazon order it.

 

I'll get on the filter cleaning, but I have caused mini cycles with the sponge filter cleanings.  I think the BB doesn't attach as well to the sponges as it does other bio material.  Maybe if I squeeze a little less :-)

 

Thank you!

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  • Helper

I run sponges - it's generally thought that knocking them against the side of a sink or the tank is better than squeezing, both for loosening the detritus without losing the nitrifier 'mud' and for the integrity of the sponges (squeezing can shorten their lifespan). Try knocking a few of them and see if that causes the same cycle bump?

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  • Regular Member

I'm not sure what you actually have under your microscope and I'm no expert at identifying microbes.  Noga (page 141) mentions that tetrahymena can be distinguished from similar-looking nonpathogenic ciliates by a spiraling football motion.  He also mentions that it can invade the internal organs of common carp.  So, I guess it is possible that this is your problem, but I would guess a flagellate or an anaerobic bacteria is more likely to cause these symptoms :idont

Edited by Jared
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  • Regular Member

I have searched pretty thoroughly and can find no ciliates functioning as intestinal parasites of freshwater fish.  I have to conclude that the protozoa you found are just commensals -- harmless residents of the gut.  Incidentally, "internal infections" do not include anything inside the gut.

 

Can you take a picture of your  protozoa?  Can you see the cilia on them? 

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My microscope doesn't have a camera, but they are exactly "to a T" the same thing in the video posted in the first entry.  The video is labelled "Tetrahymena".   They do not appear to be spiraling, but make the "3 point turn" when running into objects which was noted in the disease forum about tetrahymena.

 

I think they can definitely cause disease:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260996234_Comparative_Study_of_Infection_with_Tetrahymena_of_Different_Ornamental_Fish_Species

 

Apparently they enter through the gills or an injury to cause internal infections and not the gut.  But I don't want these in the tank at the volume that they are right now.  

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I wonder if you read the paper.  

 

They put goldfish fry in water in which guppies had died of "guppy disease," caused by some species of Tetrahymena.   (They apparently couldn't identify species.)  Some of these unfortunate babies (probably less than 1/2" long) got infected.  The fact that not a single one of all the fish (of any species) they examined had Tetrahymena inside the gut suggests that it can't survive there.  Thus the Tetrahymena that you saw associated with the fecal material probably didn't come from the fish but lived free in the water and came to eat the goodies in the fish poop.  

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  • Supporter

hello, what you are seeing in the video you posted initially is not tetrahymena. they are as Sharon (shakaho) says and actually called Ciliophora. both are from the family of ciliates and quite harmless. so your fish issues are not ciliophora and definitely not tetrahymena since the owner of that video has the protozoa wrong... so lets consider other possible causes as the mods are suggesting.

 

tetrahymena and ciliophora look very similar, but they are not the same. tetrahymena is an oval shape with a more definitive narrowness to one end of the oval with cilia (minute hairlike organelles, identical in structure to flagella, that line the surfaces of certain cells and beat in rhythmic waves, providing locomotion to ciliate protozoans and moving liquids along internal epithelial tissue in animals) all over it's body, they are also a more narrower, longer oval. where as the ciliophora are more consistantly oval and when observed side on, they actually resemble a little like a UFO with all their little cilia at the base of their body... like feet. both can move incredibly fast under the microscope.

 

that said, anything can be problematic in high numbers.. but since we cannot see the volume of ciliates you see, we cannot conclude that this is the sole problem or even a contributing factor to the symptoms your fish are presenting.

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Thank all of you for the insight.  I tried the epsom salt idea as suggested before anything else and after about 2 days everyone was pooping and swimming well again.  Based on the information provided, I doubt what I had found was the cause of the fish issues, but the fish are doing better!

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  • Regular Member

Thank all of you for the insight.  I tried the epsom salt idea as suggested before anything else and after about 2 days everyone was pooping and swimming well again.  Based on the information provided, I doubt what I had found was the cause of the fish issues, but the fish are doing better!

That's great!  Did you just add the Epsom to the water or offer it in food?

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