Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
toothless

Microscope Exams And Parasite Lookalikes

Recommended Posts

Parasite Look Alikes

Filter mulm examination can actually be an interesting thing to do, even when there isn't anything wrong with the tank or fish. Sometimes, mulm exams can be useful to determine wether or not there is a free-living species of parasite in the tank or pond just waiting for the oppurtunity to invade, full force. This is preventative maintenence at its best. However, there are quite a few harmless, even beneficial, organisms that look very similar to parasites commonly found on aquarium/pond fish. Many misdiagnosises have been made because of this. Before anyone goes and jumps the gun and starts dumping chemicals into their tanks and ponds, I think it would be wise to take a closer look at some of the similarities, and differences, between some of these parasites and organisms that look alike.

We'll start with Ergasilus and its harmless cousin, the copepod. Ergasilus IS a copepod. However, being true parasites, a population of them cannot survive if there is no host for the female to attach to for nutrient uptake.

Here's Ergasilus: http://www.tossehuset.dk/images/koi/sygdom...gasilus%203.jpg

Male ergasilus do not attach to fish, instead, they can be found in the gravel and filter: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing/fishlab/i...e_ergasilus.jpg

Here's an actual picture of the head region of Ergasilus: http://www.tossehuset.dk/images/koi/sygdom...gasilus%201.jpg

Here's a pic of a harmless copepod (note there are NOT hooks): http://www.wheatoncollege.edu/Academic/Aca...tes/copepod.gif

Note that the head of this nasty has two modified feet in the form of hooks. Thats how they cling to the gills and sft tissues of fish. Beneficial copepods DO NOT have hooks. Instead, where you would see hooks, there are two antennae. This is the sure fire way to tell the difference between the two. Well, besides looking at your fish's gills for this horror scene: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/diseases/c...d/copepod_1.jpg

So, if what you see does not have hooks coming out of the front, its a harmless copepod.

-----------------------------

Next up, we cover flukes and their lookalikes, Rotifers (philodina species). Flukes and rotifers look VERY similar. They even move somewhat similarly. Flukes are true parasites and cannot live without a host (fish). Rotifers can, and do, live just about everywhere on earth that has some biological wastes, diatoms and the like.

Here's a classic shot of a fluke: http://www.fisheries.org/education/fisheri...yrodactylus.JPG

Note that there is a presence of two large hooks. This is common in 99% of all flukes that infect freshwater fish.

Here's a couple examples of flukes lookalike, phylodina rotifers: http://faculty.clintoncc.suny.edu/faculty/...ifer5_small.JPG

And another: http://forum.mikroscopia.com/uploads/post-12-1088289963.jpg

Note that there is an absence of hooks at the large end of the rotifer. Instead, there is cilia that beats rapidly to draw food towards their mouth.

Rotifers and flukes can both move in an inchworm-like fashion. Flukes are rather clumsy in that their movements are very erratic. Rotifers move as though they are on a mission. Flukes cannot swim. rotifers can release their grasp on the substrate and swim very rapidly by using their cilia like a propeller. Oh, yeah, the corona (ciliated end) of a rotifer is not always visible. They can tuck is safely away when they are moving like an inchworm. Some species of rotifer even have what looks like a little snorkel poking out the side of the end with the corona.

----------------------------

Ok, here's another set that look similar, Trichodina and Arcella (shelled amoeba).

Trichodina: http://www.koicarp.net/koi_medication/images/trichodina2.jpg

http://www.okanagankoi.com/Trichodina%20im...es/image003.jpg

Note the presence of the "spiral" inside of its body cavity. These are, essentially, its teeth. Also note the presence of cilia around it. Arcella doea NOT have cilia. Nor does it have any type of spiral inside.

Arcella: http://www.valcamonicambiente.it/monitorag...img/arcella.jpg

http://www.acadweb.wwu.edu/courses/envr429...rcella_400x.jpg

Trichodina move as those they are little flying saucers, Arcella does NOT move (at any rate we can see).

Please keep in mind that each of the organisms I mentioned above have MANY different species, and sub-species, running around this little blue marble we call Earth. Physical characteristics differ from species to species. Some have more pronounced features while others seem to supress it. Some are larger than others, though, not by much. Most of the species that are in the wild are very succeptable to our treatments to kill them. However, since the species we commonly see on our aquarium fish have been "in the industry" for who knows how long, they have grown pretty well adept at surviving and dodging treatments. Simply because they are being "bred" with immunities as a result of unsuccessful treatments. Salt is a PRIME example. Salt was reportedly able to kill almost every ciliated protozoan that could infect fish. As of today, we have salt resistant species of every ciliate we commonly see.......

Good luck with your fish!

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Paul.

I've never thought of looking at filter mulm if I suspected something was wrong with my fish, and I'm hesitant to do scale scrapes, so I'm glad I read this. Thanks again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Boy, oh, boy.....I keep lookin' and lookin' and I have yet to identify anything "nasty" in my tank - but there is something lurking there, causing problems.....

I think, according to these pictures and explanations, however, I can rule out Flukes, Ergasilus, and probably Trichodina. There are some roundy things that move very quickly and spin as they go. They may (read MAY) have inner concentric circles.

I have not found any in the tank that I "nuked" - I killed everything - boiled the media, and treated the fish with QuickCure. Those fish seem to be better......I think.

THANK YOU, Paul. You are a wonder with the microscope!!!!! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys :D

I can't wait to get my new scope! They were out of the model I want but they said it was on order. Once I get it, Ill surely be posting pics of some of the critters I find.

I recently realized how easy it was to mistake some of the critters in our tanks for parasites. So, I figured that it was of importance to inform any newbies to scoping.

I want to stress, again, that it takes practice to get an idea for how large things are. The basic way I did it was to find something in the tank that I could identify in one of the links I post below. Then, just run the name of that organism through go0gle with the word microns added on and you should get a good understanding of how large, on average, that organism is. Also, pay special attention to the magnification used o photos you view for comparison.

Anyway, here's some INCREDIBLE links awesome photos and videos of so many critters it will make your head spin. :blink: :

Rotifers http://data.acnatsci.org/biodiversity_data...ilyPhilodinidae

Pondlife: http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/moviegallery/pondscum.html

Multicellular animals: http://protist.i.hosei.ac.jp/PDB/Images/Mu...ell/indexE.html

Ciliates: http://protist.i.hosei.ac.jp/PDB/Images/Pr...iliophoraE.html

Microbiology videos (excellent for comparing movement): http://internt.nhm.ac.uk/jdsml/research-cu...video/list.dsml

Ciliates: http://research.plattsburgh.edu/Ciliates/Tableview.asp

Filter organisms: http://www.wisa.org.za/Archives/bug052005.htm

VERY GOOD "map" of ciliates, rotifers and otherr organisms. Perfect for comparing things for a judgement in size: http://members.magnet.at/p.eigner/Diversity.html

After viewing the last link above. I think you will find that we already have aliens amongst us. In fact, we're breeding them in our fishtanks! :o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Chishower

:yikes That is AMAZING. Wow.

I really, really need a good microscope.

EDIT: You live on the beach, no? I bet a sample of sand or ocean water would have some cool stuff in it.

Edited by Chishower

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently upgraded to a much nicer scope. I'll be adding some pics, periodically, to this thread.

For now, I have a VERY good shot of what Tetrahymena looks like. Tetra is one the left and Arcella (shelled amoeba) is the big circle in the middle. If you can find Arcella in your tank, then you now have a good idea of how large Tatra is and will be able to spot them much easier.

Pic is taken at 200X with the camera zoomed all the way in:

Click to enlarge

516190689-thumb.jpg

Notice the many food vacuoles (bubbles) that Tetra has in it. They may have only a few, or so many that the organism is bloated and slow (like this one). Also note that one end of the organism is pointed and the other blunt. the pointed end is the anterior of the cell. These guys can move VERY fast if they want to so, you gotta be quick about moving the slide around to keep them in view.

More to come...... ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

just found a link to a website that shows some parasites under light and electron microscopes. thought you might want a look :)

http://training.fws.gov/BART/parasite.html

great links paul. wow!

Edited by blinky000

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep! Been there and cross-check with those images many times! Thanks Blinky! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome thread and good work Toothless !!

Like Daryl, I can hardly ever find the parasites... Even when I did, I wasn't sure if I had IDed correctly.

Could you do a comparison for Chilodonella, :please

Slugger :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I have found some various things in a qt tank of a fish I have been given to "save". How do I know which of these things are "Ok" and which are "bad guys"? Some, of course, are obvious - the ones listed in Rick's book. But what about a large infestation of one species or another of worms (nematodes?) ( in the feces), or assorted little crustaceans from the gills.....

Those pictures are all great, but for a microscope neophyte I need a list that says "good guy" and "bad guy" posted over each one!

I also have another question - it is said (again - Rick's book) that Dimilin or Program may be a good treatment for this fish. Dimilin is restricted, and Program is generally sold at the vet's in pill form for treatment of fleas. To use this, do I grind the pill into a powder? If so - does it readily dissolve?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So you found nematodes in the feces and some kind of crustacean in the gills?

Jungles anti-parasite food has levamisole and prazi for a one two punch that kills camallanus and other nematodes as well as tapworms and flatworms. Prazi doesn't kill ALL worms by itself.

As for program, heres a great link: http://www.geocities.com/koifla/program.htm

Hows about a photo or drawing of the bugs in question? :unsure:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I cannot figure out for the life of me, how to transfer a drawn picture here - my scanner is defunct. It lost the driver when the computer crashed, so we tried to reinstall the Windows XP home but no matter what we do or download, it says it is incompatible with the main driver and..... well, I really hate computers....

That said.... I have been looking and looking. I am convinced that the worms that I am seeing are benign. I asked the fellow at Shedd and he did not like "seeing that type of life in his tanks", but, you know, I run biological cycles - and I am bound to have a certain amount of waster eaters and everything else that comes along with that biological cycle. I Prazied the tank in question with the little crustaceans..... and have not found any for 2 days now.

Those rotifers are amazing in numbers, though, Paul!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about drawing a picture and taking a photograph of it? Unless, of course, we are on to something about the epistylus-like "swarmers".......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to keep aquatic plants in a few of my different critters tanks. Well, I have a little 2 gallon hexagon "aquarium". You know, the ones with the little undergravel plate and an aerator? Anyway, The last of my plants went into this tank and on a windowsill about 8 months or so ago. I have algae balls, an Amazon sword and some other plant I cant remember the name of. A couple of them came from a tank that Has chilodonella in it. There isn't a problem with the fish in this tank so I am leaving well enough alone, for now. So, the plants been thriving on this windowsill for quite some time now and I can actually look in and see a gazillion of these tiny little crustaceans swimming about and grazing on the algae and detritus. Yesterday I decided to scope some stuff from the plant tank and I found that the species of chilo I had such a hard time ridding from Spud has set up camp with the plants. So, they have truly proven to me that it is indeed a free-living species of parasite. But, thats not the clincher here. The sheer number of them living and breeding in there is STAGGERING, to say the very least.

In this shot, your essentially looking at less than 1/16 of a drop of water. Imagine how many are living in the gallon or two of water the plants are in!!!!

CLICK TO ENLARGE

7713074957-thumb.jpg

Here's a little AVI of the critters up close: http://media.putfile.com/HPIM2061

Enjoy or be creeped out, wichever one! :rofl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I used to keep aquatic plants in a few of my different critters tanks. Well, I have a little 2 gallon hexagon "aquarium". You know, the ones with the little undergravel plate and an aerator? Anyway, The last of my plants went into this tank and on a windowsill about 8 months or so ago. I have algae balls, an Amazon sword and some other plant I cant remember the name of. A couple of them came from a tank that Has chilodonella in it. There isn't a problem with the fish in this tank so I am leaving well enough alone, for now. So, the plants been thriving on this windowsill for quite some time now and I can actually look in and see a gazillion of these tiny little crustaceans swimming about and grazing on the algae and detritus. Yesterday I decided to scope some stuff from the  plant tank and I found that the species of chilo I had such a hard time ridding from Spud has set up camp with the plants. So, they have truly proven to me that it is indeed a free-living species of parasite. But, thats not the clincher here. The sheer number of them living and breeding in there is STAGGERING, to say the very least.

In this shot, your essentially looking at less than 1/16 of a drop of water. Imagine how many are living in the gallon or two of water the plants are in!!!!

CLICK TO ENLARGE

7713074957-thumb.jpg

Here's a little AVI of the critters up close: http://media.putfile.com/HPIM2061

Enjoy or be creeped out, wichever one! :rofl

495795[/snapback]

awesome! i wish i could have seen the video. does your microscope hook up to your pc to record video?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nah, I wish it did though. One day.....

I do the DIY thing. my scope sits on my desk, my digital camera, a cheapo 3.2 megapixel hp photosmart 730 series(set for AVI) sits on a tripod. I adjust the cameras position so that when I swivel the eyepiece underneath it, its as close to the lens of the camera as possible. I move the eyepiece back under where I am positioned and scan til I find the subject matter I want. Then the eyepiece goes back under the camera lens for focusing and fine adjustments.

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest SpaticusJean

For someone who knows nothing about microscopes or microbugs could you recommend a microscope and a microbug book?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For identification of parasites, I'd recommend Fancy Goldfish by Rick Hess and Erik Johnson. There's instructions how to use the microscope and photographs of parasites under the microscope, along with detailed instructions of how to get rid of them. Personally, I have no idea what sort of microscope I have. I picked it up cheap at an auction. As long as it can magnify to 400x and beyond (so that costia can be seen) then it doesn't matter so much what type you get.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...