Anchor Worm (Lernaea)
Lernaea (also spelled Lernea) is a genus of copepod crustaceans
commonly called anchor worms, parasitic on freshwater fishes. They
mate during the last free-swimming (copepodid) stage of
development. After mating, the female burrows into the flesh of a
fish and transforms into an unsegmented, wormlike form, usually
with a portion hanging from the fish's body.
Crustacean parasite, Lernaea. The juvenile stages settle in the
gills of Koi, when they mature they mate and the male leaves the
Koi, the fertilized female settles on the body of the Koi and
continues to grow, becoming the familiar worm shape.
The female buries into the skin and underlying tissue to hold on.
The damage caused can become a target for bacterial or fungal
infection which can spread.
Symptoms of anchor worm can be as follows:
- Anchor worms (lernea) can be seen with the naked eye
- Frequent rubbing or "flashing"
- Localized redness
- Inflammation on the body of the fish
- Tiny white-green or red worms in wounds
- Breathing difficulties
- General lethargy
There are several treatments for anchor worm in the aquarium/pond.
Potassium permanganate is usually considered the best treatment and
can be used either as a tank treatment or a "dip". Other treatments
include a salt dip, a formalin dip, and modern antiparasitics may
help. Salt in the aquarium at 1 to 2 tablespoons may help prevent
Manual removal of the parasite is one of the surest ways to get rid
of it; this can be done by holding the fish in the hand and
removing the parasites with a pair of tweezers, being careful not
to break the tail off leaving the head embedded and dipping the
fish back into water every few seconds so it can breathe. Sometimes
the parasite can burrow so deeply that pulling it out can cause
more trauma then leaving it in and just treating it.
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