Applied Science For Costia and Flukes

Over the years, we've homed in on what parasites and pathogens mean the most to Koi and goldfish. When we started out in 1990 not as much was known about ways to combat various protozoan and Trematodes. A lot of what we did for parasites was derived from utilitarian lake and pond fish medicine. We used to use a lot of salt for protozoans and we used organophosphates for Flukes. We used high levels of organophosphates for crustacean parasites and sometimes even Formalin and Potassium permanganate.

Over time, we arrived at low level salting (0.3%) for Ich, Chilodonella, Epistylis, most Trichodina, and some Costia.
The Costia and Trichodina that was resistant to 0.3% would sometimes respond (via clearance) to double dose salt at 0.6%
Trematodes used to require caustics like Formalin, Chloramine T and Potassium permanganate. However, in the last three years, the ornamental side has been introduced to Praziquantel and Supaverm among others for speedy, painless clearance on nonfood fish. This was a great breakthrough.

Crustacean parasite which were once treated with organophosphates are now treated with the chitin synthesis inhibitors, such as Dimilin (API) and Anchors Away (Jungle) and Anchor Control (Nursery Pro EcoRx) Again, branchiurians like fish lice and anchor worm, which were once pretty devastating to ornamental fish farmers, are now easily and quickly controlled.

Still, the lingering parasite that we have been trying to eradicate with new designer medicants is Costia, known to many of you as Ichthyobodo necatrix. It’s the smallest of the parasites but when it occurs in large numbers on the gills in the cold water of Spring it can be cataclysmic to the fish.

A method has been developed which is excluding the Costia from retailers quarantine facilities. IT is pretty simple, and includes two "receiving tanks" labeled tank A and tank B - and Formalin for a short-term exposure. Here is how that works:

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Fish that have just come off the plane are consistently stressed and often bag-burned by ammonia and other toxins, which accumulate in the shipping bags. It is therefore unwise to treat these fish with anything like Formalin the first day they arrive. So, the recommendation is to place these fish in spacious holding facilities (Your receiving tank A) with absurd amounts of aeration, filtration. Let them acclimate and rest up for one day.

The following day, a single treatment with 50ppm Formalin 37% is instituted, maintaining the absurd high aeration as formalin consumes prodigious amounts of dissolved oxygen. If the tanks are quite warm, partial water changes are recommended to cool the tank before treatment. Leave the fifty parts-per-million Formalin treatment in effect for 120 minutes. If you have to treat for up to 125 minutes, it's okay. I've done it with some success. But not 126 minutes. You get the "idea" that that's a lot of Formalin and the timing is crucial to not burning the fish up. For valuable fish, or small groups of fish that can be hand-managed, they are even better treated by placing them in clean shipping bags with water from Tank A and Formalin at 50ppm - all under pure oxygen in the bag. It does not interfere with the Formalin but it ensures that the fish don't have any oxygen stress.

At the 120 minute mark, the fish can be moved from Tank A (or the oxygenated bags) to their ACTUAL quarantine facility also equipped with absurd aeration, tank B. Then, tank A is broken down and disinfected. From there, a routine quarantine with medicated food, salt at 0.3%, heat at 74o F, Praziquantel and Dimilin can be followed through. I realize this sounds like a lot of medicines but none of them are caustic, dangerous, or expensive in holding facilities, they ensure a "clean" fish and they compensate what some wholesalers and retailers do; selling fish without performing quality control biopsies to actually KNOW what pathogens exist on their livestock. Huh.

In the former discussions, mention has been made to a compound known as Praziquantel. I'd like to take a minute or ten to fill you in on what this is and what it does.

For quite some time, the Trematode dewormer Praziquantel has been available for use by veterinarians in the form of Droncit(r) and to human doctors in the form of Biltricide(r). I don't really know what day it must have been but some researcher put some Praziquantel in with some fish with parasites and noted that the Flukes / Trematodes on the fish, and the parasites IN the fish were eliminated handily. Too bad the medicine was so expensive. For years - we knew Praziquantel was excellent at the elimination of Trematodes and intestinal worms but it was prohibitively expensive. That is until a gentleman in California checked pricing with a Chinese distribution company and imported barrelsful of Praziquantel, brining the price within reach of everyone. Now available under the labels Prazi(r) PraziPro(r) and PraziPond(r) as well as in bulk from various pharmacies, this medication is now useful in the safe, painless clearance of Flukes on Koi and goldfish. Dissolution is difficult; the medicine can be solubleized with a high-speed blender, Formalin or other solvents. It's working very well. It is not yet cleared for use on food fish but it has revolutionized the treatment of flukes on ornamental livestock. It has no effect on plants, beneficial bacteria and fish young and old, South American and other.

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