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fish medicine in Canada...

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fish medicine in Canada... Empty fish medicine in Canada...

Post by jjohnwm on Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:59 am

I feel as though I am the last guy who should be posting on this topic. I am a follower of two schools of thought regarding fish/aquarium health: First, that long and careful quarantine of all new additions, both plants and fish, is essential to keep the nasties out of your fishtank in the first place. And second, that almost anything can be cured in an otherwise-healthy fish by extreme attention to water quality, normally achieved by frequent, regular and massive water changes.

I have used virtually no medications on my fish, although I admit to keeping some formalin on hand as I will fall back on that (combined with increased temps) in some instances of Ich. I'm also a fan of filters using diatomaceous earth, which will remove most parasites from the water column when they are in their free-swimming stage.

Now...having said that, I was a bit dismayed recently when one of my tanks displayed clear and unmistakable signs of an infestation of Camallanus worms. I couldn't figure out where they had come from...but a bright red worm dangling and squirming from a fish's nether porthole is pretty tough to ignore or explain away. But...what to do? The fish medication aisle in a Canadian petstore is a thing of the past. The powers-that-be took the long-overdue step of banning the sale of over-the-counter antibiotics for fish use (a move which I heartily applaud) but in typical Canadian fashion the knee-jerk reaction was carried too far, to the point where essentially any medication is no longer available. The days of beginner aquarists dosing with a cocktail of 8 or 10 mysterious miracle cures are long gone.

A little bit of snooping around on the 'net revealed that puppy de-wormers are still available, and I found one on the shelf at PetSmart called ProSense. It's a syrupy brownish liquid that looks (and even smells...) a bit like Kahlua. The active ingredient is not levamisole or flubendazole (the "preferred" treatments) but rather piperazine, which is touted as being effective against roundworms (the group into which Camallanus falls). Dosages are given on the box, but it's very difficult to extrapolate them to animals as tiny as aquarium fish, especially when taken orally as this medication must be. I simply dripped a few drops into a glass and then added a broken-up chunk of freeze-dried Tubifex worms and let it soak in. I'm sure brine shrimp or black worms would work as well; anything freeze-dried soaks up liquid like a sponge. Ten minutes later I offered it to my fish, who attacked with gusto as they always do.

I repeated this at weekly intervals two more times, and did extensive vacuuming of the bottom at least every other day. Examining the gunk after it settled out in a bucket I was able to spot numerous motionless red Camallanus adults. Apparently the medication works to paralyze them, allowing them to be passed by the fish. The larvae inside these adults are supposedly unaffected, so the repeat treatments were aimed at nuking them after they re-infect the fish. Changing lots of water and vacuuming up debris must help remove them as well.

It's too soon to say for sure, but results look promising. The only fish I have lost throughout this procedure was a single large female Ameca, who was the first one showing symptoms. By the time I got my act together and began treatment, she had progressed to the point of no longer eating, so had no chance. Several other fish with "danglers" seem fully recovered.

So, no promises, no guarantees...but Camallanus tends to kill fish, so if you can't find or obtain the "proper" stuff, you have nothing to lose by trying this course of action. It's an inexpensive and easily-available alternative treatment worth trying. These critters are only able to go through a couple of generations of their standard life cycle, since they normally need an intermediate Copepod host in the wild. So, hitting them quickly and "with extreme prejudice" should get a tank back to a worm-free state with minimal loss of fish.

Word of advice: if you follow my methodology, you may be tempted...as I was...to keep some of the paralyzed adult worms in a container for awhile to see if they recover from the treatment. If you do so...do NOT answer your wife's inevitable question as to the origin of the worms at which you are suspiciously peering. Telling the truth at that point...i.e. "They were pooped out by my fish"...will put things into a downward spiral pretty quickly.
Angel Fish
Angel Fish

Posts : 108
Join date : 2015-09-08
Location : Interlake region of Manitoba

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