Betta Fish Anchor Worms: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Betta fish anchor worms are one of the most common caused by lernaea parasites and can cause secondary infection, behavioral changes, and even death in Bettas. Anchor worms are easy to diagnose and treat.

Here we will discuss potential causes of anchor worm in betta as well as symptoms and treatment.

What are Betta Fish Anchor Worms

An ectoparasitic copepod known as the anchor worm, scientifically named L. cyprinacea, is the major causing agent for anchor worms on betta fish.

It causes fatal damage to the betta by causing necrosis, ulcerations, and blood poisoning.

L. cyprinacea is scattered throughout the world. Generally, L. cyprinacea embeds its anchor into the hosts’ body to extract tissues.

In betta fish, this parasite usually penetrates the skin, fins, and eyes. This parasite generally infects the gills, mouth, and nostrils.

These worms may cause intense inflammation, which can result in secondary bacterial and fungal infections.

These secondary infections sometimes worsen and kill the fish. Larger numbers of parasites on a gill can interfere with respiratory function, causing death.

Causes of Anchor Worms on Betta Fish

There are many potential causes of anchor worms, but they all stem from some common sources: poor water quality, temperature fluctuation, and poor quality feed.

Poor Water Quality

When water quality is poor and the betta fish become infected with the worm. The worm attaches itself to the fish’s body, eating away at its flesh.

Anchor Worms can cause serious health problems for your Betta, and may even lead to death.

Poor Diet

If your betta is not getting the nutrients it needs to survive and grow, it will turn to scavenge for food which includes parasitic worms.

Entry of Vectors into Aquarium Tank

Birds and some vector fish helps to introduce anchor worms in aquarium tank.

Adult females of L. cyprinacea attach to exposed body surfaces of host fish including the head, dorsal, ventral, and caudal regions, but most frequently to the bases of fins.

Signs and Symptoms of Anchor Worm infection in Betta Fish

Anchor worms can cause a wide variety of symptoms in betta fish, ranging from skin lesions to death. Symptoms include,

-Weight loss, retardation of growth, changes in blood, and behavioral changes in fish.

-Abnormal swimming behavior, sluggishness.

L. cyprinacea parasitic females commonly appeared as a small, gray-greenish parasite attached at focal points along the sides of a worm on the base of the flanks, to the edge of the operculum, on the base of the flanks, dorsal and tail fins.

Their aggregation on body sites induces severe local damage with adverse consequences to host function and survival.

-Focal reddish ulcers were also seen.

Betta Fish Anchor Worms Treatment

There are several ways to treat anchor worms in betta fish. One approach is to use an anti-worm medication.

Another is to use an anti-parasitic medication that helps kill the anchor worm larvae. Treatment includes;

-Chloromycetin 40 mg per 5 liters of water may be added to an aquarium tank to prevent some bacterial diseases.

-Potassium manganate (KMnO4) is an oxidant that is used to disinfect the external surfaces of fish. Prolonged immersion in a 2 mg/L KMnO4 solution is effective for anchor worms.

-The aquarium has to be sanitized with disinfectants such as KMNO4, malachite green, or formalin in instances where high disease levels are present.

-Water treatment may include ‘dip treatment’ with KMnO4 (0.002%), common salt (3%) or copper sulfate (0.05 %)

How to Prevent Anchor Worms in Betta Fish

The key to preventing anchor worms in Betta fish is to keep their environment clean and free of debris.

If your fish has an open wound, make sure to disinfect it with a weak bleach solution before covering it with a bandage or giving them antibiotics.

Transmission Blockage

Protect rote of transmission to avoid the introduction of parasites into the aquarium tank.

Supplementary fresh water for each pond or pool to prevent infection and prevent contamination between ponds and pools, and water cycles were terminated and drained after each production cycle.

Quarantine and Screening

It is highly advisable to practice quarantine measures and screening of potential infestations to prevent the introduction of parasites. Infected fish need to be separated from the main tank and placed into the quarantine tank.

Reducing Stocking Density & Provide Proper Diet

Always avoid high stocking density and overfeeding. Ensure a balanced diet for fish. Proper nutrition helps to increase the immunity of fish.

Prevent Entry of Vector

Additionally, water tanks covered with wire netting were developed to keep out birds and other animals that might serve as definitive hosts for parasites.

The fish were removed from hospital tanks where there is frequent use of antiparasitic chemicals, including formalin, malachite green, acriflavine, and methylene blue.

Final Words

In conclusion, it is important to be aware of the anchor worms that can infest your Betta fish. Remember to keep your tank clean and free of debris to help reduce the chances of an infestation.

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