Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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ajmckay 12-29-2008 01:32 PM

Flatworm Treatment
A quick background: I have a coral beauty angel that I have been treating for crypto. During treatment I noticed quite a bit of flashing against rocks and jittery motions. After discussing the possible causes with my LFS we decided that the fish most likely has flatworms. I did a FW dip about 2 weeks ago that you can read about Here.

After the FW dip, the fish got better very quickly. His appetite increased, his coloring got darker and bolder, and in general he just seemed in much better health.

Just about 2 weeks after that FW dip he started flashing and his coloration became pale... The purple turned to an almost turquoise green and the middle part of his body was a grey/yellow color, but very light. So I decided to do another FW dip. After 10 minutes in the water I counted at least 30 flatworms that were left behind. And there were some very small ones this time as well as larger ones, say about 5mm in diameter. It seems that the flatworms are getting worse and the FW dips are more of a temporary relief than an effective treatment.

What is the most effective treatment for flatworms?

I'd really like to hear anyones experiences with this parasite. This fish is in quarantine now, so the medications don't need to be reef-safe. Of course if someone knows of a good reef-safe method please let me know.

Thanks for all your help. The fish is doing well currently, but I would eventually like to get it out of quarantine!!!

rugie 12-29-2008 08:01 PM

aj how did you determine that what you have is a flatworm? flat worms usually do not attack live animals such as fish, they are for the most part scavengers and do well in a dirty tank, overfeeding and a build up of detritis and dying animals is heaven for these pests. there is a good med available that is reef safe. reduce your amount of food to the tank, agitate your water so that the filters will pick up the sludge.nothing will eat them, however improved housekeeping in your tank will eventually eradicate them. usually they enter a tank on/in/around pieces of coral. be careful when using any meds.

ajmckay 12-30-2008 12:01 PM

Thanks for the reply.

I diagnosed flatworms because my fish had these symptoms:
1) flashing against rocks almost constantly
2) jittery motions
3) Not eating
4) pale coloration
5) I was treating with copper, so whatever the fish had it was not treatable with copper.
6) I did a FW dip with highly alkaline cichlid tank water for 8 minutes and immediately after there were several small, scale-like creatures left in the water. They were a slightly opaque white color. After the FW dip the fish showed immediate signs of improvement.
7) After just over 2 weeks the fish started showing the same symptoms. I repeated the FW dip and the same signs of improvement again presented themselves.

Now recall that this fish is in quarantine... The fish in my display tank do not seem to be suffering at all because I think the angel did not have them when I got him at first.
My guess is that the flatworms came in on some live rock that I purchased to put into the quarantine tank to help induce the angelfish to eat by picking off algae from the live rock.

Thank you for the information about the flatworms, do you think this could be anything else? If not, could you tell me the medication of which you were speaking? The fish is in quarantine my himself, so I would prefer to treat him soon as the flatworms do not seem to be totally eradicated using only FW dips.


rugie 12-30-2008 08:23 PM

aj if these are flatworms the will be disbursed thruout your tank, so you will need to treat the entire tank/sump. here is a link to a site that features the flatworm and eradication treatment and the name of the should be available from any good fish store/pet shop, or they may be able to order it for you. I will check if is available online. mean while put that fish in a quaranteen tank, the freshwater treatment is very stressfull. there are pics of flatworms on that site. let us know if they look like what you have. keep in touch.

ajmckay 12-31-2008 03:44 PM

Hey rugie, thanks for the reply. Predators for some reason the link you posted didn't work, maybe the P in Predator needed to be capitalized?

I looked at the description of the flatworms and they might or might not be the white ones... They're a little more rounded than the white ones pictured on the site... I'm on vacation right now, but when I return home on Saturday I will see if I can somehow use a magnifying glass or something to take a close-up. Although describes them as relatively un-harmful, these are definitely attaching themselves to my fish...

They look almost like scales, with rounded corners and almost blob-like appearance, yet they are relatively flat. They range in size from 1mm to 5mm from what I could see in the FW after the dip... There were about 30 of them, most of them under 2 mm in size. They look more like this...


I haven't noticed any in my display tank... These are only in my quarantine tank. My LFS suggested using a medication called Prazi-Pro, however it sounds like the salifert flatworm-exit works well.

I'll keep everyone updated.

rugie 01-01-2009 05:22 PM

aj I am thrilled to hear they are not in your display tank. if it were me I would do the freshwater dip once more. have a container ready for the fish when the dip is complete. use water from your display tank. while it is in the container empty and clean the quarantine tank, use a tad of bleach, rinse well, use a cup of vinegar to slosh around in the tank to neutralize the bleach. rinse again, fill to desired level with display tank water and slowly introduce the fish to it. if you hopefully removed the worms in the dip and cleaned and disinfected any items from the old set up you should be fine. remember that the quarantine tank will not be cycled. if all looks well you can use some of your filter material from the display to seed the quarantine tank. (just in case sterilize the filter be for returning it to the display tank. I think I would go with this and only use the eradicator as a last effort. good luck rugie

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