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White spot or ich-Ichthyophthirius multifilis/black spot-flatworm/Velvet,oodinium-Amyloodinium ocellatum,all about them and more.

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 White spot or ich-Ichthyophthirius multifilis/black spot-flatworm/Velvet,oodinium-Amyloodinium ocellatum,all about them and more. Empty White spot or ich-Ichthyophthirius multifilis/black spot-flatworm/Velvet,oodinium-Amyloodinium ocellatum,all about them and more.

Post  liquidg 15th December 2011, 4:31 am

DIY treatment of parasites is at the end of this thread.

All three of these parasites show the infestation with the fish having respiratory problems, loss of appetite, rubbing against the aquariums structures or the glass and unusual swimming patterns.
White spot is shown by white spots, black spot by black spots and velvet by a velvety sheen.

White spot and velvet are protists and protists are part of your tank life if inverts are present no matter what you may do!

White spot
A ciliate protist of the Ciliophora group
These are distinguishable by usually having many cilia lying in rows on the body that are used for movement, sometimes with more cilia around the mouth that are used for feeding.
Some feed on bacteria and other particles as well like algae by means of cilia-created currents, but most are carnivorous.
Ciliates are the ‘top’ predators in microbial food webs, and were likely the major predatory group before the evolution of animals.
Parasitic ciliates that concern reef keepers can cause morbidity and death of animals, and are becoming particularly important in aquaculture operations.
Ciliates can have complex life cycles, including macrostome or cannibalistic stages, swarmers or dispersal stages and cyst or desiccation resistant stages.
During the canbolistic stages,these creatures can be used to cull their over all numbers and reduce the infestaion.
White spot/protist exists at its most healthy in aquariums with a substrate (try not to have a substrate in the aquarium if you want near to no white spot issues) a part of their life cycle is with in the substrate as lay in wait to sense stress from your fish while dormant in the substrate.They will respond to the fishes stress and attack the flesh of the fish if the fishes mucus coatings imune chemical make up is weakend.

Velvet or oodinium
This protist is a dinoflagellate, meaning two tails.
It is defined as a single celled parasitic algae with two flagella that appear like whips or narrow tails and velvet has the characteristics of both plants and animals.
These creatures are photosynthetic, so they can remain as a non-parasitic motile protist for some time on and in the substrate feeding via photosynthesis.
When they feed on your fish, this stage is called trophont and they can be found. They attaché via rhizoids, like the roots of a plant that can penetrate your fish and begin to feed. Once this part of its life cycle is complete and it drops to the substrate, it is now tomont.
As with other parasites, if your fish survive the infestaion,it will have obtained an immune response that can last up to 6 months.

Black spot
A member of the paravortex turbellarian flatworms.
This is more so an issue for tangs and surgeon fish though other fish species can carry the parasite.
Once in your aquarium they exist in the substrate until reaching maturity then it will seek out a host fish for around six until it falls back to the substrate. After another five days or so, the adult’s body ruptures like a blister and out comes a new population of the black worm. Then cycle starts all over again with the new worms.
These are easy to identify, the tang will develop black dots and if you look side on it becomes apparent that these are not just dots.
Use the same treatments as you would with white spot.

What fish are prone to parasites?

Any species adorned with small sized scales are prone to parrasites due to the ease of accessibility to the fishes flesh for the parasite to lay its egg filled blisters or just feed on the fish!

These include all tangs-surgeon fish and chaetodontoplus angelfish in particular.

When you see dark coloured spots on the fish, these are usualy areas of damage once the egg blisters have expelled the white spot larvae,or if on tangs or surgeon fish,it could be a black worm infestaion.

Parasites, treatments
All parasites are invertebrates and affective treatments to remove them, most likely will kill your other invertibrates,including corals,sponges, anemones, shrimps,etc in the aquarium.

Use a quarantine environment to cure parasites on the fish, though the reason for the infestation needs to be addressed or the parasites are still in aquarium waiting for the stressed fish to return!

Parasite out breaks

All of the parasitic attacks upon your pets can be to a degree, avoided by providing a healthy tank environment for them; copper based treatments have the best results for treating parasites in a quarantine environment or fish only aquariums.

Mucus coating/external fish immune system.

The slimy feel the fish’s body is its first line of defence against parasitic attacks.
Chemicals with in this mucus has the ability to repel most parasites especially if the fish has lived through a previous attack in the aquarium, if this has happened the mucus will contain a remembered chemical mix to repel the un successful attack upon it for some time.
If the fish remains under stress for a few days the fishes production of this mucus coating will diminish and subsequently leave it open to an easy attack between the scales.

Adrenalin damage.

A marine fish has a very similar adrenalin system to us humans; this is from stress/fear and prolonged adreno glands actively pumping adverse amounts of cortisol into the fishes blood supply.

This will damage the fishes organs and if left this way for greater than 48 hours with out end will possibly damage organ function along the way setting off a chain reaction making it impossible for the fish to digest valued vitamins and minerals.

About now the fishes immune system is being compromised opening it to parasitic attacks.

Once this 48-hour mark has been surpassed the fish may eat very well, though the foods valued parts will not be absorbed and the fish will die as if it was drug caught!
(Prolonged Nitrate exposure has the same affects and results).

Substrate,the home for white spot ?-Avoid having any substrate or at least keep it shallow and clean or it may become a dirty dead spot producing sulphur and reduce water quality and house white spot.
Best course of action is to not have any kind of substrate in the display tank.

PH-Keep optimum PH levels of 8.0 to 8.6 or just stable, nothing is more detrimental then ph fluctuations, keep it constant and remove most of your aquariums stress causes.
Your substrate over time will affect PH in a negative way and when your lights go out algae within corals and other algae in the aquarium release co2 damaging PH!
Have algae else where with lights over it while the display tanks lights are off to reduce this issue!

KH[/carbonate hardness, from 7 (this is the oceans level) to a max of 12,stablilty is a must again.
The more calcium skeletal media in your system remaining free of detritus will help keep KH at constant and healthy levels.

Salinity-Constant salinity levels, remember salt does not evaporate and salt helps contain over zealous levels and variations of bacteria.
Normal ocean salinity is around 1.025,1.024 is best for aquarium your life forms.
High water temps combined with normal to high salt levels will reduce available oxygen and increase toxicity of substances, including the chloride component of salt with in the aquariums waters!

Detritus, (built up rubbish/excess plant matter,food or waste)-Use a fine micron pre filter as the water leaves your tank, never let particles reach your sump or any external bio area, even in the aquarium the live rock is loosing its porus capacity from calcium carbonate and silica particles entering it over time.

Current-Water needs to be constantly moving to circulate foods and move your aquarium detritus to the pre filter or skimmer.
The water moving from surface to tanks floor in a rotating motion is also important to let it make contact with the air for gas exchange,( this is very important to help alleviate PH issues).

Protein/waste/toxins -Use algae, a protein skimmer or carbon filters.
If none of these are used, you need to be very focused on providing water changes. Your biological filter only oxidisers what became ammonia.

Fish & Inverts together-Fish and inverts do not easily coexist with out constant vigilance and the proper forms of filtering.
Some species should not be tried together!

Feeding-Reduce your aquariums feeding regime when parasitic attacks are abundant; there is no bigger killer of marine aquarium life than over feeding when your bio filter can not handle the amount of tissue in the water!

Freshwater bath.

This should consist of, a max of 5 mins or in the past 15 to 30 minutes and should be repeated for several days for optimum results and use rubber gloves and do not cross contaminate waters.

The pure freshwater (boiled if possible than cooled) must be the same temperature and PH as the aquarium water it came from to avoid gill damage and extra stress, this should be watched carefully.

Most fish will die anyway from this stress full action.

If the parasitic infestation you are trying to treat in this way is at an advanced stage then this method will kill the fish, not just by the stress, but if there is already substantial necrotic damage, than the change in osmotic pressure that you are using to kill the parasite in the first place will cause the fishes body fluids to osmose out to the water in the container, resulting in death.

This type of treatment is not for a last ditch attempt at saving the creature, it is only for very early stage infestations.


Not invert safe.

This was originally a treatment developed for use on malaria in humans and is based on chloroquine phosphate and has a half life of one to two months.

The use of this is not as popular as previous for the treatment of malaria as the parasite has developed immunity to it in most strains.

Chloroquine is a 4-aminoquinoline drug, this means it is of amino quinoline, a part of the amino group at 4-possition of the quinoline, a heterocyclic aromatic organic compound.

Originally used in the treatment of malaria, it was able to stop the malaria from entering the red blood cells to degrade haemoglobin to acquire essential amino acids.

The malaria parasite needed these amino acids to construct its own protein and maintain essential energy metabolism.

For the parasite this was essential for growth and division inside the red blood cell.

This is carried out with in the parasites cell in the digestive vacuole.

Though not a drug designed for this application, it has had widespread positive results for the inhibiting of most marine aquarium internal and external parasites and general infections.

The drugs greatest benefit here is that it is easily diluted with minimal water changes greatly reducing its intensity for removal once treatment is complete, thus being a little simpler and less detrimental to biological communities rather applying copper sulphate based cures.

Copper based treatment .

Not invert safe/do not use with inverts present.

Seachem cupramine based on copper chloride seems to do the best job if you catch the infestation early and over dose at roughly three to four times the recommended rate for a good outcome.
Standard ammonia test kits during treatments may show over the top ammonia levels because of the amine based complex in cupramine.

This is not from affected bacteria as this treatment only slightly retards bacteria and has no adverse affects on denitrifying bacteria.

You will need to constantly test for the copper levels as you add it, than monitor it and once the treatment has done its job seachem make cuprisorb to remove it or just do some water changes or use carbon for extraction and test levels.

From experience with this product when the fish is in the very early stages of an outbreak, it seems to work nicely at up to four times the recommended dosage as well.

The thing to remember about this product is that it is not copper (sulphate) based and can be managed very well because of this.

Marine parasitic out break signs.

Do you feel your fishes have been stricken by a parasitic attack?

The most likely reason for these signs like scratching, thrashing and colour loss, is the environment you have provided!

Best to check (this) most likely cause of the fish’s parasitic load before adding medicines.

Most available marine aquarium livestock is wild caught and normally carry some internal and external parasitic load.

If the appropriate measures are used for the bulk of these protozoans-crustaceans-worms can be removed or at least reduced avoiding impugning the well being of your marine aquarium life forms.

This list covers most of marine aquarium parasitic affects upon your pets.

a) Obvious spots or lines, usually white in colour, these make the fish appear covered in salt or powdered sugar.

b) Scratching. If a fish constantly rubs itself against the live rock, etc in the tank and looks like it is trying to remove something it is most likely parasites.

c) Rapid or heavy breathing. Some parasites will attack the gills before any can be seen on the fins or body, and the fish may die from suffocation.

d) Lethargic. This can be a sign of the final days for your fish as they have reached the stage where there is very little strength left and one of there natural instincts is to hide or skulk somewhere when they are vulnerable .

The most common parasites curable are as follows.

Uronema Marinum

This parasite encourages the host to scratching, leading to large haemorrhagic lesions and is the salt water equivalents of the freshwater species know as Tetrahymena.

Once the affects of this parasite are full blown the fish will be lethargic, swimming near the surface, constant rapid breathing as the gills become more parasitised and cloudy eyes leading to blindness.

It is a free living ciliate species that is quite often a visitor to marine aquariums and can, if untreated cause extensive losses.

Most marine aquarium species affected by this, including tangs,surgeons,pomacanthid varieties, seahorses and pipe fish, some centropyge,most chaetodons among many others.

It’s life cycle is by simple mitotic division and it seems in marine aquariums that high organic loads encourage the reproduction of this ciliate.

Protozoan/protist family.                                            

This group are single celled animals that normally have flagellates as a small tail for mobility, some are sporozoans, ciliates,just to name a few.

The worst of this group of parasites are (the saltwater ich- Cryptocarvon) and (Marine,Velvet-Amyloodinium), both are protozoans.

These, if not kept in check can seriously affect your fish livestock.


In the recent past the name oodinium was applied to the Amyloodinium Ocellatum which is a Flagellate Protozoan or can be known as Dinoflagellate algae.

This parasite colonises the gills and body surface area of the host fish; this appears as a (velvet) covering.

When infested the fishes behaviour may include dashing, scratching, and rapid breathing, while there gills become damaged as they lapse into lethargy and die.

This is a very serious parasite.


Cryptocaryon irritans is the causative agent for marine ich, or white spot disease. This is a ciliated protozoan, named for its many small cilia utilized for locomotion.

There are two other ciliate protozoans,Brooklynella hostilis,some call Anemonie fish disease disease (though it infects all marine bony fishes),than there is Uronema marinum. All these organisms produce similar visual signs, can kill, are spreadable, and can be cured and prevented with the same means.

The accelerated production of mucus showing up as clumps are one of the last clues you'll get before your fish breakdown with rapid than lethargic breathing. Uronema may reveal itself in ulcerations that look like lesions.

Treating Protozoan-protists Parasites

Affected aquarium inhabitants can be isolated and treated affectively. Some ways in which this can be done are by freshwater baths, lowering specific gravity (salt content), and extensive exposure to 0.10-0.15 ppm levels of copper sulphate.

Antibiotic feeding is recommended to help prevent secondary infections, this is important!

This is not the end of the problem as the protozoan parasites may appear in your main tank, if this occurs (it will)than they have reproduced and wait dormant in your tank in the surface of your substrate and possibly free swimming.

These parasites are extremely resilient and can make you want to remove all life forms, substrate and calcium skeletal content of your aquarium in order to hopefully remove these creatures and that will not work!

To allow your system to (go fallow)no hosts for five weeks or more, is a means to reduce the parasite numbers.

When adding any life to your aquarium, fish, live rock or corals will, most likely add them back to your system.

The need for quarantine now becomes paramount to the survival of your current and new fish.

Other Protozoa-protists

There are other protozoan groups Microsporea and Myxosporea. These are all dedicated parasites; most of these infest (external) and infect (internal) fishes and invertebrates.

Of the microsporeans-Glugea is known for being the gunky cyst-like disease of seahorses, pipefishes and their related creatures. Myxosporea are also tiny, found either living within host tissues or their body cavity. There is no known cure for these.

Parasitic Crustaceans

Mostly these look nothing like the crabs or shrimp we are used to; hence their "worm" and other common names.

Isopods, the (pill-bugs) can be a real problem when they show up in your marine system. These crustaceans are big enough to see and remove from the fish's mouth or body with forceps/tweezers.

Copepods: These look more worm-like than anything; there are more than one thousand species of parasitic copepod crustaceans known at this time. A few varieties of them are very common and can be debilitating or lethal in large numbers. Their appearance being more worm-like than anything; there are more than one thousand species of parasitic copepod crustaceans documented. Some of them are very common and can be debilitating as they can be commonly found in large numbers.

These copepods are specialized in their structure and feeding; some are internal with bizarre sac-like and tree-branching body shapes. External species range from forms with holdfasts that permanently wedge them into their host's integument to one's that range over the body surface with specialized cutting, puncturing and sucking mouth parts.

The copepods that can be treated (those on the outside of their hosts) are best eliminated through freshwater dips and copper treatment as the fishes pass through quarantine. Biological cleaning by certain shrimp, gobies and wrasses presumably aids in restricting copepod parasitism in the wild.


Phylum Platyhelminthes; flukes,flatworms, tapeworms.


This group in the flatworm Phylum Platyhelminthes are mostly free-living,non-parasitic species. One exception is Paravortex, the causative agent of the disease (black spot), found sometimes on yellow tangs. This can be eliminated with freshwater dipping, though some suggest formalin baths also organophosphate remedies.


The flukes are divided into ecto-parasitic (external) monogenes and the largely endo-parasitic (which means internal) digenes on the basis of their life histories.

Monogeneans have a direct life cycle and digeneans is an indirect one with the use of one or more intermediary host species. The monogenes are important as gill and body parasites of marine fishes.

There are quite a few species of flukes, they are common on imported livestock, and may significantly reduce their health if not eliminated through acclimation techniques.

Hiding, rapid breathing discoloration and more are symptomatic of infection/infestation, though microscopic examination of skin scrapings and gill clippings are required for a positive id.

Several chemicals including organophosphates, copper, quinines and dips of freshwater with/out malachite/formalinare renowned as being efficacious.

Current researches are promoting the use of Praziquantel (Droncit (R)) at 1ppm as a treatment.

Digeneans rarely spread due to the absence of intermediaries and most of the monogenes are species/group specific.


These are the tapeworms that live with in digestive systems!.

Aquarium fish are either imported with the tape worms or pick them up from ingesting their intermediate hosts; in their food. Another good reason for not using live marine foods.

There are treatments for these, though this can be worse than the infestation it self.

Retaining good health for your aquarium life is the best practice to adhere to.


The Phylum Nematoda Roundworms, the Phylum Nematoda like the tape worms, are rarely encountered unless found protruding from a fish's vent or from cutting up a specimen after it has died.

Most are microscopic, some macro- as parasites. Amongst all worm groups)( a nematode is easy to recognize by it's tri-radiate esophagus, otherwise they're typically smooth, white, and non-descript.

With this worm group the best treatment is none at all; simply optimizing the environment reduces the likelihood of loss or debilitation as a result of the  roundworms.

If you have an aquaculture facility or many members of the same species that are determined to be dying from nematodes, anthelminthics (Piperazine, Levamisol (both in Discomed (tm)) the family of chemicals called Benzimidizoles,are all affective.

White spot and velvet reduction via relative interaction.

There is a simple and natural way to affectively reduce the parasite-white spot and velvet and this is partly in swing once your aquarium is truly matured.

From time to time you will see this parasite labelled a disease or sickness, this is not the case, though it is quite tiny in size, it is more visible than bacteria as such, but unlike bacteria it will not attack the fish on a cellular level internally or externally or kill in the ways of bacteria.

This invertebrate lives amongst others of the same very diverse family called protists, these were named, protozoa or protozoan in past and are the next step above bacteria in the evolutionary chain.

There is a strong possibility this protist is part of the evolutionary chain in the aquarium that begins with bacteria and advances to become the diverse group called protists.

In the past a marine aquarium was always started with natural seawater and dead coral or rocks, no actual live rock.

The freshly collected sea water had all that was needed to take your aquarium from a totally unprepared and toxic environment for marine fish and inverts by simple adding dead tissue to the tanks freshly collected salt water for the production of ammonias to become a stable reef habitat for all sea life to exist in comfortably.

There are many that will say the reef aquarium was and always will have the nitrite cycle biologically controlled by bacteria, in the oxygen rich areas of the reef tank, this is not the case!

Bacteria as a bacterium (a full and affective community of bacteria) with in salt water will only exist and remain stable for the long term with in low oxygen areas of the reef tank or external filtering areas!

Upon live rock or where there is flowing oxygen rich water, a matured aquarium has an abundance of protists.

During the aquariums cycling the bacteria that is always unstable with in a salt/oxygen environment that has begun the nitrite cycle to a result of nitrites at a zero when testing!

The newly mutated life form called protists is now consuming the original unstable bacteria at a fast rate to near no bacteria for them to graze, this allows the need for varied ways for protists to feed!

Some will become the dominant partner in a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria as do corals with algae and live a symbiotic life style with the bacteria held with in feeding the protist via the oxidation of waste gases (nitrite).

These life forms are resistant to unbalanced water quality and the toxic affects of sodium chloride and oxygen upon bacteria.

To remove near all white spot the waters for your aquarium need to be run through a wet section as its main biological filter.

The diverse protist community of a matured marine aquarium has the capacity to eat all other weaker forms of protists, especially the variety called white spot!

In a fish only tank this is a godsend, especially with the smaller scaled types of tangs, surgeons, and virtually all of the angelfish chaetodontoplus.

The protist white spot as it tries to form a community will be consumed by the other stronger protists if you run your waters through a lengthy wet section of calcium based media where the white spot will pass through no matter what.

Non active, (as in near no oxygenated water passing through it constantly), substrates house white spot and these areas will allow it to hide and wait for the excitation that fish display to signal them to attack!

A basic wet section has to be pre filtered before it(,that’s a given),this can be a 2 foot length of pvc stormwater pipe with a base glued on and an entry and an exit.

This should be filled with shell grit/coral rubble or marble as it leaves the aquarium or if you have an algae area, after it, its that easy to get rid of the pest white spot/ich!

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