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Ichthyophonus in fish

 

By Carl Strohmeyer-PAMR 35+ years experience
Updated 2/3/16

Ichthyophonus (Ichthyphonus) are protists placed between fungi and animals in Biological classification. They are considered members of the kingdom Protozoa in the recent Biological classifications, but are still discussed with fungi in some scientific texts.

Ichthyophonusis one of the more devastating aquarium diseases. It is nearly impossible to treat, however it is easier to prevent.
This progressive disease of generally aged fish may be more common than many aquarists realize as identification is often very difficult with the proper scientific instruments and a Necropsy of infected tissue such as the heart or brain.

Ichthyophonus Slide 200 x



The picture to the left displays two combined slides of Ichthyophonus; The left slide is of infected heart tissue while the right slide is of the mouth area of a different specimen (at 200 time magnification)







A few possible outer symptoms include:
Please note that with Ichthyophonus protists, a fish can have just one of these symptoms, not all symptoms are required as Ichthyophonus can metastasize in many areas of fish anatomy, often the heart or other internal tissues, but sometimes less lethal external nodules may be caused by Ichthyophonus protists.



Ichthyophonus, heart
The picture to the left is of a Salmon Heart, cut open to show the Ichthyophonus nodules. These same nodules can also be present in less fatal external infections (such as on finnage).

Please click the picture for a better view.






Ichthyophonus generally affects fish as an internal fungus, often attacking vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, brain and also the muscles on occasionally. The result is often a deteriorating fish that often stops eating (making medicated foods useless), swimming in circles (loss of equilibrium caused by the infection invading the brain), and loss of color and scales.

The above picture shows the infected heart of an Alaskan Salmon.

Potential treatments are:

Methylene Blue Baths or better, Potassium Permanganate Baths, increased salt levels (for fish that will tolerate this) of from 1 -2 tablespoons per 5 net gallons.

If the infection is external (such as nodules), a "Swab" with Potassium Permanganate or even Tincture of Iodine may work well, (so not use either of these treatments in the gills!!).
Generally external nodes/nodules type Ichthyophonus infections are the most treatable.

Reference: Fish Baths, Swabs

Where to purchase:
*Potassium Permanganate; Jungle Clear Water
*Kordon Methylene Blue

Some Organic Treatments such as Pimafix, Kanamycin combined with good electrolyte and calcium levels measured by a GH over 100 ppm can help as a cocktail.
A Medicated Wonder Shell would aid this cocktail by adding more anti fungal/protozoal treatment along with adding important electrolytes and calcium.
Other measures for possible treatment (or more to check the spread) are heat as Ichthyphonus protists are generally more virulent in colder waters, so raising temperatures above 82 F (28 Celsius) can at least aid in checking the spread.

Reference: Organic Fish Treatments

One very potent treatment “cocktail” (combination) is the combination of ParaGuard with Kanaplex and Nitrofuarzone (Furan 2).
Please note that this combination is a potent treatment and water parameters should be monitored carefully during this treatment (usually about 7-10 days). This should be used in addition to the before mentioned baths (with Methylene Blue or Potassium Permanganate) and water parameter corrections (if necessary).

Where to purchase:
*SeaChem ParaGuard, Malachite Green, aldehydes
*Furan Two, Nitrofurazone
*SeaChem Kanaplex (Kanamycin)
*Medicated Wonder Shells

However all the above is often in vain, with the one bright spot that these procedures along with UV Sterilization will often check the spread of this disease.
Other important preventatives is to remove suspected fish to a quarantine tank, in fact I strongly recommend this (or simply euthanizing them) as this is commonly spread through the eating of infected fish’ waste by otherwise healthy fish.

Important Reference:
*Aquarium UV Sterilization; Facts & Information

Prevention of Ichthyophonus is definitely the best cure.

Here are a few preventative steps:


Please read this article for more about aquarium disease prevention:
“Aquarium Disease Prevention”

Please read this article for more about studies of Ichthyophonus in Salmon: “Ichthyophonus Disease”

Other References:

*http://staff.stir.ac.uk/charles.mcgurk/eafp2/PROT09.HTM
*http://staff.stir.ac.uk/charles.mcgurk/eafp4/ICH.HTM

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