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Whirling Disease (Myxobolus cerebralis) in Fish

 

By Carl Strohmeyer-PAMR 35+ years experience

Whirling Disease (Myxobolus cerebralis) in Fish, primarily SA Cichlids

Whirling disease is a disease of freshwater fish caused by the myxozoan parasite Myxobolus cerebralis. This infection/infestation is most commonly found in the wild found in the salmonid family of fish.

What is noteworthy mostly for prevention is that the parasite has two hosts — the fish itself and a freshwater oligochaete worm, popularly known as the Tubifex tubifex. This is a major reason these worms should not be fed, but unfortunately are a common source of cheap protein for many fish farms, especially those selling to discounters.

There are two spore stages for Myxobolus cerebralis, one released from the fish and infective for worms, the other released from worms and infective for fish. Generally, the earlier the fish is first exposed and the higher the parasite exposure dose, the greater is the severity of the disease.
Water temperature also has an influence on all stages of the parasite life cycle since it slows its cycle over 70°F (21°C), as spores are released from the worm host when the temperature is between 10°C and 15° C.
However once infected, and while a higher temperature will check the spread, it will not significantly help for an infected fish based on my experience.

"Whirling Disease" gets its name from the radical tail-chasing swimming behavior of heavily and often fatally infected fish.
Clinical signs result from the presence of the parasite spores in the cartilage, causing inflammatory changes and pressure on spinal nerves. However, fish may become infected with the parasite and never show clinical signs; resulting in a difficult positive diagnosis of infection in these fish.

Whirling Disease, Myxobolus cerebralis, Lifecycle

Reference: Disease Strategy Manual - Whirling disease





SIGNS OF INFECTION/DIAGNOSIS

Please note that symptoms do not always appear and even then these symptoms do not confirm a diagnosis of Myxobolus cerebralis, only microscopic slides can confirm.


This video below shows a trout with advanced "Whirling Disease", also displaying darkening of the tail that sometimes occurs in advanced stages.
Whirling Disease Video

YouTube; Whirling Disease



TREATMENT


References:

*Ichthyophonus in Fish
A similar disease in both symptoms and the fact both are more common in cooler waters or carried from cooler waters.

*Wikipedia; Myxobolus cerebralis


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AQUARIUM ANSWERS;
ARTICLES:

In Chronological order of writing with the newest at the top

  1. How to Treat Sick Fish
  2. Whirling Disease in Fish
  3. Reef Aquarium Chemistry Maintenance
  4. Use of RO, DI, Softwater in Aquariums
  5. Lighting Theory of a Planted Aquarium- RQE, PFY, PAS, & PUR
  6. Aquarium or Pond Bio Load
  7. Tuberculosis in Fish
  8. PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting
  9. Head Pressure in Aquarium and Pond Water Pumps
  10. Fin/Tail Rot For Betta & ALL Fish
  11. Angelfish Virus/Aids
  12. Activated Carbon
  13. Fish Baths/Dips as an aid to treatment
  14. Streptococcus gram positive bacterium in aquariums, Eye Infections
  15. Hydrogen Sulfide
    production in anaerobic De-Nitrification for Aquarium/Ponds
  16. Fish Shipping
  17. Aquarium Size, Fish Stunting
  18. Aquarium Algae,
    BBA & Brown Algae in particular
  19. Aquarium Salt (Sodium chloride) in Freshwater Aquariums
  20. Betta Habitat; Wild Bettas to Domestic Betta environment parameters
  21. HITH; Hole in the Head Disease
  22. Aquarium Protein Skimmers, Ozonizers
  23. Power Head/ Water Pump Review
  24. Molly Disease/ Mollies in an Aquarium
  25. Basic Fish Anatomy, Fin Identification
  26. Aquarium Moving/ Power Failures
  27. Octopus as Aquarium Pets
  28. Aquarium Nitrates
  29. Ichthyophonus protists, fungus in fish
  30. Aquarium and Pond Filter Media
    Types; Mechanical, Bio, Chemical
  31. Aquarium Water Conditioners (also Pond)
  32. Fish Parasites; Trematodes & Monogeneans; Annelids and Nematodes;
    Flukes, internal worms, Detritus Worms (often confused with Planaria), Micro Worms
  33. Aquarium Silicone Application;
    DIY Aquarium Repair & Glass thickness
  34. Pond Veggie Filters; DIY Bog Filter
  35. The difference between Plaster of Paris and Aquarium Products such a Wonder Shells:
  36. NEON TETRA DISEASE
    Identification, prevention & Treatment
  37. AQUARIUM TEST KITS; Use & Importance
  38. SEXING FISH; Basics
  39. Chocolate Chip, Knobby and Fromia Starfish
  40. Freshwater Velvet & Costia
  41. Usnic Acid as a Fish Remedy
  42. Aquarium Heaters; Types, information
  43. The Lateral Line in Fish, Lateral Line Disease
    or Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE)
  44. Tap Water use in Aquarium; Chloramines, Chlorine
  45. Can Black Ghost Knife fish give an electric shock?
  46. Bio Wheel Review; Do Bio-Wheels really work?
  47. How do Fish Drink?
    PROPER OSMOTIC FUNCTION-
    Use of RO Water
  48. Cyclops, and Predatory Damselfly larvae
  49. Betta with Dropsy;
    Treatment and Prevention of DROPSY in all fish
  50. pH and KH problems in African Cichlid Aquarium
  51. Aquarium Gravel, which size?
  52. Blue green algae, Cyanobacteria in Ponds/Aquariums
  53. AQUARIUM ANSWERS DIRECTORY


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