Just the word parasite is enough to make people’s skin crawl. Parasites can be quite common in goldfish and it’s a horrible thing for them to have to suffer with. Thankfully treatments are quite easy and your goldfish will be back to full health in no time at all. So How Do I Get Rid of Goldfish Parasites?
The best way is to add 10 tablespoons to a gallon of water in a separate tank and place the goldfish in to this water for one minute. The fish will most likely roll over and turn white, do not worry as this is normal. Then place the goldfish back in the original tank.
What are these parasites?
There are a few common parasites that we are going to look at here and they are fish lice, anchor worm, gold dust disease, and white spot disease. We’ll take a look at how to spot them and how to get rid of them.
White spot disease (Ich)
White spot disease, also known as ich, can be very common in fish that have been recently bought from a store. It is caused by ich parasites and goldfish are vulnerable to them when they are stressed as their immune systems become compromised. Due to this, it’s a good idea to quarantine your fish after you get them but if they already have ich then you need to deal with the problem.
As the name suggests, you’ll know when your goldfish are suffering from ich if they have white spots. These spots look like little grains of salt on closer inspection and can be anywhere on the body of the goldfish, except for the eyes. You say also find that the breathing of the goldfish becomes a lot heavier and they start to scratch themselves on whatever they can.
Treatment for white spot disease
The most common method for treating ich is to treat it with the heat and salt method. You do this by heating the water to 80F and then adding salt at a ratio of around 19 grams per gallon. The salt will kill the ich but it will also have a detrimental impact on your plant life and it’s best to remove them if possible. You should see a positive effect in 3 to 5 days.
If this doesn’t work then there are many commercial medications on the market that will do the job. Your local store will almost certainly stock some ich treatment. You need to follow the instructions closely as otherwise you risk harming the fish.
Gold dust disease (Velvet)
Gold dust disease, also known as velvet, is another common small parasitic infection. They are very small which can make them quite hard to spot. You generally find this in tanks where there are new fish present or if the water quality is quite poor.
It looks quite a lot like ich except the specks will be golden and not white. The other signs are very similar to ich too with heavy breathing and trying to scratch against anything they can. The parasitic infection usually works its way from back to front and can also cause them to appear very slimy. Another sign can be if the goldfish are keeping their fins clamped shut.
Treatment for gold dust disease
We could almost copy and paste the treatment for ich into here. The salt and heat method works very effectively and in a similar timescale. You use the heat to speed up the life cycle of the parasite and make them more exposed. As mentioned previously, you can also opt for store-bought medication. Velvet parasites do get some energy from photosynthesis and therefore it’s a good idea to keep your tank dark during treatment.
Anchor worm (Lernaea)
These aren’t worms at all but the lernaea parasites are quite bigger than the previous two parasites we’ve looked at. Again these can a problem with recently purchased goldfish and it can also be from plant life that has been around affected fish.
They are fairly easy to spot as you’ll have a thin green creature hanging out from the goldfish and the surrounding area will be red and inflamed. Like with most parasites, the fish will try and scape these off by rubbing against objects.
Treatment for anchor worm
Salt can be used here but only as the starting point. Half a teaspoon per gallon will slow the rate of infections and prevent any new attachments of the parasite.
Unlike the previous two methods where medication was a good alternative to salt, here it’s a must-use solution as you’re not going to be able to get rid of them with salt alone. Parasite Guard is a good example of medication that kills anchor worm but others are available.
If you want to speed up the removal of the parasites then you can remove them via tweezers. This can be quite difficult and dangerous as they burrow quite deeply. If you do this method, make sure you don’t leave the fish out of the water for too long.
Lice are very common in ponds but shouldn’t be found in freshwater. All new goldfish should be quarantined otherwise you can get problems such as lice. Lice are horrible for any animal but thankfully easy to get rid of.
You may be able to see lice as they are a brownish-green color and can be seen moving around the goldfish until they attach. When they do, you’ll start to notice red spots. Again, that common sign of rubbing against the tank will be apparent.
Treatment for lice
The treatment for fish lice is more or less a combination of all the methods we’ve looked at before. The salt and heat method is a great starting point but with only half a teaspoon used per gallon. After this, you can then move onto medication such as Parasite Guard.
Fish life has a longer life cycle than the others that we have looked at so far. Due to that, it makes using tweezers to get them out a more attractive option as you can speed up the process. It can take up to a month to rid your aquarium of lice.
As you can see, salt is your friend in all situations but for bigger parasites, you’ll need to use medication. Whatever method you are using, it’s important to be cautious as salt and medication can be harmful to goldfish in the short-term but is needed to get rid of the bigger problem.
After treatment, make sure you keep on top of your water changes to gradually remove the salt from the tank and quarantine any new fish so that you’ll never have the problem again.