Parasite Proplem in pond

ursikingJuly 11, 2007

please HELP!! I have a parasite which looks like a pinworm, only is red in colour, and it destroys all water plants in a short period of time. It does not seem to harm fish, however, since all the plants rot very fast there is no shade to protect against algea, and fish lack oxygen. Water is murky and I have emptied this little pond several times, cleaned it out, but to no avail. the worms seem to behave like pinworms, and attack only water plants. They live in the water, cannot be destroyed, and were caused by one infected water lettuce that I bought and did not quarantine. the water lettuce looked white, but I didn't notice the problem until it was too late.

No one seems to be able to help, no water garden nursery seems to know what this horrible destructive parsite is. with my bad eyesight it looked like a cloud of dust in the water, where they swim around and multiply like pin worms. They hang on the bottom /roots of the water hyacinths, and when the plant is lifted up in the water, the fall off into the water like dust clouds. I thought it was a tiny bug, but upon close inspection it turns out to be a worm, mostly reddish in colour, 1/4 inch long and thin and coiling rapidly.

Can anybody help w/info about a cure? I am desperate.

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Try a malachite green and formalin mix. I bought some at Big Al's locally called Quick Cure. It kills lots of invertebrates. Your other option is to get rid of all of your plants and keep them out for probably 3 months to make sure the worms run out of food.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 7:16AM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

whoa! Before you start dumping chemicals in there, you need to find out exactly what they are. I have never heard of such a thing. Can you dip some up and take them to your local county extension office or post some pictures of them here? Malachite gren and formalin will kill SOME fish parasites, but may not kill what you have in your pond. Malathion may do it, but do you know exactly how much water your pond holds? Malathion can be used with koi for treatment of some parasites (flukes, anchor worms, and lice) but it can be very dangerous unless you know the pond volumn. Koi and goldies can handle larger doses than other kinds of fish if you have bream in that pond, they may die. Malathion also kills inscects that visit the pond (like dragonflies and butterflies) so it must only be applied after dark. You also must know the pH and total alkalinity and temperature of your pond before considering malathion.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 8:43AM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

the more I think about this, the more I think there are several things going on here. say your eyesight isn't so good. I am guessing that you are actually seeing two different things in the roots of your hyacinths. the small red worms you are capturing are noting but harmless blood worms. They won't hurt a thing and fish love to eat them. They look exactly as you describe. The things that hang out in the same roots and disappear in a cloud are one of two things. They are either blood worm larva or they are fish fry! Fry hang out in roots because it is safe. They do look like a cloud when they are disturbed and scurry for a new safe place to hide. The plants are being destroyed by some unseen pest, such as aphids, leaf miners, or china mark moth larva. Check the attached link and see if this is what you are seeing. If so....this is not what is killing your plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: blood worms

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 11:28AM
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Thank you, ccoombs and kalevi for your suggestions. I have had this problem now for the 3rd summer, cannot get rid of these pests, they destroy every single plant, and yes, these worms were probably not there last year. I have cleaned out this little pond at least 10 times since the onset of the problem, it's like a nightmare.
It must be that there are unseen eggs that can survive ice and cold, as well es mulitple cleanings of this 55 gallons tank. My little pond consists of a plastic bucket, kidney shaped, that I had since 1999. we have it in the ground next to a lotus in a different bucket, and have stones all around. this was bought for my handicapped son, who loved the water, and since he could not travel anywhere, he delighted in this pond in the back yard. -----
What is malachite green and formaline? Where can I buy that?
It would be best if I knew what the pest is, before applying any chemicals. My 8 fish in there just died. I don't know if it was from me putting algae destroyer in. That should not kill fish, but they had been in this horrible, murky water and were most likely infected w/what ever eats the plants. it also kills the see roses, it kills every water plant, even the tall ones. it is not the aphids, since I had treated all the plants for aquatic aphids. I was told that these aphids only hang on the plants and do not survive in the water, without plants. Before I bought this bad water lettuce, my pond was always full of plants, the fish multiplied and there was perfect harmony in the pond. I only had an air stone in there, now I have a fontaine, but nothing helps.
At this time I am trying to clean out the pond again, but I know that when I fill it w/water, these pests will come back immediately. I could cry.
I wish I knew who would want to analyse the water w/the problem in it. I spent many hundreds of dollars since this started all for nothing. Is there a county office that would do that?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 2:15PM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

algae destroyer does kill fish. Not directly, but when the algae is killed, it decays and robs the water of all oxygen. Your fish probably died from lack of oxygen. So you have no fish now at all? It will be easier to eliminate them with no fish. Forget the malachite green/formalin mix...that will not kill them.

Go to your county extension office and see if they can ID the pest. Also check and see if there is a horticulture program at a local collage...they might be able to help too.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 3:34PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

What kind of food were you using for the fish when you had them? I buy only high quality food flakes and crisps but once in a while I discover hair thin neon red worms that seem to hatch out from eggs in some of the red colored food. They don't seem to bother the fish in the aquariums so I don't get too bent out of whack when they appear but I vacuum the pea gravel in the bottom of the tanks when I do a water change to keep the levels down because the adult form is really yuck. They don't harm the plants either although they sometimes gather in the roots seemingly to escape water movement. I figure they thrive in gunk.
The fish don't eat them and don't really like the red colored food either. I asked about it on the aquarium forum and got laughed at with no explanation. Ditto for a transparent millipede-like critter about the size of an eyelash.
The first thing you need to do is to remove those floating plants and put them in a bucket of clean water. Shake them to remove dead roots and any worms clinging to the plants. Repeat. Leave them in a bucket for several days so any eggs will hatch. Before putting them back in the pond rinse them again. If there is gravel in the bottom of the pond, remove it. Don't put it back. Half a dozen stones will look nice without trapping mulm. It will take several partial water changes to get rid of all the worms and more will appear if you leave any uneaten food in the water. Sandy

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 4:40PM
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Yes, it is better to identify what is killing your plants. Can you get someone who has better eyesight to look at them? If they are eating your plants, they should either be in the plants or on them. Have the person collect a few samples and see if you they can identify them on the web. It could be something as simple as snails or aphids or some kind of moth larvae.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 5:30PM
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If all of your fish are dead, consider throwing out the plants and emptying the water. Let it dry out a while and start with simple clean stuff. a pond we had accidentally got loaded with dirt during remodeling, and we started from scratch a year later with feeder goldfish, new plants. No filter. Two months later, its full of plants which have multiplied and the fish are doing fine. Water got murky and finally balanced. I will learn from your experience though and be careful with new plants.
I suppose you are sure that those wiggly things aren't mosquitos or larvae from some similar bug? I've been in Virginia and some of your mosquitos can carry off small animals. Is it possible to net some and photograph against white paper?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 6:34PM
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Thank you all so very much for your answers. I am going nuts with this problem, because it just seems that after so many times emptying the pond, and cleaning it out, and even cleaning it w/ some clorax in the water , these pests should long be gone. but they are some kind of resilient and hard to kill, fast growing und speedy multiplying bugs. I think ccoo was right, maybe those red worms are just blood worms, since the fish ate some of what was hanging on the roots of the dying plants, or a stage of developing mosquitoes. Had to laugh at Marge727, the mosquitoes carry you off, they sure are after me a lot. And they do carry the West Nile virus in our area.
I am trying now again to clean the pond. Maybe this time I will take a stronger clorax solution when I can bend over and take the last little bit of water out. By the way, snails are also killed in there from the bugs. Frogs do not want to go in any more. I used to have several resident frogs w/their own territories.
Sleepless in Ft. Wayne, I was feeding them these little koi sticks, I have done that for years. I always bought my comets at one place and continued what they were feeding the fish. I did remove the plants, all of them, and put the water lily in a bucket w/clean water, after I sprayed it w/the organic aphid killer and thoroughly rinsed it w/the water hose. I also washed all the water hyacinths, but found that in that bucket I found lots of the bugs and also those worms. I took a few of the hyacinths in the kitchen, got my reading glasses, and washed them in dishwashing lotion. After that I put them on the white counter top, where I could see exactly what was wriggling. I put a small drop of undiluted clorax on the worm, and it took at least a minute before it stopped moving. then I put a fresh drop of water on the worm, observing if it started up again, since I have this now for the 3rd year and it comes from the same pond. It stayed dead. so I thought it was worms. but as I read all your comments, I believe that it is the bugs. darn and blast!!
Last Winter I cleaned out the pond, I cleaned the sides from the algea and when I filled it in the spring, it seemed ok. As soon as I put plants in, the problem started. A little over a week I could see the 'clouds' dropping off the roots of the hyacinths.
I will try to find a county office to analyse this pest, it may be that it needs to be contained, so that other still waters /lakes do not get infected. All aquatic plant life would be destroyed if it got out.
I dunked the roots of the few water hyacinths in clorax water, then washed them very carefully and put them in a separate bucket now on my deck. I am looking to see if there is any bug material left after this kind of radical procedure. If I just had a pill to drop into my pond to kill this pest, together w/ its microscopic eggs, that would solve the problem.
By the way, I was so desperate, I also bought one of those vacuums , I thought if I could vacuum out the bottom, where I could see an accumulation of grey stuff, it might help get rid of the pest. but it didn't work for me, could not get the syphon going. I'm not very good at all these things.
Marge727, what does it mean "net some and photograph against a white paper"? do you mean the bugs? would a digital camera do that?

Again, thank you all and if you can think of anything else, pls let me know.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 12:39PM
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My husband say's to put a little mineral oil in the water where there are misquito larvae and it will cover the top of the water and smother them because they can't breathe. He say's it will not hurt any plants or animals to drink this water. It just might work on other pests. He say's just a tablespoonful or two in a big container or stock tank is all you need. It is worth a try. I would not try this if I had fish in the containers. Glenda

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 5:48PM
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Thanks, Glenda, I will try that. All my fish have died just 2 days ago. What is a name brand of mineral oil , can I buy that at a grocery store?

The mosquitoe larvae were not the problem though, they got eaten by the fish. Maybe not all of them. maybe those were the red worms.
but it might work on these destructive bugs, although I see them frolicking all over in the water and accumulate as a bunch of grey matter on the sides and bottom of the pond.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 9:28PM
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Mineral Oil is found in Wal Mart or grocery store or a drug store in the section where you would buy medicines for the stomach, such as antacids or laxitives. Haven't bought any in a long time and can't tell you a manufacturer. I didn't mean to imply that your problem was the misquitoe larvae. But parasites in the water, would probably have to breath air from the surface of the water the same way. Just thought it might be worth a try. Glenda

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 11:26PM
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I am sorry about your fish. I suspect there is something wrong with your water or setup that is killing the plants, creating rotten food for the blood worms and they are doing what they are supposed to be doing (getting rid of the debris). Maybe evaluating the water, amount of light, etc. may help. Do you have water lilies? I had some problems with hyacinths and now just have water lilies and a couple other plants.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 12:21AM
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Thanks, Glenda, i'll go tomorrow to Walmart and get some mineral oil. This is really worth a try.

HI, lynx, I have bought a contaminated water lettuce 2 1/2 years ago and my water as never been the same since, although the pond was totally cleaned out several times since then, the last time just a few weeks ago.
There seem to be small grey bugs all over in the water, which attach themselves to any plant, especially the free floating ones like Hyacinths, and kill them in record time. Also, the water gets so very murky that nothing can be seen anymore in the pond, an no amount of algae killer can clean it up. Since I have no plants to protect against algae, my fish have a shortage of oxygen, and eventually die, I guess. although I dont think the bugs kill the fish, but they sure killed all the snails, and frogs avoid the water now.
Water lilies get killed too, I had to take out my lily and wash it several times, spray it w/organic aphid killer, and place it in a separate bucket w/fresh water. Where do those blood worms come from?
Could they really come from fish food?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 2:38AM
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The midgefly lays eggs and the larvae that hatch is the little red worms. Or at least that is what I have been told. Glenda

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 12:58PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Fish are deathly sensitive to bleach. If you use Clorox to clean off the plants any residue could kill your fish. That is why they sell chemicals to offset any chlorine that might be in treated water from the tap. It could also burn the roots of your plants by destroying the layer that contains the part that absorbs moisture and nutrients. While some terrestrial plants can be washed in a weak solution of water and bleach it is only to kill some types of bacteria and fungus but it isn't very effective. The correct solution is one part bleach to ten parts water. It would be safer to use Hydrogen Peroxide. The worm you saw die after a minute in undiluted bleach died from a chemical burn.
I have often considered putting a new package of fish food in the microwave before using it. That should kill any eggs in the food. Ditto the minute crustaceans that contaminated my aquariums.
A couple of years ago I couldn't find the food I usually bought and the pet store owner told me they had to reformulate it because some of the ingredients came from fish that were fed on beef and the producers were concerned that there could be a connection with Jacob-Crutchfield disease, or as we know it, Mad Cow disease. (I know I spelled the J-C wrong but I'm not going to Google it right now and its not in my spell check.)
I am going through a parasite problem in my pond right now and I read that most fish have parasites when you get them. Parasites can also be carried in by birds and animals that get wet in waterways. Products that are reccomended for parasite control are Praziquantel, Anchors Away and Dimlin.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 5:15PM
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txgdnr(7TX DFW)

Hello Ursula,
It sounds like you have tried most everything. You would think bleach would get rid of anything. What size are the bugs? The only thing you have not mentioned is salt. I always put aquarium salt in my pond. Someone a very long time ago who worked in a pet shop where I shopped, told me to do this, I have always done it. I just buy it at Wal Mart in the aquarium section. When I do a water change or top off I add a couple of handfuls of salt sprinkled around the pond. It keeps the fish healthy. Don't know why or how. It couldn't hurt to try it. I would also do like ccoombs1 suggested and capture some of the "devils" and take them to the county extension agent for their opinion. I hope you find a solution, I know this must be very frustrating.
Good Luck--Dianne

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 7:34PM
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Here is an idea. If there is a larva of some sort destroying your plants, try using Thuricide HPC. It is a form of BT used for catapillars. It works with the China marks moth and any weevil larvae. I use it on my water lilies and other aquatic plants.

Happy ponding,

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 11:12PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Ditto for Scott!! Sandy

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 2:15AM
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Thank you very much for your advise, I am so disheartened at this point as to almost give up my little pond. But I have to try to keep it going and struggle on to bring it back to the right condition. It was bought for my handicapped son in 1998, who loved it so much, and who passed away some years ago. But I still keep it up, as if he could still see it. I know this sounds silly, but his happiness and joy over this little pond was a great gift to me. It's not as beautiful as some of yours, I looked at some pictures, some of you have some gosh-awesome beautiful ponds w/water falls and little streams. and wonderful plants in it etc. I wouldn't even know the terminology for all those things. --------
Clorax seems a strong chemical, that's why I tried it on the worm, but the WH I dipped in clorax are in a separate container just to see if they grow and stay alive. I have not put clorax in the main pond, except when I cleaned it out, and after that it was really rinsed out good before I put the water back in, and then put the chlor-out in.
Dianna, thanks for the idea of the salt.
I am actually very stupid and not very knowledgable w/ ponds. It worked so well before for several years, and I had no problems, so there was nothing to worry about. But now I'm at a loss.
I will try the salt also. The 'bugs' are very small, but w/good eyesight you can see them. They look like dust clouds falling off the WH when I pick them up out of the water and they stay in the water and multiply like crazy, and finally you can't see the bottom or anything in that water. Also green algae forms on the sides of my preformed pond. These bugs are swimming like mad, dancing like they had Huntington's Chorea, in the water, killing the snails and frogs don't go in anymore. I wonder if the 'bugs' are also in my lotus bucket, which sits in the ground right next to the pond. I see a lot of brown, dying leaves this year and the water surface is not covered w/ leaves as it used to be. A few stalks make it and it produced 2 blooms, but not like before. / ---
Glenda, I wouldn't be surprised if some fly laid eggs in there and the worms came from that. Maybe my fish then couldn't see passed the murky water to catch the fly. These bugs were so plentiful that they made the water very murky and dark. Are these worms bad? Or are they just fish food? --------------
Sandy, where can i buy these chemicals Praziquantel, Anchors Away and Dimlin? is that their name and what company makes them? I will try everything. I'm watching the WH I dipped the roots in clorax to kill any of these bugs to see how they grow. they are, of course, in a separate small bucket, and they are still alive, and looking as if they are getting new growth on top. Because if there are still eggs alive after this radical treatment, and if 'bugs' can hatch , then I am in real trouble. Also my water lily, which did not get a clorax cleaning, is doing better in a separate bucket. but I think if I cleaned the pond, and put fresh water in it, I would be afraid to use the old plants. Maybe there are some eggs somewhere. I am so paranoid about this at this point, one thing I have learned these last 2 1/2 years while I was battling this problem, I have to use all new stuff and also new equipment, like my new bio filter, it took me 4 hours to clean it, and I am not convinced it is 'bug' free. that thing cost me $100 alone. I thought if I used this, the 'bugs' would be caught in the filter an die. that was not the case. they infiltrated and contaminated everything. ---
Scott, that Thuricide HPC, does that work when put in the water? Where can I buy it and is it in a spray container or is it liquid to pour out?
Do I spray the plants, like w/the organic aquatic aphid killer spray? which by the way did nothing to stop the 'bugs'. The large Merrifield Garden Center, who has a program on local TV how to do everything in the Garden, had advised me last year it might be aquatic aphids. They were also stumped by what I explained to them. Well, I have called several Water Garden places and all of them had no idea what i was talking about. After I bought all this aphid spray, they told me that the aphids would not be able to live in water without the plants. my 'bugs' do. --
If i get this pond back up, this time i will make sure my water is clean and there are no bugs and my plants do not die before I put fish in. I wonder if there are eggs that stay in the stones around my pond, i have these flat slate stones on top all around the pond. As far as I know they cannot live in the surrounding plants, they cant survive on land. But I will try to bring a sample to the Merrifield Garden Center plant clinik.

Thank you so much for your answers. You have given me new hope, maybe this time I'll be lucky w/ some of the items you all mentioned to treat the water.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 9:41AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Clorox is not for killing bugs. It burns away organic matter and bacteria. I went back to the beginning to see if you mentioned the size of your pond and the only number I saw was 55 gallons which would be very small for a pond but nice for an aquarium. Is this correct? You could get a parasite control for this size at any good pet store without worry about all those chemical names. I am pretty sure what you have is the same thing my aquariums get when I feed the fishies too much. They live in the mulm but they go on the move sometimes when they feel crowded or disturbed and cling to the roots of plants. They do not consume the plants but in large numbers they and other smaller critters do look like a cloud when the plant is disturbed. Most of the "cloud" is dead plant material and poop(organic matter)that forms a nutrient soup the plant feeds on. If there is no soup your plant will die of starvation. Try Mosquito Dunks which won't harm fish or plants but will kill mosquito larva and other types of larva as well. That should be in any Big Box store in the garden center. That is a Bacillius Thurengenensis (or BT) which is close to what Scott was recommending but you don't have to worry about how much to use. In addition use Jungle Parasite Clear or some similar product under a different brand name. Those treat the water and only incidentally would treat the fish.
BTW, maybe you are not educated about some things but anyone who can understand symptoms of "Huntington's Chorea" is not stupid. Sandy

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 6:33PM
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Did you ever figure out about the parasite's?


    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 1:57AM
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