RE: NANFA-- parasite removal

Nick Zarlinga (
Mon, 2 Feb 2004 14:31:23 -0500

Todd, although I tend to agree with you on most of your thinkings, from my
experiences, I would have to disagree with you on a number of points that
you bring up here. First of all, I agree with you totally that by releiving
system stress, we can do a lot to reduce the chances that our animals
acquire some kind of 'bug'. I agree that 'natural systems' lend themselves
to a stability factor which encourages fish health and therefore enables
that fish to fight off critters that want to parasitize it. I would
certainly agree with you in saying that even a 'sterile' system is not truly
sterile, and that there are little beasties hiding out waiting for the
opportune time to jump on. However we are still dealing with these animals
in a closed system and if one fish is weakened some how (they all are at
some point), they provide a portal for the bugs to take hold of that fish,
reproduce in incredible numbers, therefore *possibly* making it easier to
overrun the rest of the population since it is indeed a closed system.
While I would also agree with you that you do find fish in the wild that are
diseased, the point that I was trying to make is that not necessarily all
the fish in the vicinity are going to be subjected to overwelming numbers of
bugs just because of the space and volume factor. Obviously in an aquarium,
there is nowhere for the bugs to go and it is easier for them to find a
host. I do not agree with you that 98% of fish can deal with parasites as
you suggested. Although it may not be the bugs themselves that actually
kill the fish, the bugs do reduce the immune system and clog gills, etc.,
all effects of the overrun population. I know that if I have a stable
system, and one that I can not get fish from easily, I would not trust any
new fish coming into my system unless I had them in a separate tank to fish
see how they do in a number of aspects before they go into the main display
tank. And yes, I would agree that there are not many hobbyists with the
resources to scrape and key out bugs before you treat. (Hell, I don't even
do it myself and I do have the resources!) That was more of an ideal
situation and I hoped that you would let me slide with that. And I would
agree that you can never remove all the potentials of a disease, even in a
quarantine system. The quarantine, in my opinion, is simply a way to find
out what is going on with the fish and how it is acting. I am not a true
proponent of prophylactic medications, although in some fish species I
certainly have learned that it is beneficial. So all in all, I think that we
are saying the same thing, remove as much stress from they system as far as
we can tell, and your fish will do the rest. However I guess I place more
emphasis on knocking down a bug flare up with an appropriate medication, and
trying to determine what that flare up will be by putting the animal in
quarantine first, or when it is not showing signs of improvement when it is
in the exhibit tank. I have not had nearly the same number of naturopathic
experiences that you have had regarding fish healing themselves so
effectively. But, if it works, then it is definetly better than treating
with some kind of chemical. I just think that to get to your stage, you
have to experience many of the falls first to know what is what. I don't
think that one can just start at 60mph since one doesn't know what to look

Nick Zarlinga
Aquarium Biologist
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
216.661.6500 ext 4485

><)> -----Original Message-----
><)> From:
><)> On Behalf
><)> Of Todd Crail
><)> Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004 11:16 AM
><)> To:
><)> Subject: Re: NANFA-- parasite removal
><)> This, of course, has gotten much more
><)> philisophical than practical :)
><)> I think the biggest problem is the standard, and
><)> even the advanced home
><)> aquarists don't have the resources to really
><)> accurately identify (or even
><)> ballpark) what it is they're dealing with, and in
><)> such a way, don't have any
><)> way to accurately identify what treatment to run.
><)> _Especially_ if they have
><)> to do it with every animal that crosses their
><)> path! I think we all agree
><)> that treatment "shots in the dark" are a bad idea
><)> for a variety of reasons.
><)> Especially in the case of antibiotics where
><)> someone just dumps a drug at a
><)> problem and there's no cause and effect. They get
><)> a cycled tank becuase the
><)> biological got wiped out, dead fish because they
><)> also had to deal with
><)> ammonia on
><)> top of their current issues, and maybe stopped the
><)> bacteria, but more likely
><)> didn't and only made a more resistant strain, etc...
><)> I think what we need to do is approach it as
><)> "parasitism", which most people
><)> in the aquarium hobby and even professionals call
><)> "disease", and I think
><)> that's a misnomer. "General stress" is more
><)> inline with the disease concept
><)> than the parasites are... That is to say, I don't
><)> know of any fish that's
><)> ever conclusively died from an ich manifestation,
><)> but I do know a lot of
><)> adult ich that starved to death when they lost
><)> their host to stress. A
><)> different way of thinking :) And as a general
><)> rule, 98% of the cases deal
><)> just fine with their parasitism if they're not
><)> receiving additional stress
><)> created by their keepers.
><)> This is not to say that an organism will _not_ be
><)> over run with parasites...
><)> But if we scale back our terms and definitions to
><)> limit the amount of stress
><)> our animals receive from system issues and _then_
><)> determine if they're truly
><)> being overrun by parasites (as is I feel the case
><)> with my particular
><)> orangespot, where he came in like this) to the
><)> point where health has been
><)> compromised. Then I think it's appropriate to
><)> seek identification and then
><)> the appropriate treatment. At least you have a
><)> container around what you're
><)> fighting.
><)> Why not until then? We don't know what
><)> effectively sterilizing our animals
><)> without focus does to them (I'll get to this in a
><)> moment), and I doubt I'll
><)> ever be convinced otherwise. Quarantine is a
><)> good way to screen out the
><)> weak, wether their former parasites are slamming
><)> them, or wether their new
><)> parasites after their "pickling" are slamming
><)> them, before they go into a
><)> main system. So that is perhaps the best way to
><)> approach the problem if you
><)> feel it's necessary to screen... And it is in a
><)> lot of cases where it's
><)> nearly impossible to retrieve an overrun animal
><)> (in a large reef, large
><)> exhibit, etc).
><)> However, you'll be hard pressed to convince me
><)> that you've _truly_ removed
><)> all potentials in quarantine. I often wonder if
><)> things like ich lie dormant
><)> in the slime coat of fish, but are triggered into
><)> reproduction by some
><)> chemical or hormone that is released when a fish
><)> is stressed, or when the
><)> slime coat weakens. I'm in a debate with myself
><)> if they're always there.
><)> Tanks that have been fine for months (outside the
><)> "life cycle" of a
><)> particular parasite) without new additions or any
><)> changes besides neglect, a
><)> heater burning up, etc etc still break out in ich!
><)> Basically, I don't buy the parasite soup deal and
><)> extra water volume
><)> flushing things away. I think that the extra
><)> critters come with the
><)> territory, it just looks more awful and ominous at
><)> home because the _stress_
><)> is much more focused and everyone gets exposed to
><)> both the stress and the
><)> mainfestations. I have caught wild fish wasting,
><)> most likely from
><)> gastrointestinal parasites, or super males that
><)> were weakened from months of
><)> being dominant instead of healthy, that were
><)> covered in ich and fungus and
><)> the things we see graphically in an aquarium where
><)> the whole system is
><)> stressed.
><)> And back to that thing I was gonna get to...
><)> Again, we don't know what kind
><)> of effect effectively sterilizing an animal will
><)> have, positive or negative.
><)> In fact, I think progress will only be made in
><)> "war against germs" when we
><)> start to get comfortable that things need to be
><)> balanced, instead of
><)> sterile. My mom raised me as sterile as bleach,
><)> and now I'm allergic to
><)> everything and catch a cold at the drop of a
><)> hat... Whereas my best friend
><)> in high school and college was always that crud
><)> crusted kid, they always had
><)> food left on their dishes after running the
><)> dishwasher (disgusting!), and
><)> everything my mother prevented me from being (go
><)> figure I'm a crud crusted
><)> adult ;) RARELY gets sick.
><)> But more on target... Let's talk about something I
><)> had to live through that
><)> is a definate parallel and may offer itself as an
><)> interesting anecdote to
><)> our discussion. In 2000 I had a naaaaasty
><)> infection in my salivary glands
><)> (Sialadenitis). They would clog, get fetid, and
><)> oh my did it hurt. So I do
><)> what anyone would do... I go to the doctor. And
><)> what does the doctor do?
><)> He wants to sterilize it, like any doctor would.
><)> So they put me on some
><)> insane antibiotic (this ain't no Z pack babe-ee)
><)> for a month long treatment
><)> so there's enough build up in a very tough place
><)> to deliver a antibiotic
><)> load.
><)> Did it work? For about a month. Then it was
><)> back. What else was there
><)> then? Because I had a wide open range of
><)> uncolonized territory in my guts
><)> now because beneficial organisms were _also_
><)> gone... A gastrointestinal
><)> yeast infection that took two years to shake (and
><)> is moooost unpleasant),
><)> severe irritative bowel syndrome, constipation,
><)> and the whole nine. My gut
><)> problems left me stressed and wide open to the
><)> "cold of the week", and
><)> pushed me into a severe depression because I
><)> couldn't seem to get better.
><)> The worst of it lasted for nearly a year.
><)> But I thought we were treating my mouth huh?
><)> In the meantime, while fighting like mad with my
><)> colds, sore throats and
><)> stuff, I found an interesting relief for my
><)> Sialadenitis... I was using the
><)> "not conclusively proven to do anything, but I
><)> feel better when I take it"
><)> thing of Vitamin C. I was sucking on chewables to
><)> get some relief for my
><)> throat. And wouldn't you know it... The
><)> _tartness_ of the Vitamin C helped
><)> to purge my salivary glands. Sourball candies and
><)> lemon juice works too.
><)> Go figure.
><)> What I think we need to do is find the "vitamin c"
><)> before we go and get
><)> chemicals involved. :) I doubt that fish are any
><)> different, and we don't
><)> know which critters are beneficial at certain
><)> levels and which are not.
><)> It's not like life has evolved in a sterile
><)> environment, although we seem to
><)> be trying our damnedist to make it that way (and
><)> miserable failing).
><)> And yes, this is something I consider with the
><)> more whole systems that I
><)> seem to be particular to lately. I would say that
><)> more organisms will have
><)> the ability to complete life cycles as the systems
><)> get larger and more
><)> biodiverse. But what you have to remember is...
><)> Parasites have parasites
><)> too. Maybe if we stopped trying to keep sterile
><)> systems, we'd also have in
><)> place stop gap organisms that keep everyone else
><)> in check too?
><)> Some food for thought...
><)> Todd
><)> ----- Original Message -----
><)> From: "Nick Zarlinga" <>
><)> To: <>
><)> Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004 7:14 AM
><)> Subject: RE: NANFA-- parasite removal
><)> > Generally speaking I would agree with you,
><)> however we are sort of creating
><)> a
><)> > situation where our fish are essentially being
><)> kept alive in a parasite
><)> > soup. In the wild, the bugs can scatter with
><)> currents etc, and there is
><)> > usually an unlimited supply of new water to
><)> dilute the concentration of
><)> bugs
><)> > to fish. In the aquarium, we are creating a
><)> condition where the bugs can
><)> not
><)> > disperse, therefore making it easier to find a
><)> host. We are giving the
><)> > parasite just what it wants, lots of chances to
><)> attach in a very small
><)> > amount of space. So, although there are
><)> stressors that can cause an
><)> > outbreak, they are sort of given the advantage
><)> by us, unintentionally.
><)> That
><)> > is why in a perfect world, we quarantine any and
><)> all new animals before
><)> they
><)> > go into our "exhibit" tanks. If the fish has
><)> some kind of "disease", we
><)> > take a swab, identify it under a scope, then
><)> treat accordingly to
><)> erradicate
><)> > it first. Of course, this is my idealism coming
><)> though again ;)
><)> >
><)> > Nick Zarlinga
><)> > Aquarium Biologist
><)> > Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
><)> > 216.661.6500 ext 4485
><)> >
><)> >
><)> > ><)> -----Original Message-----
><)> > ><)> From:
><)> > ><)> On Behalf
><)> > ><)> Of Todd Crail
><)> > ><)> Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 9:37 PM
><)> > ><)> To:
><)> > ><)> Subject: Re: NANFA-- parasite removal
><)> > ><)>
><)> > ><)>
><)> > ><)> I'd also look into what system stress had
><)> > ><)> compromised formerly "stable" fish
><)> > ><)> to take a beating from a recently introduced
><)> > ><)> external parasite they would
><)> > ><)> normally slime right off. While
><)> I'm beginning to
><)> > ><)> change my view on
><)> > ><)> gastrointestinal parasites and what
><)> role they play
><)> > ><)> in fish health...
><)> > ><)> External parasites on everybody has
><)> always proven
><)> > ><)> there's a system problem
><)> > ><)> which I've found is best solved by
><)> correction.
><)> > ><)> Might want to check into
><)> > ><)> that too. pH? Nitrate? Stray
><)> Volts? Low Dissolved
><)> > ><)> O2/High organic content?
><)> > ><)>
><)> ---------------------------
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/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
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/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
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/ For a digest version, send the command to
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