NANFA-- Baby bowfin and bass tapeworm

Hoover, Jan J ERDC-EL-MS (
Fri, 17 May 2002 13:00:37 -0500

We collected baby bowfin from Bayou Meto, Arkansas last week and set them up
in aquaria. They are approximately 40-55 mm TL and began feeding on frozen
bloodworms immediately.

Several have died with no apparent signs of injury or disease. All,
however, had their mouths wide open. Yesterday, NANFA member Catherine
Murphy put some of these dead bowfin under a microscope and saw that they
had thrown up wads of partly-digested bloodworms.....and mature tapeworms!
The tapeworms are quite large - one nearly filling the open mouth of one of
the fish. The tapeworm is similar in appearance to the bass tapeworm
(Proteocephalus ambloplitis). It (or a very similar species) is reported
from bowfin in Canada and Louisiana. The bass tapeworm is "highly
pathogenic to the host" and can cause castration in bass. It appears that
it may cause death in tiny bowfin.

Is this a possible explanation for the problems some people have had raising
juvenile bowfin? Any members keeping baby bowfin should check any dead fish
with a hand lens to see if a tapeworm is involved.

I took photographs this afternoon.
/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ For a digest version, send the command to
/ instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page,