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Skin and Gill Flukes in Tropical Fish
Nate Jamieson

While parasites of various types are often responsible for fish
rubbing themselves against objects in the tank, sometimes to the
point of causing raw skin, it can be difficult to identify which
parasite it is, unless you have a very good visual of it.

In the case of skin fluke, which is a parasitic flatworm, they
are unlikely to show themselves to the extent where you would be
able to remove them manually as you can with leeches or fish
lice. One of the common denominators they have with other
parasite infections, is they can cause redness of skin, but so
can rubbing against stones and wood. However, skin fluke also
causes a fading of color, and because the treatment is common to
other types of parasites, you are best to go with a general
medication, such as Droncit or formalin baths, when unsure
whether it is skin fluke or not. Remove severely affected fish to
a hospital tank.

The standard treatments of adding 1 tbs. of aquarium salt to a
daily change of water in the home aquarium, and raising the tank
temperature by four degrees also applies. This is used for most
parasites, including gill fluke, which has more obvious and
visual symptoms.

Gill fluke is a worm that specifically attacks the gill
membranes, causing them to turn red and acquire a coating of
slime that makes it difficult to breathe. Fish will hang at the
water's surface, gasp, and lose weight rapidly. The same tank
treatments as skin fluke can be used, but with gill fluke,
removing to a hospital tank and adding short baths in either
formalin, salt or ammonium hydroxide to the regimen will help
kill what is on the fish, and you can then treat their

Nate Jamieson
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