Today we will have another topic about shrimp diseases, parasites and infections. This time it will be Vorticella. I need to start off by pointing out that if you start looking for information about Vorticella you will find basically only 1 or 2 original sources of information. The rest articles, posts, notes will just copy them.
In this article, besides the most popular folk methods (Freshwater aquarium salt and API Pimafix Treatment), you will know about actual scientific researches and conducted experiments with Vorticella and shrimp. You will know how Permanganic acid, Copper sulphate, Malachite Green, Formalin and Acriflavine affects Vorticella.
At last, we will have some real data and I do hope that it may help all shrimp breeders in the future. It is not much but I have not seen it yet anywhere and I would like to share it with you.
Actually, I suppose that I should begin by highlighting these works first:
- IJP: Parasites and Wildlife 7 (2018) “First molecular identification of Vorticella from freshwater shrimps in Tainan, Taiwan” (415-422)
- Journal of Marine science. September 1999 “Bacterial and protozoan (Ciliate) diseases of prawn Penaeus indicus (Decapoda: Crustacea)” (page 285 and 296)
- Egyptian Journal of Aquatic Research (2012) 38, 275–285. National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries Egyptian Journal of Aquatic Research “Aqua chemicals in shrimp farm: A study from south-west coast of Bangladesh”
- Use of Chemicals in Aquaculture in Asia. Proceedings of the Meeting on the Use of Chemicals in Aquaculture in Asia 20-22 May 1996, Tigbauan, Iloilo, Philippines (pp. 127- 140) Mohamed, S., Nagaraj, G., Chua, F. H. C., & Wang, Y. G. (2000). The use of chemicals in aquaculture in Malaysia and Singapore. In: J.R. Arthur, C.R. Lavilla-Pitogo, & R.P. Subasinghe (Eds.)
Without further ado, let’s start.
Vorticella (also known as the “Bell Animalcule”) is a single-celled eukaryote with a diameter of around 30-40 microns (a genus of ciliates from the family Vorticellidae). In the first part of its life, it will be in a free-swimming stage called a telotroch. At some point, the vorticella will produce a stalk and attach itself to a substrate, plant, shrimp and etc.
Although the vorticella may be found in large clusters they are not truly colonial. As each vorticella has its own stock and can leave at any time. There are over 200 known species of Vorticella. Vorticella is mainly found in a freshwater environment. It feeds on bacteria and other microorganisms but not on the host tissues.
Vorticella reproduces by mitosis (dividing transverse, not longitudinal). Through which a single ciliate creates a second copy.
They require water temperature 23-35C for optimal reproduction. To overcome adverse conditions, Vorticella is able to cover itself with a dense cystoma.
How to identify Vorticella. The symptoms?
This parasite looks like “fuzzy” light white fungus (Although, Vorticella is not a fungus) and “grows” usually on the tip of the shrimp nose (sometimes on the mantle, and antenna of the shrimp). In some cases, Vorticella can have yellowish color or be colorless. This is the easiest way to differentiate Vorticella from Scutariella Japonica.
In other cases, it is possible to identify Vorticella by altered swimming behavior of the shrimp. For example, inverted swimming and circling movements were commonly noticed in shrimp exhibiting heavy infestation of peritrichous ciliates on the gill filaments. Heavy infestation of protosoans on the pleopods and periopods also caused altered swimming behavior.
The symptoms of infected freshwater shrimps include loss of appetite and excessive stress.
Note: A recent study showed that infections with peritrichous ciliate ectosymbionts of the Vorticella sp. genus were frequently recorded in the tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) in India.
Is Vorticella Dangerous to the Shrimp?
As a rule, Vorticella is harmless to shrimps, but only until they multiply in large numbers and do not fall into the gills, leading to the suffocation of the shrimp. Ciliates may deplete a significant amount of oxygen from the environment where the oxygen tension may be already low and thus reduce the gas diffusion across the gill membrane. That is why if you do not fight the parasite; there is a good chance that the shrimp will die eventually.
Infection of ciliates on the gills of shrimp usually does not affect the growth of the shrimp. Because they do not derive nourishment directly from the host but considered to have a synergistic effect during the period of stress.
According to IJP: Parasites and Wildlife 7 (2018). These invasions rarely cause death in the wild, but under the stressful conditions often found in densely stocked aquaculture ponds and tanks, they can get out of control and have a negative impact on mobility, molting, growth, and function. Breeding and feeding may stop, and this may result in death. Parasites easily transmit between the species; thus, it is important to isolate any affected specimens in a timely manner and to isolate newly acquired shrimps.
The parasite can also affect the larvae and postlarvae of caridean shrimps by inhibiting their feeding activities and movement (Shailender et al., 2012). Therefore, the widespread occurrence of this peritrichous ciliate could be dangerous for the shrimps (Patoka et al., 2016).
Possible Causes of Vorticella Contamination
Poor water conditions, dirt in the aquarium. The problem can start with food and organic waste that fell into the substrate, and remained out of reach of shrimp and vacuum. Actually, it can benefit the plants because the waste becomes fertilizer. However, after some time, the excess detritus will lead to an increase in bacteria, which feed the Vorticella. The bacteria showed as cloudy water.
How Do You Treat These Parasites?
Due to the relatively low level of understanding of parasites in freshwater shrimp farms, the lack of effective treatment may lead to escalating problems.
According to Indian Journal of Marine science. September 1999 “Bacterial and protozoan (Ciliate) diseases of prawn Penaeus indicus (Decapoda: Crustacea)” (page 291 and 294), the drug therapy on the ciliate protozoans (Vorticella) revealed that:
|Concentration (per liter)
|Time taken for the death of cilites Zoothamnium and Vorticella
|CuSO4 (Copper sulphate)
|6 h min
Obviously, Methylene blue was ineffective in controlling the infection. When the ciliates were exposed to these therapeutic chemicals, the trophonts and their oral ciliary disc were found to contract and relax vigorously. Formalin treatment leads to detachment of the ciliates from infected shrimp.
Unfortunately, unlike tests with bacteria (there is no need to put it here), the researchers did not give us any information about the survival rate of the hosts (shrimp) after the treatment. Nonetheless, the very idea of treatment let us suppose that it did not affect the shrimp, and the mortality rate was within acceptable limits (although, in some cases, like Copper sulphate, I start to have some doubts).
Even more, some of these treatments are already used to treat ponds. Quote “The name of such compounds with the purpose of use, application methods, and doses are listed in Table 7” (Egyptian Journal of Aquatic Research (2012) 38, page 280).
HMnO4 (potassium permanganate or PP) vs Vorticella
HMnO4 – Permanganic acid, potassium permanganate (potassium salt). A highly oxidative, water-soluble compound with purple crystals, and a sweet taste. It is an inorganic chemical compound and medication for cleaning wounds and dermatitis.
PP is used widely in the water treatment industry as well. For example, to remove iron and hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell) from the water. Historically people use it to disinfect drinking water. PP can kill algae.
As a result, of treatment, low oxygen conditions can occur following treatment. Conferring to “Aquaculture Fundamentals. The use of lime, gypsum, alum and potassium permanganate in water quality management. Simon Wilkinson, NACA” the effect lasts for one to two days post-treatment and is attributed to the reduction in the abundance of aerobic bacteria. However, the treatment also reduces daylight rates of oxygen gain by suppressing photosynthesis and reducing algal abundance.
So, It means that you need to be ready to aerate your tank after treatment.
Also, it is crucial to estimate water volume properly and disperse the chemical evenly over the entire surface to prevent excessive amounts of the chemical in one spot.
Warning: PP is a strong oxidizer and can burn skin, eyes, and other body parts. It will stain you and everything it touches brown. Always use safety protective gear including rubber gloves, goggles, and old clothes. A dust mask is advisable to prevent irritation to your respiratory tract.
Some actual results (experience) of using PP from the shrimp breeders.
Full tank treatment.
1. Use a prescribed dose of potassium salt (PP). Light purple means your water quality is excellent and you can even use a little less PP the next time. Pink is also an indicator of good water quality and that the dosing is correct. Yellowish tint through mud brown indicates poor water quality and the quicker and darker it got the worse the water quality.
2. After 6 hours 10 % water change.
3. Next day 10 % water change.
Results: Vorticella was gone. The shrimp were OK. All snails died from a sudden bio-shock (and suffocation). One of the problems with PP is that overdose can kill all bacteria in the tank good or bad regardless.
Tip # 1: good aeration is required. Biological filtration systems should be removed before applying
Tip # 2: If your aquarium got into the yellow to dark browns in less than four hours, some shrimp breeders also advise adding another dose until you make it the light pink. Calculate the dose properly. DO NOT overdose! The problem is that people usually do not take into account the volume of the substrate, filters, driftwood and etc.
Note: Potassium permanganate rapidly loses its potency when exposed to light. So keep any solution you make up well away from light.
Dip treatment in the cup:
- Use a prescribed dose of potassium salt (PP).
- Dissolve PP in the water by stirring it.
- When it is completely dissolved, take the infected shrimp out of your tank and put it into the cup for 15 minutes. According to the notes, shrimp did not show any signs of stress and tolerated the treatment really well.
- Vorticella was gone.
CuSO4 (Copper sulphate) vs Vorticella
Copper is a heavy metal that can be found naturally in many forms. The form of Copper that is usually used in tank set-ups Copper Sulfate.
The reason this form of Copper is used is when it is placed in water it dissolves and attaches to the most water molecules. During this process, Copper Sulfate splits into Copper (Cu2+) separately and Sulfate, along with water. It is used to combat a number of issues within the tank. Unfortunately, maintaining proper levels of Copper Sulfate can be difficult because of other components in the aquarium.
Because Copper can be difficult to dose, after figuring out the amount needed for your tank and needs, start the dosing amount at half the amount! It is better to do by mixing the Copper Sulfate with some distilled water.
The result of the high copper concentrations on shrimp gill tissues.
After the copper exposure, swelling of lamellae, multiple hyperplasia, and necrosis was observed in gill lamellae, resulting in abnormal gill tips. That is why shrimp breeders are so afraid of this element.
Warning: The Copper used for treatments can stay in a tank for close to a month. If there are any live rocks or ornaments in the tank, the Copper will be absorbed into the material and slowly leech its way back out. The use of Copper in low pH can become even more toxic, so much more caution needs to be used.
Here are some caution Copper levels to be aware of the dangerous level of copper for:
- shrimp is 0.03 mg per liter.
- algae and bacteria is 0.08 mg per liter.
- some fish, snails, and plants is 0.10 mg per liter.
Treatment in the quarantine aquarium is preferable due to high risk:
- Use a prescribed dose (half).
- Dissolve Copper Sulfate in the water by stirring it.
- When it is completely dissolved, take the infected shrimp out of your tank and put it into the quarantine aquarium until signs of stress.
- Vorticella is gone.
Because of the high risk, please, remember the use of a quarantine aquarium. If you decide to treat a tank, make sure all materials and filtration component (ie. carbon) are removed. If necessary, high organic bioloads or detritus should be removed. Gradually dose to the therapeutic level over a 2-3 day span.
Malachite Green and Formalin vs Vorticella
Formalin has antiseptic, anti-protozoal, anthelminthic (against ectoparasitic flukes), and preservative properties. Works well combined with Malachite Green.
The rate used varies from 100-200 ppm for 1-2 min, although the recommended rate for this purpose is 25 ppm for 10-15 min (Platon 1978). With respect to treatment, formalin is used mainly for ciliate protozoan infestations. In addition, it is also being used to control necrotic shell and gill diseases of shrimp. The recommended dosage rates are 150 ppm for a 1 h bath and 25ppm for long-term treatment (Mohamed, S., Nagaraj, G., Chua, F. H. C., & Wang, Y. G. (2000). “The use of chemicals in aquaculture in Malaysia and Singapore” (p. 130)
Formalin is administered either a long-term (several days) or a short-term (10-30) min bath.
Quoted dosages tend to be somewhat variable, perhaps because of the varying tolerance of different species: and the effects of treatment (good or bad) are unpredictable, especially in the case of high-dosage short-term baths.
Formalin is very dangerous for the shrimp as well. That is why it is advisable to monitor shrimp very closely and remove it immediately if distressed. For this reason and because the chemicals may adversely affect biological filtration, short-term treatment should always take place in a hospital tank.
The bath should be prepared in advance so that formalin is properly dispersed, otherwise, it can cause chemical “burn” or gill damage.
Important: Formalin decreases dissolved oxygen so supplemental aeration must be provided.
Warning: formalin is dangerous to humans if it contacts the skin or eyes, and must be washed off immediately with a large amount of water.
Let’s start off by saying that Malachite green does NOT contain copper. It belongs to the triphenylmethane family. Malachite green is a textile dye that has been used extensively as an antiprotozoal and antifungal medication. Not all species will tolerate malachite green or formalin, and treatment should be approached with caution.
- Seachem Paraguard, which contains malachite green and aldehydes (but no formaldehyde). Paraguard (link to check the price on Amazon) is a very popular treatment of Scutariella Japonica (so we already know a needed dosage).
- Quick cure (active ingredients: Formalin, Malachite Green). Although the label says do not use on invertebrates and snails, but still, there are many shrimp breeders who used it without negative effects on the shrimp.
- JBL Punktol ultra. Suitable for some invertebrates.
- Kordon malachite green.
- Aquarium Solutions ICH-X
Treatment Aquarium Solutions ICH-X
According to shrimp and fish breeder Cory (aquariumcoop) they have never had problems using it with shrimp, scaleless fish, and plants.
Contains: water, formaldehyde (>22%), methanol (>7.5), malachite green chloride (>0.2%). Dosage produces a concentration of 0.5mg/L of malachite green and 15mg/L of formalin ~5.55mg/L of formaldehyde.
- Use 1 teaspoon (~5mL) for every 10 gallons.
- Change 30% of the water before each additional dose of Ich-X, dose every 24 hours until symptoms resolve.
Note: As was mentioned before, it is better to use a quarantine tank for optimal results.
Tip # 2: Remove activated carbon.
Tip # 3: Be careful because malachite green can stain the aquarium silicone.
It is an antiseptic agent for the skin. Acriflavine is used as a treatment of mild bacterial and fungal infections.
According to Mohamed, S., Nagaraj, G., Chua, F. H. C., & Wang, Y. G. (2000). “The use of chemicals in aquaculture in Malaysia and Singapore” (p. 131) “…in the local context, acriflavine is used to a limited extent in shrimp and aquarium fish hatcheries as a broad-based prophylactic agent and therapeutant. … There appears to be little information to indicate the efficacy of acriflavine on shrimp, although its use on fish has been well established (Herwig 1979). Further research into the pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of the chemical is required”.
Tip: For best results, remove activated carbon or filter cartridge from filter and continue aeration.
Most Effective Methods of Treating Vorticella
1. Freshwater Aquarium Salt.
This is by far the most popular and safe method which you can find on the internet. Freshwater aquarium salt would be the safest choice.
Proper usage method # 1:
- Take 1 tablespoon of salt and add it to a cup of aquarium water.
- Dissolve the salt in the water by stirring it.
- Take the infected shrimp out of your tank and put it into the cup for about 30-60 seconds.
- Then remove the shrimp and put it back to your aquarium.
Note: a salt dip treatment removed vorticella from the shrimp, but the tank can re-infect them again.
Proper usage method # 2:
- Take 1 tablespoon of the freshwater aquarium salt per 5 gallons of water.
- Increase dosage as needed.
- Water changes each week of 20%
2. API Pimafix Treatment
API company officially stated that PIMAFIX (Click to view on Amazon) is completely safe with invertebrates such as snails and shrimps. It will not harm the biological filter – the bacteria in the biological filter are quite different from those that are found on the fish. It will not harm plants”.
PIMAFIX works in both freshwater and marine (saltwater) tanks. However, if you have carbon in your filter, you will have to remove it before using PIMAFIX. API Pimafix will not adversely affect the biological filter, alter pH, or discolor water.
- Add 5 ml per 10 gallons of aquarium water.
- Dose daily for 7 days.
- After 7 days, make a 25% water change.
The efficiency of this product against Vorticella is very high. It has been proven by many shrimp breeders.
According to the feedbacks of shrimp breeders, some medications did not have any effect on vorticella, for example:
- Seachem Metronidazole.
- Seachem Aquazole.
3. Tannin or Tannic Acid (Indian Almond Leaves) Treatment
Tannin or tannic acid is a substance widely existing in the plant kingdom and is a general term for compounds that generate polyhydric phenol.
In simple terms, tannin or tannic acid has antibacterial elements and can effectively kill the attached pathogens such as Vorticella and prevents the massive death of shrimp due to Vorticella. This is because the free radical of the polyhydric phenol group possessed by tannin and tannic acid reacts also with protozoa such as Vorticella and destroys its cell wall or binds to a protein to contract the cell.
Even though all leaves and bark contain tannin, I will be talking only about Indian almond leaves because:
- They are the most popular in fish and shrimp keeping hobby.
- These leaves have a very high concentration.
- There were different studies of “Antibacterial Activity and Ornamental Fish Toxicity of the Water Extract of Indian Almond Leaves”
According to the conducted experiments, in the case of juvenile shrimp:
- If the tannin concentration is as low as 5 ppm, the protozoa will not be killed even if the bath time is prolonged.
- The concentration of the tannin is 10 ppm to 20 ppm. The Vorticella parasites can be killed without affecting the shrimp even if the medicinal bath time is extended to some extent.
- When the concentration of the treatment is 30 ppm, it is possible to kill only the protozoa without affecting the shrimp if the bathing time is about 8 hours, but if the drug bathing is further continued, the shrimp may also be killed.
- However, even when the tannin concentration is as high as 50 ppm, if the bath time is set to about 5 minutes, only the protozoa can be killed without killing the shrimp. Moreover, in this case, since the bath time is short, the stress on the shrimp can be minimized.
If you have no idea how to properly measure the needed concentration, you can simply add Indian almond leaves to the shrimp tank.
- Add 5 – 6 Indian almond leaves per 2 – 3 gallons (about 8 – 12 liters) of aquarium water.
- Next day, the water will turn slightly brown. It is OK, do not worry.
- Next day you should start noticing that vorticella is disappearing.
Note: even if it is a very low concentration of about 1 to 2 ppm (just a few leaves) in the case of preventing Vorticella disease, it will have a favorable effect on the shrimp in your tank.
Iodinol vs Vorticella
Iodinol contains potassium iodide 0,15g, iodine 0,05g, polyvinyl alcohol 0,45g, water 0,5ml.
Full tank treatment.
- Dose 10ml per 100 liters.
- Do it only once a month
- Water change 20-30% 2 times a week
The effect of iodinol will be noticeable in the shortest time. Because the shrimp will start molting. Iodinol did not have any negative impact on shrimp.
Home experimental conditions with Iodinolum and salt.
Iodinolum – antiseptic, contains iodine 0,1 g, potassium iodine 0,3 g, polyvinyl alcohol 0,9 g.
As I mentioned in another article, I have spent lots of time trying to find any scientific studies that showed that shrimp need iodine from the water column. I did not find any. Neither could I find any that demonstrates that they do not need it. We only know that shrimp get most of their iodine from the food, and even then, the amount they need is minuscules.
Nonetheless, I found an interesting experiment with iodine, salt, and furazolidone conducted by Russian shrimp breeders. How do shrimps react to the three substances?
Conditions of the experiment
Fifty cherry shrimp (all healthy).
Aquarium – 20 liters, densely planted.
The temperature is raised to 29 degrees, powerful aeration.
Iodine – 1 drop per 10 liters
Table salt – 1 tsp per 10 liters
Furazolidone – 1 tablet 50 mg per 20 liters of water
Each of these substances was in the aquarium for 2 days, after that 90% of the water change and the experiment repeated with the new substance.
Overall the experiment lasted 6 days.
Results: No signs of shrimp stress, no non-standard behavior, no corpses. Shrimp just actively molted. As a result, a few days later, the cherries had a very bright colors.
Prevention of Vorticella
The best way is to improve the quality of water. It will reduce the density of bacteria and their nutrient base. Increase water change frequency. You can read more about “How to Do and How Often to Do Water Change in Shrimp” right here.
|Read also my article “Understanding Dwarf Shrimp Diseases and Parasites”.