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Anchor Worms In Fish – Symptoms And Treatments

Anchor worms are also known as ‘Lernea Elegans’. The name seems unique, but it is a very common infection that can reside on the body of the fishes.

Now, you would be asking the names of the fishes that get easily attacked by anchor worms, right? Well, I would say that any fish can become the prey, but koi fish and goldfish are the most common creatures to be affected by anchor worms!

I would not say that anchor worms are fatal for the fishes or is the sole reason for the death of the fishes. However, if smaller fishes get the infection they will probably die.

Are you tensed? Want to know whether the anchor worms are visible or not? Yes, luckily, it is very much visible with your naked eyes. Anchor worms are parasites that go deep down into the body of the fishes (mostly the dorsal fin and the tail). You will be able to see the outer part of the parasites sticking to the body of the fishes.

Are the fishes prone to some other bacteria?

The parasites (meaning the anchor worms) will drill a hole in the host’s body. It then puts its head inside. When you take a closer look, it will look like a thread sticking to the body. Now the hole that is created which causes severe inflammation on the fish’s body can attract other bacteria. This is the reason why fishes are at times prone to deadly ulcers!

You should also know that the anchor worms (the adult females) can withstand the winter conditions and can be in a close relationship with the koi fishes.

This is not the end. There is another part of the story. Parasites would start developing the eggs and these eggs take a maturity time of just 14 days. Once the breeding is over, the males die and the female parasites could swim freely in the aquarium looking for its new host.

The symptoms

Parasites would feed on the host’s blood and would gradually destroy the muscles of the fishes. The poor fishes are regularly tormented by the pesky parasites. They go through a lot of pain (and sadly they are unable to convey this message). However, some symptoms might help you to discover that your adorable fishes are suffering from anchor worm disease.

  • Fishes get irritated by the continuous pokes of the parasites and you would see them rubbing against the walls of the aquarium or the gravels or any other objects. They do this to get rid of the parasites.
  • You will see that the fishes are stressed and agitated. They will not behave in the normal way as they would usually do.
  • The best possible indication is seeing the anchor worms sticking on the body of the fishes.


  • We know that the anchor worms lay eggs and get multiplied. So, it is best to treat the whole aquarium rather than treating each fish. Change the water and disinfect the entire aquarium.
  • Use tweezers to pull out the anchor worms. Be careful when you do (and have patience). Once you have pulled out the parasite, use a disinfectant to treat the open wounds. If you don’t use a preventive method like this, the open wound will give opportunity to the other bacteria to dwell in. You may treat it with JBL Argudol.
  • You may cure the wound with the help of the tropical antibiotic ointment.
  • Another way of treating the fish is with the help of hydrogen peroxide. Once you have removed the anchor worms, take a Q-tip and apply hydrogen peroxide on the open wound.
  • If you have ever treated your fishes with the fish lice disease, you may use the same treatment for anchor worms. It is the same! Go ahead.

Anchor worms usually come in contact with the fishes when you either introduce a new plant in the aquarium that already has a parasite or when you add a new infected fish. So, always treat the plants and fishes before adding it in the aquarium. You may quarantine the new fish for two weeks to see if it is infected or not.

Please share your experience about anchor worms in fishes in the comments for other readers.

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2 thoughts on “Anchor Worms In Fish – Symptoms And Treatments

  1. […] and are frequently sites of secondary infection. Leeches do look like anchor worms to an extent. Anchor worms are thin, worm like crustaceans less than an inch in length. Leeches on the other hand are […]

  2. […] and are frequently sites of secondary infection. Leeches do look like anchor worms to an extent. Anchor worms are thin, worm like crustaceans less than an inch in length. Leeches on the other hand are […]

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