Tiny leeches on a shrimp? Has anyone else seen this? - Shrimp & other Invertebrates - Aquatic Plant Central

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Old 03-03-2006, 03:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Tiny leeches on a shrimp? Has anyone else seen this?

Hello,

I've posted this same question on another shrimp forum, but there doesn't really seem to be any direct experience with this.

I'm wondering if anyone here has seen this. This is NOT a worm that I've read about elsewhere, which attaches in the head area, and IS indeed a parasite common on wild caught shrimp.

What I've seen is a small leech, with its base attached to a shrimp near the head (possibly because the shrimp could remove it when grooming if it were to attach elsewhere). It is noticible because it stretches out to feed, especially when the shrimp is feeding, and extends and contracts.

The first one I saw was on an imported (wild caught) Bumblebee shrimp so I figured this might be a parasite from the wild. It was attached up near the antennae, and would wave about, especially when there was food around. I did not know what to do, so I isolated the shrimp. It was rather unnerving to watch, too, but the shrimp was eating, and did not seem to be irritated by its presence. However, the shrimp only survived about a week, so I was unsure if it was because of the presence of this leech, or some other factor (more likely).

Now, I've gotten some tank-raised Red Cherry shrimp from a well-respected breeder, and put them in their own exclusive shrimp tank. All have been acting and looking healthy, and the females are developing ovary saddles. However, I noticed on one smaller one, the same kind of leech-thing waving around! Ewww! I again isolated the shrimp in a small container, and inspected all the others for signs of a similar attached leech. None of the others have this.

I used a VERY tiny surgical tweezer, and much patience, and when the shrimp had become accustomed to the tweezer near its head, and the thing was extended, I grabbed it, and it came off! I put it into a tiny plastic cup, and it seemed to "re-attach" to the bottom of the cup, and again begin the extenion-compression motion. Then I noticed a second one in about the same location on the same shrimp. I did the whole thing again, and this one came off too, but with a bit of the tip of the rostrum (?) of the shrimp. It too remained alive and kicking in the tiny cup. These are TINY leeches! Fully extended, they are perhaps 3-4 mm, and compressed they're barely 1 mm. When I put a small granule of food into the water with them, they both started the extension-compression motion again.

Meanwhile, the shrimp seems OK, and she has been moving around a bit, scouring the bit of java moss I put in with her. I also vacuumed the main shrimp tank to remove any possible un-attached young leeches.

Three Questions for all of you:

1) Has anyone else seen these things, or had a similar experience? The one on the wild-caught shrimp I thought was an isolated incident, but this second appearance of the same type of thing suggests it is more prevalent.

2) Is this thing Parasitic? Is it harming the shrimp or feeding on it in some way? or is it simply Opportunistic (ie it attaches to the shrimp because the shrimp forages for food, and it is along for the ride only)?

3) Does anyone know what the life cycle is - is there a freeswimming component that could attach to other shrimp? Is it safe to put the shrimp from whom I removed the leeches back into the main tank, or is she a "carrier" now?

Thanks for any information you might have! I'm a little freaked out now!
-Jane

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Old 03-06-2006, 10:37 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Jane,

I have not seen this before. I have read your post at shrimpnow.com and find it rather interesting what others have to say. Let us know over here what you find about those leeches things in your shrimp. Are they harmful? How is the shrimp doing?


Thanks,
Pedro
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Old 03-07-2006, 11:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Could it possibly be "planaria" (spelling?) I have had them in some of my tanks and it comes from over feeding or poor water quality. they do not do any damage, but are rather un sightly....
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Old 03-08-2006, 06:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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nah they ain't planaria.

its definitely a parasite, commonly found on larger crustaceans like crabs and crayfish.

solution for crabs and crayfish is to put them in concentratead salt water.
as they're more hardy, they're able to take the salinity for awhile. as for shrimps, i'm not too willingly to put them in salt water. might strike an instant knockout.

try vermex solution. some reviews say they're shrimp friendly. so ya. worth a try. remember to remove any pet snails.
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Old 03-12-2006, 01:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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These are definitely not planaria (I've seen planaria that came in on a plant swap, but my Sparkling Gouramis in that tank took care of them quickly).

Also, that they're surviving in the little cup without the shrimp suggests that they're not actually parasitizing the shrimp, but are opportunists.

Having gotten these shrimp from a reputable source, and putting them into a shirimp-only tank, with plants that did not have contact with shrimp before (ie, nothing to keep the lifecycle of a parasite/opportunist going) I can only imagine that they came in ON the shrimp.

Which perplexes me that no one has mentioned them before. I'm wondering if its something no one else wants to "admit" to having seen perhaps? If I've now encountered it twice, in two differently sourced (and different species) shrimp stocks, pure statistics suggests its more prevalent out there than has been discussed.

Anyhow, I'll go check out the other responses on the shrimpnow forum. I haven't been able to follow up on anything all week.

Thanks for the input.
-Jane
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Old 03-20-2006, 10:16 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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I had these for a while in my 5 gallon. I figured they must have come in on a plant. I just kept picking them out when I saw them (they never atached to my fish, there were no shrimp in that tank) on the glass and eventually I didn't see anymore. I will post a picture when I get home so you can see if they look the same.

Tina
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Old 03-20-2006, 06:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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OK, pictures I promised, sorry they are a bit blurry.







Do these look similar to what you have? Thank goodness I never saw them attached to my fish!

Tina
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Old 03-23-2006, 01:33 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Yes these look similar, but I'm not sure about the scale. Yours sure are leeches, but I don't know if its the same variety of leech. These could compress down to just over 1 mm, and stretch out to about 4 mm.

I've read about plant leeches, too, which seems to be what you've got on the glass there next to the snail. GREAT photos, by the way!

I've also seen larger, darker leeches that came in with black worms (live food). I did not feed any of those worms, because the leeches made me suspect of that food batch, so I didn't risk it.

Did you have any other inverts in that tank where you took the leech photos? I wonder if it was a plant-attaching leech, or an invertebrate-attaching leech.

Over on the other forum, I've gotten a suggestion to segregate the live leeches to see if they could live and reproduce without a host (indicating they're opportunist in attachment, but not actually parasitic). It would be an interesting experiment, but for now, all I'm willing to do is change the water in their dixie cup, and put a speck of flake food in now and then. I haven't looked in to see if they're alive in the last few days, but at least one was, as of 4 days ago.

Thanks for all the input.
-Jane
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Old 03-23-2006, 07:04 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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There were not any inverts in the tank (except the darn snails). I also never fed black worms. I let one of them live in a little cup for a week or so, then I got rid of it (although it was still alive). These ones could definately scrunch up to a size of maybe 2 mm and stretch out to 5-6 mm. I am not sure where they came from. Interestingly enough, I only had them in one tank which had a piece of driftwood that I purchased dry from the LFS and some java moss and java fern from another tank I have (which I have never seen the leeches in). In the same tank with the leaches I got some kinf of water flea like bug too that reproduced like mad. I had a lot of them until I put the blue rams in the tank, then they ate all the little bugs.

Tina
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Old 03-23-2006, 07:46 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Hmmmm.... Yeah, I was at a demo recently in which the leader mentioned he's gotten all sorts of things coming in on driftwood, and is now a firm believer in the boil it first technique.

That's odd. I don't know if its the same type or not, but its interesting nonetheless.

-Jane
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