leech on goldfish?

big_kid(West London)February 4, 2005

Hi All,

My adult goldfish is swimming around with what looks like a leech attached to her back. When still, she seems to fidget, so I'm sure it is a leech and it's about an inch long. Is this really dicey for her? Trying to catch her in my 9' x 8' pond has proved impossible.

Has anyone experienced this and/or can anyone suggest anything I can do?


Big Kid

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annabel_(Tyne & Wear)

not sure,,but i would think it would feed then drop off like a leech does?
people have reported them on here before,,

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 3:44PM
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Sean_McKinney(N. Ireland)

Compare it too an anchor worm, both probably need attention, you dont want either breeding. Its a first for a blood sucking leech in a pond, normally pond leeches are herbivours. Check how to remove either, it isnt simply pull off as both can leave mouth parts in the wound. Kill both pests.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 7:28PM
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big_kid(West London)

Thanks, you two. It's still there today and does seem to alter shape slightly, so I must be right in my guess. Interesting what you say about them normally being herbivours, Sean. Anchor worms (haven't looked them up yet) must be like ticks in the wild. I remember a cat down my club getting them and they were removed by burning with a cigarette! And there's me a non-smoker!!

Catching her will be an almighty task because I tried for ages before hitting the website. She and a number of babies were given to me last year by a friend who was leaving the area and whose pond was about to be filled in by the new owners because of a young kid. The original pond was a lot smaller than mine, but we still had to virtually drain it to find her. Needless to say I christened her The Pimpernel, for obvious reasons!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2005 at 9:53AM
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big_kid(West London)


Been Google searching and I'm still convinced it's a leech, not an anchor worm. You might be interested to read a bit I copy/pasted below.... Incidentally, anchor worms are removed by dabbing with turpentine, which causes the worm to release its head. Then tweezers can be used to remove it all. Of course, I still have the problem of catching her before I can try anything!!
These external parasites are visible on the skin, gills and fins of the fish and are similar in appearance to Ick.
Since they attach themselves to the fish, the best method of removal is a bath in a salt solution for 20 minutes (dosage 2.5 % salt to water). During the bath, most of the leeches will simply fall off; the ones remaining can be removed with a pair of tweezers.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2005 at 10:41AM
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awblessmesturgeon(wirral uk)

hi big kid. we had an anchorworm thingie on a koi last year- we put the fish out removed it then treated the wound - all was well after d:) stresfull at the time tho! that was what we were advised to do and it did work! re the catching! we bought a pair of largish koi type nets (the flatish ones but shop around) lifted out what plants we could and persavered (typo) we got there in the end! its like the fish knows its them youre after all the others chill out and swim happily past the net - the one whose number is up is harder to track than a stealth submarine lol - goodluck jo o/

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 7:30PM
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Rather than stressing the fish out a lot if its hard to catch doesn't a simple dimilin type treatment kill anchor worm?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 7:33PM
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big_kid(West London)

I really don't think it's an anchorworm because I've checked out various pictures on the net. Haven't seen the fish for a couple of days and thought it had dropped off, but it had just moved to another part of her back. It's black and looks just like a leech I found when doing some clearing out last year. If there were blood sucking leeches that were used in medicine, then maybe there's an aquatic version?

Thanks for all the advice. I shall have another go at catching her. The joke is that she swims around near the net when I'm fishing out bits of leaves, etc., but now she knows I'm after her, she delights in darting out of the way!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 4:54PM
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Linda_Clive(UK Midlands)

really scary pictures on YKS site Sean. They are horrid slimy creatures. Interesting link though and useful infomation.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 4:01AM
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One way each year but has to be done the correct way is sea salt.Sea Salt is one of the best cures for most things.
Each year about now, treat your pond with sea salt.1/2 per gallon.You can get it from a health shop.You need to work out how many gallons in your pond.Then work out how 1/2's .
Then devide the total amount of salt into 4 days.ALWAYS desolve the salt in a bucket of pond water first.Then put it over the pond using a watering can.
This will clear up any infections etc from over the winter.It will also get rid of any unwanted pests and also give your fish a lift.The only prob, it also knocks back your plants a little bit.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 7:10AM
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big_kid(West London)

Sea salt, that's a new one! Thanks for advice - will give it a try if I can work out how many gallons I have in my pond.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 4:20PM
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AJC_1(8 the fens)

Unfortunately, salt will not affect anchor worms or leeches. They need special treatment but salt is good for 95% of other things, including a preventative measure for sores and wounds. It helps the fish build up an excess mucus layer that keeps parasites off a little bit more and keeps the gills clear.

I have just bought 25 kilos of cooking salt which is exactly the same as the so called sea/aquatic salts but costs a hell of a lot less.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 6:49PM
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Linda_Clive(UK Midlands)

IÂm a bit wary of dosing the whole pond with salt as a preventative measure. I prefer to keep salt as an option for out of pond treatment. This is a personal view, as I do know others who regularly salt their ponds. I tend to wonder though that weÂre keeping fresh water fish and not marine fish. I have heard that feeding garlic or garlic enhanced food is also a deterrent to parasites as they find garlic repellant. Garlic is also supposed to have immune boosting properties. IÂm mixing crushed garlic with my fish food a couple of times a week, hoping itÂll do some good, and confident it will not do any harm.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2005 at 6:52AM
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AJC_1(8 the fens)

The addition of salt is not a bad thing at all, but like all things it does need to be done right, if you work from 1/2 ounce per gallon then you cant go wrong, it is safe, that is just enough to do the good without over doing it and causeign problems, the bennifits are undeniable, I have salted my pond for 12 years, and not regreted it once.

garlic has good properties, but I wonder if fish can be allergic to it too! hmmm, i know what the damned stuff does to me!!!!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2005 at 8:02AM
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Scotty24(Derbyshire. UK)

Because of my plants I've never salted my ponds and as Linda I personally prefer to keep it as an option for out of pond treatment.
I use it in my aquarium from time to time. I have two large (very mucky) Blackmoors in a smallish tank and adding salt helps reduce water toxicity after a 'Spring Clean' until bacteria builds up and the filter fully kicks in again.
Didn't start using salt for anything until a few years ago but now always have it in my fish cupboard in case of emergencies. Great stuff!!

Garlic does seem to keep parasites at bay...I give my dog and cats garlic tablets (odourless) and fleas definately don't like it!
Thank goodness it don't have the same 'windy' affect on the animals as garlic does on my husband.
Give it to fish? A jacuzzi pond? lol!!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2005 at 8:53AM
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big_kid(West London)

Thanks, everyone. Conflicting opinions and I must admit that I'm wary about the correct dosage calculation. Methinks I could end up having to put crabs in my pond if I get things wrong!!

Due to the colder weather lately, I haven't seen my goldfish for a while. I presume she's hiding under the Parrot's Feather, which is still covering a section of the pond.

I bought a large net from the 99p shop (last of the big spenders, me!) and I shall try again to catch her, rather than taking a chance on treating the water. I might get lucky now that I have a larger net.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2005 at 4:05PM
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awblessmesturgeon(wirral uk)

i have to admit to being interested in the salting debate. the benifits to the fish seem undeniable and i would like to give it a whirl. at 1/2 oz per gallon over a four/five day period does anyone know the likely effects on plant life, which at this time of year is for the most part pretty dormant anyway? will it just be "knocked back" a bit or is it likely to be fatal? as all our planting is in baskets relocation for a period is an option, but is it nessesary? thx jo o/

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 6:49PM
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Sean_McKinney(N. Ireland)

I salted my temporary pond a couple of years ago, I dont remember concentration wise what I got to, I was heading for 0.3%, but it appeared to be killing the snails so I emptied the pond and refilled it with fresh water.
You need something like a hydrometer that is clearly marked in the 1.001 to 1.003 range to check your concentration for standard pond doses, marine tank hydrometers do cover that range but to get a clearly marked one may be troublesome. Those numbers are either specific gravity or density in kg/l etc.
Basing salt additions on a guessed volume is IMO a bad idea.
1UK gal of water weighs 10.02lb

0.1% = 1lb of salt per 100UK gal
0.3% = 3lb " " " " "
1oz of salt will salt 6.25UK gal, 1 cubic ft near enough, to .1% etc etc

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 4:23AM
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AJC_1(8 the fens)

Salt in your pond will knock back some plants, but they soon adapt and recover, some take no notice at all, I normaly salt mine at the end of march, just before the errupton of life, that way the salt content has done what you need it to do for your koi and the plants just get on with what they do, i add a small amount in the summer just to keep it working.

But I did stick in a load of it just yesterday (6kg) cleared away a lot of blanket week and salted to take care of the rest, most of that will be flushed away when i open the bottom drain and do a partial water change in a week or two, but still leave a good amount to work on the fish, spring being the worse time for koi inparticular.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 8:07AM
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awblessmesturgeon(wirral uk)

thanks guys. think i may well give a go. i wonder where one buys cooking salt by the wheelbarrow load? lol thx again. hows the fish big kid? o/

    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 6:55PM
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big_kid(West London)

Haven't had a chance to catch her yet, but I've seen her and it looks like the leech is still attached, but in a different position on her back. This weekend I'm getting the big net out and I'm determined to catch her. She doesn't seem to have been affected by it and is still swimming around the pond like usual.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2005 at 4:13PM
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big_kid(West London)

Couldn't catch her at the weekend but I ain't giving up!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 5:11PM
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big_kid(West London)

Never did catch her, but I think she managed to shed the leech somehow because I can't see it on her any more.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 2:38PM
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PKingham(London, UK)

that's good news at least

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 1:53PM
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mandy uk

I have noticed dozens of leeches in my pond when I clean it mainly attached to rocks and stones, they are now attaching themselves to my large goldfish. I have managed to catch fish and they come off easily but am concerned as so many leeches will they harm the fish?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 11:40AM
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