Overview

Distribution

Geographic Range

Argulus foliaceus is a freshwater fish ectoparasite that has been reported throughout temperate regions of Europe, Central Asia, and North America. It has been well studied in Europe, especially the British Isles, where is has had major impacts on UK sport fisheries through fish stress and mortality.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic ; palearctic

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

On average, Argulus foliaceus measures a total length of 3-7 mm and a width of 2.5-5 mm. Argulid females are generally larger than males, and the growth of the parasite may be influenced by the size of the host. A distinguishing characteristic of A. foliaceus is the urosome, consisting of rounded lobes that are covered marginally with small spines. The posterior incisures of the urosome do not reach to the center. Another characteristic is the anterior portion of the cephalothorax that forms a broad protrusion with shallow grooves. Adults use suction discs for host attachment, whereas larvae utilize larval hooks.

Range length: 3 to 7 mm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

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Ecology

Habitat

Argulus foliaceus is found in warm, eutrophic, still lakes of both fresh and brackish water. Eggs are laid in shady areas, rather than in direct sunlight. Typically considered a shallow water species, this louse is often observed laying eggs within the top 1 m of the water column (although it will lay eggs in deeper water at the end of the reproductive season). Argulus foliaceus is an obligate parasite, requiring host availability. This louse has a low host specificity, so it can infect a variety of fish within its habitat.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; freshwater

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; brackish water

  • Pasternak, A., V. Mikheev, E. Valtonen. 2000. Life history characteristics of Argulus foliaceus L. (Crustacea: Branchiura) populations in Central Finland. Annales Zoologici Fennici, 37: 25-35. Accessed March 02, 2011 at http://www.sekj.org/PDF/anzf37/anzf37-025p.pdf.
  • Taylor, N., C. Sommerville, R. Wootten. 2006. The epidemiology of Argulus spp. (Crustacea: Branchiura) infections in stillwater trout fisheries. Journal of Fish Diseases, 29: 193-200.
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Argulus foliaceus is an obligate bloodsucker, and it cannot survive more than few days without a host. Having little specificity for hosts, it infects a wide range of species.

Animal Foods: amphibians; fish

Primary Diet: carnivore (Sanguivore )

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Associations

Animal / vector
Aeromonas punctata is spread by Argulus foliaceus

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Argulus foliaceus ectoparasitises scale of Gasterosteus aculeatus

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Argulus foliaceus ectoparasitises scale of Carassius auratus

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Argulus foliaceus ectoparasitises skin of Esox lucius

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Argulus foliaceus ectoparasitises skin of Perca fluviatilis

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Argulus foliaceus ectoparasitises skin of Rutilus rutilus

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Argulus foliaceus ectoparasitises skin of Scardinius erythropthalmus

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Argulus foliaceus ectoparasitises skin of Salmo trutta

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Ecosystem Roles

Argulus foliaceus is often noted for its role in ecosystems as an ectoparasite. With a low host specificity, it has been found on almost every type of freshwater fish within its natural habitat, yet some fish are more susceptible than others. Argulus foliaceus has been reported on fish in the families Cyprinidae, Salmonidae, Gobiidae, Gasterosteidae, and Acipenseridae, as well as amphibians, including frogs and toads (Anura). In fish farms of Central Finland, it was found to coexist with Argulus coregoni, a closely related ectoparasite. In addition to its function in ecosystems as a parasite, A. foliaceus can also be a vector for bacteria and flagellates, and it serves as an intermediate host of nematodes in the family Skrjabillanidae.

Ecosystem Impact: parasite

Species Used as Host:

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Walker, P., J. Harris, G. van der Velde, S. Bonga. 2007. Size matters: stickleback size and infection with Argulus foliaceus (L., 1758) (Branchiura, Arguloida). Crustaceana, 80: 1397-1401.
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Predation

Direct predation of free-swimming Argulus foliaceus by trout and some other fish species has been observed.

Known Predators:

  • Trout

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Adult argulids can respond to some chemical cues. They have higher sensory abilities, swimming abilities, and metabolism than juveniles, so the adults are less dependent on host attachment, allowing them to leave one host in search for another of higher preference. At the individual level, the searching abilities of Argulus foliaceus are limited, so changes at the population level, such as host preference and aggregation, are necessary to increase reproductive success and survivorship, in light of unpredictable host availability.

Perception Channels: chemical

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Life Cycle

Development

Argulus foliaceus larvae are free-swimming. The length of the larval phase is highly variable, most likely influenced by temperature. In general, larvae are typically first observed in the late spring and morph into adults in the fall. Argulus foliaceus is exceedingly rare in the winter. Larval development is divided into two distinct morphological phases: stage I as a metanauplius and stage two as a juvenile. While morphological adaptations do appear in stage I larvae, there is currently no conclusive evidence that the stage I larvae are either parasitic or pelagic, so they are typically considered “semi-pelagic."

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

  • Moller, O., J. Olesen, D. Waloszek. 2007. Swimming and cleaning in the free-swimming phase of Argulus larvae (Crustacea, Branchiura) - appendage adaptation and functional morphology. Journal of Morphology, 268: 1-11. Accessed March 02, 2011 at http://www.zmuc.ku.dk/InverWeb/staff/PDF/M%C3%B8ller,%20Olesen,%20Waloszek%202007.pdf.
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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Argulus foliaceus is rare in the winter and has been described as having a short lifespan. There is no information reported in the literature, however, on the actual length of its lifespan.

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Reproduction

Argulus foliaceus usually copulates on the surface of a host fish, but copulation has also been observed on other types of solid surfaces such as leaves and stones.

A female A. foliaceus leaves the host fish to lay its eggs, but as an obligate parasite, it must return to a host fish occasionally throughout the process. There is variability in the frequency and length of time that the female leaves and returns to the host. Because females are dependent on the host fish while laying eggs, the individual vulnerability and population density of fish can influence this louse's reproductive success and survivorship. While A. foliaceus is commonly believed to be a shallow water species because it is most often observed to lay eggs in the top 1 m of the water column, some studies have indicated that, if available, they prefer deeper water (8.5 m) at the end of the egg-laying season. The suggestion that they lay eggs in shallow water may be a bias due to study sites. Temperature and dissolved oxygen content may influence egg laying depths, but there is currently no conclusive evidence for these trends. Eggs are laid in strings or clutches that contain an average of 100-150 eggs, but there can be as few as four or as many as 250 eggs. The female lays her eggs in the winter, but there is a wide variability in hatching time, possibly due to fish availability.

Breeding season: Eggs laid in the winter

Range number of offspring: 4 to 250.

Average number of offspring: 100-150.

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

There is no information about parental investment in Argulus foliaceus reported in the literature.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement

  • Harrison, A., N. Gault, J. Dick. 2006. Seasonal and vertical patterns of egg-laying by the freshwater fish louse Argulus foliaceus (Crustacea: Branchiura). Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 68: 167-173. Accessed March 02, 2011 at http://www.int-res.com/articles/dao2005/68/d068p167.pdf.
  • Pasternak, A., V. Mikheev, E. Valtonen. 2000. Life history characteristics of Argulus foliaceus L. (Crustacea: Branchiura) populations in Central Finland. Annales Zoologici Fennici, 37: 25-35. Accessed March 02, 2011 at http://www.sekj.org/PDF/anzf37/anzf37-025p.pdf.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

While Argulus foliaceus is frequently found in small numbers with little damage to the hosts, epizootics may occur. When infected by A. foliaceus, host fish display an increase in jumping behavior and a decrease in feeding, followed by secondary bacterial and fungal infections, shoaling behavior, and finally, possible large-scale mortality. Argulus foliaceus infections have been reported to wipe out trout stock populations and cause problems in carp farming. In sport fisheries, a common issue is not mortality but rather reduced catch and lowered aesthetic appeal, resulting in economic losses.

  • Cross, D., R. Stott. 1974. The effect of Argulus foliaceus L. on the growth and mortality of a grass carp population. Fisheries Management, 5: 39-42.
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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no known positive effects of Argulus foliaceus on humans.

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Wikipedia

Argulus foliaceus

Argulus foliaceus is a species of crustacean in the family Argulidae, the fish lice. It is sometimes called the common fish louse.[1] It is "the most common and widespread native argulid in the Palaearctic"[2] and "one of the most widespread crustacean ectoparasites of freshwater fish in the world", considering its distribution and range of hosts.[3] It can cause the severe disease state argulosis in a wide variety of fish species. It is responsible for epizootic outbreaks that have led to the collapse of aquaculture operations.[2] Fish lice are not related to lice, which are insects.

Description[edit]

A typical fish louse of the genus Argulus is very flat with an oval or rounded carapace, two compound eyes, sucking mouthparts with a piercing stylet, and two suction cups it uses to attach to its host.[4] These "suctorial organs" are the first of its two pairs of maxillae, modified in shape.[5] Its paired appendages have hooks and spines,[4] and are used for swimming.[5] A. foliaceus in particular is up to 7 millimeters long by 5 millimeters wide.[5] The female is larger than the male and has a visible pair of spermathecae on its posterior end, in which the male deposits sperm.[4]

Biology[edit]

The common fish louse lives in marine, brackish, and freshwater environments.[5] All life stages of both sexes are parasitic.[4] It attaches to its host, usually a fish, via its suction cups, pierces the skin with its sharp stylet, and feeds on blood.[5] It may live in the gills.[6] A heavy infestation causes inflammation of the skin, open hemorrhaging wounds, increased production of mucus, loss of scales, and corrosion of the fins. The wounds are often infected with bacteria and fungi, which further degrade the skin layers.[5] The fish can become anemic. During feeding, the louse also injects digestive enzymes into the flesh. Infested fish may exhibit loss of appetite and slowed growth, and behavioral signs such as erratic swimming and rubbing up against aquarium walls.[6] The damage and infection cause stress and mortality.[7]

The common fish louse is also a vector for pathogens, introducing organisms such as bacteria, flagellates, and the virus that causes spring viraemia of carp. It is an intermediate host to nematodes of the family Skrjabillanidae.[8]

To locate its host, the fish louse uses vision, olfaction, and mechanical sensation. During light hours it searches visually for a host, usually remaining still in ambush. When it is dark the louse is more active, swimming about to encounter a host. It senses the smell of the fish and the movement of the water around it. It also becomes more active in searching when it has not fed in over 24 hours.[9]

During the reproductive cycle, the male and female fish louse copulate upon the body of the host, and the female detaches every few days to swim to the substrate and lay eggs. It favors hard strata, and its eggs can be collected by providing it with a wooden board to lay them on. It lays more clutches during daylight hours than at night.[7]

The larva of the fish louse has two main stages. In its newly hatched stage it has been termed a "metanauplius", like the nauplius of many other crustaceans, but with a swimming apparatus that is more developed. It may even be too well developed for the larva to be called a nauplius at all.[10] The newly hatched larva can parasitize a host, attaching to it with its hooked antennae because it lacks suction cups. A second function of its hook-lined antennae is an apparent grooming behavior, in which it drags the antennae across the setae of its swimming legs to dislodge debris. In the second main stage, after its first molt, it is simply called a "juvenile", because it is very similar to the adult, only smaller. It can swim just as efficiently as the adult.[10] The larva molts eleven times before reaching adulthood.[4]

Hosts[edit]

This parasite "has been recorded from practically every freshwater fish species within its natural range".[11] Food and sport fish and other commercially important species parasitized include carp and minnows such as goldfish and koi, members of the sunfish family, and salmonids such as salmon and trout.[4] Hosts include blue bream (Ballerus ballerus), silver bream (Blicca bjoerkna), European eel (Anguilla anguilla), northern pike (Esox lucius), three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), ide (Leuciscus idus), abu mullet (Liza abu), European perch (Perca fluviatilis), common roach (Rutilus rutilus), common rudd (Scardinius erythropthalmus), wels catfish (Silurus glanis), zander (Sander lucioperca), tench (Tinca tinca), and Atlantic horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus).[12]

While it is a generalist parasite not specific to a host taxon, it does display preferences, apparently preferring larger and heavier fish over smaller,[13] and certain species over others when given a choice.[14]

It has also been observed on frogs and toads.[4]

Impacts[edit]

Heavy infestations in fish stocks can lead to large-scale losses. Major outbreaks in rainbow trout fisheries in the United Kingdom have resulted in total losses.[7] Carp aquaculture in Russia has experienced infestations in which fish were coated in "several hundred" parasites before dying.[14] Parasites infested 100% of the fish in a sample at a stricken carp farm in Turkey, with up to 1000 fish lice per individual.[15]

The fish louse will readily lay its eggs on hard objects such as wooden boards, and these can be removed from the water to reduce the egg load in the fishery.[7] A short bath in a sodium chloride solution can reduce the parasite load on a fish, but this treatment must be done carefully, because too short a duration or too dilute a solution is ineffective, while too long or too concentrated a bath can harm the fish.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Soes, D. M., et al. (2010). The Japanese fish louse Argulus japonicus new for The Netherlands. Lauterbornia 70, 11–17.
  2. ^ a b Walker, P. D., et al. (2011). The off-host survival and viability of a native and non-native fish louse (Argulus, Crustacea: Branchiura). Current Zoology 57(6) 828-35.
  3. ^ Žiliukienė, V., et al. (2012). Infestation of Argulus foliaceus L. on fish fry reared in illuminated cages. Veterinarija ir Zootechnika 57(79), 83–89.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Steckler, N. and R. P. E. Yanong. Argulus (Fish Louse) Infections in Fish. FA184. Florida Cooperative Extension Service. University of Florida IFAS. 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Alaş, A., et al. (2010). A study on the morphology of Argulus foliaceus Lin., 1758 (Crustacea; Branchiura) procured from Çavuşcu Lake (Central Anatolia-Turkey) with scanning electron microscopy. Turk J Biol 34, 147–51.
  6. ^ a b Noaman, V., et al. (2010). The first record of Argulus foliaceus (Crustacea: Branchiura) infestation on lionhead goldfish (Carassius auratus) in Iran. Iranian Journal of Parasitology 5(2), 71–76.
  7. ^ a b c d Harrison, A. J., et al. (2007). Diel variation in egg-laying by the freshwater fish louse Argulus foliaceus (Crustacea: Branchiura). Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 78(2), 169–72.
  8. ^ Öktener, A., et al. (2006). New host records for the fish louse, Argulus foliaceus L., 1758 (Crustacea, Branchiura) in Turkey. Ittiopatologica 3, 161–67.
  9. ^ Mikheev, V. N., et al. (2000). Light-mediated host searching strategies in a fish ectoparasite, Argulus foliaceus L. (Crustacea: Branchiura). Parasitology 120, 409–16.
  10. ^ a b Møller, O. S., et al. (2007). Swimming and cleaning in the free-swimming phase of Argulus larvae (Crustacea, Branchiura) – Appendage adaptation and functional morphology. Journal of Morphology 268(1), 1–11.
  11. ^ Walker, P. D., et al. (2007). Size matters: stickleback size and infection with Argulus foliaceus (L., 1758) (Branchiura, Arguloida). Crustaceana 80(11), 1397–1401.
  12. ^ Boxshall, G. and T. C. Walter. (2013). Argulus foliaceus (Linnaeus, 1758). World Copepoda Database. Accessed through World Register of Marine Species 28 August 2013.
  13. ^ Walker, P. D., et al. (2008). Effect of host weight on the distribution of Argulus foliaceus (L.) (Crustacea, Branchiura) within a fish community. Acta Parasitologica 53(2), 165–72.
  14. ^ a b Pasternak, A. F., et al. (2000). Life history characteristics of Argulus foliaceus L.(Crustacea: Branchiura) populations in Central Finland. Annales Zoologici Fennici 37(1), 25–35.
  15. ^ Pekmezci, G. Z., et al. (2011). Mortality due to heavy infestation of Argulus foliaceus (Linnaeus, 1758) (Branchiura) in pond-reared carp, Cyprinus carpio L., 1758 (Pisces). Crustaceana 84(5–6), 5–6.
  16. ^ Vasilean, I., et al. Researches regarding the argulosis treatment to Huso huso juveniles with NaCl. In: International Symposium, Modern Zootechnics, Factor of Sustainable Development, USAMV Iaşi, Romania, 26–27 April 2012. 58, 203–07.
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