Encyclopedia of Parasitology

Living Edition
| Editors: Heinz Mehlhorn

Dragon Worms (Dracunculidae) of Fish

  • Heinz Mehlhorn
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27769-6_3821-1


The worms are found (depending on the species) below scales, within gills, in the body cavity, or in the swimbladder of salt water and freshwater fish. They appear mostly reddish, since they suck blood.

Morphology/Life Cycle

This group of worms comprises species of the genera Philometra, Anguillicola, Philometroides, Twaitia, etc., which depending on the species contain differently sized specimens reaching a length from a few mm (under scales) until 40 cm (inside the swim bladder). They all get free motile larvae which are ingested by intermediate hosts (planktonic species, small fish). The final hosts ingest these intermediate hosts and after growth copulation occur. While after copulation males mostly die, only females wander into the swimbladder (Anguillicola) or at the surface (below scales) depending on the species.


Ingestion of larvae 3 bearing intermediate hosts (small crustaceans).

Symptoms of Disease

Loss of weight, weakness, secondary bacterial or...


Fungal Infection Freshwater Fish Salt Water Intermediate Host Small Fish 
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Further Reading

  1. Mehlhorn B et al (1994) Health for ornamental fish (in German). Springer, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Zoomorphologie, Zellbiologie und ParasitologieHeinrich-Heine-UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany