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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 45:197-202 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/dao045197

Spironucleus vortens, a possible cause of hole-in-the-head disease in cichlids

Gregory C. Paull*, R. A. Matthews

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA, United Kingdom

ABSTRACT: Hole-in-the-head disease is recorded in 11 discus Symphysodon discus Heckel, 1840 and 1 angelfish Pterophyllum scalare Lichtenstein, 1823 obtained from local aquarists within the Southwest of the UK. Spironucleus vortens Poynton et al. 1995, was isolated from the kidney, liver, spleen and head lesions of discus showing severe signs of the disease and from the intestines of all fish. The hexamitid was also recorded from the head lesions of the angelfish. The identity of these flagellates was confirmed as S. vortens on the basis of topographical features seen with the aid of SEM. A modified in vitro culture method was successfully developed for the detection, isolation and long-term maintenance of S. vortens. The flagellate was sub-cultured at 3 to 5 d intervals, new media being supplemented with fresh liver from Oreochromis niloticus (Linnaeus, 1757) free from infection. The results are discussed in relation to S. vortens as the causative agent for hole-in-the-head disease following systemic infection via the digestive tract.

KEY WORDS: Hole-in-the-head disease · Cichlids · Spironucleus vortens · In vitro culture

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