of Garlic Against Tapeworm in Discus
By: Jack Wattley
The Use of Garlic Against Tapeworm in Discus
By Jack Wattley
During a discus presentation in Chicago (and in New York) several years
ago I mentioned garlic as a preventative agent against infestations of
internal parasites in discus. At that time I was still working with it and
suggested to the audience that they try different methods of application.
None showed a great deal of interest in what I had to say, so I quickly
knew I had to define exactly the method that would bring about the
With the complete help of Terry Fairfield of Rockford, Illinois, garlic
oil was obtained in a health food shop. The oil was squeezed from the
capsule directly onto the food, ultimately in large quantities, and the
discus ate the food - garlic and all. The next step was to obtain discus
or scalares that harbored intestinal parasites. Many emaciated cichlids
can generally be found at one place or another, and a number of these fish
will be found to have intestinal parasites. I guarantee that!. The oil
from one capsule was mixed into approximately 5 oz. of food. The fish -
both scalares and discus - continued to eat it eagerly. Tests were made
each day over a six - week period with a close examination of the fecal
matter under a microscope. Capillaria was found at the beginning of the
test period, and after six weeks the infected fish still harbored a
number, although not as many as when the program began. At the same time
we saw a gradual buildup of the garlic oil throughout the control tanks,
which in time would certainly have caused a number of problems.
How about fresh garlic squeezed directly onto the frozen food? The
tests were started once more. However, we quickly found it was a much more
difficult chore to open the garlic cloves and squeeze out the juice (which
ended up being more like a puree) than to simply puncture a garlic capsule
with a pin and squeeze the oil onto the food. Nevertheless, the extra work
brought the results we were looking for. The fresh garlic permeated the
internal tissue organs of the fish as we continued to feed the fish daily.
What happens to the parasitic nematodes while this daily feeding program
is taking place? No, the parasites are not killed on any contact with the
garlic. We didn't know the exact mechanism by which the fresh garlic acts
on the parasites, but we did find that the group of necropsied fish became
slowly "clean" over a period of approximately five weeks. For
the treatment to be effective the garlic must be included in the food each
day at each feeding.
The elimination of the nematodes was not only from the intestines, but
also from the other internal organs as well. Being a food and not a
medication, the successful elimination of the worms causes absolutely no
harm to the fish, whereas in treating with a prescribed medication, many
times problems do occur that can be harmful to the discus.
These comments were printed in the May 1999 issue of TROPICAL FISH
HOBBYIST magazine in the column “Ask Jack” and are reprinted with the
permission of Mary Ellen Sweeney, editor of TFH, and Jack Wattley.