Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arizona
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Archdeacon, T.P., A. Iles, J. Kline, and S. A. Bonar. 2010. Asian Fish Tapeworm Bothriocephalus acheilognathi in the Desert Southwestern United States. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health 22:274–279.


The Asian fish tapeworm Bothriocephalus acheilognathi (Cestoda: Bothriocephalidea) is an introduced fish parasite in the southwestern United States and is often considered a serious threat to native desert fishes. Determining the geographic distribution of nonnative fish parasites is important for recovery efforts of native fishes. We examined 1,140 individuals belonging to nine fish species from southwestern U.S. streams and springs between January 2005 and April 2007. The Asian fish tapeworm was present in the Gila River, Salt River, Verde River, San Pedro River, Aravaipa Creek, and Fossil Creek, Arizona, and in Lake Tuendae at Zzyzx Springs and Afton Canyon of the Mojave River, California. Overall prevalence of the Asian fish tapeworm in Arizona fish populations was 19% (range ¼ 0– 100%) and varied by location, time, and fish species. In California, the prevalence, abundance, and intensity of the Asian fish tapeworm in Mohave tui chub Gila bicolor mohavensis were higher during warmer months than during cooler months. Three new definitive host species—Yaqui chub G. purpurea, headwater chub G. nigra, and longfin dace Agosia chrysogaster—were identified. Widespread occurrence of the Asian fish tapeworm in southwestern U.S. waters suggests that the lack of detection in other systems where nonnative fishes occur is due to a lack of effort as opposed to true absence of the parasite. To limit further spread of diseases to small, isolated systems, we recommend treatment for both endo- and exoparasites when management actions include translocation of fishes