September 15, 2008


Asian fish tapeworm found in Great Lakes

Ann Arbor, MI — Yet another alien species has been found in the Great Lakes, and this time it is a tapeworm that can be deadly to fish.

The Asian fish tapeworm, known scientifically as Bothriocephalus acheilognathi, was found in a bluntnose minnow that was collected from Grosse Īsle in the Detroit River in 2002.

"There is a strong possibility that this parasite has expanded its distribution throughout other parts of the Great Lakes since then," stated David Marcoglies, Environment Canada research scientist.

The tapeworm has the capacity to spread rapidly because it is not specific for the two hosts in its life cycle, copepods (microscopic shrimp-like crustaceans) and fish. Scientists believe that one major reason for its expansion throughout parts of North America is through movement of bait fish.

This tapeworm can cause weight loss and mortality in young fishes. It primarily infects minnows and carp, but it can also be found in a variety of other fishes including bass. It has also been found in endangered species. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is aware of its significance and lists the Asian fish tapeworm as a "Pathogen of Regional Importance."

Already introduced into Europe, Australia, Mexico and elsewhere, the parasite was also recently reported by another team of scientists in Lake Winnipeg. Typically a warm-water parasite, Dr. Marcogliese adds that its expansion into northern lakes and rivers may be promoted in the future because of climate change.

Original Publication Information

Results of this study, "First Report of the Asian Fish Tapeworm in the Great Lakes," are reported by David J. Marcogliese in the latest issue (Volume 34, No. 3, pp. 566-569) of the Journal of Great Lakes Research, published by the International Association for Great Lakes Research, 2008.


For more information about the study, contact David Marcogliese, St. Lawrence Centre, Environment Canada, 105 McGill St., 7th floor, Montreal, QC H2Y 2E7; , (514) 283-6499.

For information about the Journal of Great Lakes Research, contact Stephanie Guildford, Scientific Co-Editor, Large Lakes Observatory, University Minnesota Duluth, 2205 East Fifth Street, Duluth, Minnesota, 55812-2401;; (218) 726-8064.


Since 1967, IAGLR has served as the focal point for compiling and disseminating multidisciplinary knowledge on North America's Laurentian Great Lakes and other large lakes of the world and their watersheds. In part, IAGLR communicates this knowledge through publication of the Journal of Great Lakes Research, available to members in print and electronic form. A searchable archive of the journal is available online and includes the abstracts of articles from the journal's inception in 1975 through the most recent issue. In addition, complete articles are available to members who have signed up for an electronic subscription.