Belongs to the genus Heteropolaria. It is ubiquitous in fresh water. Basically harmless.
The life cycle of Epistylis spp. requires only the fish host. The numerous bodies or zooids that comprise the Epistylis colony undergo binary fission, resulting in free-swimming ciliated young teletrochs that invade fish hosts. The parasite matures into a sessile trophont (adult stage).
Sunfishes and temperate Bass in the southern United States, including Bluegill sunfish & Largemouth Bass are the principal species affected.
However the parasite has been reported from a variety of species, including perch & pike, smelt & herring, as well as sturgeon & eels.
If caught & treated as indicated at an early stage usually little loss will be encountered. However if an acute infestation is allowed to develop then some losses are to be anticipated due mostly to the invasion of necrotic areas by secondary infections of bacteria.
Try to ensure "clean" stock before new introductions, or dip new fish as a precaution before placing into rearing tanks etc.
Phylogenetic relationships among six species of Epistylis inferred from 18S-ITS1 sequences.
From Science in
Dr. Durborow, Robert
State Specialist for Aquaculture
Cooperative extension program
Kentucky State University USA