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Title: Argulidae  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Maxillopoda, Crustacea,, Swim bladder disease, Schistocephalus solidus
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Argulus sp. on a stickleback
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Maxillopoda
Subclass: Branchiura
Order: Arguloida
Yamaguti, 1963
Family: Argulidae
Leach, 1819
Genera & species

See text

The family Argulidae contains the carp lice or fish lice – a group of parasitic crustaceans of uncertain position within the Maxillopoda. Although they are thought to be primitive forms, they have no fossil record. Argulidae is the only family in the order Arguloida (occasionally "Arguloidea"),[1] although a second family, Dipteropeltidae, has been proposed.[2]


Fish lice vary in size from just a few millimetres to over 30 millimetres (1.2 in) long, with females usually somewhat larger than the males.[3] Almost all species in the family are ectoparasites on fish, with a few on invertebrates or amphibians.[3][4] They have a flattened, oval body, which is almost entirely covered by a wide carapace. Their compound eyes are prominent, and the mouthparts and the first pair of antennae are modified to form a hooked, spiny proboscis armed with suckers, as an adaptation to parasitic life. They have four pairs of thoracic appendages, which are used to swim when not attached to the host.[3] They leave their hosts for up to three weeks in order to mate and lay eggs, and reattach behind the fish's operculum, where they feed on mucus and sloughed-off scales, or pierce the skin and feed on the internal fluids.[4] The eggs hatch into parasitic postnauplius larvae.


There are 173 recognised species, divided among six genera.[5] The centres of diversity are the Afrotropical and Neotropical ecozones.[3]

Argulus O. F. Müller, 1785:[6]

Binoculus Geoffroy St. Hilaire, 1762:[7]

Chonopeltis Thiele, 1900:[8]

Dipteropeltis Callman, 1912:[9]

Dolops Audouin, 1837:[10]

Huargulus Yü, 1938:[11]


Fish lice occasionally reach high enough densities to cause fish kills in aquaculture operations, or more rarely in wild populations of fish. They can also become abundant in aquaria, sometimes resulting in the death of ornamental fish.[3]


  1. ^ Joel W. Martin & George E. Davis (2001). An Updated Classification of the Recent Crustacea ( 
  2. ^ P. Myers, R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond & T. A. Dewey (2006). "Animal Diversity Web: Arguloidea".  
  3. ^ a b c d e William J. Poly (2008). Estelle V. Balian, Christian Lévêque, Hendrik Segers, ed. "Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment".  
  4. ^ a b Ben Waggoner. "Introduction to the Branchiura".  
  5. ^ Geoff Boxshall (September 5, 2009). T. Chad Walter & Geoff Boxshall, ed. "Argulidae". World Copepoda database.  
  6. ^ Geoff Boxshall (May 13, 2009). T. Chad Walter & Geoff Boxshall, ed. O. F. Müller, 1785"Argulus". World Copepoda database.  
  7. ^ T. Chad Walter (July 15, 2008). T. Chad Walter & Geoff Boxshall, ed. Geoffroy St. Hilaire, 1762"Binoculus". World Copepoda database.  
  8. ^ T. Chad Walter (July 15, 2008). T. Chad Walter & Geoff Boxshall, ed. Thiele, 1900"Chonopeltis". World Copepoda database.  
  9. ^ T. Chad Walter (July 15, 2008). T. Chad Walter & Geoff Boxshall, ed. Callman, 1912"Dipteropeltis". World Copepoda database.  
  10. ^ T. Chad Walter (July 15, 2008). T. Chad Walter & Geoff Boxshall, ed. Audouin, 1837"Dolops". World Copepoda database.  
  11. ^ T. Chad Walter (July 15, 2008). T. Chad Walter & Geoff Boxshall, ed. Yü, 1938"Huargulus". World Copepoda database.  

External links

  • Data related to Argulidae at Wikispecies

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