Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Effects of the invasive swim bladder parasite Anguillicola crassus on health and condition indicators in the European eel

Myrenas, Elin; Naslund, Joacim; Persson, John; Sundin, Josefin


Parasites negatively affect biological processes within their hosts, which may alter for example health, growth, and reproductive ability. Non-native invasive parasites, in particular, may have large effects on the endemic hosts, given that the hosts lack evolved specific defences against such parasites. The swim bladder nematode Anguillicola crassus, an invasive parasite originating from Asia, is found in the European eel (Anguilla anguilla, L. 1758), since the 1980s. We investigated whether A. crassus affected several indicators related to health of the European eel (spleen- and liver size, body fat content and relative condition). Our results indicate that during the continental residency of the eels, infection by A. crassus had no major negative impacts on the investigated health indicators at the generally low infection intensities present in this study (median 2-3 visible parasites). Given that many of the adult eels were found to have swim bladder damage, concerns about their spawning migration through deeper oceanic environments can still be raised. To allow further investigations, we suggest that quantification of swim bladder damage should be implemented in eel-monitoring programs. Compared to other parasite pressure parameters, swim bladder damage provides additional information about past infections and future problems.


Anguilla anguilla; fat; nematode; relative condition; swim bladder damage

Published in

Journal of Fish Diseases
2023, Volume: 46, number: 10, pages: 1029-1047
Publisher: WILEY