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99% Purity Veterinary Raw Materials Levamisole Hydrochloride CAS 16595-80-5
What is Levamisole Hydrochloride?
Levamisole Hydrochloride (Levamisole HCl), is an anthelmintic (anti-worm) agent commonly used in large livestock such as cattle, pigs and sheep. In 1971 it was found to have immunostimulatory properties and investigation into its use in humans began to expand. Currently, Levamisole HCl is used in humans for diseases related to imbalances in the regulation of immune responses or deficiencies of the immune system, including autoimmune diseases, chronic and recurrent diseases, chronic infections and cancer. It has beneficial effects on host defense mechanisms and restores depressed immune responses in animals and humans. Another interesting use of levamisole in humans is as a treatment for common warts (verruca vulgaris).
News of its anthelmintic efficacy and immune system benefits has been known among aquatic hobbyists for years. The problem, however, is that there is not much in the way of definitive information on its use and application in the hobby. Anecdotal accounts of how it has worked for those 'outside the box' aquarists who first braved its use with fish, and accounts of personal experience with Levamisole in individual aquariums are helpful, but the 'your mileage may vary' factor is immense. Word about its usefulness in treating internal parasites in the ornamental fish trade has spread, but information regarding its use is limited and sometimes conflicting. From the information I have found thus far, Levamisole HCl is safe to use in aquaria and effective against many internal parasites, especially nematodes, when used in appropriate dosages. It does not harm the bio-filter, plants, invertebrates or uninfected fish. As an added benefit, it boosts the immune competence of fish, humans, large animals, birds and some reptiles.
This article hopes to pull together what scientific information is available, a bunch of individual accounts, apply some common sense, and put together in one place a helpful guide to the use of Levamisole HCl for treating aquarium fish.
Why would anyone use a cattle/pig/sheep de-wormer in a fish tank?
Do you want to know why?
Internal parasites that can be treated effectively by Levamisole HCl are endemic. They are everywhere. Fish are also susceptible to these parasites. Since the parasites are what we are attempting to eliminate from our fish, we need a medication that is designed to affect those parasites.
Does the medication need to be labeled for 'fish only' use? Not if you know what the medication is composed of, whether it contains any chemicals or additives that would be harmful to fish, if it will work in water, how it works, and what the possible side effects may be. Many medicines that are used in 'fish only' preparations are also used in humans and animals.
How does Levamisole HCl work?
How does Levamisole HCl work as an antiparasitic agent?
Levamisole HCl is absorbed through the gut, can also be absorbed through the skin and is distributed throughout the body. It affects the neurotransmitters within the parasite and paralyzes the worm (spastic paralysis). The fish then passes the inactive worms. Good gravel vacuuming is advised after treatment to remove the paralyzed worms. It is not ovicidal, which means it will not affect eggs already present, but it will affect the larval stage of the worm. To ensure complete eradication of the parasite treat again after remaining eggs have hatched.
How does Levamisole HCl work as an immunomodulator?
The mechanism of action for its immunostimulating effects is not well understood. It is believed that it restores cell-mediated immune function in peripheral T-lymphocytes and stimulates phagocytosis by monocytes. The drug appears to restore depressed immune function rather than to stimulate response to above-normal levels. There are multitudes of medical studies being done with its use in humans and animals, the goal being to attain understanding of its immunomodulating mechanism. The mechanism will be defined, with time. However, at the time of the writing of this article, there is no complete answer to this question. For us, it is enough to know that it does stimulate immune function in fish that are suffering due to parasites or disease.
What if I overdose my fish?
The LD-50 (the lethal dose of a compound for 50% of animals exposed) of Levamisole HCl is 250 mg/l per 24 hours. This level of dosage is much higher than that which is prescribed for use in a freshwater bath, which is the method used in our fish tanks (See "Recommended Dosage" below). Be aware, however, that overdosing with this medication could result in death to your fish. There have been accounts of adverse side effects in aquaria noted using higher than currently accepted appropriate dosing.
How long will it stay in my fish and how do I get it out of my tank?
Levamisole HCl is rapidly absorbed into the digestive system. Less than 6% of the medication is excreted unchanged in the urine and feces. Half-lives for several species have been recorded:
Cattle: 4 - 6 hours
Swine: 3.5 - 6.8 hours
Dogs: 1.8 - 4 hours
Absorption is systemic within 3 - 4 hours. Within three days 70% of the medication will be gone from the fish via its excretory system. The vast majority of the compound will have been metabolized by your fish. The remainder can be removed by water changes and/or adding activated charcoal to your filtration system.
How do I use Levamisole Hydrochloride?
Before using whatever form of Levamisole HCl you acquire it is wise to read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which describes prudent precautions regarding its use. The MSDS linked here is one from ScienceLab.com. If you are using a different product, Google the product manufacturer name+product name+MSDS to find the one specific to your medication. Most will be very similar depending on the formulation you are using.
Some resistance to Levamisole HCl action has been noted in farm animals. Be sure to complete the full course of treatment to avoid development of resistant strains in fish. Because it is light sensitive, store any unused medication in opaque containers. Remove any carbon used in your filtration as it will absorb the chemical. Turn off tank lights and UV lighting.
Levamisole HCl is available in several formulations. Below are a few manufacturer packaging examples. There are many.
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