It's a Mycological Easter egg hunt, a gathering of mushrooms that come from eggs!

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You've found Saprolegnia parasitica, a water mold in the Oomycota (literally, the egg fungi)!

Saprolegnia oogonia containing oosporesSaprolegnia growing on a live perch

Saprolegnia parasitica is usually an innocuous water mold that grows on dead vegetable matter in the water. It can form sexual spores (oospores) in oogonia. Notice that there can be several oospores in a single oogonium. However if a fish's immune system becomes compromised by environmental pollution, this oppportunistic fungal-like organs can parasitize the fish. It has not yet been fungus of the month.

This organism is one of those outcasts that used to be considered a fungus, but no longer is. We now place it, along with other members of the Oomycota, in the Kingdom Protista, or the Stramenopila, which aslo contains the brown algae and diatoms. You can read more about the Oomycota at this page on late blight of potato.

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