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Old 09-29-2013, 09:50 AM   #1
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First tank; little white worms everywhere

Hi there!

I recently got my first aquarium and it's been up and running for exactly two weeks now, without fish of course. Today I noticed something weird: a little worm-like creature of about 1,5cm is suddenly swimming around in my aquarium. I also noticed many little worms (of about 1mm) across the aquarium glass and floating on the water. They look like some kind of nematode but my guess only goes as far as that.

Does anyone has any idea what we're looking at here?



And I've got a video too. Notice the sides of the aquarium are also covered with little worms. And yes, I should probably clean the glass
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Old 09-29-2013, 11:00 AM   #2
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Looks like planaria. You say you have no fish....are you putting anything into the tank like fish food to cycle? Did you add anything to the tank from another tank?
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Old 09-29-2013, 11:03 AM   #3
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Thanks for the response! Since a few days I'm putting fish food in the tank. I didn't add anything from another tank, except some plants from the store of course.
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Old 09-29-2013, 11:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tank-o-Fish View Post
I didn't add anything from another tank, except some plants from the store of course.
Those are your most likely culprits ... Plants can introduce a slew of things into an tank. Planaria and by the other description nematodes are unsightly, but harmless. Don't be surprised if you also see what looks like little wihite dots moving about ...Copepods etc. All can be a part of a healthy tank, though planaria's a sure sign of over feeding / excess food. The good news is fish will have a field day munching on your critters.
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Old 09-29-2013, 11:24 AM   #5
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Good to hear, thanks! In that case I actually don't mind having them, at least there's already something moving in my tank, haha.

I'm pretty sure I didn't overfeed. A few days ago, however, I had to mess quite a bit with my plants to reposition them, which caused much soil substrate to roam around the tank.
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Old 09-29-2013, 01:25 PM   #6
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The critter in the video is absolutely not a planaria. They can only glide, they cannot swim like that at all. It appears to be one of what are often called detritus worms. If you see worms similar to that one that are a distinct pink colour and swim like that, they are Dero worms. Small annelids, the only member of their family that is water dwelling. They make first class live fish food. Many farms and hobbyists culture them as food, they're terrific. They are so slim, even quite tiny fish can eat them.

You can get a pile of things hitchhiking along with plants or even the water they come in, as jcolon said. Copepods, various worms, planaria, even ostracods [ seed shrimp], or scuds; scud is a derogatory name for an amphipod or gammaru. They are actually quite good algae eaters, but if they are hungry, they will eat live plants as well. They make great fish food for bottom feeders, being one of the numerous small crustacean species, and if you don't overfeed, and have fish, their numbers stay under control quite easily. I actually culture them as live food, as well as ostracods, copepods and other things.

Scuds are also thought to prey on newborn shrimp.. and they are much better equipped to do that than planaria are. So if you have scuds and some baby shrimp, you might want to try to control the scuds more. Kuhli loaches and cories like to hunt and eat them, that's what I feed them to.

To try to cut down on the number of mystery critters, it is a good idea to rinse, soak and perhaps dip any new plants before they go into your tank. I leave mine in a bucket with a light and an airstone for a day or two at least. This won't get everything off but scuds tend to head for the bottom, and many of the small pest snails tend to end up the bucket sides. So that allows me to remove most of them.

If I have any worry about a given plant, or the bucket shows that it has a lot of things with it, I've tried dipping. First time I tried to dip anything, I melted a bunch of nice Wendelov ferns, using too much Excel. But you can use Hydrogen peroxide, Postassium Permanganate, Excel or household bleach as a dip, mixed to the right strength. Has the additional advantage that it kills any algae the plant has on it, along with most critters. I think Rivercats, on this forum, has great experience dipping plants, more than I do for sure.

Once you get some fish, you'll find many of these critters soon vanish, simply because they do make good fish food. Meantime, they are harmless. Even planaria are not the horrors that many say they are, unless they are the gigantic Asian species. If you have those you won't have trouble with ID.. they get to more than inch long, quarter inch wide and are not only unsightly, they're big and fast enough to be a danger to some of our fishy pets. Our native North Amercian planaria species are so much smaller. About 3/8" long, flat, and they do have a slightly triangular shape head end, with two 'eye' spots.. might need a magnifying glass to see these features. They feed mainly on biofilms and anything they find as they glide over them but can't really hurt much of anything, with the possible exception of newborn shrimp.

I am not sure about the shrimp, I've yet to see this happen. I've seen claims they can kill baby shrimp but they have no teeth, jaws or claws. They only a stomach on the underside, and eat by secreting juices onto the item beneath them and dissolving it, to suck up. Any shrimp that's healthy is just going to walk away, I'd think. If it's sick, hurt or dead, that's another story. Fish and shrimp both eat other dead fish and shrimp, so do snails. Better that they do, saves the deceased critter from spoiling your water.

The one beastie most of really don't want to see is a Hydra. Most species we see in tanks can't hurt much of anything, but the exception is that they can kill fry and baby shrimp. They work like a jellyfish, having some number of tentacles on the 'head' end equipped with stinging nematocysts that are fired into any animal that comes close enough. The tentacles draw inward as they fire the 'poison darts', bringing the critter they killed with them if it's small enough. They have a very tiny mouth being at the base of the tentacles, so they can't always eat what they kill. They can't hunt, only sit still and wait for prey to come close enough to trigger the response to sting.

They can move, by closing the tentacles and sliding along. At such times they look like slightly thicker nematodes. But they will find a spot to stop, anchor their base and open the tentacles, then you see what they are. Never try to kill one, they are immortal, even a cell or two can regenerate into new animal. So if you crush or damage one, you get many more in a short time. They can come on plants on in water too.

Siphon them out, get Spixi snails to eat them, or some fish, such as some of the gouramis, will eat them. Sometimes you might be able to borrow a spixi snail or gourami to take care of them. Again, they are not true horrors, they make good food for some fish, but if you have fry or breeding shrimp, you don't want them around.
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:03 PM   #7
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Fishfur, many thanks for the long & elaborate response! That clears it up a lot

I've compared the critters with the detritus worms you mentioned and I'm pretty sure you're spot on. Won't worry about them then, I'm curious to see what will happen when I introduce the first fish in a week or so. And I will remember to rinse new plants as you explained, thanks for the advice!
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Old 09-30-2013, 11:45 AM   #8
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Nematodes



There are approximately 10,000 to 10,000,000 species in the Phylum Nematoda. Free-living (ie without a 'host') forms can reach sizes between 1mm to 2 cm (0.04Ē- 0.8Ē). Nematodes that live in the aquarium usually reside in the gravel, but when disturbed they swim in a snake like manner. Much like that of a sea snake. They can be easily seen in a bucket after cleaning the gravel.

There are three types of nematodes: parasitic, scavengers and herbivores. The vast majority of nematodes are parasitic. All three are able to live within the aquarium; however the scavengers are usually the most common.

Not all nematodes are a menace in the aquarium, the scavenger nematodes can help break down the organic waste in the aquarium. If you are treating your fish tank for nematodes, make sure you know that they are parasitic, as the medications you use will kill the beneficial worms as well.

Nematodes can be introduced to the aquarium in egg or adult form. Eggs can be present in almost anything that you add to your aquarium; feeders, live plants, driftwood etc. Adult worms are more likely to be introduced by live plants and in the water accompanying your feeder fish.

Populations of nematodes can be reduced or elimated by reduced feedings and increased water changes. There is a product produced by Materpet called CureEx, which kills a range of nematodes.

What are all of these tiny white worms swimming in my tank?
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Old 09-30-2013, 12:48 PM   #9
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For many years the simplest and very effective way to deal with new plants before adding them to your tank is to mix hydrogen peroxide 3% at a ratio of 1 part peroxide to 3 or 4 parts water. Put the plants in and let them soak 20-30 minutes. This pretty much kills snails, eggs, algae, and all the other unwanted little nasties that can hike in on plants. You can also literally dip the plants in pure peroxide after soaking for a few seconds and then directly plant in the tank. It won't hurt the plants nor will putting them directly in the tank with peroxide on them hurt the tank inhabitants.
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Old 09-30-2013, 10:42 PM   #10
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Mrvincent, great info on the nematodes ! And I might even get brave enough to try dipping again, using hydrogen peroxide , thanks for the info again, Rivercats.
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:36 AM   #11
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mrvincent and Rivercats, thanks a lot for the info. I don't mind having them now I know what they are, but I will do a water exchange today.
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:41 AM   #12
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I always rinse my plants. I'm using currently bleach, I soak 1 min max. I'll consider using hydrogen peroxyde is less harmfull for plants. I got 20% peroxyde, I'll mix 1 part peroxyde with 20-25 parts water for soaking.

I already introduced ich only by adding a cladophora.
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