Really strange worm in substrate... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 02:50 AM Thread Starter
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Really strange worm in substrate...

I had a surprise today when doing maintenance on my 50G. There was some weird movement in the substrate. (Gravel-top, Flourite Black-middle, Laterite-bottom). There was a worm, about a 1/2" worm, digging through the substrate. It was dark pink/brown and looked almost like an earthworm. It would move and one end of it's body would get big and the other, skinny; And vice versa. I was so worried when I saw it, I grabbed my long plant tongs and snatched it out of the tank. Unfortunately, in a fit of "wormophobia", I stuck it in a paper towel and sent it to the great porcelain fishing hole. That blew any chance of a photo.

Does anyone have any idea what this thing might have been? I searched and found pics of planaria and I'm 99% sure that it is not planaria. Any wild guesses are cool, too...
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 02:57 AM
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Well judging from the way it moved and it's color it might have been a leech of some sort
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 02:58 AM
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Perhaps a Blackworm, Lumbricus californicus. Google it and let us know...

Leech is possible too. Was it smooth, or "ribbed"?
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 03:19 AM
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You shouldn't flush paper towels down the toilet.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 03:10 PM Thread Starter
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@thesawguy - You're absolutely right! However, the creepy factor of the whatever-it-was far outweighed the chance of clogs or the "green" violation. FWIW, it's a low volume flush toilet!

Thanks, Guys. I'll Google it and see what I find. Let you know...
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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Hmmm. After Google, looks like it could be either one. Moreso, the blackworm than the leech. I guess I'll just wait to see if another pops up. The blackworms seem harmless to the tank...
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 03:54 PM
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Bruce! Looks closer, but I really screwed up when I flushed it. Now I have no way to ID this thing with any confidence. One thing I do remember is that when it moved, the end that was entering the substrate got very thin/pointy and the back end was fatter. And he was no slow mover, either. I'm still watching close for one of his pals to show himself. Then I'll have the camera on him BEFORE I decide what to do with him...
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-04-2012, 03:00 AM
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That last sounds rather leechy - leeches tend to be a bit tail-heavy.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-04-2012, 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Bruce_S View Post
That last sounds rather leechy - leeches tend to be a bit tail-heavy.

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That's pretty much how all the annelids (segmented worms) move. They contract the rings of muscle, and that causes them to extend while getting skinny. Leeches, Earthworms, and those suggested above are all annelids, so they would all demonstrate this type of movement.

Just comparing to nematodes(round worms), that lack the segments, and can only move in a snake-like manner.

I'm not sure that leeches would really burrow, and when I had one in the aquarium, or seen them in the wild, they were usually anchored on at least one end with a sucker (or their mouth).
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-04-2012, 09:57 PM
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Sounds like a leech to me. I had them in one of my tanks for a while and they definitely lived in the substrate. Many types of leeches are harmless detrivores, but even so they grossed me out. Interestingly, they finally disappeared after I introduced blackworms to the tank.

Don't feel bad about flushing it too quickly though. I'm confident you'll get more shots at making an id.

Life isn't stone, it's water.

PSA: When talking about baby fish, "fry" is plural.
I have a fry. I have some fry.

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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FOUND ANOTHER ONE! This time I got photos. Hope someone can tell me about this thing. All I really care about is if it can hurt anything in my tank... Thanks!





Appreciate any info...
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 06:30 PM
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It's a leech.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 06:52 PM
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Definitely a leech. They often come in on plants. The ones in my tank were harmless. Didn't hurt fish, snails or shrimp as far as I could tell. I even caught some and left them in a jar with some snails to see if they would eat them, but they didn't.

Once in a tank they can be hard to eradicate. You can make a trap out of a plastic drink bottle. Cut the top off and stick the cut off part back into the bottle upside down. Put some bait in and put the trap open side down on your substrate.

I used to feed them to my Pearl Gouramis and rams who were in a different tank, so some fish do eat them. It's possible that something like rams would clean them out of the tank.

Life isn't stone, it's water.

PSA: When talking about baby fish, "fry" is plural.
I have a fry. I have some fry.

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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Wonderful. Just the word brings "nasty" to mind. OK. Thank you very much for the ID and the trap info. I don't think I (or my wife!) could get along with these things, so they've got to go. One more question. What do I use as bait?
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