What is this free swimming worm? Parasite? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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What is this free swimming worm? Parasite?

I suspect this is a fish parasite of some sort, and posted in another forum, but on the off chance it is something related to things that live in plants...

And I am really new to aquariums, and so worry for anything unusual....

I noticed what looked like rapidly swirling hair, and then realized it was some kind of free swimming worm. I only noticed as it was up near the light.

I scooped it out in a plastic cup where it is extremely actively swimming at the top of the water, vertical in orientation. it is about 8 mm long give or take, so this is a rather extreme blowup, the horizontal lines are the top of the water in the cup.

Tank details below. I have not feed any live food. I have fed packaged, freeze dried bloodworms, which this looks remotely like, but not all that much.

I am currently using a heat-only treatment for ich, on about day 7 at 88F, most signs are gone from the one fish that had it, everyone else was/is healthy looking. I have seen no signs of anything like this hanging on fish.

Other recent event is I did a filter clean for the first time 2 days ago, and it's very possible something got washed out that was living in it. It was not very dirty, and I very lightly rinsed the spongy media in its own water. It's a fluval 306.

Ghost shrimp are pregnant and giving off larvae but this doesn't look like any photos I've seen (and I assume the fish are eating them before I see them).

Is this a sign of some parasite I should be concerned about? This particular one is out of the tank of course, but it seems unlikely to be the only one, regardless of what it is.



Tank: 45G, new-ish, 2 months old, cycled in first month. Chemistry normal (ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 5-20 ppm, about 10ppm now, KG 5.5, GH 9, ph 7.6 (slowing reducing from about 8.0 with WC's).

Planted lightly on gravel/ecco-complete, all rocks and such added at during the first two weeks or so, nothing new. Jungle val (mostly), amazon sword, crypt wendtii, anubis. No CO2, light ferts from seacheam.

Stock: 1 x raphae catfish, 1 x bristlenose pleco (tiny), 5 x tetra serpae, 5 x congo tetra, 6 x ramshorn snails (early hitchikers), 4 x nitrite snails, 10 x ghost shrinp. Latest arrivals were 2 x congo tetra and BN pleco and nerite snails about 2 weeks ago. All stock from the same nearby LFS.

Lit with Satellite LED+ 2 x 4 hrs daily.

No obvious issues with water, clear, scavengers are keeping up with light algae growth.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 08:06 PM
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Free swimming worms are rarely parasitic. It looks like an annelid of some sort.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
Free swimming worms are rarely parasitic. It looks like an annelid of some sort.
Are there any that are parasitic? I've seen lots of tiny, white, free-swimming worms in one of my tanks.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 08:10 PM
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I agree. Almost certainly not a parasite. Parasitic worms die without their hosts very quickly. Also you can see some sort of contents in this one's stomach which means it is eating something in the tank. Parasites feed off the host, so you'd expect it to not have anything in the inside.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by GuppyGuppyGuppyGuppyGuppy View Post
Are there any that are parasitic? I've seen lots of tiny, white, free-swimming worms in one of my tanks.
A leech is a free swimming parasitic worm.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, except for the leech comment I'm reassured.

s to dying away from the host -- he may well. Over the last hour he's gotten pretty lethargic, I have to stir the water to get him swimming.

When he is moving he's very hard to photograph, he swims snake-like and moves very quickly. Out of a few dozen attempts at a better photo I did get this one, if it helps anyone better identify him.

But even if not, I guess I won't worry -- I had some concern someone would say "that's an X, all your fish, and maybe your dog will now die".

Anyway, here's about the best I can do while swimming. This is very enlarged, again he's less than a centimeter. The pointed end appears to be the head (at least he swims in that direction).



PS. One reason for my "parasite" concern - notice the barbed hairs, like something designed to borrow in.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-04-2014, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I appear to have more. I was moving some rock and one swam up from the substrate, probably 1.5cm long, otherwise identical.

Something that lives in the substrate? No idea where it came from (the ecco-complete I hope is not contaminated, and I washed all the gravel and rock in Clorox first, if it lived through that it's tough).
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-04-2014, 12:20 AM
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I can't really tell that they're barbed - to me they just look like setae to help it swim, crawl, or catch food.

It's hard for me to get a sense of scale because the image is so magnified, but from what you describe (especially the swimming motion, classic "S" shape) it behaves like a typical non-parasitic nematode. If that's the case, it's a harmless detrivore (though I still think they're gross, lol).

If it is a nematode, they'll pop up in a tank where there's detritus for them to eat - leftover food, etc. They never last long if I put a couple of hungry guppy in the tank to act as janitors.

Then again... I don't think nematodes have those hairs. Hum.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-04-2014, 12:46 AM Thread Starter
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I found this:

http://www.fish-as-pets.com/2007/11/...t-answers.html

I think that's the culprit, which would imply it's OK.

>>> I can't really tell that they're barbed

I should have said angled, perhaps, collectively they would make it hard to pull it out if it went in head first (into anything soft).

It sounds like nothing to worry about.
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