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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2014, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Leech help

My 20 gallon extra tall is the hardest tank I have ever done. Bacteria outbreaks, greenwater, and now leeches.

So I'm 90% sure I have a leech infestation. I saw one over a month ago, pulled it out and killed it. Didn't see any more, so I just added some CPD's and I've seen about 8 in the past 48 hours. I've managed to get about half of them. They range from 1.5 to 3.5 inches long.
Could they be snail leeches from my Tylomelania?
Should I be worried about my CPD's and RCS or are they too small?
Anyone have some positive experience of removing them without tearing down the tank?
HELP!

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And here are some videos

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2014, 06:16 PM
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I would try chlorine before I ripped my tank apart (assuming I didn't actually want to rip it apart and start anew). Remove all your live stock, at least those you want to keep. I'd leave my filters on since you probably have leaches there too but be prepared to have to recycle them as the bacteria will not survive the bleach. Nor will some of your more delicate plants but unless you want to remove and quarantine them for weeks you risk the leaches surviving. Make sure you have good circulation. Now as to how much chlorine to add. Too much and nothing will survive, too little and the leaches may not all be killed. How much chlorine depends on your bio load. Chlorine reacts with the bio mass and will start to degrade it and while doing so will neutralize itself. It will have the greatest and fastest impact on the more delicate biology first and that will be any living creatures. Then it will impact the plants starting with the algae and working its way to the actual plants. I would start by adding just a little and see if that kills the leaches, if not then add more. I would add enough and give it enough time to kill them and then some, before neutralizing the chlorine again with de-chlorinator. Then follow with a big, +70%, water change and rinse your filters well. Examine your fish carefully to ensure they don't have any leaches attached to them, manually remove them if they do, and then if you have to put them back (assuming they are not comfortably housed elsewhere). As I said you can expect a cycle to occur so monitor your tank daily and change water if the ammonia is creeping up.
You will have a very clean tank when finished, I know as I've gone through this myself but not for leaches.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2014, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you!
Did you try a leech trap first?
Would chlorine bleach be the easiest?
My poor CPD's. I just got them Saturday.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2014, 11:21 PM
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What substrate do you have? If your going to put chlorine or bleach in the tank you might as well start over.


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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-13-2014, 12:40 AM Thread Starter
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I have the fluval planted substrate capped with sand. I'm really looking for alternatives other than nuking the tank. I was thinking if I could get all the CPD's out, I have 3 Flagfish in another tank. They might finish the suckers off for a while.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-14-2014, 06:11 PM
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I don't agree that you have to start over at all. I have had experience with chlorine in my tank when I accidentally did a water change using water from my water tank that had had bleach added to it. Many aquariasts are understandable scared of chlorine since just a little will damage or kill the livestock but I can assure you it will impact your plants only a bit. I didn't have any dechlorinater and nor did I have any unchlorinated water to do another water change so all I could do was wait for what I thought would be the inevitable destruction of all life in the tank but that is not what happened. Yes I killed off most of my fish, I was able to save a few in a small bottle of fresh water I had but within a short time the chlorine was neutralized by the biomass and I was able to add my remaining fish back in and they are still fine today. Chlorine does not continue to reside in your tank and the substrate will not store it, as I said it will neutralize itself. I have suggested a safer route to you by adding a dechlorinater and doing a water change but I did neither and all but one of my plants survived. The algae in my tank was certainly cleared up quickly though.
I have even contemplated the use of chlorine to clean the tank on a regular basis but I haven't figured out how to catch all my fish from among all my plants so I'll probably never get around to trying it.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2014, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you again for all the help.
I'm still battling the leeches and I haven't tried chlorine yet. But I thought I would update my efforts and observations a little, as there isn't that much help out there with this problem. The biggest help I have found on advice have been on the Polish forums, which I found very interesting.
First lesson: I am positive that the infestation started from plants bought at Petco. Checking out and being careful with plants is definitely a higher priority.

I started the battle with making DIY traps from test tubes. Filling them with frozen liver and removing them and rebaiting every 9-10 hours or when I had time. This reduced the population pretty fast and the leeches actually laid their eggs on the test tube.
I put the leeches in a jar, first with salt, which just caused them to ball up. They came back with a water change. I then put them in another jar, 50% bleach. After 3 days they were still alive. Putting the jar in the sun and cooking them was next. Obviously that wiped them out.
After my flower shrimp was offed by the leeches I decided to be more aggressive. I have two yoyo loaches that snap up any that leave the substrate except for the biggest ones. I've also noticed that they prefer to be just under the substrate where my circulation pump hits the deck. An under-the-tank-heater normally used for reptiles keeps them from going deep into the substrate, so the loaches can get at them or I can grab them with tweezers. I have a screen shrimp guard on my filter intake which helps keep new leaches from getting into my filter, and I can only hope those in it will eventually work their way out. A sponge is useless on the intake, as they can work their way through it. But they really seem to not like even touching the metal.
One unexpected result was the use of seachem's flourish root tabs. It drives them right out of the substrate for the first two days.
If I win this war, I will update again. Hopefully this will help other people.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2014, 07:56 PM
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Do you have any invertebrates in the tank? When I was dealin with snail leeches a long time ago, I found that fluke tabs really knocked them out. That being said, it is a brutal medication and can be very rough on fishes, most notably south americans but wouldl be effective for killing the leeches you baited.

Leeches are really only sensitive to organophosphates as a treatment, which is also really rough on a LOT of fish. If you can remove all the fish, you could also try somethign like CLout, which would knock out the leeches for sure.

These are very tough meds, and should ONLY be a last resort.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2014, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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Leech help

I'm really trying to avoid going the chemical route, and only as a last resort. Clout is already on my list in the long term. I have a chemistry back ground and actually reached out to a friend and we may make something. It's just very difficult to localize an attack in such a small bottomed tank.
My live stock now are 10 CPD's, 2 Flower shrimp, a dozen cherries, and 2 yoyo loaches. I tried removing the CPD's before I got the loaches, but the combined depth of the tank and the Fluval substrate made it near impossible and fish traps don't really work on them for some reason.
I'm definitely making headway in the battle. They're really large, the biggest I've caught was about 4 inches and they're opportunistic feeders, but they show no interest in the CPD's or cherries.
The under-the-tank heater was the best advice I've been given so far. I'm sure my plant's roots are taking a beating, but it brings the leaches close enough to the surface the loaches are able to dig them out.


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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2014, 09:21 PM
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the thought of dealing with this gives me the biggest heeby jeebies
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2014, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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So far the worst things that have happened are: A) when I was trying to get the CPD's out, I had 4 attach themselves to my arm. B) I have stacked tanks and they somehow got into the 10 gallon below it. C) Watching my flower shrimp die before I could remove them.
I've heard worse stories, so I feel a bit lucky.




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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2014, 11:12 PM
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Hearing about them moving to another tank is creepy. I have a 10g infested with them. I am just going to drain and sterilize my tank. I have it next to quite a few other tanks so I don't want them moving to another of my aquariums.
I hope you get rid of your leeches soon.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2014, 11:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishnshrimp2 View Post
Hearing about them moving to another tank is creepy. I have a 10g infested with them. I am just going to drain and sterilize my tank. I have it next to quite a few other tanks so I don't want them moving to another of my aquariums.

I hope you get rid of your leeches soon.

I would use heat over any chemical treatments first. Depending on the species. Quite a few species are built to last. My 10 gallon, I just threw everything out and started over as soon as I found the 2nd one. Only on my 20 tall am I fighting because of the money and time I spent on it. Anything over 3 inches has no problem eating them and controlling the population if you want to chance that as well. My Fundulus cingulatus eat anything that moves, so I'm not worried about that tank at all.


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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-03-2014, 02:39 AM Thread Starter
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I wanted to thank everyone for their helpful comments. I am now almost 2 months leech free. If I could do it all again, I would have completely tossed everything out and started over. I lost most of my plants, a few fish and shrimp, and spent hours pulling leeches out and cursing the heavens.
It's been a miserable ride.
After bleaching, salting, antiparasite medicine, and tons of other treatments, work and money it was one of these things that finally wiped them out.
- The Fluval Planted Stratum is awful. After 5 months it completely broke down and now is 50% a solid clay mass, and 50% a swirling dirt cloud that darkens my tank daily. The leeches could no longer dig deep to avoid being eaten.
- I had a outbreak of Ich, I used the Kordon herbal treatment. And the leeches were literally crawling out of the tank. But not until they killed my yoyo loach.
- Because of the Ich, I vacuumed the substrate and did a water change everyday for two weeks. I may have just sucked them out.
- The solid clay brick that is my substrate gets COLD, again keeping the leeches from borrowing and making them targets for my fish.

Whatever the reason, they're gone. Which is nice, but I should have just nuked the tank from the beginning. I did not save any money or heartbreak.

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-03-2014, 12:58 PM
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ugh, sorry for all your troubles
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