Planaria (or nematodes) in a fishless tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2008, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Planaria (or nematodes) in a fishless tank?

Yesterday I started noticing small white worms, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, swimming freely in my water or clinging to the glass. All signs point to these being planaria. I'm not really overrun with them, and they're kind of fascinating, but I wonder.

* Will they harm my betta fish when I get him? Either getting in his gills or giving him a tummyache when he eats them (as I imagine he will)? He'll just be a baby fish still when I get him, barely 10 weeks, and I feel a bit overprotective.

* Where did they come from? I use RO water in this tank, it's all new substrate and filter and such, so I guess they hitched a ride with the plants or driftwood?

* What are they eating? I read that they come from overfeeding the fish, or from other ammonia overgrowth, but I'm not adding any food period, and my ammonia is at zero.

I'm guessing that a water change (I plan to change 25-40% later today) will help discourage them, but I'd love any input that people might have about these apparently spontaneously generated life forms!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2008, 07:02 PM
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Do a google search on planaria... you should be able to notice the triangular head and dark eye spots if that's what they are, but since they are free swimming, I doubt they are planarians... slow crawlers.



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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2008, 07:03 PM
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they're harmless. Just unsightly in large numbers.
They'll die off if you don't put any food in the tank.


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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2008, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by frogmanjared View Post
Do a google search on planaria... you should be able to notice the triangular head and dark eye spots if that's what they are, but since they are free swimming, I doubt they are planarians... slow crawlers.
I taxed my google-fu to its limits and thought I was pretty sure that's what I had, but these are way too small to notice head shape or eye color so maybe it's back to square one!

(It's like they dislodge and then drift in the current, sometimes undulating wildly as if to try to change directions...not really "swimming" per se.)
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2008, 07:06 PM
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My guess is that whatever grows in your tank will not harm your fish as anything parasitic needs a host. This is just a logic argument, I'm sure there are much better experts here.

As for where they came from? Maybe the plants or driftwood, but you are bound to get some sort of life in a planted tank since there is algae and decaying plant matter to eat. Same thing happened to my tank when it had no fish in it and it was worrisome. But when I added my rasboras they must have all been eaten. A water change might reduce the numbers but they will come back. The permanent solution is to put some fish in there.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-12-2008, 12:24 AM
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(It's like they dislodge and then drift in the current, sometimes undulating wildly as if to try to change directions...not really "swimming" per se.)
Hmm, this might be a stupid guess but are you sure they are not mosquito larvae?
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-12-2008, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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Hmm, this might be a stupid guess but are you sure they are not mosquito larvae?
Pretty sure, these are just milky white "hairs", I have seen free-swimming larvae in stagnant water in my yard, and those are quite different.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-12-2008, 01:44 AM
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sounds like you have roundworm i think planaria are pretty distinct

try this link
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...nize-them.html
try and cut one in half and see if you get 2!!! ive had a few roundworms in my tank before usually fish eat them not sure how they get there but yah.
They look a lot more like milky round hairs than planaria do.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-12-2008, 02:51 AM
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More than likely they are Detritus Worms look about 1/2 way down the page here

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-12-2008, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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sounds like you have roundworm i think planaria are pretty distinct

try this link
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...nize-them.html
try and cut one in half and see if you get 2!!! ive had a few roundworms in my tank before usually fish eat them not sure how they get there but yah.
They look a lot more like milky round hairs than planaria do.
Yeah, the more I looked at descriptions of roundworms/nematodes the more I thought thats what I had. But detritus worms made sense too. My rotala came with some soil/mulm at the roots, and my driftwood was wet when I bought it, so I guess either could easily have transmitted critters. Well, I guess I'll stir up the substrate and do a water change, then hope when my fish comes in a week he'll have an appetite for whatever it is.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-12-2008, 04:51 PM
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Cory cats will clean them up quick

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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-12-2008, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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Cory cats will clean them up quick
Only one betta is going to live here.

I don't see them any more today. Either they settled into the substrate or the conditions are no longer favorable now that the cycle is complete, I guess?
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-12-2008, 06:23 PM
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I had a nematode explosion in a hospital tank a while back, the tank was bare bottomed with an established sponge filter from another tank. I guess the nematodes hitched a ride on the filter and must have been feeding off of the waste in the sponge because I was doing regular water changes and vacuuming up any waste on the bottom of the tank, like you the conditions seemed the opposite of ideal for nematodes. I ended up bleaching the tank and filter to get rid of the nasty little critters. I've seen them since but the fish seem to control their population pretty well, no major outbreaks like in that hospital tank.


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