Tiny bugs in my substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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Tiny bugs in my substrate

I was taking some progress photos of the tiny shoots of HC that I'm trying to get growing in my tank and, while zoomed in, I noticed some sort of little bug crawling around on the pellets of the aquasoil substrate, occasionally coming out into the open and then back down. It looks like they're living beneath the surface of the substrate. They're small and white/grey.

I only filmed it on my Galaxy Note 2 but I might get my SLR out and throw a macro lens on it and try to catch them crawling around another night.

Anyone know what they are?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0A8ugrVpT4


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Last edited by Dan110024; 11-03-2014 at 08:35 AM. Reason: .
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 09:41 AM
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Have a look at this thread. I think it will be a great help to you.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=40061

Do they look like bugs or small worms?

In the meantime, I would do a water change and gravel vac. Make sure you aren't over feeding as well. Good luck!
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 01:02 PM
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I never wanted to keep a fish in my half gallon tank but I had to get one to eat the bugs they looked annoying crawling all about. Turns out a single tiny male endlers is perfect and stays fat month after month eating only them and various tank growths, epiphytes etc

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 05:30 PM
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If they look like little dots, they're probably copepods. Those are perfectly harmless.


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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by pannyx View Post
Have a look at this thread. I think it will be a great help to you.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=40061

Do they look like bugs or small worms?

In the meantime, I would do a water change and gravel vac. Make sure you aren't over feeding as well. Good luck!
Looks like they're either copepods or seed shrimps. I don't have any fish in the tank so overfeeding isn't an issue. I would rather not do a gravel vac as it's aquasoil and I'd rather not have to deal with disturbing it. I do quite large water changes once a week. From the notes in the link you posted, it seems they are harmless so I'm not too worried.


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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 11:32 PM
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They are harmless. Actually its a sign of a good healthy tank. I would assume most tanks with a thriving substrate and healthy growing plants harbor these little guys. Several months back I got interested in micro-biology so that I can monitor my tanks. I purchased a microscope and was quiet astonished by the microscopic life that exist in a home aquarium. I had planned on doing a thread with pics and videos on my microscopic findings once all my tanks are up and running.

I have quite a few critters in my tank and at the time I was able to identify them. I know one was a paramecium and the other was like a clam shell type looking critter. Most life of this nature feed on dead matter or other small organisms in the tank. At the same time, its free food if you do have fish. I have noticed that when you do provide very clean water and keep the substrate fairly clean, their numbers diminish. But the more you vac, the less nutrients is left behind for the plants to consume. They can be unsightly but their number can be regulated.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-04-2014, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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I've always wanted a microscope. One day. Would be good to get one with a camera mount too.

It makes sense that they feed off dead matter. I recently had my whole tank melt away, so I pulled as much as I could out and restarted the tank. There would be an abundance of dead plant matter mixed through the substrate after rebuilding it. The canister filter is well cycled too, so the tank is in a pretty prime condition.


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Last edited by Dan110024; 11-04-2014 at 01:36 AM. Reason: .
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-04-2014, 02:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flight50 View Post
They are harmless. Actually its a sign of a good healthy tank. I would assume most tanks with a thriving substrate and healthy growing plants harbor these little guys.
I took a picture of a Copepod yesterday in my newly established tank (a little more than three weeks). Except I didn't know what it was until this thread popped up - Thanks PTF!




My question regarding your quote above: My ammonia hasn't fully zero'd. In fact it's close to 2ppm (down from 3ppm), but it has held steady for a week. Nitrates are up (about 4ppm). I would think the ammonia would be a little much for such a creature. Is it possible my ammonia readings are inaccurate considering I've seen this Copepod, a Seed Shrimp, a small snail of some sort, as well as quite a few Detritus worms?
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-04-2014, 04:42 AM
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Those little dudes are crazy hardy. They're just fine with fairly low levels of ammonia.


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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-04-2014, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fodder View Post
I took a picture of a Copepod yesterday in my newly established tank (a little more than three weeks). Except I didn't know what it was until this thread popped up - Thanks PTF!




My question regarding your quote above: My ammonia hasn't fully zero'd. In fact it's close to 2ppm (down from 3ppm), but it has held steady for a week. Nitrates are up (about 4ppm). I would think the ammonia would be a little much for such a creature. Is it possible my ammonia readings are inaccurate considering I've seen this Copepod, a Seed Shrimp, a small snail of some sort, as well as quite a few Detritus worms?


Excellent inference

Google this

API shows false ammonia reading


Then google
Salifert ammonia kit shows false reading

The ratio is 100 to 1

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Last edited by brandon429; 11-04-2014 at 11:04 AM. Reason: Searches
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-04-2014, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandon429 View Post

Google this

API shows false ammonia reading


Then google
Salifert ammonia kit shows false reading
Well that's interesting. I've been using API. Guess I'll pick up a Salifert kit and do some side-by-side.

Thanks!
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-04-2014, 05:48 PM
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Personally, I would attribute at least part of the difference in google hit rate to the popularity difference. The salifert kits are more expensive and not nearly as popular as the API ones. (I do have a salifert nitrate test and an API freshwater master kit along with a few other API kits).

Rather than buy another kit, make yourself some known-concentration solutions and test those..


If you get a second kit and they disagree, you won't know which is right (or if both are wrong). If they agree, you won't know if they're both right or both wrong.

I ended up calibrating my ammonia test when I did ammonia-based fishless cycling. I used a dosage calculator to know exactly how much ammonia to add to reach a 4PPM. I let it circlulate in the new tank and tested to confirm. I later repeated this with 1ppm.

Rather than an un-cycled tank, you could probably do the same in a 5 gallon bucket. At that point you could even use sudsy or lemon scent ammonia, as long as you know the percentage of ammomium hydroxide in it. It won't be fish-safe, but we're not planning on tossing fish into that bucket.

My API ammonia test kit was dead-on. My API nitrate kit reads wildly too high (4-7x too high)

Last edited by mattinmd; 11-04-2014 at 05:50 PM. Reason: added API test to my list of tests owned.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-04-2014, 06:20 PM
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Also, its possible to never have to test for ammonia for the entirety of your reef or freshwater tank, including dry cycling time if someone elects to be free of all test equipment. out of principle Ive never actually owned an ammonia test kit because they are optional.

You can simply use biology, substrate specific planning and absolutely clockword predictable timelines to forego any ammonia testing in this hobby. you design tanks to handle organics in a predictable way, scape the setup so that all fish are accountable for being alive, and we are good to go.

I will never have to own an ammonia test kit to set up or manage any system using known clean sourcewater. peeps on well water need something good to test w lol

its not that all api is bad, its that green or slighltly yellow means each persons eyes see .25 a lot

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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-04-2014, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan110024 View Post
Looks like they're either copepods or seed shrimps. I don't have any fish in the tank so overfeeding isn't an issue. I would rather not do a gravel vac as it's aquasoil and I'd rather not have to deal with disturbing it. I do quite large water changes once a week. From the notes in the link you posted, it seems they are harmless so I'm not too worried.
That's great to hear. I'm about to cycle a tank with aqausoil so I won't freak out if this happens to me.

I had detritus worms once from over feeding and it looked like the sand was moving. I thought I was going crazy. I even took a video of it to see if I was right. lol I broke the tank down and started again because they grossed me out.

flight50, cool idea with the microscope. I would love to do that too.

Good luck with your tank!
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-04-2014, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by mattinmd View Post
Rather than buy another kit, make yourself some known-concentration solutions and test those..
I took your advice and bought some 10% Ammonium Hydroxide. Ran two tests - one @ 4ppm and another @ 1ppm. Both results were spot on with my API tester. Sorry for derailing the thread.
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