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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I believe they were likely introduced on a piece of driftwood I put in the tank last week. I bought it directly out of one of their fish tanks 🤦🏻‍♀️. I have 4 of these 5 gallon culture tanks running on sponge filters. Each also has either mystery snails (Pomacea bridgesii) or ramshorn snails (I think Planorbarius corneus).

I bought 5 pieces of driftwood and put 1 in each of these tanks and in my “soaking” barrel which is outdoors and at least partially frozen right now. So far I’m only seeing them in 1 of the 4 tanks, but all the pieces were pulled from tanks that are on the same sump system so it’s likely only a matter of time before I see them in each tank.

I’ve already pulled out all visible ramshorn (it would just have to be in my favorite colony of bright red and pink ones) and plopped them into other tanks while hoping for no hydra transfer along with those snails (close visual on each done before transfer). It also happens to be the original blackworm culture so it‘s the tank I’ve been feeding from since the others are really still starter cultures.

That piece of driftwood has just finished boiling and won’t go back in until I’m convinced the culture is clear of hydra (if I can save the culture). There are only a few Daphnia in this tank but the hydra are nice and fat. 😡🤬

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I might effectively clean almost 4 ounces of blackworms? I plan to wash the sponge filter in tap water, then hit it with a low dose bleach since I won’t be trying to save the bacteria, only the nearly new filter itself. I will be breaking down and bleaching the tank, then appropriate soaking with lots of dechlorinator (likely do the tank and filter together with bleach, then rinse, then dechlorinate).

I’ve been planning on going to substrate free on the blackworm cultures, just postponing since it’s going to be a PITA to remove all the gravel. They are currently in a single layer of pea gravel (went this route from initial reading and videos) but will be removing that after further reading and some real world experience. I will be spending the day picking gravel out of the tank and discarding (another 🤦🏻‍♀️). But if I can save the worms, I’d be much happier.

So far, my thoughts are plenty of running water and a fine sieve for the worms, themselves, then back in the tank with no substrate, no filter, just an airstone and them. My red root floaters in that tank I figure are toast since they don’t respond well to dilute bleach soaks (learned that one the hard way). I‘ve got plenty of other red root floaters.

I don’t anticipate that any Daphnia will be saved from this tank since their numbers are already decimated. The sponge and tank I can save, easy. The wood is now safe. The substrate was already going to go. But is there any shot at saving the blackworms without facing the same problem in another 10-14 days?
 

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22 tanks, from 2 gallon to 100 gallon.
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Oh, and what are the odds that the hydra will survive in the frozen soaking barrel? I know they survive in frozen ponds, but likely at the not frozen bottom in the mulm, right? Not too likely in a barrel of just water and driftwood that is fairly solidly frozen at the top, I’m not sure how far down it’s frozen.
 

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Hmmm...well, do you know how well blackworms deal with fenbendazole? Hydra = hydroids = anemone like creatures, which are negatively affected by fenbendazole. The question here is how well blackworms can deal with that. I was also under the impression that bladder snails (Physa) eat hydra, unless I've been lied to. What are your thoughts on just feeding the culture out while your starter cultures mature?

I would still recommend trying to save your daphnia too.

As for hydra surviving: I'd just go ahead and assume they're alive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your reply.

I would expect fenbendazole to kill blackworms quite well. I have read that about bladder snails from a couple sources, but don’t have any and I doubt I can get any soon with our current weather. I couldn’t confirm anything about the bladder snails eating the hydra from any reliable sources. I only found that mentioned by a couple hobbyists with nobody siting personal experience, just rumors they heard. I’m still going to try it since I’ve been going to add bladder snails to my live food culture tanks anyway.

I have no idea where I would be able to get bladder snails soon. Maybe in another few days and any remaining Daphnia in that tank will surely be gone by then. An inch of snow is a major event in Texas and we got about 4” yesterday with the cold expected to keep the snow around for another day or so. There’s no such thing as a snowplow in Texas, lol! Gravel and salt trucks are pretty much it. You know it’s bad when the fast food joints are shut down, lol!

I can drive in it since I grew up in Nebraska, but there would be nowhere open for me to go to get any bladder snails.

There are no visible Daphnia in that tank and I could see Daphnia colored bulges in all the hydra when I first spotted them. The other tanks don’t have visible hydra and still have Daphnia present. I had only just gotten the Daphnia and distributed them among the 4 tanks.

I think you’re right about the hydra surviving the freeze. I‘ve decided I have to assume there could be hydra alive under the ice in my driftwood soaker barrel. I’ll be treating the barrel with bleach once the ice melts since I anticipate having Nerites in the tanks where those wood pieces will be installed and they apparently can be killed even by residual amounts of fenbendazole in the wood. After bleaching a good rinse, then a continued soak in water with about a 10 times dose of dechlorinator should make the wood safe enough.

I have other foods that my pea puffers will eat, so they’re OK without blackworms for now. I have been closely inspecting all the tanks where I’ve fed any blackworms. Thankfully everything that’s gotten blackworms is currently bare bottom tanks (puffers are in quarantine getting their deworming doses of levamisole) so none have gone into planted tanks so far, only quarantine tanks.

I have praziquantal since that’s a part of my puffer deworming plan, but I can’t find any reliable information about it working on hydra. Same for levamisole. I can get fenbendazole but again, I would not expect the blackworms to survive that treatment. Oddly, there are blackworms surviving the levamisole treatment in the puffer quarantine tanks. They don’t look terrific, but they’re alive. The surviving blackworms makes me doubt the efficacy of my puffer deworming regimen, though! If I could find any info on using levamisole to treat hydra I’d give that a try since I already have the solution made up and ready for the puffer deworming.

I guess I’m still stuck on the bladder snails as the only viable option I can find for saving the blackworms.
 
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