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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So far my re-introduction to the planted tank hobby has had disastrous surprises. Here is what happened:

I started my first tank (Tank 1) last month, 2.5 gallons. It's moderately planted, and it has more or less cycled successfully, and housed one rosetail betta fish. Then after 2 weeks) I noticed white dots on my aquarium wall, and deduced they were tiny snails that have hitchhiked via my plants (which I did not soak prior to planting. Lesson learned!). So I purchased an anti-snail solution by UP-Aqua, which claimed to be safe for plants and shrimp.

I applied the solution as instructed. On the first day, things were fine, I noticed some snails slowly die off so great! But after 48 hours, to my horror, my betta's tail disintegrated! It was like fin-rot, but happened only within a few hours! I immediately quarantined my fish, and did an 50-70% water change on my tank. Two days later, I had a major freak out, because i saw little, white, hair-like things crawling on the tank wall. So small they could be mistaken for dust, but they wriggled. I did research, and believe they are planarian, due to the die-off of snails... I don't overfeed my betta, and I always count the pellets.

I cannot be too sure if my betta's aggressive fin rot was due to the snail solution, or the sudden rise of planarian parasites, or both...

Much to my panic, the second tank I started (Tank 2, around 3rd week of the month), was also showing some worms on the aquarium wall at the same time! I suspected this was because I had seeded the second tank with filter media from Tank 1.

Tank 2 is also moderately planted, but this time, I had soaked the plants overnight, in a solution of 1 gallon water and 3 drops of bleach. Tank 2 has no gravel, only aqua soil, and driftwood. So how the worms got there is a shock to me... Because the tank was only 5-7 days old, and had no livestock added to it yet. I did buy the plants from the same source, but had soaked them prior.

Out of desperation, I threw out all my filter media and decided to start over. I decided I would rather cycle Tank 1 again, than risk killing my betta fish. Tank 2 was in the middle of early-cycling anyway.

I have since been doing massive water changes daily on both tanks, about 80%. It has improved a bit, but there are still some worms on the wall that appear when I quickly turn on the lights.

I was told that water changes, and vacuuming the substrate will kill them off eventually. But if anyone else has advice or insight on how to go about this efficiently, please let me know!

Thanks so much!
 

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Stop panicking, and breathe...

Your little hair-like wiggly things in your substrate are probably just detritus worms, which are harmless, if a bit unsightly... Planaria have distinctly triangular heads and mostly glide on the glass.

The detritus worms are probably showing up in large numbers due to the dead snails.

That said, when you mass killed your snails, did you watch your ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels VERY closely? Dead snails rot, and they will cause a nitrogen spike somewhere.. I'm wondering if your tail rot was just due to the dead snails making the water quality very poor..

Tossing your filter media is generally a bad idea in almost all situations. You won't rid your tank of pathogens just tossing the filter media, as you'd have to toss/bleach the entire tank and everything in it (substrate, plants, decor, fish, etc) to do that.

Regardless, getting on the water changes and pulling dead snails out as much as possible is your best action for now .
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Matt!

The worms were not found in the substrate. They were only visible on the aquarium wall, but I've read somewhere that they do reside in the substrate, despite occassionally wriggling up the wall. As for triangle heads, I think that only becomes visible when they have grown a bit? These guys I'm betting were babies... hard to tell the shape of their heads. I sure as hell was not going to wait for them to grow to find out...

Regardless, I do think it is some kind of parasite, and not detritus worms (which I heard my betta would have eaten anyway). Judging by the severe damage it did to my betta's fin in a matter of hours, and (forgot to mention), I added 2 amano shrimp in the tank for some plant clean-up and noticed they looked spooked: wouldn't move, huddled in a corner... Took the shrimps out after a day.

When I did the mass-kill of snails, yes, I did check my parameters. Ammonia and Nitrites were all zero. But I had no nitrate kit at the time... I guess that was it. Yeah... I think throwing the media was an over-reaction.

The fin rot I'm betting is a combination of poor water conditions, and planaria parasites. Because I thought, if it was just poor water conditions (and I did do 20% water changes every other day as maintenance prior to the incident), the fin rot wouldn't have happened as fast. It had to be something more aggressive...
 

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I'm 99% sure you don't have planarians...

I don't know what is in the up-aqua snail killer but most snail killing products do a pretty good number on flatworms like planaria...

As for your beta eating detritus worms.. yeah, he'd eat them by the dozen.. but with dead snails in the tank there are probably thousands of them. In an over-feed situation detritus worms can rapidly outgrow your beta's ability to eat them...

Even if they are parasites, they would be going mostly after your beta's body, not his fins... Parasites generally go for blood, and fins are a really poor target for their needs. Unless your beta also has sores all over his body I doubt the worms did anything to your betas fins.

Fin erosion is almost certainly caused by microorganisms that flourish when there's rotting dead things in the tank... After all, the snails are made of flesh, the organisms that break down flesh, well... they break down flesh, and can infect the living if there's enough of them, particularly more vulnerable parts of the body like fins, where there's less bloodflow and less immune-system protection.

Keep on your vacuuming and water changes. I'd advise against trying to rapidly kill the worms unless you want more problems... (more dead things, more flesh-decaying bacteria).
 

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I get those tiny white worms on the glass in every tank I start up. They always show up during the initial cycle and I stop seeing them as the tank gets established. Never cause harm to anything. I wouldn't worry at all about them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hey matt, oh interesting... Ok, I will take your word for it! More water changes on the way!

I don't know much about the parasites yet, other than ick and velvet. So that was very informative!
 
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