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FAQs on Invertebrates, Presence, Use in Freshwater Aquariums 1

Related Articles:  Invertebrates for Freshwater Aquariums by Neale Monks, 

Related FAQs:  FW Invert.s 2, FW Sponges, Worms, Snails, Bivalves, Aquatic Insects, Crustaceans Shrimps Crayfishes, FW and Brackish CrabsFW and Brackish Crabs Terrestrial Hermit Crabs,

Snails Everywhere
I have 2 Fresh Water tanks both were doing great.  Then about 2 days ago I had ALL THESE SNAILS appearing everywhere. I got out the ones I could see but don't know how to get rid of them completely.  They actually came after I had a shark get sick and die.
<Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm and the blue links. Bob Fenner> 

I know you've heard the phrase "tiny bugs" a million times...  - 03/09/2006 But I have "tiny bugs" with oval-shaped bodies and a circular head (*maybe* 1mm in length and 1/3mm wide - at the most!) that are either brown or black in color, have 6 (maybe 8) legs and 2 antennae (I only know because I got out a magnifying glass), and they can't swim but they love to be on the sides of the tank above the water and to bask in the light under the hood and on my breeding net. <A great description - and could be many different things.  If there are any floating plants, or plants that break the surface of the water even a bit, involved, I might guess that these could be Aphids.  Lots of possibilities, though.> They don't look like insect larvae, though. I have a 10 gallon FW tank with 5 adult guppies, a Pleco, 40-some guppy fry that are only a few days old, and some small brown snails (I don't know what species of snail, but I don't really care much either as long as they behave). <Heh, they won't, but that's probably okay.  Do be cautious about letting them stick around.> At first I thought they were baby snails as my snails have laid eggs, but they crawl too fast and after using the magnifying glass and my knowledge that snails don't have legs, <I certainly hope not!> I realized they were not in fact the cute baby snails I thought they were. My question is what these bugs are <Tough one> and how I can get rid of them. <Not quite so tough.> I read pages of FAQ's on the website and you mentioned Parasite-Clear and Fluke Tabs, but would either of these work on insects that aren't IN the water, <Highly unlikely.> or could either of them harm the fry? <Yes, quite possibly.  I would not risk it.  These little buggies are likely of no threat to your fish or tank.  They're feasting on something (flake food particles stuck to the sides of the tank, plants, or something else) that is keeping the population sustained.  If you can isolate whatever it is that they are feeding on and reduce or eliminate it, you will be able to reduce or eliminate the buggies.  Um, you could also try rinsing or wiping them into the water as munchies for your guppies.> Thank you for your time!!   <You bet!> -Jessica, South Dakota <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina, of the Santa Cruz mountains in California.>

White slime on rocks!!! Aquarist version of "White Punks on Dope?"   2/26/06 Hi, I'm just wondering if you could help me with a question...  I have a new 30 gal freshwater aquarium set up  it was up and running for 4 days before I added fish.  To cycle the tank I added 2 Columbian tetra's and 1 rainbow shark. <Mmm, best to not use life/fishes to do such cycling> All fish are doing good but the rocks in the tank are growing a white slime covering. <Neat> All rocks and gravel were washed and boiled and washed again before going into the tank.  I cant find much info on the net regarding this white slime, but what I think I have found is that it's a bacteria maybe caused by over feeding??? <Good possibility. Fancy term is "biofilm"... not altogether undesirable>   I don't know how this could be since I only feed them once a day right now and they were only in the tank for 2 days before the white slime started to appear. <Just that this is a new/sterile environment. Not to worry re>   I have taken some of the rocks that were covered the most out, and re-washed them.  We have 5 tanks and none of them ever had this slime when starting up.  I'm just wondering if you have any idea what this slime is or what I can do about it.   Thanks Shannon <Something about the make up... physical, chemical, biological of this particular system. Would be great (my personal value) to have a microscope, look at the mix of this "slime"... Again, will "go" with time. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm Bob Fenner> FW Parasites? Nah   2/26/06 I have noticed in my tank that there are some little worm like organisms floating around.  They are about 1cm long and about as thick as a human hair.  Have you got any idea what these are, and if they are harmful to my fish how do I get rid of them,  thanks for your time. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwinvertfaqs.htm Bob Fenner> White Hair like Worms - Freshwater Tank    2/17/06 Hi!  Gee once again, I need to call on your expertise as I really need to calm down here.  I have recently written regarding my slightly over a month old, cycled 10 gallon tank, cycled with Bio Spira, used media (bio wheel, gravel, rocks, & plants) from my 3 gallon Eclipse.  My water params are Ammo 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 7, PH 7. <Sounds about right.>   I have 8 java ferns and a ball of java moss.  The tank is home to  1 OHM male Betta.  The only thing new added was a thin layer of smaller TopFin gravel at the beginning on which I laid some old gravel from the 3 gallon.  I have an AquaClear 20 HOB with sponge, carbon bag and Biomax pouch set on it's low setting for less crazy current for my Betta.  I also have an airstone toward the top of the dead side of the tank to ever so slightly agitate the water to ensure no film buildup from plants, etc.  Also there is a Stealth heater that maintains the water temperature at a constant 78 degrees. <Sounds nice; good temp control, big enough space, plenty of caves for the Betta.>   I have searched your website for white hair like worms for freshwater tanks and I see a lot on saltwater tanks; however...the few posts regarding freshwater tanks indicate these white worms, for the most part, relate to water quality? <Yes.>   This is confusing to me as each week since the Nitrates began rising towards 20 and other parameters (Ammo/Nitrite) remain at 0 (PH 7) I remove 20 percent of the water and replace with stored, treated (Nova Aqua/Amquel) water.  I have lightly vacuumed each time various areas of the tank and have deeply vacuumed once.  I did have a slate bottomed piece of driftwood that I have since removed because it developed some kind of white fungus looking stuff. yuck.  When I feed my Betta (alternating combinations of frozen bloodworms, Mysis, daphnia and Adison's Betta Pro pellets), I feed 1 at a time and if anything floats toward the bottom I chase it with a turkey baster, so very little food (if any) finds the bottom of the tank.  Anyway...on to the question...when I get up each morning and turn on the light, I see on the back glass, a few tiny white hair like worms!  Once I saw one swimming!  My Betta eats these! <He can eat them.  They're probably quite a tasty treat for him; he doesn't get much live food.> I suck them up with the turkey baster if I can beat him.  Eeeeeek and Egad...I hate these things and would like to really know if he should be eating them and if there is something I am doing wrong in this tank and if so how can I correct it to get rid of these?  Most people would probably think having a live food source for their Betta is great as he spends a lot of time searching around the plants stalking for these little hair worms.  Please advise and let me know what I should do and why they here.  I never had these in my 3 gallon Eclipse tank. As always, thank you for your time, patience, and expertise, everything I have learned I have learned from you guys, particularly Mr. Fenner he is the Betta god in my book.  Sue <These white worms are a just a pest flatworm, probably Planaria.  They aren't harmful to your tank, per se, just a sign that there is uneaten food or fish waste for them to feast on.  If you are more aggressive with your gravel vacuums, being sure to push the vacuum deep into the gravel, these worms will disappear on their own.  Do be careful around any plant roots.  Myself, I think of Planaria like algae that wiggles -- a sign that I owe my tank a gravel vacuum! Jason N.> What the heck are "they?"  They can live inside and out of the water! Day of the FW Triffids!   2/14/06 Hello, I have a 25 gallon freshwater aquarium that has been set up for about 5 months now.  For 3 and a half months the tank has had only two frogs living in it.  Then just 2 days ago I was feeding them and noticed that the water seemed pretty "cruddy" and was inspecting the tank and the frogs as they ate, when I noticed hundreds (probably thousands) of tiny tiny tiny round "bugs", maybe parasites floating around in the tank!  They seemed like they could not swim on their own, but moved around the tank with the filters current.  When they would touch the glass, an object or the bottom gravel- they would continue to crawl. (though they are too small to see legs etc.)  These things are smaller than the head of a pin!  The frogs had about 3 each on there backs, but seemed fine.  Panicked anyway I ran to the I-net to get some answers.  To no avail- I am still puzzled what this might be.  I have had other freshwater aquariums in the past and had some parasite clear left over and dropped 2 into the tank and let sit over night. <Toxic to your frogs...> It seemed to me there was no change this morning <The crud thankfully absorbed much...> in the amount of these things. So I decided do a complete tear down of the tank and bleach it. I removed all but 3 inches if water and poured straight bleach into the tank to sanitize. I let sit for 2 hours and then took everything into the bathroom to further bleach and clean. After the clean up- to my complete amazement quite a few of these things were actually crawling on the outside of the glass!  After using Bleach and scalding hot water!  I am in complete hysterics when it comes to anything that is or looks like it is a foreign bug or especially a parasite. I need to know what this is...HELP!  Also, can they affect humans?  Any answers would be helpful. Thank You. <... very likely not harmful... either to your frogs (or they'd be gone) or you. Some sort of crustacean... would go with good maintenance (regular water changes, gravel vacuuming) and addition of other livestock. No worries. Bob Fenner>

What are these weird things in my tank?  02/12/06 Hi there. I have a hexagon-shaped tank with an angelfish, snails and two plants. I also have these weird kind of worm things that look like living hair, squiggling around at the bottom of my tank. I have no idea what they are, but I don't like them. They always come back every few months. What are they and how do I get rid of them? -Roxie <Mmm, are likely some sort of aquatic worm... and probably more useful than possibly harmful. Will likely "go" in time with just regular maintenance, water changes... could be poisoned (non-selectively) with some "fish medicines"... but I would just leave them be. Bob Fenner> Hydra in Dwarf Puffer Tank 1/14/2006 In my 10 gallon dwarf puffer tank, I've noticed that there is an infestation of hydra <<Usually brought on by over-feeding>>... which took me a while to identify exactly what it is. I was wondering what I could do to get rid of it.<<Large water change, reduce feeding.  This will limit their spread.>> Are there any fish or inverts that eat hydra? Thanks <<Welcome. Lisa.>>

Freshwater things  - 01/09/2006 Not sure if you can help without a picture; recently some little (1/4"-) things growing on the wall of the aquarium.  they look like a cross between a tube worm and anemone (sp?)- little tube like body with 5 arms waving in the currents.  any ideas? >> It is a freshwater invertebrate called Hydra, it is harmless for larger fish but will eat and kill small fry. You should be able to get rid of them by not feeding your fish for 4-5 days. If you have many of them you may be overfeeding your fish. Good Luck, Oliver

Re: Little white things and cloudiness ... of tank and message 12/21/05 Thank you for your response. But I still don't know what the little white bugs are and what to do about them. <Ah, sorry. The bugs are likely some type of crustacean, very unlikely harmful. I would do nothing about them... very likely they will pass with time, change in nutrient availability> And to clarify I do not have an undergravel filter, I have an internal (Fluval 2 plus) filter. Oh and I forgot to mention that I test the water for PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate (which is hard to  tell but might be a little high or low). Any other suggestions would help me immensely. Thank you very much Jason M <... Please make use of the search tool, articles, FAQs posted on WWM... your input is too vague to offer specific suggestions. Bob Fenner>

Capitalization, Spiny "Eels" - 12/06/2005 Hi, my name is Silas. I <Your name, I, beginnings of sentences.... PLEASE capitalize....> have two peacock eels I got from a local PetSmart. Tonight I went to clean my tank and I noticed some little worm like things swimming around. I thought they were parasites but then I thought they could be baby spiny eels. <Highly unlikely that these are baby eels. Also, they are not necessarily parasites. Please search on WWM.... start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwinvertfaqs.htm .> I was wondering if they can have babies and how big they are. <I recommend a Google search on "breeding spiny eels" or "breeding peacock eels" for more information on the topic than we have available here.> I don't know what to do, so I e-mailed you. Please try to e-mail back soon. the "things" are really small and look like parasites so please tell me if they can be babies or if they are parasites. <Read, my friend; much to be learned here and elsewhere.... I suspect your worms are "visitors" of a sort, indicating an overabundance of "food"/nutrients in your tank. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Little White Spheres  12/5/05 I have something in my freshwater tank that is puzzling me. There are these little, white, spheres (2mm diameter) that are moving around the tank, and they are mostly on the glass. These little things also have miniscule hair like projections all around them. They like to stay in separate groups on the glass and my fish really enjoy picking at them. Do you know what they are? Personally I think they are a little creepy and I really don't like them. I was thinking that they may be snail larva, but I've never seen any of my snail larva look like that. I haven't had any recent additions to my tank. Thanks, in advance, for your help. Shelley <How cute! I love finding the little random critters that show up in healthy tanks. Well, except leeches, which is what I have right now... but that's beside the point. The good news is your guys are probably some sort of Planaria or crustacean. Almost all of these are totally harmless. Your fish will enjoy munching on them. It's hard to get rid of these things. Decreasing your feeding may help. Usually, they'll go away (or decrease by orders of magnitude) in a few days or weeks. Have fun with the hitchhikers. Catherine>

Strange Bugs In The Tank  12/1/05 I just cleaned my fish tank and noticed these little silver-ish color worm type things. I have also noticed little flying bugs by my lights. Anyways I caught like five and put them in a container with a lid. I opened it a hour later and there was two of the flying bugs in there what are they and how do I get rid of them. Thanks Lindsay < There may be a correlation between the two. The lights may be attracting the insects that lay eggs in the water and hatch into the wormlike creatures you are now seeing. Normally I think the fish would eat these. Add Fluke -Tabs to the water and that will kill any invertebrates and insect larvae and hopefully both problems will go away.-Chuck> 

Fresh Water Parasites  11/21/05 I have a 16 gallon bow front freshwater tank; with two African clawed frogs & 3 mystery snails. My tank is decorated very naturally in color & scape. I use plastic plants & allow 2 weeks to age my water to clean tank. <Good> I have recently noticed very small almost microscopic translucent worms, that upon seeing them for the fist time, I thought they were debris from their last feeding until I saw them wiggle. How can I get rid of them? What are they? & How can I prevent them from coming back? <Likely these are some type of oligochaete worm (like Tubifex)... and will likely "go" with just good water quality and maintenance (gravel vacuuming during water changes). I would not do something "overt" like chemical treatment... to rid the system of them... More likely beneficial than harmful. Bob Fenner> 

Do leeches cause Ich?...We're going with No... 10/11/05 I have a 200 gallon fish tank. At the present time my tank has experienced an ich breakout. My co-worker purchased some leeches from the fish/bait shop and put them into the tank without informing me. Two days later white spots began to appear on the fish. I began treatment with ich medication on Thursday. On Friday the fish slowly began to die, by this past Saturday all the remaining fish were dead. Did the leeches have anything to do with causing the ich ? Should leeches be added to community fish....rosy barbs, black mollies. Help ! >>>The parasite may have been introduced along with the water the leaches came in. Next time just tell this tremendous genius to just dump some bleach in your tank and be done with it.. really...leeches? Jim<<< 

Larvae  9/30/05 Hello again, Everything is going well with my tanks and my Oscars, but today I found small black wormlike larvae (it looks like) at the top of my filter cartridges, they are at the edge of the water not really down in the water.  Can you tell me if these are harmful and if there is anything I can do with them.  I changed the cartridges, although they weren't that dirty.  They didn't seem to be anywhere else as of now. Thanks for your time. J <Likely not harmful... and very possibly of terrestrial (out of the tank) origin... some insect reproducing... I would do as you have done and just rinse, clean your cartridges and remove them. Bob Fenner> Hello again, I just wrote to you about the little black worm like things and I just noticed some in the substrate so I guess they are in the water. anyhow, can't wait to hear what this is. J <Mmm, again, I would siphon these out and not be overly concerned. No matter what their origin, it is highly unlikely they are dangerous to your Oscars. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater golden clams  9/29/05 Hello, I just purchased 8 freshwater golden clams off eBay. they are awesome. then they disappeared. one after the other. they buried themselves in the gravel. I see the gravel moving. I know nothing about these. but I love them. do you know any helpful information that might be of relevance to me? thanks !! <Is it Corbicula?: http://crayfishshop.com/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=33 Use the scientific name in your search engines... Bob Fenner> FW tiny red jumping things  9/25/05 Hi. We've just done a partial water change in our 80L planted tank.  We've noticed a thin green, very fine algae on the top of the water recently, bubbles have formed under it we thought it was just another algae but today we noticed heaps (hundreds) of tiny (1/3 mm long) reddish things that jump all around the edge of the water in the 1cm above the meniscus and on any wood poking out and they seem to skim across the water. Any idea what they are?  Do they hurt fish (ours seem fine, haven't lost one in ages)?  Do they bite humans? Cheers Colleen May, Qld, Australia <Mmm, very likely some sort of crustacean... perhaps mites, but doubtful... if longer, perhaps intermediate/juvenile insect larvae. And very likely not harmful... will cycle out in time... Bob Fenner>

Re: swimming pool worm  9/8/05 What is it called? <Likely one of a few types of Horsehair worms... Please see here: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-27,GGLD:en&q=swimming+pool+worm+identification Bob Fenner> Flowerhorn Tank With Worms  9/5/05 Hello WWM, Chuck, I was looking into my tank today and I saw there were literally hundred of little white worms on the bottom of my Flowerhorn tanks. Are these white worms harmful to my fish? < If they are not actually on the fish itself then I will assume that they are scavengers and not harmful.> How can I kill them? < Fluke-Tabs> Will non iodized salt work to kill them? < It might, but the tabs will work for sure.> Also I don't know if my Flowerhorn was watching the bottom of the tank, but my Female FH was like just in one spot looking down, that is, eyes looking down to bottom of tank, big back fin up in the air toward the top of the tank... Is my fish sick? < Not enough info for an accurate determination.-Chuck> Thank you very much More Information, Improved Grammar - 09/03/2005 Hey Sabrina and other WWC! <Hello, again.> I'm sorry, I did not realize that you could not receive forwards. <Our Webmail is a little rough around the edges at times.> My dilemma is that I have a 55 gallon freshwater tank and had just recently noticed that there were tiny things -white worm-type  creatures about 2mm long- and would like to know what they are <Likely Planaria, possibly nematodes....  Most are harmless, some are beneficial to an extent....  very, very few are harmful.  I would not worry.> and what to  do about it. <Decrease their food source (maintain a clean, healthy environment for your fish), and otherwise nothing.  Some fish will nibble them occasionally.  I actually enjoy such things popping up in my planted aquaria.  I especially enjoy the occasional mayfly larvae that hitchhikes in from plants I grow outside.  Small and tiny life is almost more fun than fish!> Sorry again about the last one. <No worries, and thank you much for the improved grammar/punctuation.> Christine <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Unidentified little white creatures  9/2/05 Hello again! In my fresh water 55 gallon tank I have  noticed that, floating in the water and crawling on the glass, were little white  creatures that were about 2mm or 1/8" long. I have no idea what these little  guys are or how they got there. Do you have any  ideas? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/non-vert.htm and the linked ID FAQs files above... Please... use the indices, search tool... Bob Fenner>

Snail?  8/26/05 I found a very long, skinny, snake-like snail type creature in my bathtub.   It looks like snail, but with a small flat head.  It is slimmer than an earthworm and about 10-12 inches long?  It has stripes likes some snail, but appears not to have any type of eyes or ears.  Is it a type of snail? <Mmm, more likely a type of worm... can you send a pic? Bob Fenner>

Red parasites in filter, nice pix of cestodes 8/14/05 Hi there. I'll get right to the point. <Ah, good> I was about to clean the two filters used for my 25 gallon aquarium. I don't know if this is of importance, but there are just four goldfish living in the tank, and no plants or gravel. <All is important> Anyway, there were tiny red worms in the (bio) sponge of one filter, and some more on the exterior of the cartridge of the other filter. We removed these immediately, not knowing whether they were harmful or not. The parasites are a bright cherry red, maybe about half an inch in length, not extremely thin, but not wide either. They seem to have an anchor at one end. <I see this... good pix> We administered salt to the tank as well as to the 'worms.' It took about 5-10 minutes for them to die. What we would really like to know is what these worms are, how they managed to get into the filter--or tank for that matter--and if they're harmful. <Do look like some sort of leech to me... best to be rid of them> Here are two pictures we were able to get of them: http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b335/stromeo/2005081301-redworm.jpg http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b335/stromeo/2005081302-redworm.jpg Thanks for any help you can offer. Sharon <Should you find more, I would use a vermifuge here... You can use the search tool on WWM (home pages, at the bottom of indices) re. Bob Fenner>

Weird Worms? - 08/08/2005 Hi, <Hello, Sabrina with you today....> I have a quick question I have small 1/2" worms (brown/grey) in the filter box under water & at the end of the pipes (still under water) they have a kind of sucker to stay in place with the force of water going over them, but they are not leeches (I have these also).  So my question is are they harmful.  All my fish are fine its just there are a lot of these worms type things. <Likely these are harmless.  It is quite difficult, even impossible, to identify them without a very, very in-depth description or (better) a very clear photograph.  But, chances are, these are not harmful and just making use of excess nutrients in the system.> Thanks <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Earthworm Farming - 08/08/2005 Namaste! <Good morning!  Sabrina with you, today.> Hello people.  This is Mitra from India.   <Nice to hear from you, almost halfway around the world - thanks for writing in!> Can you please tell me how to store earthworms because we have a very dry soil over here and the worms come out only when it rains.  So I need to collect them and store them when they are out. So please help me. <Try a google search with the words "earthworm farm" or "vermiculture".  Here is one excellent site I found:   http://www.jerusalemcityfarmers.org/earthworm.html , and there are many, many others.  You might try searches containing "raising earthworms" or "keeping earthworms", as well.> Thank you,  Mitra <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Ooey Gooey Was A Worm.... - 07/21/2005 Hi, <Hello.> After many weeks of struggle, I have completed a fishless cycle with Ace ammonia in my 46-gallon freshwater tank.  I have not added any fish, but I have in the course of establishing this cycle added some gravel from the existing inhabited tank for good bacteria, and for a while (before an algal bloom that required death by total darkness) I had live plants in there.  Evidently, somewhere in there I brought in some worms.  I had seen some roundworms while vacuuming gravel in my existing tank, and so was trying to be very careful not to overfeed, etc.  The water chemistry in that tank has been OK, as have the fish.  So, I wasn't happy with having worms but figured I'd have to slowly vacuum them all out.   <Yeah, not a problem.  They'll either slowly disappear, or be constant friendly residents, cleaning up after your fish.  Not to worry.> But, now they've transferred to the new tank, and tonight as I was finally contemplating moving fish in, I noticed flatworms on the side of it.   <Probably just as harmless.> Have never seen this in the older tank.   <Quite possibly your fishes eat them as they turn up.> I'm assuming they could do damage - <Very unlikely.> is there a way to treat the tank without killing my biological filter?  I work in a lab and so have a microscope to identify these worms further, but no key to use.   <You might try a google search on "worm identification key" or some such....  But to be quite honest, I don't believe you've got anything to fear.  My last planted tank had quite a variety of interesting things - mayfly larvae, Planaria, and lots more.  It is far more than likely that they are harmless or even helpful than in any way harmful.> Any advice on the next steps? <Move on as normal....  And enjoy the tiny life that you find.  Ah, and DO put a dab of filter goo under a microscope - you'll be amazed what you see, even at a low power!  Such fun....> Thanks, Christina <Wishing you and your worms well,  -Sabrina>

Microscopic "worms" 7/19/05 Hello, I've been searching for an answer all over the web.  Hopefully you can help.  I work in a laboratory here in sunny California.  We have a fish tank in the lab for our entertainment.  No, we don't do experiments with the fish!  For training purposes, I wanted to look at some the algae on the glass.  So, I used a loop and scraped some off. When looking at in under the microscope, we saw several little "worms". They seemed to move in either direction, but still had a main head.  The head was covered in cilia that you could see moving.  There were several spots of "hair" growing out of the sides of this little thing that looked like whiskers.  You could see through it and it moved with a peristalsis type movement.  Some of them have bright orange specks throughout the body, while some had them only at the end.  You could also see what appeared to be mouth shaped like a "U".  It looked like an amoeba and a caterpillar cross.  Could anyone please give me any idea as to what this is.  The fish are fine and don't seem to be bothered.  This thing is microscopic, but I still am curious.  I have taken pictures and hope to send them soon.  Thank you for your time.      <Mmm, due to the external processes we can likely rule out Nematodes... this/these are likely annelids... could be oligochaetes (like tubificids) or polychaetes/errantiates... there are dichotomous keys for determining down to family, genera... rank. Bob Fenner>

Mystery Invert - II - 07/13/2005 Sabrina, <Hi again, Brian!> Thanks for the reply; I'm sorry I have such little info for you. I'm going to enjoy trying to figure this one out. <Mysteries like this are always great fun.> Thanks for the lead; it sounds like a good start. <You bet.  If you do happen to get a photo, feel free to let us know - or if you get a chance to see some up close again, jot down some details....  even a rough sketch.> I'm surprised to receive your e-mail because my e-mail records indicated that my message was still a draft - unable to be sent. Sorry if you receive copies of the original e-mail. <No worries!> Take care....Brian <Glad to be of service, as always.  May you and you kiddo have great fun solving this exciting mystery!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Egg Sack? I was reading about the lady with the mucous thing with little black spots in it, but I did not see anything about what it was, I have one floating in my tank and thought the same thing that it may be an egg sack, I know that it is not from a snail for I do not have any snails in the tank. Could this be an egg sack??? If not what is it???? <Could be... of some sort... or a colonial organism of some sort. Many possibilities... Best to isolate and observe closely. Bob Fenner> New FW Clams Dear Crew (Sabrina?), I really, really do need to spend some time having a long chat with my father about the appropriateness of surprise additions to our tanks. It must be something about Mondays.  I think this is the third one in a row.  In the meantime, I would like to save the two freshwater clams that were today's addition. I've got two main questions. First, I do know that copper kills invertebrates. My problem is that due to a fairly extensive velvet problem through the goldfish tanks, everything fishy that I own has at one time or another been treated with copper/malachite green in the last few months.  This includes both big glass tanks, the plastic tank with the Betta, water change buckets, etc.  I'm now very worried that the copper residue from the silicon/glass will kill the poor things - although at least he put them in the experimental/quarantine tank with the clean gravel and not my main tank. Is the residue likely to do this? <A high quality carbon and weekly water changes should have the residual copper down to a trace. The clams should be able to handle this.> The second problem is that, unfortunately, yesterday was the day I chose to do the clean-out and massive water change in that tank, so there's no longer much algae for them to eat. Is there anything that I can feed the poor things in the meantime? I think I might have some left over green water and plant bits outside, but how much space/water do the poor things need? < Clams are filter feeders and will pick up enough residual fish food to keep them going. They are not exactly active so they don't require a bunch of food.-Chuck.> 

Gnats in the Aquarium, Mystery Answerer? I am writing you for my mom, She is having a whole lot of trouble with gnats in her fish tank and it is driving her crazy, she cleans her tank and even changes the gravel very often, and nothing seems to work. She loves her fish but she says if she can't get rid of the gnats she will have to get rid of the fish and that is the last thing she wants to do. She has 3 cichlids in her 29 gallon tank, she has tried parasite tablets and that hasn't worked either. Can you help? Thanks, Rachel Please reply ASAP. < Insects in the aquarium are pretty rare. I don't thinks the gnats actually come from the aquarium because I don't think they have a larval stage and cichlids are pretty good at eating any sort of insect life. If any insect/snail or worm are found in an aquarium then Fluke-Tabs will get rid of them. >

White Fluffy Stuff..? Hey again Crew! I read through the FAQ and could not find what I was looking for so here goes: My Aquarium walls and some plants are cover in this white fluffy stuff, looks kind of like fungus but I'm not sure if it is. Sometimes this white puffy stuff will 'twitch', like it would contract, then release. I haven't seen fungus do this before. What is this stuff? <Don't know> From what I know, fungus doesn't twitch, and neither does algae. <Agreed> Can I get some insight into what I'm dealing with? I'm so confused. <I suspect this is an algae of some sort... and that the "twitching" is just your hand moving it in the water. Please see WWM re algae control. Bob Fenner>

I think my tank has fleas, and Needs Deodorant? Hi I was reading from the web page and it sounds like my tank has fleas. I have guppies in a 10 gallon tank and there are millions of the little white bug-like things in there I changed the filter today. I have to close my bedroom door (where the tank is ) when I leave the house so my dog doesn't sleep on my pillow all day... anyway to make a long story short when I come home and open my bedroom door I smell a foul odor in there and it has only been since I noticed the bugs. HELP is the tank causing the smell? Thank you, Tonya <Mmm, the "bugs", actually likely small crustaceans of some sort, are more likely "friends" than foes... and not responsible for the tank smell... though related. Your aquarium has either too much food, too little filtration/aeration, and/or maintenance... Do you change part of the water every week? Are you careful to not overfeed? Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm re set-up, maintenance... and not worry re the fleas... these will pass when your system is better kept. Bob Fenner> 

Copepods or something else? We have a 75 gallon freshwater aquarium with 2 Green Severums, a Pleco, and some Silver Dollars. We have not lost any fish in over 2 months and do not see anything unusual on the fish. However, the glass and fake plants are covered with very small gobs of a stringy, gelatinous substance that waves in the water flow and tiny white pinhead "mites" that are crawling all over the place.  The "mites" are very active regardless of whether the light is on and move around pretty fast. We've been looking through your site and think the "mites" could be copepods, but haven't seen any references to the gelatinous substance. It has spread to the point now that the water looks cloudy due to the gunk on the glass and the fake plants look fuzzy. Even if this is harmless to the fish, it still seems to be out of control. What can we do? Thanks for you advice! Catherine and Matt <Both these organisms are harmless... likely algae and some sort of crustacean... but the root cause/s of their profusion may not be so... I'd up the frequency of your partial water changes, gravel vacuuming... to weekly. Bob Fenner>  GOT FLEAS? Hi, I had recently bought my son his first fish tank, it is a 10 gal. fresh water with a bamboo shrimp, a Plecostomus and a few orange guppy looking fish. We had a really bad algae bloom and now the water is clearing up and when I looked in this morning, I noticed about a bazillion little white-ish gray mite looking bugs all around the corner from top to bottom near the heater. They do not seem to be bothering my fish, I have seen the fish swim through and around them with no problems, what are these things and how do I if I need to get rid of them? Are they harmful to the rest of my fish and shrimp? Any info you can offer would be so helpful. Thanks in advance! Christine < You probably have daphnia or water fleas. They thrive on green water. Usually they are eaten by fish but s few species are very hard bodied and fish don't like them. You could use medication but it would harm your shrimp. I think that they will go away on their own as you tank clears up and they find nothing more to eat.-Chuck>

Worms in Gravel Hello, I am just writing about some worms I found in our freshwater aquarium. I have searched all over your site trying to locate them but can find nothing that exactly matches their description. They are very long and skinny and incredibly small, with a pink/reddish spine running through their translucent bodies, and they have tiny little bristles on both sides that look like feet. They were living in our gravel and were excellent swimmers and very quick, and we never saw them before until we scraped the gravel while we were doing a full tank clean. There were about thirty of them and they were very hard to locate and catch. We keep American Cichlids who really dirty up the tank. When looking at some photos the only pictures I found that looked like these worms were ragworms, except of course the worms in our tank were tiny miniature versions. I have NO idea what they are. Help! <There are several types of worms that can live on the waste left in the gravel. Most will not harm the fish. Just use a gravel vac to clean things up and they will starve out. Don> 

What's in my Tank?  I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank that is almost a year old. I just noticed hundreds of tiny brown dots clustered near the far corner (from the filter) of my tank...they appear to be moving on their own! They are so tiny though that I have no idea what they are...baby fish? baby worms? some kind of water bugs? I think they appeared at the same time I brought home three new fish yesterday...2 Gouramis and a platy. Help! Thanks for your time. <Could be any of the things you mentioned. I would make sure they are not fry, then vacuum them out of there. Likely a type of Tubifex worm that has been living in your gravel for a while. Use a gravel vac to clean the bottom and they will starve out. Don>

Help I need crawfish advice Hi I need help finding the best suitable habitat for my blue lobster (native to Florida Everglades) I've looked all over the internet, and I've found nothing. I haven't got the crawfish yet, but I want to go ahead and fix up the tank before we get him/her. Could you please help me out, and 2 more things - what do they eat and how many times do they molt in a lifetime? Thanks bye. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i4/crayfish/crayfish.htm. Bob Fenner> 

Worms floating in tank? Hello! <Hi there> Yesterday after our 30 gallon tank was clearing from a cleaning (debris was floating around that was stirred up from the bottom)... I noticed 2 very small white/clear worms that were being taken for a ride on the current. The only way I was able to distinguish them from feces or a plant root was that they were writhing - otherwise it was indistinguishable and too small to think it was something living. They were not swimming, and had no control of their movement other than their contraction and expansion of trying to find a place to anchor on to. Should we be worried that this worm may be a fish parasite? <Nope>  Our tank is only 3 months old and the worms could of come in via the fish or the plants. Our fish are for the most part healthy. We did have 2 deaths within the past month - one was a royal Farlowella cat and the other was a long fin rosy barb. I don't think the deaths were related - the Farlowella could of possibly been sensitive to our water conditions as he lived under a week in the tank,  <Very common> but the Rosy barb death was sudden and strange. He showed no symptoms of illness before death and was even active and eating an hour before. The 2nd barb in our tank had a white bump on her side that was surrounded by redness the day after the male died, but a day later the bump was no longer red and a couple of days after that the bump disappeared. I assumed it was a small trauma or blister that healed. To be honest, it kind of looked like a zit! <Good description... and likely of similar "cause"> Anyhow... the question is - Should we treat for parasitic worms, or should we leave the tank alone. <The latter> Will increasing the salt concentration kill the worms? <Maybe... but stressful to your other livestock as well... not worthwhile IMO> Should we even worry about the worms? <No... they will "pass" in time... with regular maintenance> A small side note - we have a clown Pleco, 2 Cory cats, and an upside down cat, will increasing the salt concentration hurt these fish? <Could, yes> Thanks! Heather <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Orange growth in freshwater? I have a 20 gallon tank, has been established for over a year. I have a Betta, 8 white cloud minnows, 4 blue danios, and an albino Cory cat in there. But the problem isn't with the fish, they are doing great. However, on my fake Cabomba plant, right at the stem where the leaves would be growing out, there are these very strange looking orange puffy growths. I have never seen, nor heard of anything like this before. <Hmm, me neither> I searched on the web, but to no avail on information found. I took one out and tried to examine it, however it turned pretty much to mush, there were no eggs inside or around the growths either. What could this possibly be? Thank you for any info you can provide. Shannon <My best guess is that you actually have encountered a freshwater sponge (please put this term in your computer search tools)... Rare in aquariums, ponds... but do occur... this is about all (my second conjecture would be algae of some sort, third, a gastropod egg-mass...) that is amorphous, soft/mushy as you describe. Bob Fenner>

Green algae growing on freshwater clam I have a freshwater clam in my home aquarium. I've had it for 5 months now. I also have a small goldfish in the tank with the clam. Last month green algae started growing on the shell of the clam and on the walls of the tank. The clam is still alive and very active. The algae can be cleaned from the walls of the tank, but does not come off the shell of the clam. Is this normal? Please help. Lea. <Quite normal and not a problem. Bob Fenner>

Worms that I just cant figure out!     First of all I would like to say that your site is amazing! It has helped me in so many ways, and brought me the closest to solving this than any other site. yet, I still have one little question.... what's in my aquarium? I have two freshwater aquariums that I keep in use about 8-9 month  out of the year. In the summer I move everyone outside, our Wisconsin winters are a little too cold though;) <Brrrr! I'll bet>   I'm one I have a hand raised snapping turtle. (Now you probably think I'm crazy, but you have to understand I am an animal obsessing! He was not properly cared for after hatching, and within a few weeks was passed on to me, and have had no problems with him for the last 6 years. I love him so much.) There is also a, going on 3 yrs FISH, everyday blue gill from my pond in with him. I have him mainly from attachment, after catching minnows to feed my turtles-he always survived the feedings so I just kept him around. I'm my other tank I have a 2 yr old map turtle that was given to me by an animal rehab friend that was given a nest of eggs found in a road construction site. Sadly to say out of all of them mine was the only survivor-she had two others for a while but they passed from shell rot.     There is no plant life/or life of another type in either aquarium, with exception of the summer. That is until now. my larger aquarium (with the snapper) is under invasion. I know you've heard this 100+ times by reading the FAQs but I just cant put my finger on it. I have tons of little worms everywhere in my water, gravel, underneath the floating island, underneath the filter-one of those under gravel type deals, etc! I've talked to my friend in rehab and she's unfamiliar with the problem. She merely said its sounds like a parasite and to separate my fish and turtle for a week or two while I clean out the tank... easier said than done. I don't really have a place to go with them for that length of time. These worms appeared fairly quick and have no fear of light but do seem to spaz when they get in the current of the bubbles-spinning and twisting frantically then they relax and float around or to the bottom. They are incredibly tiny-as thin as hair but maybe 2-3 cm long at most. They seem practically clear too! Although maybe pink or white at the most for color but regardless you have to look super close to see them and when you do they really are everywhere. I'm at a loss of what to do. I know its not from the turtle & from what I've read it sounds like a worm that you said just show signs of maturing tanks. <Very often, yes>     However, I did run into this once before. A very long time ago I had a blue river cat. He was doing great for the longest time and then started to frantically dart from side to side or try to jump from the water. I cleaned the tank even mildly bleached it then cleaned some more than a little while later it came back but I wasn't around. I had been on vacation for a week so I  left him with a 7 day food wafer. When I returned he had some how managed to flip the top of the Aquarium open and fell to his death. I cleaned it some more and but it away until I was giving the snapper and now here I am.  My blue gill hasn't gone nuts....YET but my snapper is constantly sitting himself  right were the bubbles are strongest as if to flush them off. I don't believe it can be from their food either because in winter they receive pellet food (i.e. Reptomin) and occasional night crawlers for calcium and a change. Please help me or steer me in a direction! I would love to have this under control in time for my next vacation (in a month) not having to worry about spreading it to friends who will take care of them , or their critters. Thanks so much for your time!          Hilary <Well, there are MANY worm species... could have come "in" with food, just in/on the livestock during their move to/from in/outside... but, the real issue, what to do? Actually, I would do "nothing"... in terms of harming the worms... they are actually very likely more beneficial than harmful... helping to keep the system clean, less smelly... I would just continue with your regular maintenance routine... gravel vacuuming, water changing... and ignore them. Bob Fenner> Worms: a nematode? Hi Crew!! <Claudine> You wonderful people have answered one of my questions re: general tank set-up before, and were very helpful - thanks! Now I have a more specific question for you. <Okay> I have a 13 gallon tank with goldfish, currently using around 5-8g salt per gallon, some Vallisneria (sp?)<This is it>, and some snails. I do a thorough water change (~50%) once a week via a gravel vacuum, and try to do a small change (~10-20%) in the middle of the week. I feed my goldfish a mixture of fish flakes and frozen peas. They're superbly healthy and doing well. <Sounds good> However, 2 weeks ago, during a water change, I found a worm (1 inch long), round diameter, with a sucky mouth (like a leech), kind of brown in colour. Not knowing what it was (it was on a plant leaf), I killed it and got rid of it - didn't want to take changes with my fish! However, last two gravel vacuums I have done, I noticed that there are some very minute, white worms (maybe 5 - 7mm long, very very skinny - they look like hairs) coming out of the gravel, up my vacuum. I can't actually see them in the tank when it is cycling, only when I vacuum. They seem to be around one particular plant's roots. I haven't actually seen anymore of those big fat worms I described, and I'm not sure if the two are related. Should I be concerned, and is there any treatment necessary? <Interesting... the first animal, with the sucker was actually, very likely a leech... and these latter ones... more likely segmented, though they could be round worms... having a microscope, doing a coronal section near the head, one might see a tri-radiate esophagus... definitive for the phylum...> Also, I have a black and gold goldfish, 6 months old, that is now fading to pure gold. I take it this is normal, and there isn't anything actually causing his black to fade, other than maturation/amount of light/ food he is being fed, anything like that? <Sometimes do fade... normal... sometimes can be reversed, slowed with the addition of foods rich in HUFAs, "carotenoids"... like shrimp pellets...> In advance, sincere thanks. You guys do a great job, and I love the joy my tank brings me. Tis a beautiful thing to have happy, healthy, live things in one's home! Claudine <I would not be concerned re: the worms... nor the color change... your protocol is perfect... though the system could be larger... Bob Fenner>

Re: Worms: a nematode? Cheers Bob! Glad I got rid of the leech!! :) Am working on a bigger tank..... Will let you know if the wormy situation gets out of hand/continues/changes. Kind Thanks, Claudine <Real good. Bob F>

Freshwater help... inverts Hello Bob, I have an question about what in my fish tank. I have these tin tiny white worms in my fish tank there are lots of them. They mostly stay on the glass and crawl around. I'm wanting to know what they are and is it harmful to my fish. Thanks Louis. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwinvertfaqs.htm and learn to, use the Google Search Tool on the Indices, Homepage. Bob Fenner>

Leeches??? Hi <Hello> I have had guppies for a few years and not experienced any problems. A few months ago I added a small Pleco followed by two elephant nosed fish. Shortly after introducing them to the tank I developed white spot.   <Hopefully your fishes... not you!> I managed to cure this but lost a few guppies and one of the elephant nosed fish. I since read up on the elephant nose fish on the internet where it said not to keep them in pairs as the weaker one would be killed by the stronger. <Yes, very often... particularly in small systems> Since I have had all of these problems, I did a gravel clean and disturbed only what I can describe as a leech. It was about an inch long, white and had a sucker. At first I thought it was a dead fish. All of the info I have found on leeches describe them as fairly small and I have not found any of this colour. This leech (?) is bigger than some of my guppies. I cleaned the tank and a couple of days later found another one. I know they can be introduced by new fish... <Or live food/s> ...but surely I would have spotted them when I bought them. How can I determine that it is a leech and if so make sure there are not any more, I am really unsure of what to do. <Mmm, you could look at them carefully... leeches/hirudineans are pretty distinctive... Take a look on the Net re: their superficial morphology... from your description already, I am pretty sure this is what you have> Can you please help? Many thanks <By thoroughly cleaning, gravel vacuuming your tank, you have very likely removed all the leeches from your tank. There are chemicals that to a large degree will poison just these worms... but I would not use them. Bob Fenner>

Mystery Worms - 01/14/2005 Hi. <Hello.> I have a 10 gallon fresh water aquarium. It contains 4 female guppies and one baby. <No problem there, that's for sure.> I just recently noticed small white skinny worms. They wiggle and move and the guppies seen to not even notice them. I don't know what to do. <The short answer:  Nothing.  The long answer:  These are probably harmless nematodes or Planaria.  Many freshwater aquaria will have such creatures.  They rarely ever become a nuisance unless the tank is overstocked (which yours is not) or overfed.  Be very cautious of how much you feed the guppies, and if you're not already, I highly recommend that you start testing your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  If your nitrate is over 20ppm, chances are that you might be overfeeding and/or not changing the water often enough - start changing the water more often and you should notice the worm population recede.  But to put your mind at ease, these worms are very likely completely harmless to your fish, so chances are that you don't need to fear for the well-being of the guppies.> Please help me soon. <All should be well.  Let us know if anything further is amiss or if the worms appear to be giving the guppies any problems.> Thanks, Lena <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Mystery FW Worms Hi Guys. This is Alvin here. I am currently keeping a Scleropages jardinei together with a Pleco in a 50 gallon tank( inclusive of a sump tank). My feeding has been kept to minimal and no leftovers are noticed. However, I noticed a population of white crawling worms which I suspect are Planaria. Any ideas of how I can get rid of them? I use only Filter wool and Biohome in my sump tank. Thanks. <Mmm, Planaria are flatworms... flat, not circular... and move in a distinctive gliding motion... these are likely annelids (segmented worms)... and very likely not dangerous to your livestock... in fact, perhaps helpful in keeping the tank clean... And their numbers are best kept in check through careful feeding, regular vacuuming and water changes. Bob Fenner>

Tiny jumping spiders Hi, I have a weird question. I have a 48 gallon tank with 8 cichlids in there. Tetratec300 power filter, all the water specs seem ok, but I noticed the fish seem very scared and stick close to the bottom, they rarely swim all the way up if at all. They do if they're really hungry and it seems they do it really quickly, meaning, they swim up quickly to pick up the food and swim back down quickly. Now the question is, I see some weird tiny white (clear?) spiders, they are maybe 1mm in length, hard to say whether they're spiders or something else but seeing one very up close I noticed it has about 8 legs. in the beginning I thought it was just air bubbles in the aquarium but now I'm beginning to think it's them! there's a couple dozen of them on the surface of the water and they seem to be jumping up and down! now if they "are" the bubbles in the aquarium, then I have hundreds of them!!! I turned the filter off for a little while to make sure it wasn't the water splashing and I was right, it's tiny little white thingies jumping around!!! How do I get rid of this, I do partial water changes every week but I guess that didn't do anything... help me!!! < These are little springtails and are harmless to the fish. They feed off the fish food when you feed the fish. If you decide to switch to a wet dry filter with a surface skimmer then they will be sucked into the skimmer.-Chuck>

Small black flies Hi, I have a 55 gallon tank with only a few fish in it. About 2 months ago, I started seeing these little worms in the filter when I changed it. Then I started seeing these small black flies all around my fish tank. They were coming out of the filters! What is this and how do I get rid of it? < Usually invertebrates are quickly eaten by fish. If you obtained any sand, rocks or plants from nearby waterways then the contaminants could have come from these sources. Clean your filter often, change 30% of the water weekly and do not overfeed your fish. A clean aquarium will usually take care of most of these little critters. If you want to medicate the yank then try Parasite-Clear or Fluke Tabs.-Chuck>

Swimming White Spots Hello there! I have a fresh water tropical tank and a while ago I noticed a guppy fry chasing a tiny white spot, smaller in size than a grain of sugar or salt and hardly even visible. The white thing swam jerkily and the fry soon gave up. Today I've seen this happening again. I was wondering what this thing could be and I hope you can help me. I searched the archive, but the only reference I could find for white spots like that were in marine tanks, and I don't know if those same creatures can live in fresh water. I'm curious to know what they are and I want to know whether I should worry about them and I appreciate your help. Golan. <Hi Golan, Don here. Most likely a water flea. Not to worry. Good fish food. But if you get a lot of them it means your tank is dirty. Make sure you do frequent partial water changes and are using a gravel vac to clean the bottom>

Strange red worm like thing Hello <Hey Lukas, MacL here with you on this fine day.> Lukas here.  I have recently observed a odd looking red worm like things at the bottom of my 90 gallon and on some of my plants in my Betta enclosure. It seems to be growing at the top of the Betta tank on some plants. <Sounds like algae to me.>  But in my 90 gallon its at the bottom around the gravel. I try to suck this stuff up when I do my water change but it keeps coming back.  If you need a pic I can get you one on Tuesday. <Pictures definitely help, send it to me if you don't mind.>  What is this stuff and is it bad for my fish? Thank you L

Little red worms in my filters Hello, I'm new to this. We have an outside pond and we have pond Koi in it. Well we haven't really been able to see the fish, so we thought we'd bring in the Koi into a tank inside. <Good idea... done while the water is not too cold yet outdoors... keep the tank covered!> Well the fish are looking wonderful and acting great. But it came time for me to clean the filters when I noticed a bunch of little about 1/4 of an inch deep, bright red worms. I can't really recall them alive, I just wanted to get rid of them fast. Now my question is.... What are they? <A few possibilities... but likely oligochaetous annelids... maybe even of the family of worms used as fish foods (tubificids) around the world> Did they come from my Koi? Are they something I need to treat? Are my fish sick? <No, no and no... likely "came" from an aquatic bird (happens all the time) visiting your pond, or an aquatic plant... Not harmful very likely, and no need to treat, kill, remove... as a matter of fact these are very beneficial organisms that will help keep the system clean, improve water quality> I'm so sorry for bothering you all, But I don't want to loose them.... Thank you bunches for taking the time out to read my email.... <Thank you for writing> P.S. I have other fish in with my Koi.... Like an Angel Fish, a few Mollies, a Firemouth Meeki, a Jack Dempsey, and a Albino placusemus (sp) and a clawed frog. All the fish get along fine. Are the worms something I need to worry about?       Thank you again, Lawona Goodman <Not to worry, they are all fine. Bob Fenner>

FW worm id This morning when I was feeding my baby mollies I noticed  at the top of my aquarium these black worm like things. I took some toilet paper and got one out and looked at it. It was about as big as this (----) it was solid black with what looked like little hairs or legs on its side sorry for no picture. I looked on google and all I can find is information about black worms and that's not what they are kinda look like leeches. My question is how did they get in my tank and what are they. Please help. < If it had legs then it is some sort of insect or larva that is feeding on the excess food found on the surface of the tank glass and may have fallen in while you went to feed the fish. An adult insect may have come to feed on any left over fish food and laid some eggs. The other possibility is that it is an aquatic insect that may have flown in as an adult and laid some eggs in the water and flew away. Larger fish should eat them. Truly aquatic insects are carnivorous and should always be removed. I would clean the surface of the top glass of any excess food and remove any strange creatures just as you have done. I don't think they pose a problem to your fish.-Chuck> Alissa

Freshwater Bristle Worm? Hi, I hope you can help me! I used to keep a marine tank about four years ago and gave up and said that was it no more fish. Well now I have set-up a small freshwater tropical planted fish tank , it has been running for about five or six months now. My question is we have seen the fish go mad over a worm found in the tank, it was about two inches long, alive and being eating by a small angle fish and a Congo tetra. This worm was identical to the bristle worms we had in our marine tank but did not think you could get them in fresh water is this correct? <Yes> But how could it get there as we have not added any rock only dry gravel plants and fish. And could these cause problems to the tank inmates? < There are lots of little freshwater creepy crawlies that come into a freshwater aquarium. Usually they come in as eggs or larvae attached to the plants. They grow to a point until the fish realize that they are around and soon become live food. Some become parasitic on fish but I think you would have seen them by now.-Chuck> Kind Regards Grahame Brown

Iodine and Inverts - Freshwater - 08/22/2004 Hi, <Hello.> You guys recommended Kent iodine supplement for freshwater snails. <Not so much "us guys" as just me, I think - Sabrina here, the freshwater-shrimp-obsessed.> I had the chance to order some and when I received it I discovered that it is a marine aquarium product.  Did I get the right product? <Yes.> If so, what's the correct dosage for a freshwater tank with one big snail? :) <I use one drop per ten gallons every week for my freshwater shrimp tanks.  This seems to have worked wonders for the animals, despite the *seemingly* insignificant amount of iodine - it has proven the difference between life and death in my tanks.> Thanks!! <You betcha!  Wishing you and your snail well,  -Sabrina> ~Anna

Not Mosquito larvae but what???????? are these things?   I'm clueless.  I inherited a 50 gal fresh water tank with Mollies, Gouramis, danios, tiger barbs and Corys.  I've had it four years.  I had no experience and fish have survived thru no fault of my own. Several months ago, fish store had water hyacinths.  Being clueless, I bought one.  Ended up with snails but learned they are a mixed blessing, can be controlled and no big deal. <Good> HOWEVER, the last few times I've done water changes, I noticed the water looks like it is snowing - hadn't seen anything like it before but attributed it to stirred up sediment.  After the 2nd or 3rd time, it just looked too strange so I got a magnifying glass. Along with the normal gunk, I saw these things, about 1/8" to 1/4" long and there was one today that was 1/2".  They look like white thread and snap around like mosquito larvae but they are not.  With stronger magnification, it looks like they have razor scales along their body and some sort of head at one end. Does any one know what these critters are?  Are they a problem for the fishes (and/or me since I've had my hands in there)? Thanks to who ever has info to share. <I hope these are just one of a few possible aquatic insect larvae that are harmless (look up the word "chironomid" on the Net with Google, look at images), and not small Odonatans/dragonflies... Here's a fave: http://insects.ummz.lsa.umich.edu:16080/~ethanbr/chiro/ Bob Fenner>

Re: chironomid-think you hit it THANK YOU for the help.  Picture I saw looks exactly what I see in my tank with magnifying glass. <Ahh> I am ill right now so unable to read all the info, however skimming thru it learned they are used as bait by fishermen and thereby harmless?  (Can't help wondering how they get those little things on a hook? <Yes, harmless. In fact, often used as fish food in places. Be well. Bob Fenner>

Chironomid-last thought and then 'over and out' Don't try eradication, let them be and save on fish food?   <I would> Didn't know enough to think it germane mentioning 50 gal indoor led to 600 gal outdoor. <Hee hee, this happens> Plants I bought were grown outdoors and purchased for outdoor pool.   Clueless me took a small one and put it in house tank which explains how this type critter got inside. <Also not uncommon... I've done this on (from the Old English meaning "many") several times...> Thanks again for helping me put the pieces together! <A pleasure to share. Bob Fenner>

Using Clams as FW filters Crew @ WetWeb. Is it possible that freshwater clams could take the place of my aquarium filter? << No, I don't like that idea.  I much prefer the idea that a nice filter can provide a better home for clams.  I understand the reasoning of using clams as the filters, but I don't like the idea.  To me, it is better to have a clean system which requires feeding, as opposed to a dirty system that doesn't require cleaning. Hope that makes sense. >> <<  Adam B.  >>

Aquarium visitor... Leech? Hello, I have just started keeping a fish tank, I have some young mollies that my granddaughter gave me last Thursday. This afternoon I noticed a slug like object halfway up the glass surface I took it out and it was soft to the touch, had a pointed tail and what seemed like 4 antlers on its head, It retracted its head very quickly. It was about 10 mm long, is it harmful to the fish and is there any fish that can be used to clear these up some one said a Skunk Loach. I am sorry I don't have much information but as I said I am just a beginner. Thanks Mac < It sounds like you have plant leech. They sometimes come in with black worms. They are harmless to your fish and I find that that disappear after a while.-Chuck> Michael McInerney Hersham Walton - on - Thames Surrey 

I think I have Worms Hey, AGAIN sorry to be such a pain I realize you guys got lots of letters.  Anyway I got these worm like things in my tank well they look like very very tiny maggots all most they are like 3 mm long and very thin are they parasitic?  please get back to me. Thanks for reading, Aaron <<Dear Aaron, they sound like Planaria. Are they on the glass? Is this a freshwater tank? This is generally caused by overfeeding and improper maintenance. Try to cut back on the amount of food going into the tank, and make sure you vacuum thoroughly with a siphon when you do your water changes. Once a week is a good idea, specially till your worms go away...which they will when they no longer have a food source. -Gwen>> 

Copepods In My Tank? HI Crew: Thanks for helping me identify my Planaria colony Gwen, and I will try to clean better and do more water changes.  I wrote in yesterday to try to find out what some little white creatures were that were darting across my glass. Chuck said they might be daphnia, but I 'm not so sure. They are really tiny, like under a millimeter in size. They are whitish in color with the main body being oval shaped or round. Some have one tail, and some have two small circles attached to the bottom of the main body. One analogy to best describe the  ones with one tail is that they sort of look the same shape as a sperm. The ones with the two circle type tails look the same shape as if you drew an oval on paper and then drew two small circles attached to the bottom of the oval, beside each other. I think they may be copepods.  There are a lot more today that yesterday. They don't seem to like light. Can you help me identify them? If they are copepods, what ramifications does that have for my tank and how can I get them out of there? I think they may have come in with some small floating plants I recently introduced, but I'm not sure. Can you help? Thanks, Mark <<Mark, is this tank freshwater or saltwater? WetWeb has many "Hitchhiker FAQ's" that you can check, to see if you can find your critters. Taking a pic of them with a digital camera and emailing it to us here will also help us to identify the lil beasties :) and perhaps one of the "saltier" crew members here will recognize them. If these are freshwater, you can look up pics on the Internet of Hydra and Cyclops, to see if maybe they are those.. anyways, a pic would help :) -Gwen>>

Other Parasitic Creatures different than worms Hi Crew, Now that you have me looking more closely at my freshwater aquarium, I have found some almost microscopic creatures that are also on the glass. They are extremely small, about the size of a piece of dust, or a grain of very fine sand. They are white and appear to be sort of an oval shape with a small tail.  They are really difficult to see, and I almost went blind looking at them, but to a layman they look like they might be some sort of lice or water flea. They dart quickly in very short repetitive spurts across the glass. Any ideas as to what they are and if they are harmful. I am trying to keep my gravel cleaner and do more frequent water changes, but now there are Planaria and these things too. Is there a treatment/medicine that will get rid of all these things, but leave the fish and plants intact? < I suspect that you have some species of daphnia in your tank. Fish eat most species but there are a few that the fish do not like. They don't harm your fish and will probably disappear over time as you keep up on your aquarium maintenance.-Chuck> Thanks, Mark. 

New tank with mysterious worms Hi I read through the FAQ and did not really find the answer to my question. We set up a new 29 gallon freshwater tank today. Everything is brand new, the tank, the rocks, the plastic plants and formations, everything! It looked really great and all we had to do was wait 48 hours to add the fish. We left home for 3 hours and when we came home there were 100s of little bright pink worms swimming all over. They are a 1/2 inch or smaller. They coil themselves up and propel themselves to move. We washed everything before adding the water, even the rocks. We also added the stuff that neutralizes the tap water. My question where did they come from if nothing was alive in the tank and everything was cleaned. We haven't added any fish yet, but would the worms be harmful or would the snail and sucker fish eat them? We have had fish tanks for years and have never had a problem like this while first setting up a tank. PLEASE HELP!!!!  < I don't think that they are true worms in the sense that we think of worms. I think that they are probably an insect larva of some sort. Worms would settle to the bottom of the tank and into the gravel. Insect larvae such as you describe often are found swimming in the open water. Assuming the water came from a municipal water source I think that they may have come from some wet sand or gravel. I think the local fish store may have gotten some sand from a local quarry or pit that was near a creek or stream. Mayfly or mosquito larvae may have laid their eggs in the sand that have over-wintered in the sand and now think it is spring and have begun to hatch. Either way when you add new fish to your tank I think that they will enjoy their live food.-Chuck>  Thank you Stacy

Oystahs..  >Can oysters live in a fresh water tank to help keep it clean?  >>Only if they're freshwater oysters, a creature of which I am not aware. Mussels and clams do exist in freshwaters, though. Know that these creatures can be somewhat delicate.  >I have 6 different fish, a crab, an African frog and 2 snails. Two bottom dwellers to keep the gravel clean.  >>Ah, just because they inhabit the bottom a detritus-eater does not make.  >I don't have live plants, I'm treating the water with AquaSafe, but the water remains cloudy, and with Clear Water treatment. Mr. Jean Charles Blanchette.  >>If the tank is new (or sometimes even if not) you are likely experiencing what is known as 'new tank syndrome'. What you need to do is stop messing with it, don't vacuum, don't clean the sides, let it be for a while. This should allow sufficient nitrifying bacteria to develop that will out compete the free-floating bacteria that I'm guessing have taken hold in your tank. This is, of course, shooting from the hip, as I haven't got much useable information. Marina

White Worms In Gravel Hello, I have a 55 gallon aquarium and have noticed small white worms in my gravel. The fish I have in the tank are guppies and two Plecostomus. I have had no problems until now and just need some advise to get rid of them. Thanks, mike <<Dear Mike. It sounds like Planaria, in which case, you will also see them on the tank glass. This is generally caused by overfeeding. Cut back on the feeding, vacuum your gravel with each water change, and this problem should rectify itself quickly. Some fish, like gourami's, will eat Planaria. However, you do need to be careful to keep your tank clean, and keep up with your regular partial water changes. HTH -Gwen>>

Re: Tiny white worms in my aquarium - II Hi Gwen, Thanks for the info. I don't think I've been getting deep enough into the gravel when vacuuming, even though my water changes have been several each week, approx 20% each time, I think I will have to vacuum more thoroughly.  I saw a cardinal tetra eat one of the worms that I knocked off of the glass when cleaning tonight. Thanks so much. Mark. <<Mark, you are most welcome :) -Gwen>> 

Miniature bike helmets in my FW tank... Hi Bob -- <Ananda, good to have you back> Some inverts have appeared in a Fw tank I re-started recently. I have no idea what phylum these are in (which makes research a bit difficult!), so I thought I'd see if you had any ideas regarding IDing them. They are approximately 2mm long x 1.5mm wide x 1mm high, shaped like bike helmets. (I'm guesstimation on the dimensions; they don't stay still long enough to measure them.) They are transparent, with lines on the "shell" where the vents would be on a bike helmet, plus additional lines in a more chaotic pattern on the front half of the shell. There is a red dot in the center of the body. <Ah ha!> They have two antennae-like structures on one end of the shell; they are curved and wider at the ends. They stay in the substrate when they are not swimming around. They look like hovercraft or UFOs when they're swimming and have no visible means of propulsion. <Good description> The tank is a 5g Eclipse hex. Substrate is dirt, peat, and gravel. The tank had been dry, with substrate intact, for over a year before I started it up again. The water I put in the tank came from my 30g Fw planted and from the tap. I had eight molly fry in there until last Thursday (now that they're too big to be eaten, they're in the 30g). The fry totally ignored these inverts. The tank is typically 84 degrees during the day. According to the TetraTest kits, the pH is about 7.8, GH is 8, KH is 5, ammonia is 0.25, nitrite is 0.3. The Aq. Pharm. kit says the nitrate is about 20. The last water change was two weeks ago, and the tank has not been fed since last Thursday. But there are definitely more inverts now than there were last week. In fact, while I was waiting for the test kits, I noticed a second type of invert in the tank. They look much the same as the crash helmets, but are more cigar-shaped. I would like to eradicate these things from the tank, but I am curious to find out what they are, first. --Ananda <Some form of arthropods... the ones with the red dot sound like water mites (!) and the second? Don't know... maybe a crustacean of some sort. Usually such "recruits" come about through accidental introduction from "wild collecting" of fishes, invert.s or live plants... at other times via live foods. Not generally deleterious, and often "just fade away" with time. Bob Fenner>

Re: Miniature bike helmets in my Fw tank... Usually such "recruits" come about through accidental introduction from "wild collecting" of fishes, invert.s or live plants... at other times via live foods. There were no plants in the tank, no live foods were used in the tank, and they are the only inverts in the tank. Some of the water came from the plant tank, but that's it. The fry are at least third-generation captive bred. <Bizarre, for sure> The tank they were born in has not had any live introductions since I added some ghost shrimp and some plants that Sabrina sent me several months ago. I have not seen these critters in the planted tank nor has Sabrina seen them in her tank. I did not see them in the QT the ghost shrimp were in before I moved them into the planted tank. The tank was dry and dead for over a year, and I never saw these in the tank before then. Could they have come in with the tap water?!? --Ananda <Yeeikes... I hope not... "stuff" this big should not make it through the potable treatment plant. Bob F>

Lair of The White Worm! Do you know anything about white worms. in freshwater tanks. <These are Planaria. Planaria are flatworms and members of the Platyhelminthes phylum.  Planaria are often found in aquariums with uneaten food. The Planaria won't hurt the fish, but they are a symptom of too much gravel containing too much uneaten food, and that is not good for fish.  You should do a water change and vacuum your gravel to help remove the uneaten food and some of the worms.  Doing this will reduce the number of worms in your tank.  Good luck -Magnus>

White Worms, and a Bit More Info - III - 02/10/2004 Ok I put some food in the tank and the lobster never ate it. So I got worms from uneaten food. Now there are a lot of white worms in my tank little white ones. <With this as the most (only) information that you've given us, I can guess that you probably have some sort of nematode or Planaria infesting the tank....  not so much a direct threat to the crayfish or other inhabitants, but a sign of less than adequate husbandry....  Do not overfeed, be sure to remove uneaten food, change water regularly, vacuum gravel properly, change filter media as necessary....  basically, remove the food and nutrients that is fueling these worms, and they will gradually die off on their own.  On such little info, that's the best I can give you.  I hope it helps.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

FW Mollusks and Disease (1/9/2004) Hi, Thanks again for the help. I did one bit of clarification please:   At 01:01 AM 1/7/2004, you wrote: ><I haven't tried it. However, I've heard that freshwater mollusks can be disease carriers.> Disease in what respect? Something that might hurt my fish, or something that I might actually catch myself? <Possibly both - read more by searching the FAQs under "disease, carriers" Hope this helps. Steve Allen>

Planaria, or Parasites? I have 2 10 gal. tanks with feeder guppies that have been breeding.  There is a parasite in the tanks that looks like a clear, small leech.  What do I need to do to clear the tanks of these "leeches".  Our local pet store told us that these are probably beneficial parasites that the guppies will feed on, but this information was supplied without their seeing the parasite.  We have not seen any of these on the fish themselves but on the sides of the tanks and in the filter.  Please advise. <Well, if they're not attached to the fish, if they're only on the glass or other areas of the tank, I doubt that they're parasites of any sort - "parasite" means that it's something that attaches to or lives in the fish and hurts the fish.  What you have are probably Planaria.  A planarian is a small worm, usually just a few millimeters long, and are best identified by a "V" shaped head - take a look at this:  http://www.naparcd.org/planarian.htm .  The presence of these little wormies suggests an overabundance of "stuff" in your tank that they are feeding on.  To get rid of them, simply eliminate their food source - more frequent water changes, being sure to vacuum the gravel, and cleaning out the filter will help with this.  They are essentially harmless, but it'd be a good idea to clean up the tank a bit to reduce their numbers or eliminate them completely.  Hope all goes well,  -Sabrina> Janet

Small worms in freshwater tank (11/06/03)  <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon>  We have a 29 gallon regular fish tank, we have 2 angel fish and some small plants, lately the water has started turning green and now we have some kind of small worms on the inside of the tank and was wondering what they are and what we can do about it?  <Well, the water turning green is an algae bloom. That's usually triggered by an excess of nitrates and phosphates. To combat that, you'll want to do more frequent water changes. Also make sure you aren't over-feeding -- if there is any food your fish don't eat, it adds to the phosphates in the tank. You might get a phosphate test (I like the SeaTest/FasTest one for freshwater) and some phosphate remover (like Phosguard) if your phosphates are high even after several water changes. Once you get the nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) out of the tank, the algae should die off, and the worm population should decrease. I'm not sure exactly what you have, but they are most likely not harmful for your fish. --Ananda> 

The Thing from the Plant Lagoon Hello, I'm trying to help out a friend in identifying an odd *thing* growing in her discus set up. She has several chunks of African root in her tank that was "cultured" in the tanks at the store where she bought it. This "cultured" wood had Java moss and a few other plants growing on it. The odd plant-thing just showed up in her tank about two weeks ago (the set up has been running for months). THING (it really deserves a name) looks like a bunch of white, slightly furry threads that develop fringes when they stand up in the water. THING is growing through the gravel, up the root-wood, and along plant roots and stems. The best comparison I can come up with is that it looks  like a wild strand of hairy Java moss growing like a lichen on the tank decorations. It can be picked off of objects, but it is a bit clingy. <Sounds like a nearby plant's roots have found the wood and decided to sink its toes in.  If 'Thing' isn't too scary, gently brush the substrate off and see if you can trace it to something.  Other than that, I *might* suspect a freshwater sponge, perhaps.  Can you get some pics to email to us?> As of today her water quality is way off (she panicked and did a massive cleaning to try to kill THING off a few days ago). She has ammonia, <Fix that....  very toxic.  Water changes until the spike's gone, and watch for nitrite to spike....  The tank might be cycling again from the cleaning.> no nitrites, and low nitrates. Her lights are on about 10 hours a day and her filter is a well loaded canister (bio-ceramic tubes, carbon, Zeolite chips, floss, peat granules). The tank is fed sparingly twice a day and gets small weekly water changes. <All sounds good.> I'm guessing that we have phosphates in our water (Ft. Worth/ Dallas Metropolis), we DO have ammonia (chloramines) <Mm, chloramine is really chlorine and ammonia bonded together; not really ammonia, but still toxic.  Many dechlorinators treat for this (the label will say if it does or not).> and sometimes we have nitrites. The water quality from the tap is 8.2-8.4 depending on the season (summer is BAD), <Hoo, do I ever understand *that*.  My tap comes out around 8.2 in the winter, and get this, *9.4* in the summer.  Horrible to deal with for plant tanks....> off the dip-stick chart for hardness and really alkaline. <The dip-stick type tests are usually unreliable; might want to try a liquid reagent test, so you can figure out your levels a bit more reliably.  Aquarium Pharmaceuticals does the count-the-drops type for KH and GH, so you wouldn't have to worry about it being off the charts> Her tank temperature is 80*F.  I can't find any reference on the Web as to THING's real name or ID. Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated. <Heh, even with as painstakingly strict as I am about what goes/stays in my tanks, I'd probably consider 'Thing' a welcome guest unless he became an issue.  I assume it's restricted to a small-ish location (as in, not all over everything in the tank)?  I'd really be interested in pics....  -Sabrina> Thanks,  Mike

Bugs Under Gravel Bed! This is a two part question. The first is about my 40 gal. Cycling for 4 years eclipse hood, Eheim 2026 pro2 canister, heater,  AquaClear 402 power head. I clean about once every two weeks, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, everything is always ok, sometimes there was a nitrate spike but I had some old big Orandas in there for the 4 years. I just put the Orandas in a 75 gal so the 40 is for rasboras, platys and clown loaches and 1 Pleco. So now that you know this my question is. as I look under the gravel in this aquarium I notice lice looking bugs crawling around everywhere under the gravel. I have the large 1" diameter gravel rocks so you can see this in between the air pockets. I don't remember ever seeing these. I just did a water change a few days ago and noticed them shortly after. So far they are not affecting the fish but I have never seen this and it is creepy. I almost think they are multiplying. I started adding Aquarisol half strength scared to hurt the loaches. <Stop using the Aquarisol - it's probably not going to help much, and really isn't great for the fish.> what are they? <Probably daphnia or something similar.  Essentially harmless (even a yummy food for some fish), but the proliferation of them is indicative of possible problems.  The reason they're there is probably the large diameter gravel - this is very difficult stuff to vacuum, and will pretty much always have 'grunge' in it (fish waste, food, other organic matter).  This 'grunge' is what the little bugs are feeding off.  As long as there's stuff to feed 'em, they'll still be there.  The best thing you can do is replace the huge gravel with something much smaller (pea-sized or slightly less).  Do it slowly, like a bit a week, after very thoroughly vacuuming the portion to be replaced.  I've dealt with trying to vacuum large pebble substrate before, and it's just not something that can happen without some serious effort (and I was always afraid I'd crack the glass, swishing those big rocks around....).  Looks neat, but just isn't worth dealing with, and creates problems, like what you're seeing.  This substrate is likely the major cause for the nitrate spikes (along with the ever-poopy Orandas).  It'll help your system tremendously to replace it.  To get a similar look, use a finer substrate (pea gravel, whatever) and spread some of the larger stones on top, or place piles of them decoratively against driftwood or large rocks.> The second part of this question is my sons eclipse system six has been established for years also and cleaned regularly, use cycle, Amquel every cleaning. I was looking under his gravel which is marbles and though I was looking at dead blood worms but inside the shell of the worm and small round thread like worm crawled out, I noticed they were everywhere. This is not Planaria I know what that looks like these are thread like round worms, really creepy. I have not administered any medications he has 3 apple snails I did not want to hurt them.  What do I do.   <What you're seeing here is almost definitely some sort of nematode (eh, worms).  Like the little bugs, these are likely completely harmless in and of themselves, but again, are indicators of some possible problems.  They're there for the same reason (marbles, too, are pretty difficult to clean in/around/under/between).  I'd suspect you also see nitrate problems here, too?  Same fix for this, as well; slowly (like a bit each week) replace the marbles with pea-sized or slightly smaller gravel substrate, and if you like the marbles, keep a handful or two to pile decoratively once you've got the substrate replaced.  Eliminate the food source of these creatures, and they'll die out.  Once you're all settled with your substrate, gravel vacuum regularly with water changes.  Do be sure to check your filter media, as well, to be sure it's not covered in these little critters, too.> Thanks,  Christie <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Planarians Hello.   <Hi.  Sabrina with you today.> I have a 20 gallon cichlid tank with a Fluval 4 plus filter very good water and pH, NO2, NO3, KH, GH.   <I assume ammonia checks out, too?  Can you give us your test results for your water parameters?> Same problem back again with little white worm type things on glass front and sides and back.  Tried salt and methylene blue and they seemed to have gone.  Two weeks later they're back again, about 50 of them.  When I have the light off for a day they're all out on glass but soon as I turn the light on most disappear only 5 or 6 left on tank front.   <These are probably planarians.  Harmless to fish, these show up usually as a result of overfeeding.> One of my keyholes has red marks around face and did have a bit of fungus on side fins but gone now with MelaFix, but red marks remain.  All fish rubbing on rocks and flat stone.   <All of this might be attributable to water quality issues/overfeeding - how often do you do water changes?  Gravel vacuum?  Clean out the filter?> Please can you give help on what they are and how to get fid of them?   <Do some good sized water changes, and some rigorous gravel vacuuming.  Check your filter and clean.  Decrease the amount you feed your fish for a while.  This should all help reduce the amount of Planaria, if that is in fact what they are.  Basically, when their food source is gone, they'll be gone, too.> I don't know if they're parasites or something else.  The worm things are about 1 cm to 1 1/2 cm long white thin body.   <Planaria are particularly easy to tell, with their classic "V" shaped head.> Thank you for your time.

Insect ID Hello, we don't know the name (scientific or common) of this insect and would like to do some research into exactly what it is.  Do any of you WWM Crew know what the scientific or common name of this is so we can study up on it?  We have never seen anything like it until we found this where we work.  The head and front legs are bright yellow and the rest of it is dark purple.  The tail is at least 4-5" long.  I am sending a picture.  Thanks for any help, Jeff <Nice pic. Does appear to be a species of Mud Dauber Wasp (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). You can "look up" much info., other pix with these names on the Net. Bob Fenner>

Re: Insect ID Hello again,  it is a wasp then with stinger as well?   <Not necessarily> I assume the extremely long tail thing is not the stinger but is in the rear of the insect? <Yes> I entered the name you sent in your e-mail in ask Jeeves but am only coming up with pics of the common mud dauber that you mention and that I am familiar with.  Any more clues that would point me to better pics with description on the web?   Thanks ever so much again, Jeff <Do try Google... and words like "flying insect/s" and your State, general geographical area. Bob Fenner>

What are these things?? More planarians? Good evening crew. <Good evening, Susan!  Sabrina here> I sent the following message Saturday but haven't seen any answer as of yet'¦.soooo  I thought I might try again. Know you all are busy but any help you can give me would be much appreciated. <I'm so sorry I wasn't able to get back to you last night; I've been battling an illness in my wild angels and totally stressing about it, so I've been quite preoccupied.... many apologies> Since I sent the request I have been doing as much research as I can. I'm now about 99% certain these guys are planarians and I know they are supposed to be 'harmless' but I also understand they will eat eggs. <What I know/can find, planarians really are harmless, and I've never heard/read about them eating eggs, but I'm certainly not positive about it.  Can you describe the worms?  You mentioned in your original message that they were white, flat, wider towards the middle, and about 3/4 of an inch long.  The size alone is suggesting to me that they may not be planarians, which (from my understanding) are typically 10mm or smaller.  Do they have a "V" shaped head?  That's pretty much a dead giveaway that they are, in fact, planarians.> I would really like to get rid of the planarians before breeding my fish. <I can certainly understand!> Also, I inadvertently spread the problem to my 30-gallon community tank by 'seeding' the smaller tank with mature filter media from my big tank. <Oh, ugh....> This happened before I knew there was a problem in my 125G. I also forgot to mention that we are on well water if it makes a difference. <Mm, possibly, but I wouldn't think so.  Worm infestations can happen in tanks that use the best of water.  Usually, huge amounts of worms are the result of overfeeding, or otherwise excessive nutrients, and most often seen in predator tanks, like yours (several large predatory cichlids, an electric catfish, and an ever-messy plec, in a 125 gallon tank, yes?).  Try cutting back extensively on feeding for a while and see how that affects the worm population.  Also, keep up with hefty gravel vacuuming to see if you can pull some of the little suckers outta there.> I treat any new water (with Prime) before adding to the tanks. Even though we test our well'¦.you just never know. I have talked to the three LFS I patronize and two advised Copper... NO WAY was I going to put this in my tanks. <Ugh!  No....  Avoid this desperately!  Especially with your scaleless plec and catfish.  Bad LFS, bad!  Deserves a swat on the nose!> One finally suggested a fluke eliminator. But he was a little hesitant and unsure so I haven't done anything except vacuum and perform water changes in both tanks and cut the food by ½. <Ah, yes, perfect.  Keep it up for a couple weeks, and see what happens with the wormies.  Also, I'd like to mention that I had the occasional planarian showing up in my plant tank (well, lots of 'em, really), and they seem to have been eliminated by a very minute amount of Fenbendazole (proprietary name Panacur) that I used to rid my tank of (shudder) hydra.  I certainly haven't seen a single planarian (or hydra!) in a month or two.  But then again, my planarians were about 2-3mm long.  Tiny.  The Fenbendazole did not affect my bacteria bed in the slightest, nor did it have any effects on any plants, shrimps, or fish.  It is usually sold as a goat-worming medicine, but can even be used as a wormer for discus.> My water parameters have not changed and all the fish are fine. I still have all 14 new Platy babies and they are growing like crazy. And I still have a gazillion 'creatures' that give me the creeps. <Well, keep up with what you're doing, for the time being, and see if the worms start to die out.  I'd also like to mention our chat forum http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/  as we have rather recently had another fellow with a similar problem - perhaps you guys can compare notes.> Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide. <Glad to help, and again, sorry for the late response!>

Planarians - Part 2 Good evening Sabrina <Hello again, Susan!> Thanks for responding so quickly! I do hope you are successful with your angels. My research of Turbellarians flatworms (freshwater planarians) indicates they can be up to 1 inch in length. I was able to capture one of these little buggers and compared it to pictures found at www.planarians.org and it looks like the picture. Yes... they have a V shaped head (upside down V ). <Yeah....  "V" shaped heads almost always mean planarian, IME.> For now I am going on the assumption they are planarians and I am trying to obtain some Panacur. However, I am a little uncertain about the dosage. Somewhere on the Internet I read that the dose for hydra is 0.5 grams per 100 liters. What dosage did you use? <Honestly, I used so little, I don't know the actual dose.  Likely less than a gram in my 72 gallon tank (filled to ~60 gallons).  It took a couple of days to wipe out the hydra completely, and I'm really not sure about whether it nailed my little planarians or not, but I used to see 'em frequently, and since treatment have seen none.> Assuming that I treat both tanks this will work out to about 3 grams of Panacur. Also, do you think I can safely use this in the tank with the Platy fry? <Possibly, but if you can, perhaps wait a couple weeks for the fry to grow up a bit, if you can, just to be on the safe side.> I worked on the large tank some more today...moving rocks, vacuuming, cleaning the pump lines and changing the water. Didn't see as many critters today, so maybe I am getting them under control. <Hope so!  Sounds like you're doing a good job of reducing their chances of getting a meal, so they may very well die out on their own.  Give it some time, and keep doing as you're doing, especially if you think you're seeing results already.> Thank you again for your help.  Susan <Glad to be of service!  -Sabrina>

Working with Poor Source Water I have been reading for hours on your site, both looking for answers to my questions, and reading your responses.  You seem to have great answers for everything so here we go:  I live in Kalamazoo, MI, which has some of the worst water I have ever had in my life.  I have both a water softener, and a reverse osmosis machine.  In the past, I have set up my freshwater tanks with tap water (with the softener off, obviously), and topped off with R/O, as to not build up minerals and "stuff" from the tap water.  I recently purchased a 29 gallon tank (emperor 400 filter) for my new treasured electric blue crayfish, Sebastian (girlfriend named him).  I filled it up with all R/O water, that pH at about 5.5. <Seems odd... RO/DI water should be at about a 7.0 pH.> I rose the pH to seven using pH up (potassium carbonate, potassium hydroxide, and potassium silicate were all mentioned on the container).  I just put a 3" Gourami in the tank now that it has been running for 24 hours.  Here come the questions....When is it safe to put my EB crayfish into the tank (he is only 3" or so)? <Once the water parameters are stable, any time you want.> And should I use any additives in the water? <I think you've already added them, yes? The 'answer' is, whatever you need to make the water compatible with the livestock you intend to keep. In your case, raising the pH... but once that is done, it's done. Just make sure the replacement water is of similar quality.> My local fish store told me that I don't need additives because I am using R/O... is that true?  Is that because additives only treat for impurities in water? <Depends on the additive.> I have read that EB crayfish don't need or like heaters, however, I am planning on making a community tank.  Is it okay to put a heater in the tank, and keep it set to 75 degrees or so (it is 77-78 now, but in the winter)? <Of course.> Are there side effects to using too much pH up? <Not in RO... in some cases the alkaline reserves can be depleted, but in the case of RO/DI water, there are none so all should be well.>  Should I only use it to adjust pH values when performing a transfer, or is it safe in my tank before it enters solution? <I would mix in water outside of the tank and give it a day before I present that to any livestock.> Should I turn my filter off if I do use pH up or down to prevent any damage to the filter? <It won't harm the filter.>  My filter has an empty compartment for what ever you want to put in it... is there something you would recommend to do the job? <Perhaps not in that filter box, but baking soda will work pretty well at helping bring up the pH. Best to add a little, mix, test, and repeat if necessary.>  I have used peat granules in a nylon in the past with good luck, but that doesn't help me raise it. Is limestone my best option? <I don't think that would work either unless the water is already acidic... the limestone does not readily dissolve. You might want to look into some of the RO/DI buffer preparations available to the marine part of this hobby. Marine systems need to be in the pH range of 8.2-8.4 so you can see... keeping the pH up is important for these folks.> I appreciate your time, and look forward to reading your response.  Ian <Cheers, J -- >

Beware the Fiddling Ex-girlfriend -- Who's Killing my Fiddlers? >Hello good fish people (You guys help out tremendously) ...it is a sad day today, for my EX-girlfriend has slain all my fish...in a fit of rage she poured CLOROX BLEACH into my tank!!! >>Dear lord, God, may she...BAH!  Unbelievable. >It goes without saying everything perished (crabs, crayfish, snails, and about 20 fish).  I changed all my filter material, soaked the tank for hours with hot water, as well as the filter and all the decorations inside.  I restarted the tank with danios and 1 Amazon plant.  They seemed fine and after about 3 weeks I started adding the fish I wanted, periodically.  My first tank had community fish, but this new one has cichlids and sharks. I have tried adding crabs (the males have an enlarged claw) 3 different times (3 crabs each time)...all 9 crabs have died >>Freshwater fiddlers, be they. >...I have never seen it, but are my cichlids killing my crabs, or are the crabs more sensitive than fish, and are dying because of any minute Clorox residue? >>I doubt strongly that there's any residue left, as chlorine will dissipate into the atmosphere with a day or two anyway.  Not knowing right off what species of cichlids you have, I would still wager that they are the culprits.  If you have red-tailed sharks and they are quite large, they, too, could be sufficiently harassing the crabs to death. >Now about my swordplant... it was a moderate size when I got it but it has proved to be quite prolific... it looks like a bush now since it has so many stalks shooting up...is there any way of pruning it, and if so, how and where do I cut it...or can I cut it in such a way to make new plants from this very large one? >>Lordy, you must be very good, eh?  I am positive you can simply prune it as one would a houseplant--close to the stalk so as to not leave leafless ends that would simply die off after sapping the plant's energy.  As for propagating, I'm not *positive*, but I would think that if you can divide the plant so that each section gets part of the root structure you *should* be able to grow more individuals.  I'd start off just taking a small section first, and see how that goes. >One of my fish now is a puffer...all the other fish eat flake food... even the cichlids, but the puffer won't...what does he eat? >>LOL!! Oh no!  He eats CRUSTACEANS!  If you're finding them looking absolutely violated, he's your man.  Give him meaty foods, but I will also tell you that, chances are he's a brackish fish, whereas only a few species of cichlids are brackish.  You may want to reconsider the puffer.  He'll need things like shrimp (shells on, please), and other meaty foods. >I almost forgot... I had 7 neon tetras also, but now only 2 remain... who did it...among my cichlids are a Jack Dempsey and a Tiger Oscar, but they are little guys still. >>Oh my goodness, these are fish that will NOT mix with the Neons.  Any one of these fish will slurp them down, including the puffer.  All quite aggressive fish you have there.  Consider the Neons as feeders. >Well thanks for the help everyone. >>You're welcome!  Marina

What worm be this? Planarian? >>Good day, Michael, Marina to help you here. >I started only 3 weeks ago and bought the following :   a.. 3 small fantail goldfish   b.. Plexiglas tank (4.5 gallons)   c.. air pump   d.. submerged power filter (mechanical filtration only)   e.. gravel siphon cleaner I treat tap water by allowing to stay in a bucket for 24 hours and before carrying out a partial water change I add dechlorinator. >>Very good. >I usually carry out water changes of 50-80% every day but I am planning to build a Plexiglas tank of 70 gallons capacity and add another goldfish.  Tanks in Europe are very expensive -- I bought the 4.5 gallon tank for USD 68 (Euros 57). >>Holy canoli! >Once a week I clean the filter element of the power filter. During the 3rd cleaning I noticed many small red worms in the filter element which were clinging in the sponge and could not be removed by washing with tap water. I fitted a new sponge element in the filter.  The biggest worms were about half an inch long -- please see attached photo.  Can you please advise if these worms are dangerous for my fish and how can I treat the water so that they will not appear again? >>The photo is not very clear, but I am guessing some sort of planarian.  I do not think they will pose any threat to your fish.  I have not had any experience with them, but I think that if you added some salt to the tank it would be enough to prevent them.  This is actually a help to the fish, and is helpful in preventing or alleviating the incidence of some maladies.  Use either Kosher or sea salt (anything that has not been iodized--very common here in the States), at a ratio of 1 teaspoon/gallon.  I believe that one teaspoon U.S. = roughly 5cc.  And 1 gallon (US) = 3.8 liters.  I do hope this helps, and best of luck to you in sunny Athens, Michael!  Marina (in what is *supposed* to be sunny southern California, but it's 62F and RAINING here!  What first day of summer??)

FW Sponges >>Peter?  Did you want to ask me something?  LOL!  Marina<< >Actually yes, Do you know of anyone who had  tried their luck in culturing freshwater sponges? >>No, I'm afraid not. >As far as the alga, I'm coming up empty handed. >>Me too. >Did I send you an empty mail?  Pete >>Yes!  You sure did!  LOL!  Marina>

Gelatinous forms in a freshwater tank - 2/18/03 Hi, This is Michelle Wrathell again, I had wrote to you about those gel like forms on the sides of my tanks they are all fresh water tanks, I have cichlids. <Hi Michelle, Paul here this morning> Hi, my name is Michelle and I have something on the sides of my aquariums that boggles my mind, they look almost transparent but whitish in color, I can't get them off with my finger unless I squash them, and I can actually feel them break or bust, kind of like a hard crust, you can hardly see them after I squash them on my finger, I circled them with a red pencil on the hospital tank that I had set up from a fish getting picked on, I have 15 fish tanks and  about 5 of my fish tanks have them, <Hm mmmmmm> what I was saying about circling them, I wanted to time them, to see how long it took before they left the circle, It didn't Take long AT ALL!  They move quite fast!<Hmmmmm> I will send you some pics and see if you can see those whitish dots. <I did look at the pics but it is very difficult to ascertain. A little out of focus and far away. In any event, sounds like some sort of worm or maybe even a snail. Again very hard to say.> they are small and sort of transparent so you really can't see any detail  but I am hoping you can figure out by my explanation, my husband says they look and feel like baby snails but I have no live plants in my aquarium s or adult snails, <No matter some snails/worms eat detritus. Not all snails/worms are necessarily herbivores> when I clean my tanks I use stress coat for the chlorine and cycle, I gravel clean every one and a half to two weeks (I tend to over feed, so I am always cleaning them).<Good> I will try to send some of the pictures and see if you can figure it out. I really appreciate it. <Michelle, if you can please try a little closer and more focus if you can. If I had to guess at this juncture, what comes to mind is some sort of snail or worm. Maybe shell-less but maybe not. From your description though, sounds like some sort of snail. Have you pulled one out of the tank to look at it. Is there a shell? The pop you experience when pressure is put on it is maybe the cracking of the shell? Check here if you haven't already: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwinvertfaqs.htm Could be a type of worm. Sorry I couldn't be of more assistance> Michelle Wrathell <Paul>

Freshwater sponges Can you give me any information on how I would be able to keep a freshwater sponge in an aquarium?  Also any additional info you might know would be appreciated <interesting if unattractive <G>... follow here my friend: http://www.alienexplorer.com/ecology/p171.html http://www.zoo.utoronto.ca/able/news/fall2000/page2-f00.htm http://www.zool.iastate.edu/~c_drewes/quickindex3.htm http://www.walden.org/thoreau/default.asp?MFRAME=/scholarship/a/Alden_Peter/SPONGES.htm <best regards, Anthony>

Worms in Freshwater Tank I sent the email earlier about the worms in the goldfish tank. <Ok... For future reference, if following up on a previous Q&A, it is always best to send along the original query and response. We get 30-60 emails daily and really need all the correspondence as we have six different people answering to keep up with the volume of mail we get.> I've just read your posted questions and answers. Based on your responses I wanted to note that the high population level of this invertebrate has not been caused by inadequate filtration or gravel siphoning. I have an optimum filter as well as gravel filtration, and I change their water one to two times a month via gravel vacuum. I also had only three inches worth of fish in a twenty gallon tank when these things appeared. So, I really would like to know exactly how I can control their population level, if you do not have enough information to identify them. <My best guess is that you have experienced a bloom of a Tubifex like worm. They are not pathogenic to your fish, but I can categorically state that they are always seen in instances of excess food or fish waste. I understand that this is not the response you wanted to hear, but it is the truth. They feed off of the waste material and uneaten food. If you have neither, they could not live, let alone reproduce to a plague level. Basically, they have to be eating something. A couple of big water changes, thorough vacuuming of the gravel, and a dose of a copper based medication should knock them out for you. Note that the copper is not safe for other invertebrates.> Your time is appreciated! Thank you. Sincerely, Courtney <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Pleco Problems Thanks Gage, I appreciate your input. The worms were not attached to the fish, just down in the gravel and on the inside of the hood. Overfeeding was probably the problem. It often looked like he had eaten all his food, but he must have been hiding it. <Sneaky devil> You stated that you don't know what kind of Pleco Puc is...from looking at a few of the pics on the site it looks like he is a snow king (great head shot). <If he looks like the head shot of the snow king, he is probably either a snow king or a Hypostomus, either way, a big fish.> I do plan to get him a larger tank but he seems to be doing fine for the time being and tank stands being as expensive as they are I'll have to wait. <My 125gal is currently setup on some cinder blocks and plywood. Some stores carry pine stands that are not painted or stained yet, these come with a slightly smaller price tag.> Concerning Clout, I called the manufacturer (Aquarium Products) and asked about the carcinogen warning label and was told that they are required to put the label on in the State of California as the state has very strict disclosure rules. They have no studies regarding the effects of dumping waste water into public waste water treatment in any state, but I was assured that the amount of the chemical is miniscule and no other state has expressed concern over its use or dumping. So, I'll take that with a grain of salt and hope for the best. <That is good to know. Thank you for taking the time to research that, good to see some folks still care.> Thanks, again! Dana <Thank you, let us know if anything else comes up. Gage>

PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!! (freshwater worry w/o cause) DEAR BOB, <Fellow Oscar lover Gage, at your service.> I NEED YOUR INFO CAUSE I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING QUITE LIKE IT...I HAVE 2 OSCAR'S AND THEY ARE VERY ACTIVE, BUT THIS MORNING I WOKE UP AND NOTICED TINY WHITE OR CLEAR WORM'S/PARASITES OF SOME SORT STICKING TO THE GLASS OF MY TANK. THEY ALSO APPEARED TO BE GROUPS OF THEM TOO. THE FISH MEAN A LOT TO ME BUT MORE TO MY 1 YEAR OLD SON AND WHEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENS IT SCARES ME CAUSE I DON'T WANT ANY THING TO HAPPEN TO MY FISH PLEASE HELP ME <The worms themselves are harmless, but are usually a sign of aquariums that have excess food, too little circulation/filtration. I would keep up on water changes (be sure to siphon the gravel) and test your water to make sure the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are not too high. Please let us know if you have any more questions. More info on these worms can be found on the link below. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwinvertfaqs.htm Good luck, Gage>

Weird Worms!!!!!???? We have tiny, clear (almost white) worm-like things on the inside of the glass in our freshwater aquarium. We were told that they are anchor worms <your counsel was grossly mistaken... parasitic anchor worms would never be observed living on the glass without a host... many non-parasitic worm and Planaria populations do occur in tanks that are overfed, overstocked or lack adequate gravel siphoning. I suspect that is the case here. And although they are harmless, their presence indicates a level of pollution in the tank that is harmful to fishes>  and have treated the water with CopperSafe, but the worms are still there. I don't know if they are really anchor worms or not. <they are not> Several fish have died. Some of them had white spots and/or fin rot.  <mitigated by water quality perhaps> We moved all of the fish into a bowl (filled with fresh, treated water) and drained the tank, but now there are tiny worms in the fish bowl. Before moving our surviving fish back into the big tank, we want to be rid of the little nasties crawling around on the glass. HELP????!!!!! <consider if you are overfeeding. Fish food should be consumed at the surface of the water and caught if necessary midwater (some species). Food should never hit the bottom of the aquarium as a rule (even the bottom dwellers learn to feed at the surface). Keep the fish stable in the main tank and do water changes to maintain water quality... the worms will wane naturally on their own as nutrients are controlled. Best regards, Anthony> -- Thomas Kennedy

White worms crawling on the glass of my aquarium I have a 90 gal. tank with four discus in it which is also planted. I have noticed what appears to be small white worms crawling on the glass and swimming freely, can you tell me what they are? <Not specifically... as in down to species. But I assure you, these are likely some sort of innocuous earthworm-like animal (oligochaete annelid) and not harmful to your fish or system. These sorts of critters "pop-up" quite often, particularly in aquariums that have excess food, too little circulation/filtration... and very often "disappear" of their own accord. Do keep your eye on water quality and in time you will likely find they have gone. Bob Fenner>

Medication Question Anthony, do these treatments hold true for freshwater aquariums or are there different medications to use?  <same for fresh and saltwater... just sometimes stronger doses in seawater are necessary> I'm asking because I want to make sure that I don't make any fatal missteps in the future. I have Bettas, mollies and red wag platies and a couple of Ramshorn snails (one of which is blue in colour!) <as a rule you need to be careful with scale less and small scaled fishes (catfish, tetras, silver dollars, etc) and invertebrates (snails, shrimp, crabs, etc). MFG directions usually warn of such problems. Never medicate the invertebrates.> Many thanks <kindly, Anthony> Anthea

Freshwater clams Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I am trying to maintain (grow) freshwater clams in aerated 1/2 gallon jars with gravel substrate (only 2 clams per jar). What is the best way to provide them with enough calcium to ensure shell growth (I am trying to maintain pH at 8.5)? Would Kalkwasser work? <too caustic for such a small volume of water. Try reef calcium blocks (slow dissolving) instead. Several different brands out there. They will provide calcium and carbonates for calcification.> Thank you. I greatly appreciate the help. Kathrin Stanger-Hall <always welcome, Anthony>

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