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FAQs on Ponds and Invertebrates

Related Articles: Pond Snails 1, Pond Snails 2

Related FAQs: Pond Invertebrates, 

Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

V. 1 Print and eBook on Amazon
V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Bee Problem at Pond    2/26/14
I got a problem with bees congregating where my concrete wall and a pipe leading into my pond meet.
Picture below.
They regard  the area as a watering hole and not a nest site, I think.
<Could be both, either; but you're likely right>
We will be starting construction on a pool a short few hours or so from now. The bees might be chased off when the construction begins. At least for a while.
What should I do about the bees if they return after the pool construction?
Thank you.
<I'd do nothing... but enjoy them. B>

re: Bee Problem at Pond       2/26/14
I got attacked by bees as a child. So I tend to be afraid of them when I see even a small group. Thank you for helping me put my fears in their place. Thank you Bob.
<Am glad to ease your concern. We have many bees here; and I've learned to just cruise by them while gardening. B> 

Worm identification, pond...      5/7/13
Hello WWM,
I arrived here through this page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwwormidf.htm , it seems a forum for freshwater worm ID
<Mmm, well, the "fw" stands for Freshwater... but we have/there are other "subwebs" on the site (WWM) with other guides, input re many other worms>
 but I didn't found the way to register in it, only a standard contact by email.
So I send you this email for see if you can help me in the ID of these creatures. Firs one (two photos) are an annelid (probably) of about 10-12 mm long, that appeared in my garden pond in NE Spain.
<... these look like Sipunculids, Peanut Worms... in freshwater?>

The pond is completely quiet and the water is a bit alkaline. The ground of the pond is covered with some decomposed detritus, and the worm seems to have constructed a species of soft "coach" with it, to cover itself.
The second one is a small leech found in Ebro river in NE Spain. Totally stretched it measures about 2 cm long.
<Does look like a Hirudinean>
Any help in identification is welcome. Thanks!
<Can't help you w/ any further, more detailed identification... You might contact local universities with biology departments, to ask around re specialists in worm taxonomy. Bob Fenner>

Re: Worm identification       5/7/13
Thanks Bob for quick reply. For sure this tiny creature is not a sipunculid.
<Mmm, well... could well be some other worm group... as you state/d, perhaps an Annelid, Oligochaete species... I've just never seen such in freshwater, ponds or otherwise>
 Well, I will check the others section of the forum as I also have several marine creatures for ID!
<Ahhh! Good hunting and thank you for sharing. BobF>

outdoor turtle pond heater....also red worm problem   2/28/10
Just discovered your site...hope you can help.
<We often wonder that ourselves>
We have 2 turtles (red slider and African side neck) in a fiberglass pond (with a small pond above with waterfall) We have had them for years and they have grown from 1" to dinner plate size. We live in central Florida (Tampa) and they have done well outside for years.
<Normally the turtles you describe will do fine over winter in the mild Central Florida climate>
Now I find with the weather changes that we need a better heater (rather than bringing them into the bathtub, which I have done for the past few weeks) The pond is apprx 100 gal. so what size heater should I buy?
<It's an interesting question, Mike. Unlike an indoor 100 gallon aquarium, where we'd need a 300 watt heater to raise the tank 8 degrees above room temperature, a pond should work WITH nature and not against it -- the
day/night cycles, cooler air all conspire to initiate a slowdown of their metabolism in a very natural way and oddly enough, having 70 degree water and 56 degree days is BAD for them.>
<So what I suggest is a low watt pond de-icer and a thing called a "Thermo-cube." The model I use senses air temperature and turns on the de-icer when the temp gets below 35 and turns off when it gets above 45.
Since water resists temperature change better than air, it just runs the heater during the coldest "snaps" that come from time to time. (Make sure you get the 45/35 degree model and not the 30/20 degree model)>
<The most important things are that they have been well fed and cared for during spring, summer and fall and that you slow the feeding down by November and nothing at all from December to March - then start slowly again in April until May.>
Also, there is a problem with small red worms in the water. I haven't been able to find out what kind of worms they are but it can't be good.
<read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdinvertfaqs.htm >
Any idea what they are and how to get rid of them? After cleaning the pond it only takes a couple of weeks for them to be a problem again. Our cats like to sip from the water's edge so I am concerned for their health as well.
<The pond professionals here usually recommend that you leave them be & accept them, but I can't do that either. The thing you have to do when you clean is sterilize as well. I clean and then I use 1 cup of chlorine bleach per 5 gallons of water, leaving the pump and filter running for 24 hours. (this is while the turtles are taking a vacation in the bathtub, of course). Draining the water into a proper drain, not the lawn, then filling a rinsing for 6 hours TWICE before a final fill and restocking.>
Please help. ....the sooner the better so I can take care of both problems.
<Hope it helps, Darrel>

Red worms in turtle pond/heater info needed 3/2/10
Have read your site and love that I found it....thanks for all the shared knowledge.
<Glad you're enjoying the site.>
We are in central Florida and have turtles in one of those fiberglass ponds with a lg one on the bottom and smaller on top to create a waterfall effect. The turtles were bought when they were quite small nearly 20 years ago. After outgrowing various sizes of aquariums; they were moved outdoors into this pond and have seemed happy. One of them is a red slider and the other an African sidenecked. The winters here in Florida are getting steadily colder and longer and the heater we had in the pond has broken and so I want your suggestion as to what to buy and what temperature the water should be kept. The two ponds together are a little over 100 gallons of water. Both ponds are set into the soil to the lip. I had the old heater in the top pond so the turtles wouldn't bother it. They are both the size of dinner plates and weighty. We hardly ever used the old heater before it broke.....but this year it has been cold for so long and colder than ever before that we brought them into the bathtub. Appreciate your help in this matter......
<Pond heaters don't (normally) heat ponds. Heating a pond during winter would be incredibly expensive! It would certainly be cheaper to keep turtles or fish indoors, if that was the aim. The point of a pond heater is to create a small ice-free area that allows gaseous exchange. In theory, Red-ear Sliders should survive a Floridian winter, but the African Side-neck turtle is an unknown quantity. Given the variety of tropical animals firmly established in southern Florida (from about Palm Beach southwards) it would probably do okay through most winters. However, unusually cold winters cause massive die-offs of these tropical animals, and that's something pet owners probably don't want put their pets in such a risky situation. In short, if you think water temperature is going to dip below 12 C (about 55 F) for any length of time, then these animals would be best brought indoors. 12 C happens to be the lethal temperature for a lot of tropical fish and reptiles across periods of more than a day or so.>
My other concern is that there are red worms in the pond water. After cleaning out the pond thoroughly they are back in a matter of days. I can't find any info as to what these worms are and don't know if they are dangerous to the turtles (but I can't imagine that worms can be anything but) My concern is not only for them (turtles) but our cats who like to drink from the pond. Help!! what are these worms? and how do I get rid of them? They are bright red, about 1/8th " long max. and there are a lot of them! If this sounds familiar to you, I did write on the 24th but didn't see an answer on the website and I had included my email address and didn't hear there either. This is a new for me and I am having some computer problems too, so wasn't sure if my post went thru. Thanks in advance for your help...and I will check this site often now that I know about you. The turtles are family members after all these years so we want what is best for them...and have been blessed that they have remained healthy all these years. thanks again...look forward to hearing from you.
<Red worms are likely one of two things. Chironomid larvae are what aquarists call bloodworms. These are midge larvae, and their name "bloodworms" is accurate because the red colour comes from haemoglobin.
These animals are segmented and tend to curl up in little comma-shapes. The other option is some type of freshwater oligochaete such as Tubifex or Lumbriculus. These are similar to earthworms, but are aquatic. They do tend to be commonest in places with a lot of organic matter, but in themselves aren't harmful. Nor, incidentally, are midge larvae. Cheers, Neale.>

"Koi Pond Creatures"  7/31/08 Hello and good morning! Since I am still a novice Koi enthusiast, I have a concern/question about my pond. I have noticed when I do my weekly maintenance of our pond, I see a lot of small worms and what appears to be hard-shelled larvae (crunch when accidentally pressed with my fingers.. yuck..) that are all over pre-filter basket. The smaller worms however are just everywhere, even along the stream. Is it normal for these creatures to be present there? Please let me know and thanks again! <Mmm, yes... and almost always, "the more the merrier"... no worries. Bob Fenner>

pond... vague desc., ID of something on rock   6/23/08 I have a 8x11 backyard pond with a waterfall. I have eight Koi fish. As of this morning the rocks inside the water are covered with little oval black moving things (tadpole?-doesn't look like pictures). What might this be? I live in North Carolina, near the ocean. Thanks Terri <No pix? Likely insect larvae. Bob Fenner>

Water worm, larvae, or plant? ID please. Ponds f'  -12/14/07 Every winter we take the lily pads out of the small plastic pond in the backyard and keep it dormant in a 5 gal. bucket in our basement washtub. <A S.O.P. where the water freezes far down...> This year I had it filled to the brim with fresh tap water, although the freshness didn't make a difference compared to the large mass of hairy green seaweed (algae?) <Yes> that's still attached to the roots where I think is the source of the unidentified worms. The water, now very stagnant, settled, and see-through except for a thin layer of scum on top is filled with tiny, hair-like, red and segmented, highly active worms. About 1/4" to 1 1/4" long, they stay stuck to the seaweed at one end and aren't very fazed by light, however they are very sensitive to movement of the water and retract into the spot they're stuck to. They show up again with bright light exposure and stillness, and don't live in the deepest part of the bucket, only the middle, and a very small amount of them live on the stagnant vegetation near the top of the water. They also seem to favor being in close groupings but still separate at the visible bottoms of the worms. They're slightly translucent, and have a tiny head near the wiggling end with a single red to white protrusion like an antenna or mouthpiece. Could someone tell me if they're harmful, helpful, or the larvae of something that will become helpful or harmful? Thanks, Nikki <Mmm, might be larval insects (a bunch have juvenile developmental stages), or some sort of annelid worm... see Tubificids in Google Images... If the former, might be pesky when they hatch out... if true worms of some sort, no real worries... actually beneficial more than potentially deleterious. Bob Fenner>

Unknown Worms in filter, pond  -- 06/28/07 Good Day, I would like to ask about a 'worm' that seems to be growing in my 800 gal goldfish pond. When I remove the leaf basket lid to clean out the basket I notice several (100's) of these worms that look like they have a little cone shaped, attached shelter to live in. They are about 1/16th of an inch long. They are in my biological filter as well. I'm not sure where they go after that. <To heaven?> I can rub them out with my fingers but I want to know: 1. What are they? <Likely either some aquatic oligochaete (like a "garden" worm) or an intermediate stage of an insect... no worries... actually beneficial> 2. How to get rid of them if they are potentially harmful to the pond or my fish? <Leave them be> 3. Anything else you can tell me about them. <Not w/o a pic...> I haven't seen any pictures or articles that describe them as I see them. Thanks. BARRY AUSTIN <Bob Fenner>

Leeches? Nope   3/11/07 Hi, I have a small pond, approx.900 gallons, with koi and goldfish.  I noticed when I was cleaning the filter that there was small little reddish-brown "worms" but I don't think they are worms because they can hold onto the filter when I try to wash them off.  I caught a couple of my goldfish to see if they had any attached and they didn't.  I didn't try any koi because I didn't want to stress them.  Do you think they are leaches and if so are they harmful?  Thank You Sarah <Not likely leeches... as these are obligate parasites (would be on their host/s...) and most often black in color... What you have found are likely a species of useful oligochaete segmented worm... I would leave these be. Bob Fenner>

Mystery Worms - 05/23/2006 Howdy! <Hi, Dan!  Sabrina with you, today.> I have a 100 gal fish pond on my patio and when cleaning the filter (I run 2 of them) I noticed a colony of small red "worms" throughout the coarse filter. AND they were "hatching" out of tiny mud balls in the filter as well!   <Being the weirdo that I am, I say "Neat!"> I have no plants in the pond, just a few Koi, some large goldfish, 2 Plecostomus and a couple baby upside-down catfish. <That's a huge number of fish for a 100 gallon space.  Koi get VERY big, you know....  and all of the animals you mention are very good waste-producers.> I keep a shade cloth over the pond during the day to minimize algae growth.  What are they?? <Probably nothing to fear....  Without seeing them, or a very clear image of them, there's not a lot I could guess.  Do please try searching on Google for things like 'pond worm identification'.> Will they harm the fish? <Probably not, but they *are* a sign that the pond may be too heavily stocked.> Thanks for your help!!  Dan <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Swimmer itch ... nematodes, ponds...   5/9/06 greetings- I have been enjoying your snail reading- We have the "swimmer itch"- so our water dogs tell us-  so the reading on this subject says some varieties of snails are hosts- so i am looking for predator snails to eat all the other ones- or turtles etc... what do you think- and where could we purchase? <I would utilize either a copper based algicide to kill the intermediate hosts (the snails) or other purposeful molluscicide here. Are you in the U.S.? There may well be a government or university agency that can/will tell you what they specifically advise here. We used to use "blue stone", copper sulfate... with about ten percent citric acid mixed in... in the infested lakes we maintained, for this purpose. Bob Fenner> > thank you > Alexander Eriksson

Aphids on my water lilies    3/31/06 Hello, <Hi there> I have a man made 25,000 gallon pond in my back yard.  I live in Wisconsin, so I mainly use hardy water lilies and have about 50 Koi and several types of frogs. <Understood> I continue to have problems with aphids showing up on my water lilies and Lotus leaves starting about the end of July.  As soon as I see them, I discard any bad leaves, but they just seem to over run my plants. <Yes... there are other means...> I'm afraid to use chemicals as they may harm my fish or frogs.  Do you have any solution to this problem?  Thanks for any advice you can give me. <Yes... I would do a few things... There are insecticides (not safe used illiberally) that can be sprayed with a spreader-sticker onto your surrounding trees in two applications (Spring and Fall, early and late)... that are aphid specific that will greatly reduce the number of "fly downs" that eventually infest your lilies... and I would use Volck (actual product name) spray on the pads themselves (read instructions), which is very safe, effective... and I would arrange your sprinklers to shoot onto your lily pad leaves during the day, to wash off the aphids... there are some smaller "dither fish" that you might add that would consume such incidentals... And I would avail myself of a local (State certified) Pest Control Advisor or Applicator if you can't locate the former (see your Yellow Gov't Pages)... re the use of these methods, their suggestions> Best Regards, Jerome Orsted <Bob Fenner, former licensee in CA> Leaches in tank, actually leeches in pond 8/9/05 Hi there. I sure do hope you can help me. I have a outdoor man-made tank (or pond), with channel catfish, perch, crappy, and minnows.  The sizes range from about 15 lbs to little minnows. I live in North Texas.  I was needing to know if there is any thing I can put in the water to get rid of leaches. <Yes... Vermifuges, -cides...>   They are very small, look somewhat like a 1/4 inch piece of string.  I can see quite a few of them at the water line. Also I put some algicide in it about 1 month ago to get rid of all of the gunk. <Dangerous> It helped a lot with the gunk but now it seems like the water is more cloudy and seems to have a stronger fishy smell. What do you think may me causing that? <Death, decomposition> By the way we use well water in the tank and I run fresh well water in it about every three days. Oh and by the way my kids also swim in <Am obliged to mention that I'd have a public health inspector come by and check out this system>                                                       diameter  40 ft                            <_________________>                           (_____________________)          depth I       \                                      /          13  ft  I         \                                 /                   I             \                            /                   I                 \                     /                                          \               /                                            \______/ <Use the "vermi-" words on WWM's search tool. Bob Fenner>

Re: New pond, worms 8/18/05 Hi Bob <Wendy> Decided to get back to you and update you on the worms. My vet said she could not dispense medication without seeing a patient.  I told her my dead fish are buried in the garden. I found this site: http://www.kensfish.com to be EXTREMELY helpful.  I was able to obtain some Prazi (Praziquantel) without any difficulty, and have used it.  2 doses recommended to get rid of eggs etc that may have been shielded by the adult worm/fish on 1st application. I still have newts in my pond, and have seen then swimming around with the fish and eating the fish food at feeding time!  Lovely!  I am so glad the Prazi didn't harm them. <Ah, good> I am thinking of adding a few pond snails.  Could you tell me what fish medications would harm them. <Most any of the metals, dyes... when, where in doubt, leave them out> Anyway, thanks for all your help.  I really want to recommend Kens fish site to anyone having difficulty getting Prazi in the UK.  They are excellent. Wendy. <Thank you for this valuable input. Bob Fenner>

Strange Worms Around Pool 7/4/05 Hi, I have found a strange worm around my swimming pool. It is a long (3 to 4 inches) flat snail like worm with a half circle shaped head. This worm is tan or light brown with two darker brown stripes down the entire length of its body. This worm is also sticky like a snail or slug. Thanks, Heather Tollison < We use to see these in Southern Calif around pools all the time. They are a type of flatworm. Check your local hardware store for the pest control book on how best to get rid of them in your area.-Chuck>

Do you remember "Spaghetti, anyone"? I have a hole in the ground that I Hand dug hoping to make a fish pond out of. Well the "Boys" took it over for there fish, bull frogs, tadpoles, ducks, them self's ,and anything else they could put in there! ( I lost my fish pond). They found some of those "spaghetti snakes" in the pond !  I didn't know what they were and got upset, (the Boys play in there)!!  I  know a guy who works for D & R in Michigan, and he took it to Michigan University ,... after about a week called me back to tell me " its found in almost all lakes around here, ... won't harm the kids.  I don't know if that helps or not but I thought you would like to know.  Thank you for your site I have learned a lot from it. If you could please let me know, how to make a filter system for my clawed frogs (3) I have them in with 4 gold/Koi fish and 1 snail. I have been looking on what type of filter to use and how to make it. (money is tight) thank you and hope I could help! Yvonne P.S. the attach file is only of the snake thing from your web site <These annelid worms are harmless... and what sort of system for the filter? Pond? Freshwater aquarium? This information is posted on WetWebMedia.com  Bob Fenner>

Some copepods in  a Koi pond? Hi, I have a 3000 gal pond with Koi and lotsa plants, etc...  I have noticed quite a few of these shrimp like creatures in the filter net.  From my research I see they are a type of copepod.  They aren't clearly the parasitic type.  I have not inspected my fish (I have a hard time catching them).  They look like krill or tiny shrimp, are 2-3 mm long when they uncurl, and swim inverted usually. (maybe)  I want to be sure they are not parasitic or dangerous Thanks for any input! <Interesting. There are freshwater copepod species... though most crustaceans folks find in their freshwater ponds are members of other groups... Do take a look under a magnifying glass, dissection scope if you can... and send along a pic if possible for ID. If these animals are not feeding, found on your fish/es, they are not likely parasitic, and instead beneficial. Bob Fenner>

Clams and Green Water Hello crew<Hi, MikeD here>, I'm having a problem with green water in my outdoor pond, I was wondering if  freshwater clams could help in this matter?<Actually, they just might. The green water is caused by unicellular algae that finds the sunlight and fish waste a perfect growing medium, and this is just what many clams would order if possible.> I have a lot of fingernail clams in a creek where I live would these small clams help?<First off, it would depend if the creek temperature is the same as your pond temperature. In order to make a difference, you'd need a substantial number, which could present some problems such as 1) what would they eat after they cleared the water, 2) if they starved, you'd then be looking at a substantial amount of decaying animal matter, which could cause a bacterial bloom much worse than your current problem and 3) many native fish parasites utilize clams as an intermediate host, giving you the potential for an outbreak that could, again, be more serious than your current problem.> thank you.<You're very welcome>

Trichopterans, Chironomid larvae? I have these little reddish worms 1/4 to 1/2" long under my rocks in my stream and also there are these things that are about 1/2" long and look like dragonflies with no wings what are they? <Some species of insect larvae... take a look through your search engines using the terms "aquatic insect larvae" for your geographic area (like your State). For instance, here's a useful link/citation: http://www.riversalive.org/AAS%20manuals/Bio_Chem/Index%20A%20.pdf Bob Fenner>

Koi-Clams Dear WetWeb crew, I have been wanting to raise some freshwater clams, but i have read that clam larva can be parasitic to fish, that they seek out a fish host in the early stages of life. Is this true with all freshwater clams? I have Koi in my earth pond and i don't want any parasites that could harm them, besides all of the other parasites. Is there a safe clam i could raise that would achieve a decent size 2-3 in. Thank you John Butler. < There are parasites that go through numerous stages in their life. There is a parasite that is found in Lake Victoria in Africa that goes through numerous stages and different hosts throughout its life. This parasite hatches as an egg as swims until it finds a snail. The snail gets eaten by a fish and then the fish gets eaten by a bird. The bird's stomach acids dissolve the fish but do not hurt the parasites eggs which are then deposited in the water and the cycle starts all over again. I think you will have to find out the scientific name of the actual clam species you want to raise. They may not parasitize all kinds of fish. Get the particular species and go from there.-Chuck>
Re: Clams-mussels
Dear Bob, John here. I think i found the answer to one of my clam questions. Mussels have parasitic young and clams do not. Is this true? <Some mussels yes, and no re clams> Please don't disregard my other e-mail. Thanks again, John <Hotay. Bob F>

Worms in a garden pond I have an outdoor garden pond which was activated within the last 3 months.   I do not have fish or plants in the water yet, as i was hoping for it to clear prior to purchasing; however, when i cleaned the filter, i noticed small tiny live red worms.  The largest i saw was nearly 1/2 an inch.  There appeared to be hundreds of worms stuck to the filter.  What are these, i would assume they are a parasite of some sort but i am not sure and most importantly how can i rid them from the pond? Thank You <Ahh, no need to worry or rid your filter of these worms. They are indeed completely beneficial and you are fortunate to have them aiding your systems filtration. They are likely some species of oligochaete... earthworm relatives, and not parasitic. Bob Fenner>

Spaghetti, anyone? This worm(?) was found lurking about underwater in what is going to be a 2500gal pond.  It is about 12" long,  less than 1/64" diameter.   <Oh.  My.  Goodness.  If I found that in my pond, I'd throw it at the neighbor-kids!!> The color is brown.  It is relatively hard (not squishy like a flatworm), moves around easily in a pan with a bit of water, but not on dry surfaces.   <Creepy.> It cannot or has no desire to climb the edge of the pan.  It has a gray head, but no discernible eyes or mouth under the loupe.  The curled tail is split into two white lobes, each less than 1/64" long.  I included a scan of the creature, but I fear the resolution (81kb) for e-mail won't give up too many other details.  A 1200dpi 1.4mb scan is available, but it too has detail problems. <Indeed, I really can't tell a lot from the pic, other than the fact that I wouldn't want to meet it in a dark alley!  Y'know, I think Klingons eat those....> It is far too cold here for it to be a snake, and it was found underwater.  Any ideas ?   <I'm afraid I have no clue.> If not, to whom should I direct further inquires? <Ananda passed me this link:   http://www.benthos.org/Education/ListbyGroup.cfm ; you might be able to contact someone there that would be better able to direct your question, if not answer it.> Thanks, Toby <Thank you for the interesting pic/story!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

V. 1 Print and eBook on Amazon
V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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