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FAQs on Freshwater Worms of All Sorts, Selection

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Where from art thou worms?

Dinosaur Bichir and Oscar... env., hlth.   3/9/10
My name is Kyle I bought a Dinosaur Bichir about 4 months ago and an Oscar about 2 months ago and they were very active and the other day I noticed that there were tiny little white worms on the glass
<Planarians or nematodes; usually means you're (dramatically) overfeeding and/or (seriously) under-cleaning the aquarium. Think of them as rats or cockroaches, moving into the "kitchen" that is your aquarium.>
of my tank so I cleaned it all out and everything and the next day when I got home from school my fish were just laying there,
<Did you clean the filter? Did you clean the filter so aggressively you killed off the filter bacteria?>
I put some food in for them but they never ate usually when I feed them they swim around the top of the tank and a few hours later my Oscar died and now my Bichir has this pretty big white spot on his back and his back fin and it looks like he is bleeding from the inside around it... can you tell me whams wrong with him??
<He has Finrot, likely from chronically poor water conditions. Treat with an antibiotic. Don't waste your time with Melafix/Pimafix, and try to avoid using anything containing copper of formalin, as these can be toxic to Bichirs. Clearly, you need to ALSO dramatically improve the way you maintain this aquarium. Polypterus senegalus is quite hardy, but it does need an aquarium around 180 litres/45 US gallons to do well, plus a filtration system rated at not less than a turnover of 6 times the tank per hour. Ammonia and nitrite levels should be 0, and water chemistry should be soft to moderately hard, without an extreme either way in terms of pH; 5-20 degrees dH, pH 6.5-8 works fine. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dinosaur Bichir and Oscar  3/9/10
Well I wasn't home for about a week and I asked my brother to take care of them for me and when I got home there was a bunch of uneaten food on the bottom of my tank
<Well, there you go.>
and those worms so I took my fish out and cleaned everything with boiling water
and got a new filter
<Why? If the tank is filthy, by all means siphon out detritus from the gravel, and change up to 50% of the water on one day, another 50% the next day, and so on until the tank is nice and clean. But never, ever replace all the biological filter media at once. You can safely change up to 50% of the biological media per 6 week period. But changing more than that -- or deep cleaning mature media so it effectively becomes new media again -- will cause major problems for water quality. Without filtration bacteria in sufficient numbers, the tank will crash as water quality plummets.>
I change the water in my tank once a month so the have fresh water and because my other brother told me it helps them grow faster.. is there any specific kind of antibiotic u would recommend?
<Not really, no; anything like Triple Sulfa or Maracyn II are good choices and should do the trick. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dinosaur Bichir and Oscar  3/9/10
Ok ill remember that but I figured if the worms were in my filter I wouldn't be able to get rid of them so that's why I got a new one...
<The worms like likely come right back if conditions deteriorate. They travel into tanks on plants, with live food, etc.>
alright thank you, can I get them at any pet shop or do I have to buy them online?
<In the US, antibiotics for fish can be purchased at pet stores, but elsewhere you will need to ask a vet. Antibacterial medications such as eSHa 2000 may work in lieu of antibiotics, but it does depend on the severity of the infection. Do follow the instructions, in particular with regard to dosage and removal of carbon from the filter (if used). All the medications in the world won't help if conditions in the tank aren't good, so check nitrite level, and make sure this is zero.>
thanks for everything, Kyle
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dinosaur Bichir and Oscar 3/10/10
thank you for everything
<You are welcome. Good luck! Neale.>

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>

Water Quality Update/Worms on Glass  6/9/06 Hi Crew, <Hi Matt, It's me, Pufferpunk again> As per Pufferpunk's advice I added Bio-Spira and my tanks nitrites and ammonia are now zero and have been zero for more than a week (great product!).   <Sure is!> All the fish seem ok (except one somewhat bloated platy) but I noticed last night that there were small, whitish/transparent (hairs-width wide and a max of 1 mm long) worms squirming on the side glass.  There is also a couple of concentrated pockets of them under the gravel.  No sign of anything on the fish.  Any ideas on what they are, if they're harmful and how to rid my tank of them would be greatly appreciated (I'm very disappointed I was planning on adding fish today now that the ammonia and nitrites are stable).   <Those worms are a creature that comes from overfeeding your tank.  Try scraping them off & do a nice big water change.  Clean the gravel with a gravel vac too.  Be sure to match the temp & use a dechlorinator (I like the product: Prime).  Be sure to only add a couple of fish at a time to your tank.> If it matters, all the fish are from PetSmart whom supposedly guarantees no ich. <There is no way for them to guarantee no ich, unless they have quarantined all their fish for a month, before adding to their system.  Even so, I just bought a fish from a friend's tank that had been long established.  Within 12 hours, it was covered in ich.  Good thing I QT'd the fish or my whole tank would have been infested!.  ~PP> Also all of the equipment is brand new. Thanks, Matt

Planaria, toxins and breeding fish  10/4/06 Tom, <<Hey, Lisa>> Yeah, I think so, too. I think that the Pacu has more noticeable "spots" on them. Well it's in a larger aquarium now, probably about 150-200 or gallons. But, I think it will be alright for now. <<What fish wouldn't be? :)>> Oh, okay, so only thing you can do with the nitrates and ammonia is to water change regularly right? <<Yes and no. Water changes for nitrates, absolutely. Ammonia and nitrites are, ultimately, dealt with biologically. That is, once both beneficial bacteria populations are established through proper cycling, these toxins will, for our purposes, be eliminated without resorting to water changes. There are times, however, when it may become necessary to fall back on water changes to handle these. This could occur due to a spike in either of these compounds. An example? Let's go back to the Silver Dollars. You've done your research and learned that these are best kept in groups. You purchase six beauties and, following quarantine, you transfer them to the display tank. Being conscientious, you keep a close eye on water parameters and note, to your dismay, that you've got measurable amounts of ammonia even though it had been zero for some time. In short, your well-balanced system just took a "bio-hit" from the addition of six more fish. Solution? Dilution. Perform water changes to get the ammonia (or nitrites) back to "safe" levels until the beneficial bacteria can increase in population to bring the system back to equilibrium.>> I have one more question, where does the Planaria come from? <<Well, you take a boy Planaria and a girl Planaria and... Okay, I'm being silly and, frankly, inaccurate. There's no such thing as "male" or "female" Planaria. Seriously, they're almost always "imported" with plant life. Planaria are exceedingly common critters in natural freshwater systems like lakes, streams and ponds and will highjack a ride, if possible, with plants that we put in our aquariums. As with nearly any life form, the more abundant the source of food, the more likely you are to have an "explosion" in the species in question. Interestingly, Planaria are capable of regenerating themselves from very small parts taken from a host worm. One researcher, presumably with too much time on his hands, found that a new worm can be generated from a portion as small as 1/279th of a host. There's something you can use to dazzle your friends! :)>> Was it already there and it came all of a suddenly abundant like ick? <<Ich is believed, by some anyway, to lie basically dormant in fish until stress or some other factor weakens the immune system enough for the parasite to "take hold". Planaria must be "introduced" into an aquarium via some other avenue as they're non-parasitic, i.e. don't "attach" themselves to fish.>> That's cool about you keeping freshwater. Some pretty cool species. Okay I lied, one more question :). Do you breed your fish? <<Actually, Lisa, no, I don't breed my fish. I've toyed with the idea from time to time but "construction" projects around the house as well as my oddball work schedule have really limited the amount of time I have to devote to the task. (As we speak I have a beam running the width of my family room that's calling for my undivided attention but, that's between you and me.) ;)>> Have a good day, Lisa <<You do the same, Lisa. Tom>>

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