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FAQs on Invertebrates, Presence, Use in Freshwater Aquariums 2

Related Articles: Invertebrates for Freshwater Aquariums by Neale Monks,

Related FAQs: FW Invert.s 1, FW Sponges, Hydra, Worms, Snails, Bivalves, Crustaceans, Shrimps, Crayfishes, W and Brackish Crabs, Terrestrial Hermit Crabs,

Freshwater Bugs Identification and course of action needed    7/26/19
Good Afternoon. I have a 100 gal freshwater tank with male peacocks, giant danios, and Synodontis petricola. Tank is established with canister and sponge filtration, lightly planted, and no new fish have been added to the tank recently. Parameters are good, a little high on nitrates but adding extra water changes. I found a number of extremely small critters just above the water line that appear to be feeding on a flake of food that stuck to the side of the glass. They move around a good bit, appear to fight with each other, but I just would like to know what they are and make sure they are no threat to my tank. The photo enclosed is very magnified.
Thanks, Cindy.
<Hello Cindy. These are probably members of the Collembola, colloquially known as Springtails. They're completely harmless, and as you observe, feed on organic detritus in damp areas. Most aquaria have them, but sometimes they do 'bloom' if there's a lot of food for them. If you regularly wipe down the glass above the waterline, and avoid overfeeding, you can control their numbers, But in all honesty, I'd ignore them! Cheers, Neale.>

Tiny white or off-white organisms in shower       2/5/19
Coming from the lake house (fresh water lake) shower drain were these tiny white to off-white larvae or worms. Very small but moving so living organism in my book. It was almost like wiggling rice and on s ok me the end was more like a triangle formation (head). My first impression was flat worms, but they were so small I thought larvae too.
<Mmm; white, triangular headed... sounds like Roundworms/Nematodes... but moving quickly? More like insect larvae>
So sorry I didn't snap a pic. Any suggestions or hurry do something red flags with this information that y'all think would be helpful in identifying?
<A close up photo please; not likely problematical for human touch.>
I read a lot on line. They did not have a brown or black head. These were almost maggot like. But the maggots I've seen are more dense, these looked really squishy and almost like tiny tiny moving blobs of mucus. But I did see a few with the triangle-ish end (head). The others just looked like mushy wiggly rice, just not maggots to me......
Any response us appreciated.
Thank you,
<Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqInsect%20IDF.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Can you tell me what this is please???      7/9/17
<Hi Kelly>
I am hoping you might be able to help me. I have indoor/outdoor cats and of course leave a water bowl out for them. Recently though I have been finding strange worm-like organisms stuck to the inside of the bowl. I've included a picture of one to show you. I would just like to know what it is and if it is harmful to animals. I appreciate you taking the time to read my email and thank you.
Kelly Michel
<Mmm; this looks like some sort of flatworm/Platyhelminth to me... Likely not an issue, but I would share this pic or better, specimen with your veterinarian just to make sure. Bob Fenner>

Re: Can you tell me what this is please???      7/9/17
Wow a flatworm?
<Yes; look in your reference works, the Net.>
Thank you very much for your help, and advice. I will be showing it to my veterinarian.
<Ah, good. BobF>

Worms in my tub!      5/3/17
Hello! Can you please tell me what kind of worms these are?
<Video Link HERE>
I found them in my bathtub after giving the kids a bath! We live in northwest Indiana if that helps any.
<These look like insect larvae; likely hatched from "flies" getting into the house, some bit of water left in the tub... no worries. Bob Fenner> 

What the heck is this?!     2/13/17
I walked in to find this crazy white worm lookin back at me. It is probably about 2 inches long and my Beta is scared half to death of it. What is it and is it dangerous? I keep up with the tank cleanliness and don't over feed my fish. What else could I do to prevent this from happening again?
<It's an earthworm or something similar (i.e., an oligochaete). Probably unhappy being underwater, though there are one or two truly aquatic species that sometimes appear in batches of live food. If it's an earthworm, could you could kindly return it to the nearest compost heap or clean patch of soil, that'd be great. Earthworms are fantastic animals. There's a great book about them -- "The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms" -- that I'd recommend to anyone. Aquatic Oligochaetes should be returned to streams or shallow ponds. Compare and contrast your creature to photos of the Oligochaetes native to your particular country and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

"Spider" in a shrimp tank   2/9/17
I've read Your great *FAQs on Aquatic Insects *but I've stumped on my local discus board on this spider-like looking insect. Do You have any idea what it really is?
<A spider. While there are a very few aquatic spiders,
such as the European species Argyroneta aquatica, this doesn't seem to be one of them. It is probably just a spider that has fallen into the tank and wants to get out. Place it on a floating plant or leaf at the surface and see what it does. If it tries to go back into the water, that'd be odd! My guess is that it'll be quite alright on the surface, and if you compare it to photos of spiders native to your home country, you will probably find it is a typical house or garden spider. The white colour reminds me of the White Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) but an arachnid expert in your home country would surely be better able at identifying this spider than me!>
It is alive and moving freely when underwater, you can see it on a video on YouTube
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

What are these??? FW Jellies!  Video Link       8/9/16
I have just found these swimming in my 3 gallon freshwater tank! The only creatures I have are 2 ADF, 1 Oto Cat, and a snail. I am quite perplexed and hope that you can help! I have taken them out and placed them in another container, just in case.
<Neat! These are freshwater jellyfish... My guess is on Craspedacusta sowerbii, a Hydrozoan. Some folks keep these for their own sake. Bob Fenner>
Thank you!!
Re: What are these???   FW Jellies   8/10/16
Where did they come from??

<Likely either a live food or plant source... or strobilized on a hard substrate you bought "wet">
They are so tiny! Will they do any harm if I place them back into the tank?
<Mmm; not likely; no>
Or should I just keep them in the separate container that they are in now?
<Try searching the name I've given you. Cheers, BobF>

Worm, Larvae, or other?    3/14/16
Hi There,
Just finished cycling a Fluval Edge 6 gallon aquarium after 4 weeks. I cycled with pure ammonia from Dr.Tim's Aquatics dosing 4ppm each day the ammonia read 0ppm. The tank is planted with Helianthus Callitrichoides,
Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis, Vesicularia dubyana, and a few Aegagropila linnaei. I dose with Flourish Comprehensive weekly and Flourish Excel daily with 12h/day lightning by means of my Finnex Planted+. The plants are all
growing wonderfully. There are also some snails that hitched a ride on the Java Moss
<http://www.fishlore.com/fishforum/aquarium-plant-profiles/114960-java-moss-care-sheet.html>  I purchased from my LFS
<http://www.fishlore.com/fishdictionary/l.htm#lfs> , which I don't mind at the moment.
I have yet to perform a water change
<http://www.fishlore.com/fishdictionary/w.htm#waterchange>  and will do so after I figure out what these pests are. First here are the water specs to get an idea of the conditions:
pH 7.0
DKH <http://www.fishlore.com/fishdictionary/d.htm#dkh>  4
dGH 4
NH3, NO2 0ppm
NO3 80ppm (as I said, have yet to do a water change
<http://www.fishlore.com/fishdictionary/w.htm#waterchange> !)
<You're disciplined!>
<Who? The worms I'll assume.>
have definitely proliferated in the past few days (probably due to increased nitrate concentration), with most coming out at night and wiggling erratically at the top of the tank. Few also float in the water column during the day. The majority are translucent with some varying with brown specks. The supposed worms appear to be segmented, which leads me to believe they are of the Annelid phylum or are larvae of some kind
<Likely so>
and therefore not Planaria, but then again I could just be seeing things.
Maybe they are some sort of Dipteran larvae?
<Can you send along a well-resolved pic? The two groups of invertebrates can be discerned on close inspection>
Please let me know!
<Please read here re identifying these groups:
Bob Fenner>
Re: Worm, Larvae, or other?    3/14/16

Oh yes! The most important part of the email was omitted! Here is a photo:
<Ahh; these appear to be insect larvae. I'd vacuum the gravel to remove them. Bob Fenner>

Re: Worm, Larvae, or other?    3/14/16
Thanks for the help IDing them! I am planning on getting a school of 6 cardinal tetras, so I hope they will find them to be a delicious treat.
<Which? I'd remove the larvae as stated... They may turn out to be fish eaters, or flying about your house...

What's this on the glass of my aquarium?        1 1 16
I have a 20l Freshwater aquarium containing 2 small Apistogramma and have had great success with these fish since moving them out of a community tank (you helped me a looongg time ago as these kept dying on me!).
<Wild ones are not aquarium hardy>
However, recently, the tank keeps getting these white flecks all over the inside of the glass. They come off easily enough with a wipe, but within a few days are back. These have also started forming on some of the rocks in
the tank but are most evident on the glass.
I've researched online, but everything I can find relates to worms or little spots on the glass, not what I'm seeing. I've taken a photo with a macro lens of one of them (attached), but there are loads of these. Zoomed in  this far, it doesn't look like worms or spots. I have wondered if it's an unusual protein build up, as the tank had a white protein film on it a few months ago, but changing the water output to give surface agitation got rid of that.
Can you shed any light on what this is and how I should eradicate it? I don't think it's harmful to the fish, but it's very unsightly.
<I suspect that this, these are some sort of "fungus" growth... based on your description, white color, amorphous linear shape and trailing ends. Definitive identification requires microscopic exam.
Their eradication can likely be achieved through improved water quality... more frequent partial change outs, enhanced filtration, circulation; perhaps the addition of granulated activated carbon in your filter flow path.>
Thanks for your help, in advance.
Damian Clarke
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

What's this on the glass of my aquarium? /Neale's go      1/2/16
I have a 20l Freshwater aquarium containing 2 small Apistogramma and have had great success with these fish since moving them out of a community tank (you helped me a looongg time ago as these kept dying on me!).
However, recently, the tank keeps getting these white flecks all over the inside of the glass. They come off easily enough with a wipe, but within a few days are back. These have also started forming on some of the rocks in
the tank but are most evident on the glass.
I've researched online, but everything I can find relates to worms or little
spots on the glass, not what I'm seeing. I've taken a photo with a macro lens of one of them (attached), but there are loads of these. Zoomed in this far, it doesn't look like worms or spots. I have wondered if it's an unusual protein build up, as the tank had a white protein film on it a few months ago, but changing the water output to give surface agitation got rid of that.
Can you shed any light on what this is and how I should eradicate it? I don't think it's harmful to the fish, but it's very unsightly.
Thanks for your help, in advance.
<Hard to tell... could be a hydroid of some sort, but they do look rather more clearly defined that this, with a definite "stem" and a crown of "tentacles", though there are some types with creeping or bush like stems bearing numerous small crowns of tentacles. Could be a freshwater sponge. These are often jelly-like or slime-like, but are porous when examined under a microscope. Could be a freshwater bryozoan, though these invariably have hundreds or thousands of identical comb-like polyps that are easily visible under a microscope. Could be a fungus, as Bob suggested, but these usually grow on decaying organic matter (often in aquaria, un-cured wood) rather than the glass, since they digest the organic material around them rather than consume particles from the water. Could be bacterial, and these are often algae-like or slime-like, and without a strong microscope, they will appear to have little structure or, at best, a thread-like structure. You won't see the individual bacteria without very high magnification.
Regardless, all these options are harmless, and often more indicative of some background problem (e.g., too much organic matter decaying in the tank) than any specific threat to your fish. Elimination will depend on the organism, but chances are you're limited to cleaning the tank and removing visible outbreaks manually. Cheers, Neale.>

Costia on Bandit Cory(s), invert safe treatments?          5/27/15
Hi, I have a planted 65 gal tank 4 years+ running with honey gouramis, kuhli loaches, Hengle's Rasboras, bandit Cory's, Amano shrimp, Nerite snails, Oto cats. I think the Oto cats brought in disease and I had some loses of livestock and then things seemed to stabilize with no more dying fish. Some of the Cory cats, one in particular, have gray slime on them that seems to be 'Costia'.
<Costia, now called Ichthyobodo, is an awkward parasite for sure. It's one of the causes of Slime Disease, though not the only one, so do be aware of that. Curiously, but significantly, Costia is harmlessly present in most tanks, and only becomes problematic when the fish become stressed. So it's important to try and think of why that might be the case. In any case, there are various proprietary treatments out there, such as eSHa 2000 (no formalin or copper), QuickCure (has formalin in it though) and Interpet Anti Slime and Velvet (this latter also contains formalin). Otherwise, apart from formalin (which does indeed work well against Costia) any metrifonate-based medication should work well.>
I have gradually turned the heat up from 77 F to 83 F. The slime seems less on the worst Cory but still there. I can't net them out of the tank, too many obstacles. The invertebrates make using most of the medications recommended for Costia not safe to use.
<Indeed. Anything with copper or formalin in it may be toxic to shrimps, snails, and potentially sensitive fish including loaches and catfish. So you've got problems.>
Is there anything else that I can/should be doing? Does Paraguard have any effect on Costia?
<Paraguard has a chemical similar to formaldehyde in it, so wouldn't be an obvious choice for use with your community of species.>
Prazi-pro did not help at all.
<Obviously not. It's a dewormer.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Costia on Bandit Cory(s), invert safe treatments?      5/28/15

I'm not sure if I can get eSHa 2000 here in Canada. I'll look around.
<Or order online, via eBay, etc.>
The inverts in this tank have been through Paraguard treatment before without losses. I've never had it obviously cure anything, but if you think it would have a chance at Costia I'm willing to try it. I have a bottle handy. Should I adjust the dose for the Cory cats or Otto's?
<Adjusting doses down is fairly pointless. Generally the dose stated on the bottle is the dose needed to kill the parasite. Half doses might work, but then again, they might not. You could consult with the manufacturer for
guidance. SeaChem do have an FAQ, here:
They don't sell this product as "reef safe" as you can see, which means it might be toxic to invertebrates... but then again, it might not! That's probably about as sure a reply as you're going to get on this product.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Costia on Bandit Cory(s), invert safe treatments?      5/29/15

I tried the Prazi-pro first because I thought it might be skin flukes. I'll try the Paraguard after I do a water change on the weekend and see if that helps. If I go much higher with the water temps I am going to lose some plants.
I'll let you know if it seems to do anything.
Thanks, Jeff
<You're welcome, Neale.>
Re: Costia on Bandit Cory(s), invert safe treatments?        8/15/15

Hi Neale,
Is been awhile but I thought that I would let you know that the ParaGuard did not do anything. However, I had some PolyGuard and that cleared up the problem with 2 doses, maybe 3, I can't remember exactly.
I have another question. I switched my tank to Fluorite black sand substrate about 5-6 months ago because I thought the eco-complete was too sharp on Cory cat and other bottom feeders barbels.
<Ah... not the best idea.>
Frustratingly, Cory cats I have put in there since have still developed eroded barbels.
<Yes. Fluorite sand is, as I understand it, manufactured, not a natural product. It isn't a natural substrate and remains sharp enough to cause problems for bottom dwelling fish. An excellent choice for Amano-style tanks with midwater fish (tetras for example) but not for catfish, loaches and so on.>
I know bacteria is another possible cause of this but the question is how to avoid it.
<The erosion of the catfish barbels is a two-step process. The sand creates scratches in the skin tissue, and bacteria (similar to Finrot) can get in. Whether there's a threshold of dirtiness required for this second step I do not know, but I'd assume not because catfish whiskers are just fine in silica sand tanks with lots of organic detritus, which would seem to have more bacteria than clean fluorite sand.>
I do a 30 percent water change every week and the tank is not heavily stocked. It is a planted tank, so I do not vacuum the bottom during water changes.
<Generally no need.>
There are two AquaClear filters and a circulation pump, so there are no noticeable dead spots with piles of waste building up in them.
<It's the sand, Jeff. Swap it out for plain vanilla smooth silica sand from a garden centre or pool filter sand supplier. Will look hideously bright at first, but over time the grains darken (algae and bacteria, I guess) and you'll find it much more agreeable. Alternatively, replace the Corydoras with a midwater catfish species such as Dianema spp., Asian Glass Cats,
African Glass Cats, or even Dwarf Upside Down Cats. Cheers, Neale.>

What is this?       5/30/15
I have put an avocado pit in water and after a few weeks, I found these worms in the water. The most pointy side are mostly at the top of the water, as if for breath!
<Can't really tell from your photo but description matches "rat-tailed maggots" which are the larval form of specific types of fly and very interesting beasts! Not many people get to see them, so well done! Probably better outdoors in some swampy bit of pond though. Cheers, Neale.>

So you know what this is??        1/21/15
I frequently find them in our bathtub.

The picture is lousy, but it is a worm (larvae?) less than 1/4 inch, reddish brown in color with a black head.
<Can't make out much detail here... most likely this is an insect larva... don't know how exactly they're getting into your tub though... Perhaps via a bird's help in the ventilation? Not harmful in any case. Bob Fenner>


ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!   /RMF       10/10/14
Please help! Love you guys! Please let me know what you think.
I have a very stable 6 gallon freshwater tank with 3 invertebrate, 2 pygmy Corys and 3 moss balls (no snails). Nothing new added in last 6+ months or more ... I don't have my current tank parameters as my local fish store checks my water weekly so I can avoid amateur fishkeeping issues that I've experienced so far. R/O water with a pinch of SeaChem equilibrium for the moss balls and shrimp shell shedding (I have "soft acidic" water).
Everything is always great when they check my parameters (my Betta didn't like the bigger tank that I got him unfortunately so I'm stuck leaving this as a dedicated empty tank to transfer him into when I travel). I minimally feed the tank 2 times/week (catfish pellets & algae pellets) and clean up after 20 minutes.
1) Pest #1: Can you identify if these are copepods or daphnia or seed shrimp?
<Look like what saltwater macro photographers call "lady bugs", Amphipods>

The pygmy Corys were recommended to eat those but they can't get the population down and my weekly cleaning isn't putting a dent in them. LFS said it's a sign of a healthy tank...? Because of the shrimp I don't want to treat the tank. But was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to get rid of these in the future if possible?
<Most any copper medicine treatment... DO pay careful attention to dosing>
I understand that there is a live food benefit for the pygmies so is this a good/minor situation? Would you get rid of them?
<I like their looks... wouldn't get rid of them>
2). Pest #2: The MAJOR issue I'm having now is the TONS of gelatinous, rectangular clumps of ??? floating up from the sand substrate. They don't seem to move at all. They are driving me insane. Over the last few weeks, I have been cleaning the tank with a net at least 3 times/day and I can't get rid of them. Do you know what they are?
<Need a better resolved image>
And what I should do to minimize? I'm working so hard for clear water and I can't achieve it. Because of the 6 gallon size, it's hard to thoroughly vacuum the whole tank before 25% of the water has been removed for my weekly changes. Sometimes they look like they have one long hair coming off one end ... but they don't all look like that. They appear light gray in water but look darker once I pull them out with my net. These pics are the globs in my net. What do I do??? They don't stick to the glass.
<... likely just a thorough cleaning, including gravel rinse/wash. Bob Fenner>
ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!
     /Neale       10/10/14
Please help! Love you guys! Please let me know what you think.
I have a very stable 6 gallon freshwater tank with 3 invertebrate, 2 pygmy Corys and 3 moss balls (no snails). Nothing new added in last 6+ months or more ... I don't have my current tank parameters as my local fish store checks my water weekly so I can avoid amateur fishkeeping issues that I've experienced so far. R/O water with a pinch of SeaChem equilibrium for the moss balls and shrimp shell shedding (I have "soft acidic" water).
Everything is always great when they check my parameters (my Betta didn't like the bigger tank that I got him unfortunately so I'm stuck leaving this as a dedicated empty tank to transfer him into when I travel). I minimally feed the tank 2 times/week (catfish pellets & algae pellets) and clean up after 20 minutes.
<Doesn't sound like a lot of food for the poor catfish. Any reason you aren't feeding, say, 5 times a week?>
1) Pest #1: Can you identify if these are copepods or daphnia or seed shrimp? The pygmy Corys were recommended to eat those but they can't get the population down and my weekly cleaning isn't putting a dent in them. LFS said it's a sign of a healthy tank...? Because of the shrimp I don't want to treat the tank. But was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to get rid of these in the future if possible? I understand that there is a live food benefit for the pygmies so is this a good/minor situation?
Would you get rid of them?
<Honestly, the photo is too small/blurry to be sure. But if they move about quickly, perhaps in "hops" before settling down, my guess would be either copepods, isopods or Ostracods.
None of these are harmful, indeed, they surely are an indicator of pretty good water quality. Some will be being consumed by your Corydoras and Shrimps, but mostly they'll be doing a useful service clearing up the substrate and eating up algae. Absolutely nothing to worry about. If they aren't move, or if they do, it's so slow you only notice from day to day that they're not in the same place, then Hydra is a possibility, but the shape doesn't look right for that.>
2). Pest #2: The MAJOR issue I'm having now is the TONS of gelatinous, rectangular clumps of ??? floating up from the sand substrate. They don't seem to move at all. They are driving me insane. Over the last few weeks, I have been cleaning the tank with a net at least 3 times/day and I can't get rid of them. Do you know what they are? And what I should do to minimize?
I'm working so hard for clear water and I can't achieve it. Because of the 6 gallon size, it's hard to thoroughly vacuum the whole tank before 25% of the water has been removed for my weekly changes. Sometimes they look like they have one long hair coming off one end ... but they don't all look like
that. They appear light gray in water but look darker once I pull them out with my net. These pics are the globs in my net. What do I do??? They don't stick to the glass.
<Really difficult to say without seeing them in the flesh or at least in a clear, sharp, well magnified photo.
But some possibilities are: (1) Faecal pellets and/or lumps of silt. Obviously harmless, but brisker water turnover rate will help by removing them from the water column before they get stuck to anything else in the tank. Faecal pellets can be easily squished with your fingers and will decompose into tinier fragments. Silt sometimes binds into lumps where there's a source of binding material such as excess fish body slime or large amounts of bacteria including blue-green 'algae'. Obviously neither move or do anything under their own volition, so placing a few in a small, shallow container of water like a watch glass should reveal their non-living status. (2) Hydra. Not completely harmless (a menace in breeding tanks) but generally not a worry, and indeed eaten by many fish (famously, many gouramis and Bettas). Easily identified close up by their tree-like branching structure, tentacles, and very slow
(3) Freshwater Sponges. Don't move about, but usually have a uniform texture and appearance, unlike faecal pellets. Hold their shape when touched, not easily squished, may even feel gritty and flexible. Harmless, though as filter feeders, if they're a lot of them, it's a sign the water is rich in suspended food particles, which may ring alarm bells for other reasons. (4) Flatworms. Appearance as the name says! Mobile, often move away from light. Can't think of any more off the top of my head! In short, it's unlikely you have a problem here, but reviewing conditions in the tank including filter turnover rate may be helpful. Would remind you that repeatedly doing "deep cleans" can unsettle the tank, making problems worse, especially if plants and/or filter bacteria are disturbed, so a moment of reflection rather than action is worthwhile. Have asked Bob F. if these objects ring any bells for him. Cheers, Neale.>

Insect larvae pouches...?

Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!       10/10/14
Hi Bob, Good evening! Thanks for your fassst response.
Here are a few more pics of the floating gelatinous crud IN water (pest #2)
... I've tried to use a microscope but there aren't any other defining features.
<There may not be... these could be more of a physical rather than biological phenomenon... though likely have some mix of Protists as principal make up; gluing together>
Do you have a recommendation on your proper "gravel wash" procedure?
<I think there's some posted on WWM. Use the search too there>
I just Googled that and people are doing it all kinds of weird ways. How do I prevent destroying the bacteria in the sand substrate?
<By not being too industrious>
Thanks again.
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!
I'm ON IT. Thanks again Bob. You ROCK.
<And roll!>

Fwd: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!     10/19/14
Hi Bob, How's your day?!
<Mighty fine, 'cept the weather Kristy. Thanks>
Just checking in on the mystery of my 100's of rectangular gelatinous clumps (don't move) that keep floating up from the sand substrate in an established Fluval 6G freshwater tank ... CLEAR water (except for seed shrimp) and normal water parameters (soft acidic) ... with only 2 pygmy Corys and 3 algae eating shrimp 3 moss balls. Again tank has been minimally fed 2-3x's week for over 4 mth.s due to seed shrimp issue. Neale mentioned
something about how the clumps smash ... if you press your finger on them they disintegrate (smear) and are not spongy.
<Mmm; yes; I saw>
To confirm, you recommended that I wash the sand ... I DID wash the sand with gallons of filtered drinking water (not tap) and then replaced in the tank PLUS 25% water change. IT LOOKED Fabulous. The next am, I noticed the clumps starting to float up from sand substrate again but not as many...YET. So, I took my filter apart and rinsed everything with R/O water which took a TON of "accumulation" out from the bottom of the filter below the sponge ... was careful to just slightly rinse the sponge. Also, rinsed the 3 moss balls in another bowl of R/O water and the water ran clear on them and as they weren't dirty/smelly as some report. I figured all the goop in the bottom of the filter was the culprit. However, now I'm back up to removing via net at least 50 clumps EVERY FEW HOURS (several times a day). They've increased over the week. When I net them out I do not upset the sand substrate as I net around mid-tank level. I have a sponge cover over my filter intake because of the shrimp. Filtration on medium. These clumps float up when the Corys or shrimp pass and when I swing the net around.
What do you think? How do I get rid of this stuff. It's not fecal matter because nothing has changed over past 4+ months. Also, the sand, filter, moss balls, and a few rocks are rinsed. HELP! And thanks again.
<Same as before... perhaps adding another particulate filter (a hang-on power?) will "do the trick" here. Bob Fenner>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!     10/19/14

Ok thank you. I'm confused about how this can develop in an established and now rinsed tank literally overnight. Have a beautiful day !
<I'd still be looking at these zots under a microscope... B>

Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!  Now washing gravel SOP   10/10/14
Hi Bob, Good evening! Thanks for your fassst response.
Here are a few more pics of the floating gelatinous crud IN water (pest #2)
... I've tried to use a microscope but there aren't any other defining features.
<There may not be... these could be more of a physical rather than biological phenomenon... though likely have some mix of Protists as principal make up; gluing together>
Do you have a recommendation on your proper "gravel wash" procedure?
<I think there's some posted on WWM. Use the search too there>
I just Googled that and people are doing it all kinds of weird ways. How do I prevent destroying the bacteria in the sand substrate?
<By not being too industrious>
Thanks again.
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!
I'm ON IT. Thanks again Bob. You ROCK.
<And roll!>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?! Washing gravel
Hi There, Thanks again for trying to help me. The reason I don't feed the pygmy Corys more than 2 times/week is because they are constantly eating pest #1 (live food). That's what I was told to do because my tank is filled with what seems to be seed shrimp?
<Are some sort of small crustacean>
And the shrimp don't eat them according to my LFS because they are shrimp-related...and mine eat algae.
Would you please be so kind as to give me a proper link for the correct way to "wash sand substrate in an established freshwater tank?"
<Let me see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/CreatingSWFOAQArt.htm
Scroll down... Though for marine, the operation is the same>
That's what Bob recommended last night and I spent 4 hours reading everyone's various methods and they are all different because people are trying to switch one substrate for a "new" substrate. Not WASH their existing substrate. So, what is the correct method?
<The bucket, freshwater from tap, swishing about by hand... >
Please advise. I cannot find a clear set of directions.
<Welcome. B>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!
Thanks ... To confirm, take Existing sand + bucket tap water & rinse several times then replace in tank? Would you recommend water 25% weekly water change at same time or wait how many days? Thanks again!
And have a stellar day.
<The change is good at this percentage every week; and now with the gravel  wash.>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!
Beautiful. Thank YOU!

What are these?      8/3/14
My husband has a 29 gallon tank with an assortment of fish and a few snails.
We have recently been seeing the snail egg sacks fall off the side of the aquarium. I noticed these little black looking worms getting between the glass and the egg sacks. What are these? They go after the
egg sacks and I see them near the water from time to time but never in it.
Also, what can we do to get rid of them without hurting the other fish or snails? Any help is very much appreciated.
<Mmm; looks to be aquatic insect larva/e... You could screen the tank, or better screen your windows.
Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwaqinsectfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>


little worm in freshwater tank      7/18/14
Good evening! I would like to ask your help identifying a worm i found yesterday. While cleaning out my tank, i noticed some little, very light colored worms on my Anubias nana. I put them in a bowl for observation. They didn't climb on the wall, just wiggled on the bottom. I haven't seen them in my tank before, though they are small and my gravel is light so i might have missed them. There were only a few. The body is round, so i think it's not a flat worm, there was also some black coloration on the head. I inspected the leaves and i found some brown round things on one of the leaves, maybe the eggs or something? I took some pics with my phone but they aren't the best, i don't have a camera so i can't really make better ones, sorry. My questions are what is it, is it harmful to my fish, do i need any treatment for the tank? My friend suggested that i throw away my plants, but i don't really want to if it's not necessary. I live in Europe.
<Likely these are aquatic insect larvae, possibly imported on the plants, and in any event, almost certainly harmless. Nematodes (roundworms) tend to be uniformly coloured (usually white) whereas insect larvae (such as "maggots") have distinctive head regions that are darker than the body thanks to their eyes and jaws. Hope this helps, Neale.>


Re: little worm in freshwater tank 7/20/2014
Thank you for your reply, I'm relieved. Than i go and replant my tank :)
<Most welcome, Neale.>

What's the tiny small swimming things in my tank?   11/17/13
Have a 10 gallon that was introduced to bocapa's and wisteria in September.
Was holding new Neons and glass cat's, the fish were placed in another tank after keeping them in "isolation" for 2 weeks.
I know live plants come with snails, and there have been a few. Put a 5 year old clown loach in the 10 gal plant tank twice to chow down on the snails, for a week at a time before he chows up the plants and back in he's tank he goes, a 55 gallon.
My question is regarding spotting a moving speck last month. Not recognizing it, a few more popped up. Water change, a week later, tiny specks. Now there are lots of specks, so small, size of baby snails and tinier ones, probably infants?,  floating at mid top of water line and zig zagging. Appear to be a dirty yellow color and they are very happy. The plants are rooting well, some leaves have been nibbled on so spotted two snails along the glass.
Before I put one of the clown loaches in the tank, what are the tiny roundish happy aquatic critters in my tank and are these things harmless?  
Thank you!
<The small mobile specks are either copepods (e.g., underwater on the glass) or else tiny insect-like animals such as collembolans if they're on the surface of the water or the glass above the waterline. In both cases harmless in themselves, but may imply a lack of proper aquarium hygiene.
Cheers, Neale.>

Semi aquatic animals...? 2 gal. bowl in a FW tank...  stkg... confusion/confused    9/2/2013
I have a 30 gallon tank, heavily planted, with a rainbow fish,
<"A" rainbowfish? Should really be in groups of 6+ specimens, if we're talking about Melanotaenia and other such species..>
small albino Pleco, and a botasia catfish (not sure if that's accurate, looks like a 3 inch bullhead, is full grown)
<Have absolutely no idea what a "botasia catfish" is, and Google offers up "basa catfish", which is another name for the Iridescent Catfish which definitely isn't full grown at three inches. Three feet... maybe!>
I have recently installed a slanted Betta bowl at the bottom of my tank, I have plants and an airline in it, creating an underwater air bubble. I have seen this be done before, and it allows you to house some semi aquatic animals that need land/air.
<Sounds nightmarish! Abnormal air pressure, minimal space to move around, oxygen concentration extremely dependent on efficiency of air pump... yikes!>
I would like to get something that would normally need land so I can keep it and not need another special tank for it. I figure I could get a  crabs, amphibians of some sort, or maybe a turtle. I would forward to hearing your impute.
<Would not do this. The theory sounds cool, I admit, like a science-fiction story with an underwater city or something. But then if you think about why those don't work in real life, even with modern engineering, you'll realise that trying to achieve with a cheap air pump and a glass bowl is a little optimistic. The space would be too small (a few gallons of volume at most, and land area of a square foot, tops) for most animals to be happy, so why bother? Plenty of fully aquatic fish choices for a tank this size and the livestock you already have. Obviously anything amphibious (in the sense of using both water and land) would move in and out of the bubble, and turtles are 100% incompatible with fish, so they're right out. Virtually all amphibians are bad choices, apart from African Dwarf Frogs, and your existing fish are too large for those. Crabs are almost always brackish water animals, so incompatible in that regard. Basically, virtually all of these "mix land animals with water animals" set-ups don't work, and the lifespan of the animals kept this way is invariably less than when kept properly.>
<Hope this helps! Cheers, Neale.>
RE: Semi aquatic animals    9/2/2013

I am well aware that this is not ideal, but I always see newts, frogs, and other various semi-aquatics in tanks with no land at all, rotting away in a pet store in fact, nearly all my pets have been adopted or were the rejects at a pet store. This design at least gives them something.
<Unfortunately, while your intention is good, the result is bad. By buying animals from pet stores who don't care for them properly, the pet store makes a sale and is encouraged to buy some more. Logically, the best approach is to leave badly cared for animals in the store; ideally, you'd pass on your concerns to your local government (who license pet stores one way or another) and you could also contact an animal welfare channel.
Writing to the store manage could be worthwhile, too. Regardless, if the animals languish in the pet store, the retailer won't buy any more.>
This also allows Bettas to live as they require close air, African clawed frogs require air access so deep tanks are not ideal (although I have heard that they go on land),
<Only exceptionally, likely when the ground is waterlogged following heavy rain. Ordinarily, if they crawl out of the water, something is extremely wrong with the aquarium. It is true they like basking within floating plants though, even with their heads poking out. Do bear in mind Xenopus spp get quite big, and are essentially incompatible with small fish.>
some crayfish species require oxygen, a bull frog tadpole could use that to grow up in (but be released or relocated when full grown),
<Releasing a bullfrog from an aquarium into the wild would be very wrong, likely illegal in your area. I'm assuming you're in the US, and you may think that bullfrogs are native so what's the harm. In fact bullfrogs are not found in every waterway in the US, so you could put them somewhere they don't belong, and there may be genetic variation from region to region, and the pet ones sold may carry distinct genes from the ones in your area, and releasing a pet bullfrog allows those non-local genes into your local gene pool. Finally, the big no-no, and likely the legal issue, is pet bullfrogs have been exposed to bacteria, viruses and parasites endemic in the pet industry, and releasing a bullfrog will allow those into your local waterways.>
I could perhaps use it to breed killifish, and most pet store newts have little land anyway, so this is not as foolish as you think.
<Trust me, it's a terrible idea.>
Not to mention that the Betta bowl is a two gallon one, note one of those light bulb sized things, the air line is not cheap at all and I did my best to make the land part cozy.
<Assuming you didn't pay tens of thousands on having an industrial engineer create something that ensures a steady air pressure and balances oxygen and CO2 concentrations properly, the set up you design is simply a bowl with an air pump connected to it. So my reference to "cheap" wasn't a concern about the quality of the products used, which I'm sure are excellent.>
And as for my rainbow fish, it was called a Madagascar rainbow fish yet looks NOTHING like one, I do not know the scientific name and still cannot find another that looks quite like it.
<By all means send a photo and I'll help.>
He was adopted, I've had him for years, and had a mate for him (but he killed her, always was a bit over aggressive) he does not like the company of other rainbow fish or gouramies and the catfish was at a pet store, they said he was full grown and that he is pretty shy.
<Again, a photo would help.>
Other than that most of my fish are still shrouded in mystery. All-in-all you may hate this idea, but who knows, this thing may be worth it after all.
<If you're looking for an expert fishkeeper like me to say, sure, sounds great, that isn't going to happen. You sound like a really sensible, ethical aquarist, and I'd urge you to stick to that path. All this Betta bowl idea does is take swimming space away from your aquarium while creating a sub-optimal habitat for animals that need more than 2-gallons space. Just don't see an up side here at all. Cheers, Neale.>

little bugs in tank 1/16/12
Hi crew,
I have attached a picture of some little bugs that are in a 29 gallon tank.
The tank has 6 bamboo shrimp and 3 apple snails. I also just discovered that I have baby snails which is ok with me. The question is whether or not these little white bugs are harmful for the other inhabitants of the tank?
<Doubtful; no. Though I can't make out any details, these are likely harmless crustaceans>
I also noticed that as these little bugs mature they turn into little black bugs and hang out at the surface of the water on the glass. The tank is in the sunshine so the little snails can have some algae to eat. I feed Kent's Microvert for the shrimp and shrimp pellets and veggie rounds for the snails. The water seems to stay cloudy all the time. Is that because of the food I feed or because of the snails?
<The former mostly>
I do a 20% water change every Saturday and add a small amount of Iodide (2 to 3 drops from a syringe) for the shrimp.
I read some of the other posts on WWM in which Bob Fenner suggests that the little bugs are harmless. I tried to look at them with a magnifying glass, but they are to small and my eyes are not strong enough.
Should I try to get rid of them?
<I wouldn't. Very likely they'll "go", cycle out of their own accord in time>
Please advise if I need to change something or try to get rid of the little bugs. I tried to make the picture smaller without losing detail.
As always you all are awesome and so is the information on the website.
Thank you
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

U1, FW? 4/28/11
I was wondering if you knowledgeable folk can help me out?
<We'll see>
I was just recently doing my daily (if not several times a day) look through and around my tank. I've come across something that I've never seen before on the front glass of my tank and was wondering if you may have an idea as to what it is exactly? I came across 3 of them.
I took a few pics which are attached in hopes that you guys may be able to help me out.
<Umm, really need a more highly resolved image, but could be an egg case of some sort (likely Gastropod), or a type of worm... w/ the two semi-visible processes at the supposedly cephalic end...
Bob Fenner>

full size

critters in ghost & cherry shrimp tank 10/16/10
Okay tried to get a pic but to no avail....they start out white specks then (fast growing to me) they are very slim, stick to the glass, have to be in the water,(they go crazy if not) they grow to be a purple color. or when I rub my finger against the glass to get them out its a purple maybe a lite brown ) the head is triangular and the biggest one I got is about 1 inch in length. I am putting them in a glass jar but would love to know What they are. I cant treat due to the shrimp that I have..any help would be nice
<Likely some type/species of aquatic insect larvae. Please take a look/see
here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwaqinsectfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>

Help plz :( Question regarding freshwater aquarium... What WWM is/not... 4/29/10
Hi there,
I was referred to your site by the owner of a salt water aquarium shop located in Maine. I'm looking for advice on how to get rid of/kill off all the snails and worms in my 30 gallon tank.
<Why do you want to do this? Have you searched WetWebMedia.com before writing? Obviously not...>
We must have picked them up when we were buying fish and plants. I am not 100% but I believe, by what I read, that the worms are roundworms that are not harmful to my fish, the site said to not feed the fish for a few days and they would eat the worms. That did not get rid of them.
<There are many thousands of species of worms... of tremendous diversity... some are not palatable to many fishes>
On top of this, we noticed a snail, then another, and yet another.... now the tank is over run by them. Being that I just got my tank acclimated and cycled, I am trying to avoid a 75% water change and taking everything out and cleaning it. I will if I have to, but would really like to know if there is a product I can buy that will kill the worms and snails instead.
Please help :(
Thanks so much,
<.... learn to/use the search tool, indices: http://wetwebmedia.com/
Click on "Freshwater Aquariums"
In the main index: "Livestock 2"
Scroll down to "Worms", "Snails"... read the Compatibility and Control FAQs for both. Bob Fenner>

Weird Microscopic Creatures In My Tank 10/27/09
I have found some odd looking creatures in a small, 3 gallon tank I have been using lately. I have been trying to hatch goldfish eggs in this small tank with no success. 3 times so far. I have a sponge bubbler in the 3 gallon tank. The bubbler seems to work in the tank. But I have not seen the goldfish fry.
<You will need more than three gallons, to be honest. Fish eggs are very sensitive to poor water quality. What happens is that still water and a build up of organic material promotes the growth of fungi and bacteria.
These in turn go on to eat the eggs, and up to the point where the fry become actively swimming, the fry can be infected too. I use an 8 gallon tank for rearing eggs, and even that tank can sometimes get dirty so fast eggs become fungused.>
Yet they are very tiny I hear (about the width of a human eyelash I heard one site say).
<That's a bit of an overstatement. Goldfish fry are smaller than, say, a newborn guppy, but comparable to newly hatched Corydoras or Danios.>
So about two or three days after the eggs have been laid I have tried to put very finely ground foods and live brine shrimp eggs in for the fry.
<Almost never a good idea to add food before you see fry swimming about.
Firstly, the newly hatched fry won't be eating for the first two days.
During that period you will see them sitting on the bottom flicking their tails but otherwise not moving much. They are using up their yolk sac.
Adding food will only be a waste, and potentially ruins water quality at this key stage.>
Included in the powdered foods are ground up bloodworms and regular goldfish flakes ground up fine and Spirulina.
<Likely too coarse for newborn Goldfish, which really do need infusoria ("green water") and/or liquid fry foods. It'll take a week or so after their first meals before they can tackle finely powdered flake and brine shrimp nauplii.>
I also include liquid food and a little artificial rotifer, which I was told is good for baby fish and brine shrimp. After about a day or two I still do not see any goldfish fry, but I do see transparent creatures hanging around the bottom of the tank. They are translucent gray to completely clear in color. They have two large dots for eyes that are usually red, but have also been black. Then they will develop long bodies with eyes placed on their heads like those of a hammer head shark.
<Could possibly be goldfish fry. Very young fish are usually obviously different from the most likely other things that might be in the tank: nematodes, flatworms, or copepods.>
It also appears some of the creatures have heads similar to those found on a mature adult dragonfly.
<Juvenile dragonflies and juvenile damselflies (these latter smaller and have three "tails") are common in aquaria sometimes, usually coming in with plants or live food. They can, will eat fish fry. They are obviously insects though, i.e., they have compound eyes and six legs.>
There is no salt in this freshwater tank system. But our water does have a high natural mineral content. My question is are these odd creatures brine shrimp nauplii?
Or could they be bloodworm larva regenerating? Can bloodworm larva pieces and fragments do that if they are not cleaned up?
Could they also be flatworms?
<Potentially, yes; these look like flat slivers that slide along the glass and over gravel. Often brown or pink; may have two eyespots at the front end.>
And do brine shrimp (at any stage in life), bloodworm larva, and flatworms eat small things like recently hatched goldfish fry?
<No, no, and yes.>
Below I have tried to include a rough outline of some of the critters I have found in my tank. What do you think they are? And would they eat the tiny goldfish fry and eggs?

| | |
/ \

1. . . 2. . . 3. (' ') 5. ( ( ) ) 6. /\/\
| \/ | |
# 5 is the creature with the bug head I mentioned, #2 is the one with the shark head I mentioned (though in this outline it does not show the classic T shape this creature usually shows, though it does sometimes show the shown v-shape too). None of them appeared to have an outer shell like a fish louse would have. So I do not think they are fish lice (though I could be wrong). Sorry I could not provide a proper picture, as I threw out the water in the 3 gallon tank already (all 3 times).
<Sorry, these diagrams don't mean anything to me.>
I would just really like to know what these creatures are, so I can identify them better in the future.
<Do look out for an excellent little book called "Fish Breeding" by Chris Andrews; it's easy to buy online, often inexpensively, and well worth having. It includes details on breeding Goldfish as well as numerous other freshwater species.>
I hope these rough outlines and the descriptions above help. Thank you for your time.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Title "Guide to the Freshwater Invertebrates of the Midwest" by Kansas Biological Survey is "Now Available" 5/13/09
Dear Professor,
We have printed & published Kansas Biological Survey's title 'Guide to the Freshwater Invertebrates of the Midwest'. So now this title is in print and ready to ship. You can order this title at $51.00 including shipping charges. It is a nice 230-page hardcover book with title and Authors name gold embossed on the cover. So send your inquiries to reprint_service@hotmail.com
Following are the Table of Contents for your glance:
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1:::::Introduction to the Non-Arthropod Group
Chapter 2::::: Hirudinea (Leeches)
Chapter 3::::: Oligochaeta (Earthworms)
Chapter 4::::: Pelecypoda (Clams)
Chapter 5::::: Gastropoda (Snails)
Chapter 6::::: Turbellariz (Flatworms)
Chapter 7::::: Introduction to the Crustacea
Chapter 8::::: Amphipoda (Scuds)
Chapter 9::::: Decapoda (Crayfishes and Shrimps)
Chapter 10::::: Aquatic Isopoda (Sowbugs, Pillbugs)
Chapter 11::::: Introduction to the Insecta
Chapter 12::::: Coleoptera (Beetles)
Chapter 13::::: Diptera (True Flies)
Chapter 14::::: Ephemeroptera (Mayflies)
Chapter 15::::: Hemiptera (True Bugs)
Chapter 16::::: Aquatic Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Chapter 17::::: Megaloptera (Alderflies, Dobsonflies, and Finshflies)
Chapter 18::::: Neuroptera (Lacewings)
Chapter 19::::: Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
Chapter 20::::: Plecoptera (Stoneflies)
Chapter 21::::: Trichoptera (Caddisflies)
Chapter 22::::: Stream Study Procedures
Chapter 23::::: Biological Sampling Techniques
Chapter 24::::: Detection and Documentation of Impacts
Chapter 25::::: Current listings of threatened and endangered Aquatic Invertebrates
We look forward to your order.
Sales Team
<Thank you for this notice. Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com>

Question: Help me ID these zooplankton? in my freshwater tank! 5/4/09
I was observing my 16gallon tropical freshwater tank today and noticed what first appeared to be small translucent white debris on the inside of the aquarium wall.? Upon closer observation, I realized that these are some sort of plankton stuck on the wall of the tank, probably about 0.25mm body with 5 thin, longish tentacles sticking out from them.? I am noticing that these tentacles are ever so slightly moving, extending, then curving towards the "body", as if marine corals or sea anemone might feed.
<They're a Cnidarian called Hydra, and yes, they are somewhat closely related to corals and anemones, though surprisingly perhaps, more closely related to the Portuguese Man o' War.>
I tried my best to photograph these guys and circled them on Photoshop.?
I've found what appears to be copepods in my tank before... which are pretty well known and there are plenty of photos on the web to help ID them.? But these things, I have no clue what they are, or whether they are beneficial, harmless, or harmful.?
<Somewhere in the middle. Hydra can and will eat baby fish, potentially as large as newborn Guppies, and would probably also be a threat to newly hatched freshwater shrimps as well. On the other hand, they are too small to be of any threat to adult fish.>
I hope you will be able to help ID them!? Thank you so much in advance.
<Fascinating animals, and well worth observing! Cheers, Neale.

Invertebrates for a loose Central/South American biotope 3/2/09 Hello Crew, I hope you can offer me a bit of advise. I'm planning on setting up a loose Central and northern South American biotope using some hardy species in a 50 l. <Fifty litres? That's not a lot of space. At best, we're talking a harem of Apistogramma and perhaps a few surface swimming Carnegiella hatchets or Heterandria formosa.> The problem is I can't seem to find any invertebrates from the region other than the apple snail which, I believe, will add too much bioload. <Correct. In addition, Pomacea snails need alternating cold and warm seasons to last for more than a year. In the wild they go dormant for some months, and without being cooled down, they effectively "burn up".> Do you know of any suitable species in the trade, preferable hardy ones? <Would perhaps look to Asian shrimps; while the families of shrimps in South America may be different, to the eye one transparent shrimp looks much like another. So by all means use Amano shrimps if they're available. Melanoides snails are now firmly resident around the tropics including the Americas, so they can be added as well. Nerites are an option too; as with the shrimps, the species in the Americas are different, but they're all from the same family and extremely similar in appearance.> I'm planning on stocking with 4 red wag tail platies (I know they're not exactly a wild breed..), 6 Endler's livebearers, and 6 Corydoras habrosus with relatively heavy planting with low-light plants from the region, swords, narrow leaf arrowhead etc. <Platies will be far too large for this tank. Your other fish should be fine though. Besides, if you're doing a biotope aquarium, why bother using bright red artificial varieties of anything? Furthermore, all the Platies and Swords in the trade are hybrids, further diminishing their value in a true biotope aquarium. There are true dwarf Xiphophorus species, for example Xiphophorus pygmaeus (to 4 cm) and Xiphophorus xiphidium (to 4 cm), that would be better suited to a smaller aquarium. While not commonly "in stock" at pet shops, they can be ordered from decent aquarium shops or obtained via fish clubs and your national livebearer association.> At PlanetCatfish (http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/species.php?species_id=482) it recommends using fine sand and oak leaves for the Corys. Is this good advise? <The leaves are optional, but the sand is, in my opinion and experience, essential. Only in sandy tanks do Corydoras behave normally, and their whiskers tend to grow much longer as well. Definitely worth doing.> I realise it could affect pH though I have a pH of 7.8 and hardness of 15.9 so I assume a high KH (I haven't tested). <Smooth silica sand from a garden centre will have no effect on pH or hardness; silica is chemically inert. Do not use coral sand! Do not use any sand designed for planted tanks (e.g., Tahitian Moon Sand or Eco Complete) unless the packaging or manufacturer explicitly states it is safe to use with burrowing fish. The two named are not safe with burrowing fish. Retailers may know, but often their information is vague at best, so visit the manufacturers web site before spending the money. Smooth silica sand is extremely inexpensive and works well; here in England, a 25 kilo (55 lb) bag costs about £3 ($5).> Does this sound like a good set up? <Apart from the Platies, sure. Given the size of the tank, choose your livestock extremely carefully. Consider territorial requirements in particular; if you get dwarf cichlids, these can (and will) attack Corydoras, and in a small tank the results can be very unfortunate for the catfish (Apistogramma for example bite the eyes out of Corydoras). A 55-litre tank isn't much space to work with, so stock lightly and use a competent level of filtration.> Any advise greatly appreciated. Cheers, Sam <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Invertebrates for a loose Central/South American biotope 3-4-09 Thanks for your help with this Neale, <Happy to help.> I should have mentioned the reason for the platies is that I currently have 1 female adult and 7 fry (the mother died unfortunately) that I didn't want to sell. Now you mention it, the platies would definitely look out of place! I like the look of X. xiphidium. Do you think Xiphophorus clemenciae is a viable option in 50L? <Would be a squeeze; swordtails are active swimmers, and appreciate space.> I can't seem to find much info on either species. <Essentially identical to Platies or Swordtails, depending on the species. Clean, hard water with a decent current; moderate temperature (ideally 23-24C); algae-based diet.> As for inverts, I am thinking of going with Neocaridina heteropoda, the wild red cherry shrimp, if I can get them as they appear to be a more forgiving in my London water and they might reproduce. <"Might" reproduce??? Seriously, if Cherries are happy, you'll have lots and lots of babies. Most get eaten by the fish, but if you have non-predatory fish like small livebearers and small Corydoras, enough babies survive that you get a healthy, self-maintaining population within a few months. It's quite amazing. I give batches of shrimps away regularly, and pet shops are always happy to buy surplus specimens.> I'm also in England: where do you get smooth silica sand that cheaply!? <Garden centres. Look in the section where they sell things like gravel and vermiculite. Make sure to get 'smooth' not 'sharp' silica sand. It's sometimes called 'smooth' silver sand.> One last thing, how do Bacopa monnerii, Ceratophyllum demersum, Eleocharis parvulus, Echinodorus latifolius, Echinodorus paniculatus, Hydrocotyle leucocephala and Riccia fluitans sound for low light (15 watts in 50l) plants in this set up? <They sound like bad choices. Bacopa and Hydrocotyle especially become etiolated and then die under poor light. Hairgrass is a bit hit and miss under low light, but usually fails. Swordplants are adaptable, but down to about "medium" light. Under low light, concentrate on Cryptocoryne species, Anubias, Java ferns, Java moss, etc. The potted Cryptocoryne species and hybrids sold in pet shops for £3-5 are outstanding value because they do very well at around 1.5 watts per gallon, which is what you've got. They live for many years, and once settled propagate themselves happily, covering the substrate in new plants. Java ferns and Anubias can be bought on pieces of wood and arranged as required.> Cheers, Sam <Cheers, Neale.>

Title "Guide to the Freshwater Invertebrates of the Midwest" by Kansas Biological Survey is "Now Available" Dear Professor, We have printed & published Kansas Biological Survey's title 'Guide to the Freshwater Invertebrates of the Midwest'. So now this title is in print and ready to ship. You can order this title at $51.00 including shipping charges. It is a nice 230-page hardcover book with title and Authors name gold embossed on the cover. So send your inquiries to reprint_service@hotmail.com <Will post. BobF>

Re: Title "Guide to the Freshwater Invertebrates of the Midwest" by Kansas Biological Survey is "Now Available" 2/27/09 Dear Sir/Madam, Thanks for writing back to us. If you wish to place an order for this title you may buy it directly from our website www.iabooks.com by using your visa credit card, ISBN Number of the title is 8189617214 . Shipping is free on this title. We look forward to serve you. Sincerely, Agnel Henry Vice President I A Books www.iabooks.com sales@iabooks.com <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner>

Black Pepper Size Critters in FW Tank - 7/2/08 Greetings from Georgia! <And reciprocal salutations for Hertfordshire!> We apologize is this is covered elsewhere on the site, as we found reference to white copepods, but not our 'bug.' Our 125 gallon community FW tank (1.002 salt) has been up 15 months. It has 2-3 inches of LFS gravel. <Ah, 1.002 definitely qualifies as "brackish" -- that's about 4-5 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water, or about 10-15% the normal salinity of seawater. Great for livebearers, killifish, and other species that appreciate slightly saline conditions.> For the first time, upon vacuuming the gravel and changing water, our white buckets had 100's, perhaps 1000's of black (dark brown?) specks smaller than pepper grains moving furiously in the bottom of the siphoned water yesterday. I have never seen them before. <Likely only copepods, ostracods, aquatic insects or similar.> They seem to cling to larger detritus in the bottom of the bucket. Under a hand held magnifying glass, no visible legs, eyes, spots, antennae, stripes, etc turned up. Still looked like black pepper. Our fish are healthy; these are not on the fish that we can see. These are not visible in the tank. <OK.> They died pretty quickly in the sunlight in 2" of the water outside at 90 degrees F daytime temperature. <How mean!> What are they, are they harmful or good for the tank? <Harmless; indeed, somewhat beneficial as they will be helping to speed up the decay of detritus in the substrate, preventing anaerobic decay. They will also provide a certain amount of food for species that graze on or sift the substrate. If you have an excessive number of them, it likely implies that there's a lot of organic matter in the sediment, which implies you are either overfeeding your fish or under-cleaning the substrate. Either way, controlling the food supply will go a long way to restricting the population of these organisms.> Many thanks, Don <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Black Pepper Size Critters in FW Tank - 7/2/08 Many thanks, Neale, we appreciate your advice. <Most welcome!> I have visited your area years ago, I think it dates back to the Bronze Age; I visited after that! <I see!> Thanks for clarifying that we are indeed "brackish." We will watch the overfeeding. <Very good.> Your answer begs the question: Since we need (want?) the gravel substrate to anchor our many plastic plants (oxymoron?), the UGF is along for the ride and we don't see getting rid of the UGF, it does the job. <Quite; UGFs can work very well, provided their limitations aren't a problem for your particular set-up. Turned into a reverse-flow system by adding a canister filter to the mix instead of powerheads/airstones and you have one of the single best filtration systems around.> What is the thinnest we can go on depth of the gravel and still accomplish the UGF function? We understand too deep is bad (anaerobic dead spots), and too thin does not accomplish the mission. <I'd recommend 8 cm/3". Does of course depend on the grade of the gravel; finer gravel will provide more surface area per unit depth.> It would seem that vacuuming and cleaning are simplified with a minimal thickness of gravel. We operate two Aqua Clear 400 power heads (1 in each back corner), and also a Fluval 405 and a Fluval 305. Again this is a 125 gallon tank with no live plants, and approximately 50 community fish. The gravel is on a raised plastic tray. We remove plastic plants, caves, etc to gravel so there is never a dead spot due to a fixed decoration. <Ah, I suspect a reverse flow system is precisely what you need. All you do is connect the canister filter outlet to the inlet of the UG filter plate. So water gets filtered mechanically by the canister (removing silt and organic debris) and then pushed from underneath the filter plate up through the gravel into the tank. As it goes through the gravel, the ammonia and nitrite are removed. The really big advantage is that the gravel now becomes 'self-cleaning' because silt and debris can't settle into it; instead the upwards flow of water constantly cleans the gravel, pushing fine particles into the water column.> Thanks again for your time and efforts toward this fishy fun. Cheers, Don and Rosemary <Cheers, Neale.>

Invertebrates in planted discus tank? -03/27/08 Hi crew! Nicole here, from South-Africa. First off, thanks for the wonderful, informative site! I've been a regular browser for quite some time and I've learn't oodles! Okay, so I have a lightly planted (swords, Java fern) discus tank - 1500mm (L) x 600mm (W) x 750mm (H) with an internal filter (box/sump?) and 2000l/h pump currently set to half speed. Lighting is not ideal for a planted tank, I know, just 3 x 40W Bio-Lux (12h per day), but the plants are doing okay. Heating provided by 2 x 300W submersible heaters in the intake partition of the filter. I also have a few air-stones. I'm not too clued-up with US units, but I think the 650l capacity translates to 148 gallons? <There's about 4 litres to the US gallon, give or take a bit. So yes, your estimate is fine. I'm in the UK where we mostly use metric units anyway. When we do use gallons, we have our own kind a bit bigger than the US gallon! So I'd prefer we all used the metric system... less confusion!> Substrate : 2cm layer of Seachem Fluorite mixed with fine brown gravel (1 - 1.5mm). 2cm top layer of only fine brown gravel with some course gravel (mix of dark brown, black and white) for aesthetics. No under-gravel filter. Water : pH = 6.8, alkalinity = 50, hardness = 100, nitrate = 0, nitrite = 0 Current inhabitants : 2 turquoise discus (pair), 2 red melon discus, 2 blue German rams (1 male, 1 female), 1 spotted Sailfin Pleco (15cm), 2 albino Corys, 2 peppered Corys, 2 emerald Corys, 15 cardinal tetras. The discus range from 10cm to 15cm in size. I am on the lookout for more discus to add to the tank, although I'm going to limit myself to 8 in total. Does that sound like an okay mix? <Sounds fine, though I will make the point that (most) Corydoras don't like water above 25 C, so they're not my first choice for a Discus community. But if they're happy, this is no big deal.> It is very hard to find more out-of-the-ordinary fish here in a 3rd world country - most pet stores only have Bettas, harlequins, Neons and such. Finding proper aquarium plants is near impossible! (Especially since I live in a small town). All aquarium equipment is horrendously expensive here - about twice the US prices :o( <Ah, but you can always go after some of those amazing native South African fish! I'd trade a boat load of "community tropicals" for the chance to keep things like Sandelia spp. labyrinth fish!> Maintenance : I use 50/50 RO water and tap water (treated with AquaSafe, heated and aerated for a few days). 20% water change weekly - might need more if I add more discus? Seachem Flourish once a month. Jungle plant tabs with iron every other month (I just stick them into the substrate at the base of the plants). Fish are fed twice daily, before and after work. The discus get home-made food (Rocky Mountain recipe), as well as frozen bloodworms, peas, etc. <Very good.> Okay, now for my question : Are there any crayfish/shrimps that I would be able to keep safely with this setup? I don't want them to eat anybody or to get eaten by someone! I know it is usually a bad idea to create too much of a mix where discus are involved, so that is why I am checking with you clever folks! I love freshwater shrimps, but I love them enough to NOT keep them if it would do them (or my fish) a disservice... <Nope, crayfish would not be a good idea. Armoured shrimps would be better, perhaps things like Atyopsis gabonensis. Despite their size, they're harmless filter feeders. Not the easiest things to maintain, being a bit fussy about food, but not impossible either. Snails are another worthwhile option. Freshwater whelks (predatory, eat baby snails) and Nerites (only eat algae) would be nice choices. Funnily enough, it's a SA snail that's the commonest Nerite here in the UK, Neritina natalensis. So that at least should be something you might be able collect from the wild, if you can't easily buy it. Amano shrimps are mostly subtropical and probably wouldn't last long in a Discus tank, even if they weren't eaten. You could try some of the smaller "long arm shrimps" Macrobrachium spp, but often the specimens traded are baby Macrobrachium rosenbergii, and these become huge territorial and predatory monsters. So research this option carefully.> Thanks in advance for your help and for the great site! Best regards Nicole <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Invertebrates in planted discus tank? -03/27/08 Hi Neale, <Nicole,> Thanks so much for the invaluable advice! I'll try and find a suitable filter feeding shrimp - it should do well, because discus a messy eaters. However, will Atyopsis Gabonensis survive the 28'C water? I've read they prefer temperatures around 24'C. The Asian variety - Atyopsis Moluccensis - on the other hand likes 27'C water. Will this not be a safer choice? <Quite possibly. But temperature is less of an issue than oxygenation, because these shrimps (as I understand it) live in fast flowing streams. I've not heard of either species being stressed by tropical temperatures, but I've seen them do poorly in tanks with little water current and overstocking. In other words, provided water quality was good and you had plenty of circulation (as I'm assuming you do with Discus anyway) I'd certainly try either species out with some optimism for success.> It seems getting any shrimp will be really hard. I just learned yesterday that South Africa no longer allows the import of freshwater shrimp and crayfish :o( I'll look into our indigenous species, but doubt that would do me any good. Local species would probably not survive the warm water in my aquarium... <Agreed, but certainly try a few smaller specimens, perhaps placing them in a breeding net for the first couple of weeks to see how they do. As a rule, species from still waters tend to be more tolerant of warmer water than those from fast-flowing streams, so that might well be a factor to consider.> Snails, as you said, are also an option. BUT, a "snail outbreak" a few years ago (after unknowingly getting a few on new plants) left me severely traumatized and unable to face the little critters! :oD Nope, no snails for me, thanks! <Neither Nerites nor freshwater whelks (Clea helena) breed readily in aquaria. If you get babies from either sort, that's something of a coup! The Nerites as well tend to be short lived (around a year) so at best the babies maintain a population. Many of the Nerites have larvae that drift into the sea to mature, and obviously these won't develop at all in aquaria. A few lay small clutches of eggs in freshwater tanks, but survival of the baby snails does not seem to be very high. In other words, these are NOTHING like the snails that multiply wildly in aquaria, so don't be afraid of them! The predatory whelks are rather fun to watch in fact as they cruise about looking for prey. They eat one snail a day as far as I can tell, as well as things like bloodworms (but not fish!).> Keep well Nicole <You too, Neale.>

FW Snails, contr., reading 2/28/08 We bought an orange snail and a blue ghost snail to put in our 10 gallon tank! It has been 2 months and both adult snails we purchased have been dead for a month and our tank is full of babies, at least a hundred! We keep see more little white stringy things moving on the glass. What are these, how many are we going to have, and how do we stop this?!!!!!!! <... likely more reproduction. Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm and the linked files above. If more worm like... see WWM re. RMF>

Strange critters in my tank(s), FW aquatic insects 2/1/08 After several days of scouring the web for answers, I'm still no closer to identifying this critter. So far I have found 3 - two very tiny, and one that's now about 3/4 inch long. When I saw them swimming I observed that they moved with a sort of eel-like motion, but they are definitely not worms (as I thought when I had only seen the tiny ones). These have 6 jointed legs (looking much like a spider's legs) at the "head" end, no legs on the bright green body (which looks to be segmented, but since it is so small it's hard to tell). It's about as thick as a pencil lead and at the other end is a sort of finned tail with 3 distinct "fins" which, unlike the body, are marked with dark bands. When resting right-side-up, this critter uses the two outer "fins" to hold up its tail end, and the middle "fin" stands straight up. When swimming the "fins" are folded and look like a darker extension of the body. When the critter (presumably) sleeps, the fins are also folded together and the 3 separate appendages can't be distinguished. I found the first of these when I was doing a water change in the large tank (200 liter) and the second and third while doing a water change in the fry tank. The first two were less than 1/4 inch long and the colors were not apparent at that stage. They just looked like short, very thin wiggly things with larger heads and I first assumed they were some type of worm. However, given the 6 legs and fin-like tail sections I realize they're totally un-wormlike. Not knowing what they were, I put the largest of the 3 in a small glass of water and he's been there now for a couple of weeks. In that time he hasn't gotten any bigger, and crumbs of fish food went untouched. A few days ago I put in some dried and fresh bits of various leaves to see if he would eat them. Until then he had stayed at the bottom of the glass, supporting himself on his legs and the two outer "fins" - but the first day he somehow noticed the floating vegetation (I say "somehow" because before then I had never seen him move from the bottom, do any exploring, etc.) and has now relocated himself to the underside of a floating bit of (dried) leaf, folded his "fins" and settled in at his new location. It's just not possible to get a good photo of him - though I did try - so that his head, legs and "fins" are visible. The fry tank sits on a low table beside a medium-sized potted Sheffler which from time to time gets infested with those tiny pesky gnat-things that crawl around on the surface of the potting medium. Not whiteflies, but I don't know what they're called. However, I've never seen the gnats look anything like this in any stage of their development, and there are no other plants/pests in the immediate vicinity of the tank. The little table is, however, next to the balcony door (which I tend to leave open when the weather is nice, though that doesn't happen often here) and on the balcony I have probably 60 or 70 plants of different types, none of which have had any pests aside from the occasional snail. I considered the possibility that my critters came in from the outside and from there to the fry tank, possibly transferred to the main tank on a communal net or something. But that's quite a bit of guesswork, and I'd like to know for sure what this is and what (if anything) I should do about it. My partner thinks they're mosquitoes. However, we have had sub-freezing and inhospitable weather this winter, and I can't imagine that mosquito larvae would be already hatching. It hasn't gone above 8 C. for at least two months. In addition, this mystery critter is already bigger than any mosquito I've ever seen - even in southern Louisiana. :P Does anyone have any ideas? Please? Hopefully, Erin <Erin, without a photo difficult to say, but if the thing has three filaments (actually gills) coming from the tail-end, then it's mostly like a damselfly larva (Order: Odonata; Suborder Zygoptera). Quite common in ponds, and they sometimes get into aquaria with live food or on plants. They are predatory, and eat things like smaller insects as well as fish fry. They won't (likely can't) eat dried food. Cheers, Neale.>

Invertebrates, sel., FW Are there any good invertebrates to add to my fresh water tropical fish tank? I have neon tetra's, Red Wag's, a Black Molly, and 2 Dalmatian Mollies, and 4 River Catfish. I'd like to have something different in the tank, but Crayfish or the like will tear up my fish. Do you recommend any species I can introduce that will not affect the community balance I have now with my fish? Eric <Many, many options. But freshwater invertebrates can be problematic in a variety of ways. Some eat plants, others react badly to fish medications, some will even eat small fish. Given Mollies do best in brackish water, I'd be looking at salt-tolerant invertebrates such as Amano shrimps and Nerites snails. Anyway, have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwinverts.htm . Cheers, Neale>

Breeding, fungi or alien phenomenon? Gastropod repro. 11/08/07 Hi Guys! Tried to find an answer on your awesome site but it's hard to phrase the problem I'm having! But I'll give it a try! So, I emailed Sabrina a few months back coz my two common goldfish were fighting. She told me this was normal and that it could be the start of them showing breeding behaviour which totally matches with the other info I've recently found. However, I was cleaning out my tank the other day and found small, clear bubble like things on the little ornaments and along the top of the tank at water level. <Ahhh! Snail eggs likely> At first I thought they were just bubbles but they weren't - they were solid. Anyway, concerned it was some sort of fungi I removed them all from the tank and did a full clean to eradicate any trace of them, although considering the behaviour of the fish I started to think maybe they were fry?!? <Mmm, no... not fishes> (They did try to eat them and they have been chasing each other a lot...) However this seems grossly out of character in these winter months despite the mild weather here) and they're not even a year old yet. Do you have any idea what these clear things were?! So confused! Thanks in advance! Chloe H, London :-) <You do have snails of some sort... likely Ampullaria/Pomacea... "Mystery, Apple...". These are the eggs of these. Bob Fenner>

Tiny white bugs/crustaceans, FW... 8/29/07 Hi. Hope you can help me with this one! <Will try.> I have a 5 gallon freshwater aquarium with a betta fish in it. A few months ago I noticed a few things: 1) tiny white bugs, barely visible to the naked eye, that swim/jump through the water and sometimes scoot along the surface of the glass <Those are very small insects or insect-like animals. Thrips, collembolans, mites, and so on. Harmless.> 2) tiny things that stick to the glass and plants. They remind me of barnacles more than anything else. They are scale-like, flat, transparent beige in color, and have a small red-orange colored center. They start out as specks on the glass and progressively grow bigger, to about the size of a pin-head. They have a hard outer "shell"....I know because I've been killing them off as best I can ("crunch"), but they continue to multiply. <Sounds like snails of some sort. Basically harmless.> 3) tiny red-orange bugs that jump/scoot on the surface of the water, which remind me of mites or water spiders or chiggers. <Again, some sort of harmless arthropod. Quite possible red mites.> I have no idea what any of these are, and my internet research thus far has not helped. I'm wondering it is it possibly a single organism that I am witnessing at different points in it's life growth cycle?? <No, not really. Aquaria become ecosystems of a sort, and animals in house attracted to warm, damp places congregate on them. Hence you find the same sorts of things on the aquarium as you'll find in the bathroom.> A few weeks ago I did a major overhaul of my tank. I boiled the gravel, driftwood, and filtration components. I threw away all the plants. I replaced all but about 10% of the water. Two weeks later, there are tons more of the white bugs, and I'm seeing more and more of the "scale" looking things on the glass everyday. <You can't get rid of them. Remove them, and more will move in from your house. I'm guessing your tank doesn't have a proper filter; these little arthropods don't tend to be such a pest where the surface of the water is agitated by a filter. In "bowl" type situations, the still water surface is a perfect habitat for them. Furthermore, in betta bowls the water tends to have lots of nitrate and organic material in it because the volume is so small, and this encourages the growth of algae and molds. It is these that the little arthropods are feeding on. In bigger tanks with proper filtration, there's less of this stuff, and so the arthropods are less of a big deal.> These critters are such an EYE-SORE and NUISANCE in my Betta's home. Can you please help me diagnose this infestation and how I can get rid of them? <You can't. Learn to love them.> With gratitude, Shawna B. <Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: tiny white bugs/crustaceans 8/29/07 Thanks for your response about the critters in my tank. I believe a partial solution would be running the filter more often.....I only currently run it a few hours a day. <Arghhh! Why are you running the filter only a few hours per day? That's not how you use a filter, and all you're doing is killing off the "good" bacteria every time you switch the power off. A filter should run 24/7 -- end of story.> Also, I've heard to get rid of snails you can add copper to the water? They are the major eye-sore of the tank. Can you confirm this and suggest any products that accomplish that? <You heard wrong. Copper is toxic to crustaceans (which you don't have) and to a lesser extent to fish. Snails are largely indifferent to it, and you'll kill the fish long before the snails get bothered by it. Learn to live with them. Remove them by hand if you want. Otherwise just let them be. Snails only increase their numbers in "dirty" tanks. Snails eat leftover food and algae. If there's a surplus of leftover food especially they will turn that into more snails. In a clean tank, they don't have enough food to breed all that quickly. Show me a person with a "snail problem" and I'll show you a person who overfeeds their fishes or doesn't clean their aquaria properly. It's as simple as that: basic laws of physics; without the extra energy from surplus food, the snails could reproduce as quickly. So, take the snails for what they are -- a symptom of another problem. Act accordingly, and you'll find the snail population will gradually decline to the point where you'll view them as harmless additions to your aquarium.> Thanks again!! <No problems, Neale.>

Re: tiny white bugs/crustaceans 8/30/07 Hi Neale ~~~ <Shawna,> Again, I really appreciate your help and advice on the unwanted critters I have. However, I am not sure that a "dirty tank due to overfeeding" is the problem. I have a single betta in a 5 gallon tank, who gets about 4 pellets of betta food twice a day, and eats it all within about a minute. I generally clean the tank every 4 weeks. <A properly maintained tank shouldn't need "cleaning" this often. Betta bowls are different I admit, but really, it's the water that needs replacing regularly not the tank decorations. Now, as for the role of food, uneaten or otherwise: snails simply cannot multiply in a tank with no food added. Try it yourself some time. Put a few pond snails in a bowl and don't add any food. See how quickly they multiply. They won't. Except maybe for algae, there's nothing for them to eat, and they starve. Basic biology. The reason snails prosper in fish tanks is that the food (and to some degree fish faeces) provides them with high-protein fodder. They multiply at a rate directly proportional to the amount of food available. It really is that simple. Now, it doesn't sound like you're overfeeding your fish, I admit, so perhaps the food source is something else. Decaying plants perhaps?> I am really stumped....because as I mentioned about 2 weeks ago, I scoured the tank and boiled everything in it (with the exception of the fish of course!) To see such a dramatic re-appearance of the crusty-scale-like critters in such a short period of time.....in a clean tank....with no plants....well, I just don't get it. Believe me, I have seen small aquarium snails before, and what I have looks different. I wouldn't mind a few snails, but these guys are prolific in numbers....still multiplying....and make the tank look sick and infested. <Need photo. There are very few other shelled invertebrates that live in freshwater. Ostracods perhaps, but they're very distinctive and don't "turn up" announced. Snails are really the only common shelled stowaways in freshwater tanks. Nematodes and flatworms can be a pest, but they're wormy, not snail-like.> I had no idea I needed to run the filter all day, and I can see now how that could create a stagnant environment for unwanted critters and such. I was not doing so because I thought my betta liked to have calm waters most of the time. I will change that habit immediately. But the snail-scale like things have got to go!! <OK.> I plan to clean and scour and boil everything in the tank again, in hopes that I can further reduce or eliminate the problem. If you have any additional thoughts, I would greatly appreciate your feedback. <Waste of time. Assuming these "critters" got in by themselves and are prospering under whatever conditions you have, my assumption would be if you clean the tank, they'll be back to full strength in a month. So I'd tend to reflect more on filtration, water changes, removal of potential food (dead plants for example) and so on.> Thanks so much. Shawna <Cheers, Neale>

Micro-organisms? FW 5/25/07 I have some sort of micro organism in my breeding tank (bettas). I'm not that it is a parasite because my fish seem to be doing alright. It's barely visible, but it looks like a millimeter-long, white worm. I had a plant in the tank that didn't make it and started decomposing, but since then the tank has been completely emptied, cleaned, refilled, and several water changes. I guess my question is what is it? And can it potentially harm my fish and/or fry? If not is it likely the fry will eat it? Thank you very much and have a good night! <Not likely a problem... perhaps some sort of small worm or crustacean... that "came in with" the plant... Not likely harmful, perhaps unpalatable. Will probably disappear as readily as it became aware to your conscious. Bob Fenner>

Gel like material on most objects in tank, FW -- 04/30/07 Thanks for having a great web site. I had the pleasure of your assistance once before. <Welcome> In fifty some odd years of keeping both FW and SW tanks I have never run into this problem before. As a side note I also clean numerous SW & FW tanks for a living. Fantastic type of job even if I do say so myself. <I did this as well... for nineteen years> I maintain a 125 gallon aquarium for a doctor with basically cichlids. In the past 5 or 6 months the tank has developed a clear gel like goo all over the lift tubes, glass and filters. The stuff can plug up an Emperor filter in less than one day. The filter does not look dirty but water cannot pass through it. You can scrape the gel stuff off of the glass, etc., but it quickly returns. I have had some success in keeping it under control by using a copper solution but it never truly solves the problem, just lessens it. Any thoughts on what it might be (appears to be a living organism of some type as it certainly reproduces quickly) and also what might control or destroy it. <Is a mix of life... the fancy current name is "bio-film"... Likely a mix of mostly "decomposers"... Fungi, bacteria... with a host of protozoan species, algae to boot> It appears to have no affect on the fish as they are all healthy and eating and growing well. <Yes... just slimy, unsightly...> First time I have ever found something other than too much food that would make the water appear cloudy. Thanks in advance for any assistance you might be able to provide. Sincerely, Jon Bartnick <Mmm, well... you can likely "shake the foot-hold" this stuff has in this system with changing lighting, water quality... switching out the substrate, adding plants... Likely it would go if deprived of nutrient (the addition of a good deal of high-quality carbon...). Bob Fenner>

Red Dots Floating Around In FW Tank -- 2/25/07 Hello to you all. I have a 20 gallon brackish tank with one GSP in it. He has done well for over three years now and still seems to be fine. I feed him foods such as frozen krill, raw cocktail shrimp, and live ghost shrimp. I do not want to overfeed him so when I have too much food thawed I give the extras to my cichlids and Senegal Bichir that are in a separate tank. The GSP has aragonite substrate and fake plants. I do a 30% to 40% water change and siphoning every Sunday and a full pump cleaning every three weeks. This has been his routine for three years now and I have been lucky that I have never had a problem- until two days ago. I went to the tank to feed him and noticed there were several tiny dots on the silk plants. On further inspection I saw these tiny red/brown dots were swimming from leaf to leaf and crawling on the aragonite. They are the size of the period at the end of this sentence. The GSP seems unaffected. His color is still nice and bright and his appetite is still the same. My cichlids and Senegal Bichir do not have these tiny dots in their tank, so I don't think this was caused by the food. I have searched extensively over your sight as well as many others to no avail. The closest thing I could find was something called hydracarina. Since they are so small I cannot see legs if there are any, so comparing the photo to what I have is questionable. Could I have somehow grown a culture in the aragonite? I work at a vets hospital and occasionally get cat scratches so I am concerned if these "dots" were to burrow into any broken skin on my hands. These "dots" do not seem to be growing in size or numbers or changing shape in any way. I hope you can identify these things and let me know if they are harmful to my GSP or myself. The idea of my fish swimming in his own filth drives me nuts, so I am eager to get his tank cleaned before it gets too nasty. I hope you can help soon. Thank you for all your help! Michelle in N.C. < Could be something brought in by the ghost shrimp. Use Fluke-Tabs or Clout to get rid of them.-Chuck>

Re: live creatures 3/2/07 Sorry...freshwater tank. <A yeah, this information is important.> I know I couldn't possibly capture a picture of them b/c they are barely visible. You have to be really looking for them and know what you're looking for. They seem to be clear in color. I realized they were alive when I noticed them curling up/moving as they float through the water (and when on the side of the tank). <Gotcha.> I often look but can find none. The most I have ever seen throughout the tank at one time is about 4 or 5. <I doubt these creatures will cause any harm. I think there is little likelihood that they are dangerous.> Thanks! <Welcome! -Mich>

Baby snails 11/25/06 We have just set up a tropical fish . the tank was ok this morning, when I checked on them this evening I found this little things on the glass the slate they look like something from out of space. but when I looked closer they look like baby snail. Have you got any picture of baby snails so I can see if that is what they are. thank you . <Mmm, don't have (as of yet... maybe you'll send along)... but would not be surprised that this is what you state. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Mystery Animal in my 10 gal. freshwater tank 10/24/06 I have a question about our 10 gallon freshwater aquarium. It has live plants, 3 neon tetras and 3 black phantoms. When we introduced the plants into the system, I was told to get rid of all the snails off of them. I tried to get them all, but about 1 month later I noticed small snails appearing in the aquarium. <Very common...> I bought some snail-treatment, <... most of these are quite toxic... and your Tetras are sensitive to such poisons> but I'm concerned about something else that I have spotted in the aquarium. I thought they were slugs (snails with no shells), but when I described them to the person at the pet store, they said that it sounded like some sort of parasite. <Mmm... unlikely... most of these can't be seen "with the/a naked eye"... Much more likely something like a free-living flatworm... aka "Planaria"> Before I have to go treating the water twice, I am trying to determine what this other "thing" is. This little "animal" is about 1/4" long by about 1/8" wide. Looking closely, I can see that it has antennae, like a snail, but no shell. It attaches itself to the glass and has a clear outer ring around its body (I'm assuming this is its suction cup that it attaches itself with). I don't ever actually see it move, but over time it moves from one place to another on the glass in the tank. It doesn't seem to multiply as fast as the snails (I have only spotted about 4 of these in the aquarium over the past month). <I would not be concerned... will likely "pass" on their own in time> Since I don't know what this thing is, I don't know if the snail-treatment that I bought will get rid of it, as well as the snails. Do you have any clue what this mystery animal might be, and how I need to treat the tank water to get rid of it? Thanks, Nancy <I would leave all as is and read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> FW... Planaria 8/28/06 Hello <<Hi, Shannon. Tom with you.>> My friend's mother's tank has white flat worm type of bugs/worms in the tank. <<Planaria. Harmless to fish.>> One day there was none. Next there was thousands. It's a freshwater tank. Any ideas to remove them? <<Yes, Shannon, but you'll have to slow down a little. (I'm correcting more punctuation, etc., than offering advice. (hint, hint) :)>> They are starting to freak her out. <<Well, we can't have that! Your friend's mother needs to vacuum the gravel at the bottom of her tank. Planaria feed on the "gunk" that's left over from feeding, pooping,...well, you get the picture. Clean gravel? No little white worms.>> It is a fresh water tank also. <<You mentioned that. Take a deep breath, Shannon. :)>> P.S. They attack the live worms they feed the fish when they fall to the bottom of the tank. <<That's what Planaria do, Shannon. They're "opportunistic" feeders. If there's no "opportunity", they die and/or disappear. In short, the tank's dirty. It needs to be cleaned...thoroughly. Recommend that your friend's mother purchase a gravel vacuum from a fish store. Once she figures out how simple it is to use...Bingo! Sayonara to the little white worms!>> Thank you Shannon <<Happy to help, Shannon. Tom>>

'Pod explosion? 8/25/06 All right, one more run at you guys, for now... What I ended up doing: the LFS I've been half-using offered to take the killies and the rainbowfish, and the Pleco got his new home. Now I'm down to the one glass catfish in my very dirty, 29-gallon FW tank. Instead of taking the catfish out to cycle the tanks, and having to parallel the cycling with his container, I've put him back in the main tank and am letting him ride out the cleaning. Since taking out the rest of the fish I noted a couple of dusty-white looking patches on the glass, fairly low, below the half-way mark. When I realized that there were tiny little worm-things crawling around in it, I headed for your site, and think I have a population explosion of 'pods of some sort... or is that a SW thing? <Mmm, there are crustacean groups, worms in this case likely... for both, all aquatic habitat types> Assuming they are 'pods, will a cherry barb/Corydoras/glass cat population keep these under control? <Mmm, maybe. In any/all cases not likely harmful. I would do nothing overt re these... they too "will pass"> I'm not sure that my one cat is even aware of them. Will the population get out of control while I'm working on cleaning the tank, before I can get those fish in there? Maybe I should put some plants near the areas to lure the cat closer to them? -Me <Not likely harmful. I'd ignore. Bob Fenner>

FW worm 6/23/06 Hi Bob. I have a tank with an African brown knife, mollies, ghost cats. This morning I saw what appears to be a tiny, tiny black worm crawling at the bottom of my tank. What can this be? <Mmm, could be an oligochaete (something akin to an aquatic earthworm)... even a hirudinean (leech)...> Everyone is eating & appears healthy. Water is good. Thanks! Diana <What is that Ted Nugent lick? "Where in doubt I take it out... it's a free for all"... I would remove this mystery creature just in case. Bob Fenner>

Anodonta sp. Lying on Side = Problem? 6/23/06 Hi WWM! <Ed> I know you folks "specialize" in saltwater clams, but I thought I'd ask you a question about my Anodonta (Jade-Green Clam), since I read on your pages that if a clam is lying on its side, then it may starve? <Mmm... not in all or this case. This FW Mussel lives oriented in any fashion... usually in mud> Well, that's what my Anodonta has been doing for a day or two now, and, although it doesn't seem to be dead (it does open and close slightly, as normal), it looks, well, odd. Otherwise, the tank seems to be OK. I have two Ancistrus mini-catfish in there, a bunch of snails and four Cambarellus montezumae. Since one of the Cambarellus is holding a clutch of eggs I reckon that the tank must be pretty healthy. I know the pH is not very high (round about 7) but the clam hasn't had a problem with this before. Any hints or tips about this? <Unfortunately I don't have any practical experience with this species, nor any print or Net reference of use> Obviously, this clam isn't very big, so "setting it upright again" may just mean that it falls right back down again. Perhaps its foot got damaged and it is now "re-growing" it? <I would not try to "set it upright"... Thanks a million for any replies, I do like browsing your site and thought that the section on snail control was really great! Cheers, Ed (UK ex-pat living in Germany) <Do please take a long read through this search result: http://www.google.com/search?q=Anodonta re the genus... Some useful habitat, feeding information to be gleaned. Bob Fenner>

Re: Anodonta sp. Lying on Side = Problem? 6/25/06 - Hi Bob! <Ed> Many thanks for your speedy reply! I have read the links and found some interesting stuff as you suggested. I also contacted someone else, who, like you suggested, said that this is normal behaviour: they don't have the "vertical" requirements of saltwater -- and esp. giant -- clams. So, I'll keep an eye on him but he sees to be still fine, in his new orientation ;-) Cheers, Ed Bradburn <Thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Worms and platy fry 6/16/06 Greetings from Australia to all the crew, <Returns from sunny southern Cal. in the U.S.A.> having only a few months experience in keeping fish we have been running into quite a few problems with the poor things. Our latest involves something as unpleasant as worms. The local aquarium guy has assured us it has to do with the drought affecting our area and dams and not just something we did. We bought fluke tablets and after fishing out a few platy fry (all of which seemed fine) and we set up an emergency tank for them with water from the big tank. We then added the fluke tablets but being new at this and apparently not very clever we took out the wrong piece of the filter, with the result that worms are still in the fish and tank! We had a few mishaps with the little fry in the emergency tank with a new heater going berserk and killing the poor things, we were trying so hard to save, so we decided to leave the two last fry who seemed affected by the worms in the tank when treating next, but just as we were about to add more fluke we saw about 20 little fry swimming around. To make it worse we also have a speckled Cory which the before mentioned fish guy told us will not appreciate the fluke. Now what do we do? <I would treat all> One of our nice big platy females is having big worm issues and is in big trouble but what about all the little new ones? <All> Do we risk killing them in the new little tank with water from the big tank and a crazy out of control heater or do we leave them in the big tank and hope for the best? <I'd treat all in place, in your main/display tank> Please help. My kids have named 10 of the little fry and will be pretty upset if I kill more than I already have.. Oh and we also have some tough neon tetras in the tank. They have survived terrible water conditions due to our inexperience, ich, etc and now worms . We managed to kill 5 guppies, and 3 tough platys early on, yet the neons live nice and strong. Totally opposite to what we have been told. (It may not sound like it but we really tried and we do care about the fish. We have bought every single form of equipment and medicine available. We are just not clever) Marianne in Australia <Bob Fenner>

Fresh water - centipede 6/10/06 I've got 35 gallons of freshwater - only a few tetras while the tank is cycling. We had some major problems with a Molly (from a local pet store - ugh) and we're rebuilding our tank. I've got fake plants, no "live" rock - the substrate is a mix of aquarium rock and river rock (long ago cleaned, boiled, soaked in water for weeks on end, etc, etc, etc) Everything is settling down and looking good - then I notice this centipede in the middle of my fake plants. <!> I don't think it was a bristle worm - after looking at all the pics of both - it really didn't resemble a bristle worm, it looked exactly like a centipede (that and I've seen centipedes before...) <Likely some sort of insect larvae... does it have many legs?> It was about 1 1/2 inches long - curled up on the plants. Colors kind of orange and dark brown or black. When I pulled it out, it was still moving around, had the legs, head and tail of a centipede. Tossed him out and gave a good look through my tank - no sign of any other uninvited critter. <Good> So, where would this thing have come from? <Might have been "laid" there... fallen in, perhaps came as a juvenile in food..> And does it mean my tank is not ready for new fish? Help? <Shouldn't be a factor if removed, the system is cycled. Bob Fenner> Thanks! Rochelle

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

Ich and invertebrates - 5/25/2006 I recently noticed that two of my cichlids have ich. It has just started. My question is what is the safest to use to treat the ich? <<Posted.>> I also have a catfish, Plecostomus, and a blue lobster that I do not want to lose... I would appreciate any info you could give me <<The invertebrates will die if exposed to common ich remedies. Treat in a hospital tank and let the main run fallow for a few weeks. Lisa.>>

Freshwater Aiptasia? Almost As Bad.... Hydra! - 04/29/2006 Hi Crew, <Hi, Monte!> I have a question, Is there such a thing as Fresh Water Aiptasia? <No, but I know EXACTLY where this is going.> I have what appears to be several small Aiptasia on my plants and tank walls. The main single body is green and it has about four to five tentacles on top. They are to small right now for a good picture but as soon as I can get one I will forward one to you. <No need, I can tell you precisely what they are from your description. If I'm wrong on this, I'll buy you a drink (but you'll have to come to Santa Cruz to cash in on it!). They're Hydra.> Also I have some very small flea looking bugs down around the gravel, they're white, oval and very fast, they don't seem to be hurting anything just wondering what they might be and if I should try to eradicate them. <Not sure on these, perhaps Daphnia or Moina.... there are VERY many small invertebrates that fit this description. They're probably completely harmless.> Here are the tank inhabitance: 75gal planted tank These are the only survivors of many fish, (Too many, Too fast, Too quick). <You've learned your lesson, I trust?> Two silver hatchets Two Otos <When/if the Hydra "take over", the Otos may suffer "stings" from them.> Plants: Duckweed Java Fearn Dwarf Sagittaria Anubias Barteri Vallisneria Spiralis Cryptocoryne Wendtii, Red I'm working on getting it ready for four to five Discus and a school of about 30 Cardinal tetras. It's been running for about three months now and I've been back and forth with algae blooms. <To be expected with new-ish tanks.> I believe I have that under control as of now, but it will be a few more months before I purchase the Discus and Cardinals as I'm waiting on two large pieces of Malaysian drift wood. <Sounds nice.> Any help would be much appreciated. <I, personally, would eliminate the Hydra for a few reasons. For one, you can't share plants with folks who don't want Hydra. For two, those Otos may suffer for 'em. For three, the discus may have trouble with their young getting damaged or killed by Hydra, should they choose to reproduce. Please take a look here to find my experience with eradicating Hydra with Fenbendazole: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=46&thread=10186&message=83268 (incidentally, I'm "vintage_fish" in the forum.)> Keep up the great work. <Thanks, mate!> <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Freshwater Sea Monster, in Miniature - 04/05/2006 Hi Guys, <Sabrina today, not much guy-like, really> I have a freshwater tank, 175 litres of water, tropical setup. We recently purchased a new plant and discovered that I believe, is a bristle worm. <I.... don't think there *are* freshwater bristleworms. I could be wrong.> <<There are some FW polychaetes... not prominent, large, many... RMF>> I have attached two pictures to aid in identifying this little fella. I have read much on saltwater bristle worms but very little on fresh water ones. I know some worms are beneficial. However I wanted to make sure that this worm was not toxic to my fish (Platies and angels) as they did try to eat it. The brave little worm but up a fight and wiggled free, then I rescued him. I would not mind him staying in tank if I could be sure that he was not poisonous. <I've got no guarantee there, but I rather doubt that he is.> Also the worm is approximately 2 cm by 3-4mm. Any help in this matter would be appreciated. <This looks to me to be an insect larva of some sort - and very cool lookin' at that. Were it me, I'd keep him for sure. There is a minor possibility that, as he grows, he may become slightly predatory on very small fish (fry, etc.). I think he's just awesome enough to be willing to wager the minor risk!> Thanks Roni & Ruth (Geelong, Victoria, Australia) <Congrats on the very neat find! -Sabrina, in the Santa Cruz mountains of California, USA> <<RMF also sees these as insect larvae... may well be predatory.>>

FW Strange things? 4/3/06 <Tom> I have a 74g freshwater aquarium, fully cycled with angels, tetras, clown loaches, sharks, Corys and snails (apple, golden and blue). I found a strange thing while vacuuming the bottom and wondered if you might know what it was. It was about the size of a large marble, crunchy feeling, pinkish in color, and it's consistency was like that of a honeycomb, or beehive, with pinkish interiors. Was it snail eggs? My mother found the same sort of thing attached above the water line behind her power filter. Please let me know if you have any idea? <Sounds, indeed, like you found a snail clutch. Your Apple snails will deposit eggs either above or below the water line so I believe your "guess" is correct.> Thanks, Cindy <Any time. Tom>

Answer for the person with the FAQ Freshwater barnacle? 4/23/06 He does not have barnacles on in his tank. Zebra snails lay eggs and it is the eggs that are all over his tank especially when he added 12 snails they would lay many eggs. They are very hard to remove and they are not biodegradable, also they will not hatch as they require a brackish environment to hatch. Also Barnacles are not Mollusks but crustaceans. Wayne <Thank you for this input. Bob Fenner>

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