Detritus Worms

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nateyj90

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Feb 13, 2020
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Ever since I first started my fish tank, (About half a year ago) there has been these tiny worms floating around the water column. They're definitely not Planaria, as they lack the "flatworm" appearance. From my understanding, detritus worms are fairly harmless to your fish tank. But with so many in my tank, I believe that they are adding to the bio load and increasing my nitrates. I do about a 50% water change every Wednesday or Thursday, making sure to clean up uneaten food and feces. My water parameters are always fine. 0 ammonia and nitrite, about 20 nitrate, I use API liquid tests. But water changes don't really seem to affect their numbers very much. I would post pictures but they don't show up on my camera at all, they're very small and my camera isn't very good. Any ways to decrease their numbers is greatly appreciated. I'd also like to know if these guys could be bad for my tank in anyway, I don't think they're really bad but any info would be awesome. Thanks guys, love this website.
 

fishorama

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Maybe they're stylaria? As I recall they swim in an "S" shaped wiggle in the water column. Not really harmful that I know of, some small fish may eat them. Many of them may indicate you need to clean your substrate & change water more often.

What I think of "detritus worms" are fat shortish red worms in the substrate not in the water column. I've only seen 1 or 2 at any 1 time ever in my tanks. To me they mean you need to vacuum or stir up your substrate more during water changes, they live on "crap" (detritus, poo, food & plant debris) in the substrate, hence the name. Some fish may eat these too but larger fish than
 
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nateyj90

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Feb 13, 2020
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Thanks for the info guys. I have one 3 inch African cichlid, (Zebra Obliquiden) and a 4.5 inch common Pleco. I feed my cichlid Chlorella flakes made by Seachem everyday, a pea every other day, and cut up earthworm pieces once or twice a week. I feed him with tweezers so there's really not any excess food from feeding him. I give my Pleco two algae wafers every night and they're both gone by the next day. I'm just gonna keep stirring up the gravel a lot during water changes to try and suck up as much stuff as possible. The tank is a 40 gallon breeder.
 

the loach

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Is this an unplanted tank, with coarse gravel?
You know the pleco will grow quickly to 1 to 2' right?
 
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nateyj90

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The substrate is kind of course. I do have a few live plants in there: Aponogeton Ulvaceus, Anubias, lucky bamboo, red pond lilly, a water onion and 3 moss balls.
 

the loach

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Coarse gravel is great for those worms. No fish can get to them, of course neither the cichlid or pleco would try...
 
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nateyj90

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Feb 13, 2020
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Coarse gravel is great for those worms. No fish can get to them, of course neither the cichlid or pleco would try...
I guess I'll just have to keep stirring the substrate up with the siphon and hope their numbers go down, I'm just not willing to change out my entire substrate at the moment. Getting the Pleco was a mistake on my part, I shouldn't have listened to the guy at the big name pet store. I asked him what a good bottom dweller would be for the 40B. And he said that the common Plecos would be great for it and would even help with algae cleanup. He made it sound like the perfect fish for the tank. And he either blatantly lied to me or didn't know what he was talking about because he said that they get up to 8 inches max! Of course after researching the fish myself, I discovered that they can get massive, around 2ft or so. I would've brought him straight back but the tank that he was kept in at the store was absolutely awful. He put 3 fish back in the tank before giving me one because they "didn't look very good". I have some friends with 100+ gallon tanks that would probably take him. But I do want to keep the "little" guy around for as long as I can. I love seeing his face peek out from his hiding spot. Thanks for all the advice and info though, I really appreciate it!
 
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the loach

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You're welcome Nate,y vacuuming the substrate will get rid of some worms, but as you will see, for cleaning purposes, coarse gravel also isn't great.
 
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fishorama

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Well, there are plecos that get to 8-10 inches & some that get 18-24 inches...

Gravel is pretty easy to vacuum. Just stick the vac all the way down to the bottom glass & then move it & do it again. To start with, plan to vac 1/4 to 1/3 of the tank at a time each week when you change water... & I'm sure you do at least 1/3 of your tank's volume that often, right? If not, it's time to start, lol.
 
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