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Old 08-06-2012, 12:37 AM   #1 
mursey's Avatar
Join Date: May 2012
Location: formerly SF, then Tucson AZ, now central New Jersey
Exclamation Tiny white things? Planaria? Freaking out a little

Ok, I apologize because I feel like since I started this hobby I'm constantly having "beginner fiascos" and asking for help here.

I just noticed teeny tiny white things moving around in my aquarium. I use water with peat granules in it to fill my tanks, and it seems that something disgusting has inhabited it and my tanks may be infested, but one in particular. They are so tiny I thought they were "dust" from the peat granules until I turned on the LED light and looked VERY very closely.

I read that they might be planaria. Could it be anything else? And if it's planaria, can that infect humans? I had just adjusted my fish's leaf hammock that fell and now I am freaking out.

I know it says planaria means you didn't vacuum your tank or you overfeed but I really don't think this is the case- is it possible that they eat the peat granule matter that settles in the tank? I don't even have substrate so that I can clean my tanks better. No substrate whatsoever!

Please tell me these things aren't crawling all over me, or tell me how to get rid of them!

Thank you in advance for any help!
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Old 08-06-2012, 01:12 AM   #2 
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Do you have live plants in your tank? I had the same thing happen to me after I put in a new plant from Petco and they told me they were baby snails. Do they look very tiny and crawl up the inside of tank and float on surface?
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Old 08-06-2012, 01:26 AM   #3 
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I have live plants only in one tank (for now), and that's not the tank that was the worst. BUT I totally realized I probably did a stupid thing by trying to make my water soft before I do water changes. I had a big drinking water plastic container that I put peat granules in so that it would soften the water (we have VERY high ph/hard water here). Well, those granules (Fluval Peat Granules) make little brown bits of "dust" like matter . . I try to vacuum it out but I thought it was harmless and now I think maybe it was decaying and that is what attracted these things.

They are really tiny, as I said, look like dust particles, but when I looked REALLY close, I saw that they seemed to be alive and in one spot of the tank, there were more, and yes, they seemed to be crawling up the sides. When I took my fish out and started cleaning the tank, they all were crawling around the suction cup mark on the tank where his leaf hammock was. Then they seemed to have died in that spot.

I put Alejandro in my spare hospital tank. The things I read online seemed to say it's not a serious problem but more indicative of overfeeding or not cleaning (neither of which I think I am guilty of) but maybe all that peat moss crap was rotting and maybe they eat that. I am not sure. But I did see some in my container where I keep the water I use for changes. (I keep water out so it is the same temp as my tanks.)

Thanks for replying, Candice! These things gave me the "heebie jeebies" and now I feel all itchy from thinking about creepy crawly things.

I can't take a picture because the things are too small and I only have an iphone camera which is acting up lately.

So Candice- that articles that came up when I googled "tiny white things in my aquarium" said that Planaria is a common non-parasitic thing that is common in many tanks, may be transferred by plants, and thrives on things to eat such as uneaten food and an aquarium that isn't vacuumed enough. I clean a lot and only feed what they eat in front of me .. . but I think I was accidentally "growing" these things in my water supply!

Also, the articles said that guppies or platies might eat them, bettas can eat them, but sometimes they get out of control. My betta Alejandro was snapping at them, at first I thought "Silly betta, that is peat dust". Not so!


So IF it is Planaria (and I hope it is because I don't want real parasites) .. then I have to figure out if I am going to still try to soften my water, and how to do that, without using chemicals that I have read are nothing but trouble. Our water in Tucson AZ is over an 8 when I measure the ph, and on the test strips I remember the hardness was super high also. Then I read that hard water . . .. makes ammonia or heavy metal concentrations worse in a faster way in tank water. . something to that effect.

Last edited by mursey; 08-06-2012 at 01:32 AM. Reason: added a paragraph after that line
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Old 08-06-2012, 06:43 AM   #4 
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Planaria are often confused with detritus worms. Planaria are a species of flatworm and are generally much larger than other microfauna. Detritus worms will appear as hair-like worms that squirm up the side of the tank or swim through the water, planaria are a lot thicker in body and have an arrow shaped head, they look a bit like leeches.

What you're describing sounds like another species of microfauna - something known as a copepod. Here is a link to a fantastic article regarding microfauna (worms, bugs, etc) that may alleviate your concern (this site does have photos and sketches of creepy crawlies though so be warned):
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:12 AM   #5 
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Thanks SpookyTooth! I am going to read this now.
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:35 AM   #6 
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SpookyT, nice website. Covers most of the basics for pond critters/worms.

Planeria is much easier to spot because of the hammer shaped heads.

My rosy barbs are the best for cleaning out critters. Guppies are okay at it, rosys are more enthusiastic about it.

All these things in the water can harbor disease and make you sick. Just wash your hands properly for 15-20 seconds with soap & water after mess around with the fish tank.
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Old 08-12-2012, 03:00 AM   #7 
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Yuck! Ok, I will make sure to do that. I did order "No-Planaria" and used it today but it says it takes 72 hours .. . so I guess I will know if it's planaria in a few days.

Whatever it is, almost all my tanks have it because it came from the source of the water I left out to become room temp and had peat granules in. So almost everything is contaminated. Water changes helped but not completely. I can see my bettas are eating whatever it is. Just not enough of it.

I still have no idea what they are- I can't tell from that article, mine are too tiny. They do seem thick-bodied and not like a skinny worm though. They are too small to see if they had a hammer-like head.

Last edited by mursey; 08-12-2012 at 03:03 AM.
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planaria, tiny white things

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