Have you noticed any small white worms in your aquarium?
Then it’s likely that you have two types of worms – the planaria and the detritus worms.
Out of the two, planaria worms are an issue as they can be harmful to the fish living in your tank.
What Are Planaria?
Planaria are flatworms and they are not only scavengers but also carnivores.
The good news is that they won’t harm your healthy fish. The bad news is that they will feast on all the fish eggs.
Additionally, weakfish might also be victims of planaria. These worms can prey on the eyes or the gills of weak adult fishes.
Since they are so small, it can take some time before aquarists notice that they have a planaria infestation in their tank.
By this time, the planaria might have established themselves successfully in the tank. Given this factor, it is a good idea to get rid of them as soon as possible.
How do Planaria Enter a Tank?
Planaria can enter the tank through either new plants or new fish.
It’s a good idea to always wash all the plants you get and quarantine your fish.
Do this for at least a month to ensure that the fish does not introduce any planaria into your aquarium.
In quarantine, you can treat the fish separately for any disease. It also ensures that the fish is not going to infect others or pollute the tank.
Getting Rid of Planaria
The most effective way to get rid of planaria is by using de-wormers.
There are plenty of de-worming solutions available but you have to be careful when using them. Overuse of de-wormers can harm the health of other fish in the tank.
It can also upset the delicate ecosystem you have established.
Additionally, de-worming solutions are not fish-specialized medicine.
You will have to use dog de-worming medicine. Being careful of the dosage is necessary to prevent any harm to your fish.
Fish That Eat Planaria
In some cases though, you can get fish that like to eat planaria. Since it is a worm, most fish that eat live foods do not mind eating them.
They can also help to keep the planaria numbers low in your tank.
The following are our top picks for aquarium fish that will eat planaria:
Elegant and eye-catching, the angelfish is known to eat planaria.
They can help to get rid of it in tanks very easily. The delicate fins of the fish have earned them their name and they’re known for their beauty.
The freshwater angelfish is known to be an omnivore but enjoy a more carnivorous diet. Because of this, they tend to eat worms, including planaria.
A fish that is known for its beautiful sparkling appearance, the sparkling gourami is a unique fish.
It has a peaceful disposition which makes it perfect for community aquariums.
Apart from its appearance, the gourami is also known to make croaking sounds, especially when it is happy.
It has an omnivorous diet and will eat planaria when given the opportunity.
Other variants of the Gourami family such as the pearl gouramis are also known to eat planaria.
A popular aquarium fish, guppies are attractive and easy to keep fish.
Unfortunately, years of poor breeding practices have ruined the hardiness of the species so they do need some extra care.
They are not very high maintenance and do well in a community tank as long as they are kept in small schools.
Known for having voracious appetites, guppies will eat planaria if they are particularly hungry.
They will not consistently eat them but will help to keep the planaria population in check.
Also read: Can Guppy Live with Goldfish?
While common goldfish are best for outdoor ponds, the fancy variations require too much care to keep them outdoors.
Since all goldfish are born with genetic mutations, they have an unnaturally short digestive tract.
This means that they get hungry very soon too. The goldfish is also known to eat planaria, as it is an omnivore and will appreciate a source of healthy protein.
They are not known for eating worms much but the tiny size of planaria makes them a tasty meal.
Coming from the same group as guppies, mollies are hardy, beautiful fish that are livebearers.
Due to interbreeding with guppies, you can find mollies in almost any color and in different breed types.
Mollies are also able to hold their own ground when in a school so they are great for community tanks.
They are known to eat the eggs of planaria and will keep the numbers low.
Also read: How Many Mollies Should Be Kept Together?
Known for their striking appearance, Tiger barbs have unique stripes much like a tiger.
They have voracious appetites and are known to eat almost anything.
If left to their own devices, they will eat their own eggs too.
They do best when they have high protein in their diets and will make short work of any planaria in the tank.
Tiger barbs are known to nip fins so they are not the best for community tanks with slow-moving fish.
Stunning Betta fish are favorites of many aquarium fans because of their beautiful fins.
Available in various sizes, fin types, and colors, Betta fish are also intelligent.
This has cemented their status among the top choices for aquarists. Additionally, betta fish are carnivorous and love live food.
This means that they will make short work of planaria worms in their tank in no time at all.
These are some of the most common fish that you can find who will actively eat planaria and help to keep the infestation under control.
If you’re not a fan of de-wormer solutions and would prefer the organic method, these fish are a must-have for you.
Also read: What Fish Can Live with Betta? 10 Good Options!
4 Things to Keep in Mind When Getting Fish to Eat Planaria
When you are using fish to get rid of planaria, you do have to keep a few things in mind.
This can ensure that you do not face any disappointments or surprises.
The following are some important factors that you should understand before you opt for this route:
Make Sure it’s Planaria
Planaria worms have a strong resemblance to another type of aquatic worms – the detritus worms.
These are commonly found in aquariums and live in the substrate of the tank.
These are also beneficial as they help the nitrogen cycle by breaking down any food debris in the substrate.
Getting rid of these can affect the health of the ecosystem in your tank. That is why you need to be sure that the white worms you see are planaria.
It’s a good idea to scoop some up and examine them under the microscope.
If you don’t have one at home, your local fish shop can help you figure out what’s in your tank. If they are detritus worms, there is nothing to worry about.
Don’t get fish just because you need to get rid of planaria.
Each of the fish listed above is a freshwater fish and they have their own tank preferences and requirements.
These are related to pH, water temperature, and temperament.
Fish like Tiger barbs or Betta fish do not always make good tank mates and need to be kept alone.
Additionally, fish like guppies and mollies are not as hardy as they used to be.
You will have to monitor the water parameters to ensure that any fish you get is in a healthy condition.
If they are weak, the planaria could end up infecting them.
Low Feeding is Needed
Not all fish naturally start to eat planaria. When given the option, they would prefer to eat the food that you are giving them.
That is why you need to reduce their feeding time.
Instead of giving them two meals a day, give them food only once daily. This will ensure that your fish feel hungry enough to attempt to eat the planaria.
Once they realize that the planaria are an edible snack, they’re going to make short work of them.
Fish like the Betta fish also enjoy hunting live bugs for their meals so this is going to be a welcome exercise for them.
It’s Not a Permanent Solution for Planaria
Hoping that your fish will eat the planaria is not going to give you a permanent solution.
The fish might lower the planaria population but they cannot be trusted to completely remove the problem for you.
Moreover, some fish just do not like planaria, even if they are known to eat them.
This means that in some cases, you will have to use a de-wormer to completely eradicate the eggs of the planaria.
This will ensure that you do not have to worry about the worms or keep an eye out for them.
In the long-run, it is better to tackle them once. Additionally, it also means that you don’t have to specifically get a fish breed just to get rid of the planaria problem.
By paying attention to these tips and tricks, you can ensure that you get to tackle planaria in an organic manner and get rid of them efficiently and quickly.
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