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Types of White Worms Found in Fish Tank

Many aquarists have never heard of, let alone seen, a white worm. These little creatures are actually quite common in freshwater aquariums and can often be found in the substrate or on live plants. While …

worms lives in aquarium ground

Many aquarists have never heard of, let alone seen, a white worm. These little creatures are actually quite common in freshwater aquariums and can often be found in the substrate or on live plants. While they are generally harmless, white worms can be a nuisance if they become too numerous.

If you are curious about the different types of white worms in fish tanks, read on below!

What Types of Tiny White Worms Can Be Found in a Freshwater Aquarium?
There are several different species of tiny white worms that are found in freshwater aquariums, and they can be a nuisance if they become too numerous, and some of them can be dangerous:

  1. Detritus Worms
  2. Rhabdocoela Flatworms
  3. Planaria (Flatworms)
  4. Anchor Worms
  5. Hydra (or Sweet Water Polyp)
  6. Flukes
  7. Camallanus Worms
  8. Thorny Headed Worms (or Acanthocephala)

1. Detritus Worms

Detritus Worms (also known as Tubifex worms) is one of the most popular choices for aquarium janitors. These hard little creatures are perfect for helping to keep your aquarium clean and tidy. They do this by eating any leftover food and waste accumulating in the gravel.

Detritus Worms are very easy to care for and will do well in most aquariums. They are especially well suited to smaller tanks as they don’t require much space. They are also relatively cheap to buy, making them an excellent option for budget-conscious aquarists.

One of the few downsides to Detritus Worms is that they can be a little messy. They often leave behind a slime trail as they move around the tank. This can be a problem for some aquarium owners but can be easily remedied by using a good-quality gravel vacuum.

Causes:In an aquarium, detritus worms are often the result of overfeeding or of leaving uneaten food in the tank. They can also be introduced into the tank on live plants or on the substrate. These worms are scavengers and will consume any organic matter they can find. This can include fish waste, uneaten food, and even dead fish.
How to Identify:Detritus worms are white or translucent and can range in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. They have small, round heads and tapered bodies. Their body is covered in small, bristly hairs, and they have no eyes.

Detritus worms are most often found in the gravel or sand at the bottom of the aquarium. Also often seen the white worm in aquarium glass, rocks, or plants.
How to Remove:First, try to remove them manually with a net. If you can’t get them all, don’t worry.

Next, you can try to reduce the amount of organic matter in your aquarium.

Finally, you can use a chemical treatment. There are many products on the market that will kill Detritus Worms. Be sure to follow the directions on the package carefully.
How to Prevent:First, be sure to perform regular water changes and vacuum the gravel to remove uneaten food and other organic matter.

Another good way to prevent detritus worms is to add a few pieces of live rock to your aquarium.

Finally, avoid overfeeding your fish.

2. Rhabdocoela Flatworms

Rhabdocoela worms

Rhabdocoela flatworms are a common type of aquarium flatworm. They are often seen on the glass or in the gravel of aquariums. Although they are harmless to fish and other animals, they can be a nuisance because they reproduce quickly and can become tangled in the aquarium filter.

They are often introduced into the aquarium on live plants or in live food.
How to Identify:Rhabdocoela flatworms are small, flat, and translucent. They have a pointed head and a short, stubby tail. They move by wiggling their bodies and can often be seen on the glass or in the gravel of aquariums.
How to Remove:To control Rhabdocoela flatworms, it is important to keep the aquarium clean and free of organic debris. Regular water changes and vacuuming of the gravel will help to remove them from the aquarium. If they become a problem, there are also commercially available products that will kill them.
How to Prevent:First, make sure to quarantine all new fish and invertebrates before adding them to your main tank. Secondly, keep your aquarium clean and free of debris.

3. Planaria (Flatworms)

Planaria are common freshwater flatworms that are often found in aquariums. Planaria are not harmful to fish or plants, but can be a nuisance if they reproduce in large numbers. They are scavengers and will eat anything that they can fit into their mouths, including fish food, algae, and detritus.

Causes:These flatworms are usually introduced to an aquarium via live plants or new fish that have been added to the tank.
How to Identify:To identify Planaria in the aquarium, look for flatworms that are white or pale in color and range in size from 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. Planaria have a flat, oval-shaped body and a pointed head.
How to Remove:If you find planaria in your aquarium, there are several ways to remove them. You can remove them by hand with a net, or you can use a chemical. Chemicals should be used as a last resort, as they can be harmful to fish and plants. If you decide to use a chemical, follow the instructions carefully. Consider using a planarian trap.
How to Prevent:Planaria are easy to control in aquariums with a few simple steps. First, make sure that your aquarium is clean and free of debris. An aquarium with a lot of debris is more likely to harbor planaria.

Second, avoid overfeeding your fish. Planaria are attracted to decomposing food, so uneaten food should be removed from the aquarium promptly.

4. Anchor Worms

Anchor worms are a type of parasitic worm that can infest both fresh and saltwater aquariums. The worm gets its name from the way it anchors itself into the flesh of its host fish using two large hooks at the front of its body.

While anchor worms are not usually fatal to fish, they can cause irritation and stress, which can lead to other health problems. In severe cases, the worms can cause open wounds that are susceptible to infection.

If you suspect that your fish has anchor worms, the best thing to do is to seek professional advice from your local aquarium store or vet. Treatments are available but they can be tricky to administer, so it’s best to get help from someone who knows what they’re doing.

Causes:The most common cause of anchor worms is poor water quality. Anchor worms thrive in dirty, stagnant water. They are also more likely to infect fish that are already stressed from other health problems.

Another cause of anchor worms is overfeeding. When fish are overfed, they produce more waste. This waste accumulates in the water and creates the perfect environment for anchor worms to thrive.

Finally, anchor worms can also be introduced to the aquarium through new fish or live food. If you do not quarantine new fish before adding them to your tank, you run the risk of introducing anchor worms (or other parasites) to your existing fish population.
How to Identify:Anchor worms are small, white, and cylindrical, and have a small hook at the end of their body. Anchor worms are usually found on the underside of fish, near the base of the fins.
How to Remove:There are a few different ways that you can get rid of anchor worms. One way is to use a product that contains the chemical praziquantel. This can be found at your local pet store. Another way is to manually remove the worms. This can be done by using a pair of tweezers to carefully remove the worm from your fish. Be sure to disinfect the area afterwards to prevent infection.
How to Prevent:Prevention is always better than cure, so it’s worth taking steps to avoid anchor worms in the first place. Quarantine any new fish before adding them to your tank and make sure to clean your hands thoroughly after handling them. This will help to stop the worms from spreading to your other fish.

5. Hydra (or Fresh-Water Polyp)

Hydra worms

Hydra vulgaris is a freshwater invertebrate that is commonly found in home aquariums. Although it is often considered to be a pest, it can be a beneficial addition to the ecosystem.

Hydra vulgaris is a small, predatory animal that feeds on small fish and invertebrates.

Hydra vulgaris is a voracious eater and will quickly reproduce in an aquarium if food is abundant. Although it is considered a pest by many aquarium enthusiasts, it can be beneficial in controlling populations of small, nuisance fish.

It is important to note that hydra will also eat baby fish and shrimp, so they should not be kept in a tank with fry or juvenile shrimp.

If you are considering adding a hydra to your aquarium, it is essential to do your research to ensure that it is compatible with your other tank mates.

Causes:The main causes of Hydra vulgaris in the aquarium are overfeeding, poor filtration, and high nitrate levels.
How to Identify:Hydra vulgaris has a long, tubular body that is divided into segments, and a mouth at the end of a short, stalk-like proboscis. Each segment contains a pair of retractable tentacles, which the hydra uses to capture its prey.
How to Remove:Treatment for infection is typically with anti-parasitic medications.
How to Prevent:One way to prevent hydra vulgaris in the aquarium is to make sure that the water is clean and free of debris. Another way to prevent hydra vulgaris in the aquarium is to add plants to the tank. Plants will compete with the hydra for food and space, and they will also provide shelter for your fish. Finally, you can use a chemical treatment to kill hydra vulgaris in the aquarium. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and remove any dead hydra from the tank immediately.

6. Flukes

Flukes are a type of parasitic flatworm that can infest both freshwater and marine aquariums. While there are many different species of flukes, Flukes are one of the most common.

They are often difficult to spot with the naked eye, but can be seen clinging to the sides of fish or floating in the water column. Flukes reproduce by releasing eggs into the water, where they are ingested by other fish. Once inside the fish, the eggs hatch, and the larvae attach themselves to the fish’s body. Flukes can cause a variety of health problems in fish, including anemia, weight loss, and death. In severe infestations, flukes can also cause damage to the fish’s liver, kidneys, and other organs.

Causes:These parasites are usually transmitted to fish via infected food or water.
How to Identify:Flukes are small, flatworms that are typically less than 1 cm in length. They are often hard to see with the naked eye, but can be seen more easily when moving about in the aquarium. Flukes typically have a brown or tan coloration, but can be lighter or darker.
How to Remove:In order to control flukes, it is important to remove any infected fish from the aquarium and to treat the water with an anti-parasitic medication. In addition, all live foods should be frozen before being fed to fish, and all plants and decorations should be disinfected before being introduced into the aquarium.
How to Prevent:The best way to prevent flukes is to quarantine new fish, plants, and live food before adding them to the main aquarium.

7. Camallanus Worms

Gold Fish With Camallanus Worms

Flukes are a type of flatworm that can be found in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. While they are generally harmless to fish, they can reproduce quickly and become a nuisance. Flukes are most commonly introduced into an aquarium through live foods, such as brine shrimp or bloodworms. In addition, flukes can be introduced into an aquarium through plants or decorations that have been in contact with infected water.

Once introduced into an aquarium, flukes will attach themselves to the fish and feed on their blood. This can cause the fish to become anemic and may lead to death. Flukes can also cause inflammation and irritation of the skin, which can lead to secondary infections.

Causes:The most common cause of Camallanus Worm infections is poor aquarium husbandry, specifically overfeeding and overcrowding.
How to Identify:If you think your fish may be infected with Camallanus worms, there are a few things you can look for. The first is bloody stringy poop, which is a telltale sign of these parasites. If you look closely, you may be able to see the worms themselves in your fish's anus.
How to Remove:There are a few different ways to treat fish for camallanus worms. One method is to treat the fish with an antiparasitic medication that is safe for use in aquariums. Another method is to remove the worms manually from the fish's intestine. This can be done by gently pressing on the fish's abdomen and forcing the worms out through the anus. But it can be dangerous for the fish.
How to Prevent:To prevent Camallanus Worms in the aquarium, it is essential to remove all potential hosts from the tank. This includes any snails, shrimp, or other invertebrates. It is also essential to clean the tank thoroughly, as these worms can live in the substrate. Finally, do not overfeed your fish, as this can lead to Camallanus Worms in the aquarium.

8. Thorny Headed Worms (or Acanthocephala)


Acanthocephala are parasites that are commonly found in the aquarium. There are many different species of Acanthocephala, and they can infect a wide variety of fish. The most common hosts for Acanthocephala are freshwater fish, but they can also infect saltwater fish.

Causes:The most common cause of Acanthocephala in the aquarium is poor water quality. These worms thrive in dirty, stagnant water that is high in organic matter. Aquariums that are not regularly cleaned and have poor filtration are more likely to harbor these parasites.
How to Identify:Symptoms of thorny-headed worm infection include weight loss, poor appetite, listlessness, and increased scratching. The parasites can also cause inflammation of the intestines and blockages that prevent the fish from being able to absorb nutrients properly. If left untreated, thorny-headed worms can eventually kill their host fish.
How to Remove:The easiest way to do this is to use a product that contains the active ingredient praziquantel. This medication will kill the parasites, but will not harm your fish. You can find this medication at most pet stores, or online.
How to Prevent:Prevention is the best medicine for Thorny Headed Worms. Be sure to quarantine any new fish before adding them to your aquarium. And perform regular fecal exams on all of your fish to catch any parasites early on.

How to Get Rid of White Worms in Fish Tank?

If you have small white worms in the aquarium, don’t panic! These common pests are easy to get rid of with a little effort.

If you have live plants, remove them from the tank and dispose of them. If you suspect the worms came in on live food, stop feeding it to your fish.

Next, do a thorough cleaning of your aquarium. Remove all decorations and vacuum the gravel to remove any eggs or larvae. Wash the tank with mild soap and hot water.

Finally, treat your aquarium with an anti-parasitic medication. There are many products available at your local pet store. Follow the directions on the package.

Preventing Parasitic Aquatic White Worms

There are a few things you can do to prevent parasitic aquatic white squiggly worms in my aquarium from taking over.

  1. First, make sure to Quarantine new fish, amphibians, and reptiles before adding them to your main tank. This will allow you to check them for parasites and treat them before they have a chance to infect your other animals.
  2. Second, keep your tank clean. Aquatic white worms thrive in dirty environments, so regular water changes and tank maintenance will go a long way in keeping their population under control.
  3. Finally, consider using a parasitic fish such as a loach or pleco in your tank. These fish will eat aquatic white worms, helping to keep their population in check.

FAQs on Thin White Worms in Aquarium

Could Planaria be long and pink?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as planaria can come in a variety of colors and lengths. While it is possible for planaria to be long and pink, there is no guarantee that all planaria will display these characteristics.

Why are there small worms in my fish tank?

There could be several reasons for thin white worms in aquariums. One possibility is that the worms are coming from fish food. Another possibility is that the worms are hitchhikers that came in on live plants or other decorations. If the worms are causing problems for the fish or the tank, they can be removed with a net.

How do you get rid of detritus worms fast?

There is no one definitive answer to this question. Possible methods include manually removing the worms from the aquarium, using a siphon to vacuum them out, or using a chemical treatment.

Are detritus worms bad?

Some people believe that detritus worms are beneficial as they help to break down organic matter and improve soil quality, while others believe that they can be harmful as they may compete with other organisms for food.

Does every aquarium have detritus worms?

Detritus worms are not found in every aquarium, but they are common in many freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

In Conclusion

Tiny white worms can be found in a freshwater aquarium. These worms are generally harmless to fish and other aquarium inhabitants. However, they can become a nuisance if they reproduce in large numbers.

In this article, you learned how to detect tiny white worms in the aquarium and remove them. If you still have questions – ask them in the comments.


  • Tubificid Worms (MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION): https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/tubificid-worms-tubifex-worms
  • The “Immortal” Hydra (College of Biological Sciences): https://biology.ucdavis.edu/research/model-organisms/hydra
  • The true colours of the flatworm (SciencDirect): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1084952117301945

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