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Types of Worms in Fish Tank: What You Should Do

Distinguishing between normal and abnormal is one of the problems associated with keeping aquarium fish. This is especially true for worms. To determine whether the presence of worms is a cause for concern, some investigation …

Worm swims on aquarium

Distinguishing between normal and abnormal is one of the problems associated with keeping aquarium fish. This is especially true for worms.

To determine whether the presence of worms is a cause for concern, some investigation may be necessary. It is quite possible that, depending on the species of fish and the setup of the aquarium, worms may be normal. However, if the number of worms increases, this could be a sign that something is wrong with the health of the fish or the environment.

Are you curious about the answer to the question, “Why worms in my aquarium”? Then read our article.

What is an Aquatic Worm?
Aquatic worms are a type of segmented worm that live in water. There are many different types of aquatic worms, but they all have a few things in common. They have long, skinny body that is made up of many small segments. They also have small mouths with no teeth. Aquatic worms breathe through their skin, which must stay wet in order for them to live.

Aquatic worms are found in both fresh and salt water. Some types of aquatic worms are: earthworms, leeches, and lugworms. Aquatic worms are an important part of the food chain. They are eaten by fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Where Do Aquarium Worms Come From?

We learned what aquarium worms are, but where do they come from?


It is not uncommon for aquarium hobbyists to find worms in their aquariums. Although most aquarium worms are harmless, some can be harmful to your fish and plants. There are several ways worms can get into an aquarium, but live plants are the most likely culprit.

Be sure to inspect plants before adding them to your aquarium.

New Fish

If you’ve just added new fish to your aquarium, you may be wondering if worms can appear because of them. The answer is yes, but don’t worry, these worms are usually harmless and won’t harm your fish. In most cases, the worms that appear after adding new fish are actually beneficial to the aquarium.

These worms are called tubifex worms, and they help to keep the aquarium clean by eating algae and other organic matter. They also provide a good source of food for your fish. However, if you see a lot of worms in your aquarium, it could be a sign that your tank is overstocked and needs to be cleaned out.

Fish Food

While worms can appear in an aquarium because of fish food, it is not common. Fish food generally does not contain worms, and if it does, the worms are usually killed during the cooking process. If worms do appear in an aquarium, it is more likely that they were introduced by another source, such as live plants or other organic matter.


If there are worms in your aquarium, it is more likely that they were introduced by another source, such as live plants or new fish. Snails may carry worms, but they are not typically the cause of an infestation.

How to Identify Worms In Your Fish Tank?

If you think there may be worms in your aquarium, there are several ways to identify them:

MovementDo they glide along the glass, crawl like earthworms, or just wriggle
Body shapeFlat-bodied, rounded, head shape, etc
Where in the tankSubstrate, glass or water column

Types of Worms in Fish Tanks

There are many different kinds of aquarium worms, now we will tell you about the most popular.

Detritus Worms

Detritus worms (also called tube worms) are one of the most beneficial groups of animals found in aquariums. They are small (usually less than 1/2 inch long), segmented worms that live in gravel and other substrate materials. They consume large quantities of detritus (decaying organic matter), which helps to keep the aquarium clean and the water quality high.

Detritus worms are very easy to culture and are an excellent food source for fish, shrimp, and other aquarium animals. They are also beneficial in that they help to aerate the substrate and keep it from becoming compacted.

Detritus worms are not harmful to fish or other aquarium animals and can actually be quite helpful in keeping the aquarium clean and the water quality high.

How to Identify Detritus Worms?

Detritus worms can be difficult to identify, as they are often very small and look similar to other kinds of worms. However, there are a few key characteristics that can help you to identify these creatures.

Detritus worms are usually less than 10mm in length and have a thin, cylindrical body. They are often pale in color and may have a dark stripe running down their back. Their bodies are divided into a series of small segments, and they have two small, bristly legs on each segment.

Identify Detritus Worms In Aquarium

Worms in Aquarium Substrate

Aquarium substrates provide not only a place for detritus worms to live, but also the necessary conditions for their survival. Aquarium substrates should be deep enough to allow for the establishment of a stable worm population and should be composed of materials that are not harmful to the worms. The most common type of aquarium substrate is gravel, but sand and other materials can also be used.

Worms in the Water Column

Detritus worms are segmented annelids that are common in the water column of many aquatic environments. They are often found in high numbers in areas with high organic matter content, such as in eutrophic lakes and ponds.

Detritus worms can have a significant impact on water quality. When they consume large amounts of organic matter, they can reduce the dissolved oxygen content of the water. This can lead to problems for other aquatic organisms that require oxygen to live.

How to Get Rid of Detritus Worms?

If you have detritus worms in the aquarium, there are a few things you can do to get rid of them.

First, make sure you are adequately feeding your fish. Detritus worms thrive on uneaten food and fish waste, so if you are overfeeding your fish, you essentially give the worms a buffet.

Second, vacuum your gravel regularly. Detritus worms live in the gravel, and vacuuming will remove them from the tank.

Finally, consider adding a fish to your aquarium that will eat detritus worms, such as a pleco or an otocinclus.

Planaria (Flat Worms)

Planaria are common freshwater flatworms that are often found in aquariums. They are usually harmless and can actually be beneficial to the aquarium by eating algae and detritus. However, they can sometimes become a nuisance if they reproduce in large numbers.

Planaria are scavengers and will eat just about anything. In an aquarium, they will eat algae, detritus, and even dead fish. This can actually be beneficial as it helps to keep the aquarium clean.

How to Identify Planaria

Planaria are very thin and can range in color from white to black. They have a head with two eyespots and a mouth, but no other distinguishing features. They move by crawling and can often be seen on the glass or gravel in an aquarium.

How to Deal with Planaria

If there are too many Planaria in an aquarium, they can start to eat the fish food before the fish get a chance to eat it. They can also compete with the fish for oxygen. Too many Planaria can also cause the water quality to deteriorate.

If you have too many Planaria in your aquarium, there are a few things you can do to get rid of them. You can manually remove them with a net, or you can use a chemical treatment. If you have a lot of Planaria, it may be necessary to do a partial water change.

Overall, Planaria are generally harmless and can even benefit the aquarium. However, they can become a nuisance if they reproduce in large numbers.

Anchor Worms

Anchor worms are a type of parasitic worm that can infest both fresh and saltwater aquariums. The most common type of anchor worm is Lernaeenicus, which is also known as the freshwater anchor worm.

These worms attach themselves to fish by burrowing into their flesh. Anchor worms can cause irritation and inflammation at the site of infection, as well as secondary bacterial infections. In severe cases, anchor worms can cause death in fish.

Anchor worms are most commonly introduced into aquariums on live fish. Once introduced, the anchor worms can reproduce and spread quickly to other fish in the tank. The best way to prevent infestation is to quarantine all new fish before adding them to your aquarium.

If you do find anchor worms in your aquarium, you can remove them manually or treat the tank with an anti-parasitic medication.

How to Identify Anchor Worms

The most obvious sign of an anchor worm infestation is the presence of the adults on the fish. They are visible to the naked eye and are usually found around the head or gills. The fish may also exhibit signs of distress, such as rubbing against objects in an attempt to remove the parasites.

How to Deal with Anchor Worms

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to fight anchor worms.

First, make sure to keep your fish tank clean. A dirty tank is a perfect breeding ground for anchor worms and other parasites.

Second, consider using a parasiticide. There are a variety of products on the market that can kill anchor worms and other parasites.

Finally, quarantining new fish is always a good idea. This will help to ensure that any parasites they may be carrying do not spread to your other fish.

Manual Removal

To remove anchor worms from your fish, start by gently removing any visible worms with a pair of tweezers. Be careful not to damage the fish’s skin. Next, bathe your fish in a saltwater bath for 15-20 minutes. This will help to kill any remaining worms and eggs.

After the saltwater bath, treat your fish with an anti-parasitic medication. There are many different products available, so be sure to ask your vet or local pet store for a recommendation.

Camallanus Worms (or red worm in fish tank)

If you have an aquarium, you may eventually come across a problem with Camallanus Worms. If you see these worms in your aquarium, it’s important to take action to get rid of them.

Camallanus Worms are dangerous to fish because they attach themselves to the fish’s intestine and feed off of their blood. This can lead to anemia, weight loss, and even death in severe cases. The worms can also reproduce in the aquarium, leading to a rapid increase in their population.

How to Identify Camallanus Worms

To identify Camallanus worms, look for these clinical signs in infected fish: anorexia, weight loss, and reddened, inflamed intestines. In heavy infections, Camallanus worms may cause blockages in the intestine, which can be seen as bulges in the fish’s abdomen. If you suspect your fish may be infected with Camallanus worms, consult a veterinarian or fish pathologist for diagnosis and treatment.

How to Deal with Camallanus Worms

If you think you have Camallanus Worms in your aquarium, the first step is to remove all of the fish and place them in a quarantine tank. Then, you’ll need to treat the main tank with a parasiteicide that is effective against Camallanus Worms. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully, as some parasiteicides can be harmful to fish if not used properly.

After treating the tank, you should remove all of the gravel and decorations and give them a good cleaning. Be sure to rinse everything thoroughly before putting it back in the tank. You may also want to consider replacing your filter media to make sure all the parasites are gone.

If you take these steps, you should be able to get rid of Camallanus Worms in your aquarium. However, it’s important to be vigilant in the future and watch for signs of these parasites so you can take action immediately.

Bobbit Worms

Bobbit worms are a type of predatory polychaete worm that can grow up to 3 feet in length. They get their name from their ability to bite chunks out of fish, which they do by using their sharp, tooth-like jaws.

Bobbit worms are not a worm that you want in your aquarium, as they will happily eat any fish that they can fit in their mouths. They are also very difficult to remove once they are established, as they burrow into the substrate and are difficult to find.

If you do find yourself with a Bobbit worm in your aquarium, the best course of action is to remove all the fish and then try to remove the worm manually. This is not an easy task, and you may need to get help from a professional.

Watch the Following Video on Bobbit Worm Removal

How to Get Rid of Worms in Fish Tank?

If you’ve discovered worms in your aquarium, don’t panic! While they may be unsightly, they are usually harmless and can be easily removed. Here are a few simple steps to get rid of worms in your aquarium:

  1. Remove any infected fish. If you have fish that are infested with worms, the best course of action is to remove them from the tank and treat them separately. This will help to prevent the spread of worms to other fish.
  2. Perform a water change. Doing a partial water change of 25-50% will help to remove worms and other debris from the water.
  3. Vacuum the gravel. Use an aquarium vacuum to clean the gravel and remove any worms that may be hiding there.
  4. Treat the tank with an anti-parasitic medication. There are many products available that will kill worms and other parasites. Be sure to follow the directions on the package carefully.

By following these simple steps, you can get rid of worms in your aquarium and keep your fish healthy and happy!

Preventing Parasitic Aquatic Worms

There are a few things fishkeepers can do to prevent their fish from getting parasitic aquatic worms.

  1. First, they should make sure their fish come from a reputable source. If possible, they should buy quarantined fish that have been checked for parasites.
  2. Second, they should keep their aquarium clean. A clean aquarium is less likely to harbor parasites.
  3. Finally, they should treat their fish with a dewormer on a regular basis.

Proventing aquatic worms

FAQs on Worms in Aquarium

Are worms in aquarium harmful?

While most tiny worms in aquariums are not harmful, there are a few types that can be harmful to your fish. If you think you may have harmful worms in your aquarium, it is best to consult with a veterinarian or aquarium specialist.

Can fish tank worms infect humans?

There is no evidence that fish tank worms can infect humans. However, it is possible that they could transmit diseases if they come into contact with open wounds.

Why are there little black worms in my fish tank?

If there are little black worms in your fish tank, it is likely because you are overfeeding your fish. When fish are overfed, the excess food falls to the bottom of the tank and decays. This decaying food provides a perfect food source for little black worms. To get rid of the worms, stop overfeeding your fish and perform a water change.

Should I get rid of detritus worms?

Detritus worms are a type of segmented worm that lives in the bottom sediments of freshwater tanks. They are beneficial to the aquarium ecosystem because they help break down organic matter and recycle nutrients. However, if they become too numerous they can create a nuisance by stirring up the substrate and clogging filters. If you have a detritus worm problem, you can remove them using a siphon or net.

Final Thoughts

In this article, you learned why swimming worms are in the aquarium. Overall, aquarium worms can be both a good thing and a bad thing. On the good side, they help keep the tank clean by eating algae and other organic matter. They also provide a good source of food for fish, especially bottom-dwellers. On the downside, certain types of aquarium worms can be very destructive, eating their way through plant roots and causing extensive damage. Some aquarium worms can also be carriers of disease.


  • Annelid (Britannica): https://www.britannica.com/animal/annelid
  • Snails and Slugs: Phylum Mollusca, Class Gastropoda (The Delaware Geological Survey): https://www.dgs.udel.edu/delaware-geology/snails-and-slugs-phylum-mollusca-class-gastropoda
  • Planarian (Bionity.com): https://www.bionity.com/en/encyclopedia/Planarian.html

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