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Planaria - Which is worse the cure or the disease?

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gtippitt

After getting a magnifying glass to try to count baby shrimps, I was also able to see some other little things swimming, some of which I'm not happy about.  Many were too small for me to identify what they were other than tiny jumping specks.  When I bought the plants for my new tank for the shrimp, I dipped and rinsed them well in salt water.  Despite this, I still find a few tiny snails each day, which I suck up with a airline hose attached to a small wooden dowel rod.  When I was looking really closely today with the glass, I saw 2 small Planaria as well, which I removed with my "Snail Vac."  Many of the tiny things that I cannot confirm as RCS, are probably daphnia, cyclops, etc.

I was super excited to see the 12 specks, I could definitely confirm were RCS babies, but very unhappy about the Planaria, which I've read can be a bad for baby shrimps.  I did some reading and most people said that "No Planaria" from Genchem is safe for RCS and might also rid me of my pesky pond snails.  A few Amazon reviewers of the product said that all of their shrimp died after using it.  If I can only see a few and remove them, is the "cure worse than the disease"?

I'm only feeding the 20 adult shrimp 2 small pellets per day, which they eat within an hour before resuming their grazing on the tank's algae covered back.  I'm not overfeeding.  Ammonia, nitrates, and phosphates are all below detectable limits.  There is a thin film of algae and diatoms on the tank's back, which I don't clean and leave for the shrimp to graze upon.  The tank has been running for 3 months, with little debris on its sand substrate, except shrimp poo and a few dropped leaves from floating hornwort.  

I always take online complaints with some scepticism so I wanted the advice of you guys with RCS experience.

For an example of pointless complaints that should be ignored, I recently saw on YouTube where a lady was ranting that "Pothos DESTROYED my aquarium!".  I don't remember what I was looking for at the time, but the title of her video caught my eye.  Years ago I had a 200 gallon tank with 4 large Comet Goldfish.  After 15 years, the Pothos that I grew from the tank had covered an entire wall of my den. I had hung a 12 foot seine net on the wall behind the tank as decoration, and the vine eventually climbed and completely covered it.  When I saw her video's title, I had a vision of something similar that might have fallen and broken a tank.

This lady was apparently very fond of the black hair algae that had been growing in her tank of monster fish.  After putting a handful of Pothos vine in her HOB filter, the algae all melted away.   For several decades I've recommended to new fish keepers to keep a Pothos vine hanging over the edge of their tank.  Even for people that can't keep underwater live plants or don't want the hassle, the roots of a Pothos vine in the tank's water will suck up ammonia, nitrates, and phosphates like a Hoover.  I'm not sure why this lady on YouTube had put the vine in her tank, since the normal purpose of doing so is to starve algae of the nutrients it needs to grow.  Sure enough her beloved black hair algae all died, and she was ranting about it.  

 

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Zoidburg

Treatment for planaria should be done when there is plenty of oxygen in the tank. If you don't add additional oxygen, then the product may cause a drop in oxygen in the tank, thus suffocating the shrimp. Likewise, if they don't die from a lack of oxygen, but there's a large number of planaria, if the tank isn't cleaned well after treatment, then the dead bodies of planaria could result in an ammonia spike, which could also lead to a spike in nitrites and nitrates, and that could potentially kill the shrimp.

Done correctly, Fenbendazole, No Planaria and Planaria Zero are all shrimp safe.


Now, there are harmless flatworms which are just white little worms that move about on the glass and substrate, and then there are planaria. Planaria have triangular shaped heads and will kill shrimp. Before dosing your tank with anything, make sure you have a positive ID on what it is.

 

20 shrimp feeding 2 times a day is actually over-feeding! ? You could easily feed them once or twice a week and they'd still be fine! Although if there isn't enough biofilm in the tank, the babies could use supplemental feeding of powdered foods, or foods that would increase biofilm, leaves...

 

You watched a video from Rachel O'Leary. Rachel runs her own shop and often has videos she's done from her shop. Was easy to figure out who without seeing the video... lol She used BBA to "decorate" the tank for her fish, so she *WANTED* it, but I guess she didn't expect for the pothos to kill the algae... she only added in extra to help keep ammonia, nitrites and nitrates down. At least, that's my take on the video.

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gtippitt

Zoidburg,
Thank you again for helping. I wasn't very clear on my feeding.  When I first introduced the shrimp, most were not finding the food, so I only fed them every third day.  Once the adults learned where I was putting their food, I feed them once per day.  I normally don't clean the back glass in my tanks, and let whatever critters are contained snack on the algae,, diatoms, and bio film between meals.  The shrimp have cut the algae growth on the back of the tank by by at least half in the last 2 weeks.  I'm now feeding them 2 tiny pellets once per day that are about 2mm in size.  They are formulated for inverts without using copper sulfate as a preservative and are made from a mix of fish meal and vegetables for a balanced diet.  They dissolve into a power after about a minute in the water.  The adults and the tiny ones were both chowing down today when I watched them with the magnifying glass.

I'll get a better look at the flatworms when I see another.  If I determine they are Planaria, thanks for the O2 advice.  Because of heart problems and sleep apnea, I use a O2 concentrator with my CPAP when sleeping.  I have an extra O2 concentrator that I bought to have in case the one I use were to break.  If I decide I have Planaria and need to dose the tank, I'll hook the spare O2 concentrator up to air stone and stick it in the tank for a couple of weeks.  Since it won't be under pressure nor the water temp fluctuating, I won't have to worry about supersaturation.  Some people use these O2 concentrator with pressurized bio-reactor chambers, which can lead to supersaturation and gas bubbles damaging a fish's gills and blood vessels. 

I've got a big capacity for bio filtration, with 10 pounds of ceramic rings and 600 cubic inches of poly fiber padding.  I had tricked the tank out so that it should be able to handle up to 1000 adult shrimp ultimately.  For the tank's current day to day bio load , the soccer ball  sized sponge pre-filter I'm using is probably adequate until my colony develops.  Before ordering my shrimp, I had kept 6 glolight tetras from my fish tank in this one for a month to give the new tank plenty of time to cycle.  I also used the dirty sponge pre-filter from the fish tank to seed the new tank's bio filtration.  In short. I've got massive overkill for bio filtration at this point.

What I love most about my new filter I bought for this tank, is that the water is so well aerated inside the filter, so the microbes can break down ammonia and nitrites super quickly.  For many years I used canister filters made from 5 gallon buckets filled with bio media, but the problem with them is that the bacteria can strip the water of O2 when they're given enough nutrients to feed upon, as you rightly warned.  This new filter is a miniature version of a Bakki shower used for koi ponds, which not only strip waste by-products from the water, but also return water that is better oxygenated than when it enters the filter.  Its only downside compared to canisters is that they can provide nitrate breakdown when used in a series with low water flow rates.  I've got my trusty Pothos as well as Aponogeton Ulvaceus, Jungle Vallisneria, and Hornwort inside the tank to suck up nitrates, so I don't need any denitrification from the bio filter microbes.

The reason for my initial post to the forum was that I'm using a 400+ gph pump that turns over the tank's water 8 times per hour.  While I was planning the configuration of this tank, I've also been putting together filtration plans for a 30,000 gallon koi pond.  I'm converting an old in ground concrete swimming pool to a koi pond.  Swimming pool filters and bio filtration are very different so I've had some work to do to get filtration set up beforehand.  Based upon my research, the filter setup for my shrimp tank would theoretically handle nearly 2 pounds of fish, which produce more waste than shrimp.  Doing my planning for both projects at the same time, led me to sort of overkill on filtration for the tank.

I've been planning to post a comment about my new filter in the product review forum.  After I bought mine, a guy in the UK who posted a YouTube review of it saying that it was the first filter he had ever seen which was so perfect he could not think of anything he would want to change, which has been my reaction as well.  

The funny thing is that I've kept fish for so long that keeping good tank and water conditions is second nature to me, but I'd never kept shrimp before.  I knew about freshwater crayfish, but I didn't know there were freshwater shrimp other than the freshwater cousins of brine shrimp that live in seasonal pools.  I was originally planning for this tank to have large schools of neon tetra and pygmy cory catfish.  While researching plants, I kept seeing the pics of RCS and decided to get them instead, without realizing how different they were from fish in many ways.  For example with my fish tanks, flat worms were just live fish food that was quickly devoured.   I had never worried about them before or ever seen any in my tanks.  Then I read today that the slime Planaria leave on a surface is toxic to baby shrimps.

The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.

Greg

 

 

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Zoidburg

Honestly, adding an air stone with an air pump would be sufficient for extra oxygen. :)

 

Many shrimp live in streams so they are used to water flow, yet in the aquarium hobby, we often keep them in low flow. Some may indeed live in areas where there is low flow.

 

 

 

 

 

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Madmerv

Agree with @Zoidburg on the O2 levels. Just an air stone or raising the filter outlet to break the surface would be plenty. Actually with what you describe about your filter sounds like you have it covered anyway.

Would love to see pictures of that filter actually.I love a good bit of overkill. In my own pond i put in a DIY bog filter system but filled it with Bakki noodles instead of gravel. In theory each noodle can filter for 45L of water and there are close to 100 there. The pond is close to 400L.

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gtippitt

Zoidburg,
Thanks again for the info on the worms.  While watching my baby shrimp for 30 minutes with a magnifying glass, I only saw to flatworms today.  They don't look like Planaria as you described.  Their head is actually smaller than the rest of the body.  They look sort of like a bowling pin, that is slightly wider at the tail than the head. 

MadMerv,

In the product review forum, I posted a review of my filter, which includes a link to a YouTube video I made of it.

The rough textured ceramic rings or noodles are said to be lots better than the traditional more smooth textured ones for pond filters that have a high flow rates that can keep the surface cleared of debris.  The original one from Japan was called "Bacteria House" and still costs a fortune. It is still the media sold with the showers from Momotaro Farm, who first designed the Bakki system.  Every year Momotaro wins the award for Japan's top koi in shows. In several pond forums I've been reading, people are saying that the new knock offs from China are just as good for a faction of the cost.  

They have proven to be very effective for waste water treatment, for which they were originally designed, as well as with ponds.  Manufacturers are now making smaller sized versions of those large sticks for use in aquariums as well.  I'm not yet convinced they will prove to be better for the average person's aquarium tank.  When the ceramic rings first came to market, their smooth yet porous texture was one of their advantages over other bio media.  They could wick water like a sponge, yet were stiff and would not compress like a sponge to restrict water flow and internal surface area.  The texture of the unpolished ceramic material allowed microbes to attach and grow inside the media as well as on its exterior, yet it was still smooth enough that most debris particles would be washed away and not accumulate on its surface to obstruct water flow.  

Because of leaves and such, pond filters normally have very good mechanical filtration preceding the bio media areas, and keeping those mechanical filters well cleaned is a required practice.  For waste water treatment, progressive sized mechanical filtration is used to remove solids, and the bio media is one of the final stages to remove dissolved waste, so debris is not much of a concern. For the average aquarium owner with a canister or HOB filter who tries to use these new extra rough ceramic rings, I think any advantage the texture might have for microbes will be offset by the media more easily becoming clogged with algae and debris.  That being said, I'm an ornery old cuss, who is slow to change from things I know work to new things just because they might work some better.  I'm often wrong, but I don't see why microscopic bacteria require a large pocked marked ceramic surface.  The rough texture of lava rock provides more surface area than smooth stones, but unlike ceramic rings, its internal structure does not allow water and microbes to reach all parts of its center, which is why its rough texture is better than more smooth stones.

Greg

 

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Madmerv

I saw that review and liked the filter. I think it would only suit some people as it does sit on the top of the tank and that can be a drawback. Would be perfect in a fish room. I would be a bit worried about the dripping noise also. The more silent my inside tanks are the better.

I read through your post and i'm not sure if you have a point on the Bakki noodles or if you were just giving some background on them? I used them in my pond because i have a supplier near my house that gives a really good deal on them. I have the 1 1/4 inch ones in 3 canister filters and 1 HOB. Also a stack of them in the sump for my 6 footer. Everything i run has a pre filter sponge before the noodles, in one form or another, so i have never had a clogging problem to date. I do believe that if they do start to get clogged then a soak in a strong bleach solution for a couple of days will clear it up. This may be a once every couple of years event.

Just a heads up about this forum. If you put a @ in front of a persons name then they will be notified that you included them in a post. eg: @gtippitt

Keep doing the youtube videos and you might become a star. Are you prepared for the fame??  Lol

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gtippitt

 

Follow up with my experience using the No-Planaria product:

After most of the RCS I had in this tank died due to things not related to Planaria, I decided to move the survivors to a smaller tank.  While I was re-aquascaping my plants in this 55 gallon tank and trying to decide what I wanted to stock it with afterwards, the population of worms in the substrate and pond snails that had hitchhiked on plants was expanding.  I never saw any of the worms that were Planaria, but they were creepy looking.  Every time I did see one, I worried that it might be a Planaria, so I'd get my magnifying glass to make sure.  It simply got on my nerves to feel forced to look at these things I didn't like ever day, just to make sure that they weren't something worse, Planaria.  Before I put any new fish or shrimp in the tank, I decided to dose it with the No-Planaria to kill the worms and snails at the same time, since the snails were also shredding my plants' leaves and my manual attempts to eradicate them had been successful.

I now see what everyone meant about making sure I had plenty of aeration and filtration.  I'm glad that I didn't have anything besides plants and sand that I wanted in the tank.  For every one of the worms I had seen there must have been 1000s more that were hidden in the sand.  The No-Planaria took a few days to kill of the worms and snails.  It somehow smothers them by coating their bodies rather than by poisoning them.  Over the next week thousands of them would crawl atop the sand and thrash around before dying.  It was a like a micro-version of a snake horror movie (but in an aquarium rather than a plane).

After a few days, the bottom of the tank was covered with rotting worm and snails.  I like sand substrate for tanks with plants better than gravel, but it is a pain since you can't clean it easily without sucking more sand than you do muck.  Since I didn't have any fish or shrimp in the tank, I decided to let it be an experiment and watch how everything can go bad in a tank.  

I kept my huge above-tank wet-dry filter running, so ammonia and nitrite levels never got above barely detectable levels.  Nitrates went off the chart!  Algae and bacteria went wild causing the water to cloud up for more than a week.  My tap water is fairly hard with a ph of about 7.9, where the tank was prior to the dosing with the No-Planaria.  It dropped during die off to about 6.9, which would have been fatal to most fish or shrimp in the tank with such a quick drop in so few days.  Even sensitive plants would have been killed.  If my tank had been closer to 7 beforehand or not had high carbonate levels for buffering, it would probably have dropped below 6.  

Anyone that comes across this thread later should be aware that even though the No-Planaria product is supposedly not toxic to shrimp, the die off of the unwanted critters will be highly toxic.  I've kept fish tanks for many, many years, seen the results of my many mistakes, and how quickly things can wrong with a tank.  I was still surprised.  It wasn't just a small crash of the tank's ecosystem. It would would have been catastrophic to fish or shrimp in the tank, without at least 50% water changes daily.  Anyone with a normal size filtration system would have also had huge spikes in ammonia and nitrite levels, which are exponentially more toxic as the ph of the water drops and there is less O2.  

If somebody wants to kill off unwanted snails and worms, this product will do it, but I would move all of my livestock to another tank before I dosed the tank.  Rather than ever use this product again, I bought a thing called a "Gush Planaria Trap" to have if I ever see Planaria or other worms in my tanks in the future.  It looks like a test tube with little holes along the bottom side so that Planaria or other flat worms can crawl inside to find a small bit of meat placed inside as bait, but they can't easily find their way back out.  It has a stopper on one end so that you can lift it out to dump the worms and replace the bait each day.  There are videos that show how to make something similar, but this device isn't very expensive and is designed perfectly for the task.

I had always kept fish before that would have eaten such worms before I likely ever saw any, but this was my first shrimp tank without any predators for the worms.  In retrospect, since I had already moved all of the shrimp, I wish that I had moved the 6 Golden Barbs from my community fish tank to this empty tank to simply eat the worms.  The extensive banquet of live food would probably have induced spawning, which would have rewarded me with a tank full of fry rather than a smelly mess.  I've drained the tank down to the top of the sand twice this past week and refilled it, which was 40 trips back and forth to the bathroom with a 5 gallon bucket.  There is still enough dead muck in the sand that the tanks smells bad, the ph is unstable, and nitrates quickly rose again afterwards.  If it hasn't cleared up in another week of filtration, I'm going to remove all of the sand and water to clean the tank completely.

The only way I would suggest using No-Planaria or similar type product would be if you have a gravel substrate without plants so that you could easily and thoroughly clean the gravel daily while doing large water changes once the worms began dying.  I've seen videos of tanks where these worms are crawling everywhere in the substrate, but in my tank I would only see one or two every once in a while come to the surface at night when the light was off.  I now understand why shrimp folk normally just ignore them unless they specifically see ones that are definitely Planaria, which can kill baby shrimps.  

Many say that if you cut back on feedings the worms will go away.  I didn't feed my shrimp much.  I had not added anything to the tank for the week after I moved the few shrimp that had survived their shipping ordeal, but the worms were doing fine with the remaining shrimp poo and/or microbes in the sand substrate.  The tank had not been set up very long, and the black sand substrate looked fairly clean before the die-off of the worms. There had been some algae on the back of the tank, which I left uncleaned for the shrimp to feed upon.  I had cut back on the lighting on the tank after I moved the shrimps, so much of that algae had died slowly, sloughed off the back glass, and settled on the bottom, which was probably feeding the worms enough to continue reproducing.

For many years I've been a believer and practitioner of the saying, "If you take care of the water, the fish will take care of themselves."  I've always quarantined new fish and plants for a week before introducing them to an existing tank with fish.  Since this was a newly set up tank, I failed to be careful enough with the plants, which I presume is how the snails and worms got introduced since I don't feed live foods.  I also always moved any fish that were sick to a tank by themselves before treating with any medication.  For at least 20 years, I've only used meds in a 10 gallon hospital / quarantine tank with a bare bottom, which I could easily empty and sterilize once the fish recovered or (sadly) died.  I had forgotten how even a relatively safe and less toxic treatment can cause such an enormous cascade of unintended consequences.

The No-Planaria product did exactly what it is supposed to do, so I don't like being negative about it.  Perhaps because it does it job so well, I would not recommend using it except as a last resort.

Edited by gtippitt

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Zoidburg

An alum dip or bath can be used on new plants to kill any unwanted pests, snails, or eggs prior to introducing a plant to a new tank. Alum can be purchased from the spice isle. Another alternative that I've heard about but don't know much about is something called "Predator". It kills all living inhabitants in the tank, so again, you'd want to remove what you want to keep and then dose the tank. BorneoWild also has a couple of products to get rid of unwanted creatures inside of a tank.


Ammonia gets more toxic at higher pH levels... at lower pH levels, it turns into ammonium, which is less toxic to fish and inverts.

Planaria tend to get rather large, at least compared to flatworms (rhabdocoela), but another thing to watch out for are hydra.... which No Planaria would also wipe out quite easily.

 

It's great that the product worked so well in the tank! And yes, caution needs to be used when using it!

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gtippitt

The relationship between ph with ammonia and ammonium levels is really complex and contradictory in many ways.  What you said about the ph and the ionization of ammonia (NH3) into less toxic ammonium (NH4+) is exactly right in a laboratory beaker, but only part of the picture.  As the ph levels drop, the bacteria living in/on the bio filter media are less able to reduce both ammonia and ammonium to nitrite and then nitrate.  Additionally, while the ratio of more toxic NH3 to less toxic NH4+ improves with more acidic water, the toxicity to the fish of the NH3 increases.  It sounds contradictory I know.  I picture it as with a lower ph, fewer of them are the toxic NH3, but each one hurts the fish/shrimp more.  To complicate it further, the lower the ph of the water, the more ammonia the fish eliminate. EPA studies have not determined exactly why the NH3 becomes more toxic at the ph drops, even though the ratio of NH3 to NH4+ improves, but the most commonly speculated reason is that the combination of the too acidic water and NH3 impairs the gills of the fish.

The interaction of ammonia and ph is an extreme problem when keeping fish such as Discus that require soft water with a lower ph, since the lower hardness also normally means less carbonate buffering for ph.  In a Discus tank, the bacteria of the bio filter struggle to reduce the ammonia and ammonium down to nitrates.  As the ph of the tank approaches 6 or below, these Nitrosomonas bacteria almost completely stop functioning.  At the same time, as the ph of their water rises, the Discus are less able to eliminate the ammonia from their bodies, which can quickly kill them because of high internal ammonia levels, regardless of amount of ammonia there is in the tank.

In short, rapid changes in ph in either direction can make ammonia problems worse.  When people have a spike in ammonia levels, they can sometimes kill their fish more quickly by doing a sudden big water change unless they first make sure the ph and temp of the new water is as close as possible to that in the tank, since the relative toxicity of the ammonia changes with both the ph and temp.  This is the reason I use at least twice the bio filtration capacity recommended for any tank, because I want to avoid measurable levels of ammonia in any form.

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      Planaria are usually found in aquariums that have an abundance of uneaten fish food. These animals just don't appear in your tank and must be introduced from an outside source. They are sometimes found just after the introduction of new stock, plants etc. Some people claim that their eggs can be introduced via some forms of flake fish food, or live worms

      Planaria are hermaphroditic and carry both male and female organs, they do re produce sexually. These animals more commonly re produce a sexually by a method called TRANSVERSION FISSION. The Planaria will anchor itself by the tail and literally pull itself apart. Over a period of several days the tail section will grow a new head and the head section will grow a new tail. If the animal has a good food source this re production method can be repeated many times. Science has shown that planaria can be dissected up to four separate parts and each section will develop into a full animal. Scientists have also shown that if you divide a planarian's head in two, lengthwise, two heads will develop and the animal will continue life with two heads.
      The body of a planaria is non segmented ,The head is triangular shaped and contains two eye spots that detect light, planaria are light sensitive and usually haunt dark areas, and will venture out at night to feed.

      Many people claim that planaria are harmless in small numbers and are just an eyesore as they are not active hunters, therefore presenting a very small threat to active shrimp and fish, preferring to feast on the sick and dead.
      Most aquarium keepers would rather not have them around because of the fear of their re production abilities. There are several ways that can be put into action to rid the aquarium of these little creatures. The most common methods are listed here.
      One of the easiest and non invasive ways, is to keep your tanks clean, vacuuming up all uneaten foods and cleaning the substrate of any detritus, no food no planaria.
      Many people opt to tackle the problem by chemical warfare! The most common option is the use of a dog de wormer containing FENBENDAZOLE! the agreed upon "Safe" dosage of Fenbendazole is 0ne gram per 38 litres ( ten gallons) Be sure to remove any carbon that may be in your filters as it will absorb the chemicals defeating the purpose of dosing the tank.
      Another method is to build a DIY planarian trap, many ideas for a trap can be found online for example. This trap uses a test tube from a test kit and a small length of air hose. Drill a hole in the lid of the test tube the same size as the air tube push a piece of airline tubing through the hole making sure that the tubing is suspended in the middle of the test tube.bait the trap with a small piece of meat, fish or shrimp etc. submerge the trap and wait check after a couple of days, remove the planaria re bait and set the trap again.
       
      Ref Used www. stevesauter.com/planarians planarians .org
      Planarians- Encyclopedia
      Planarian - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      www, fishtankprojects.com


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