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After the Fail: crazy white worm swimming in my tank


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As I described in my goldfish blog, after growing plants and snails for six weeks in my dirt planted 125 gallon tank, I ordered six small Orandas off Aquabid. I didn't notice until after they shipped that they were only going UPS ground and would spend 48 hours in one bag. They came with ragged tails and fins and white spots and blotches, and all died within three days.

On day three I just noticed for the first time a 1/4 inch white worm crazily swimming around the tank -- until I got him anyway. I also got in an order of Anubias and 10 more nerite snails at the same time as the new fish.

Is the crazy little worm from the fish?

Also, can a swimming worm like that infect my snails?

How long can the little nasties live in a fishless tank?

I have a SunSun 13W UV Sterilizer on the way so that will start running in the next two days.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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I squashed the one I found. It was like a 1/4 inch piece of white thread wriggling real fast to move around. None of the pics I tried to take of the fish are clear enough to show the white dots and batches.

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Hi Andrew,

I'm sorry that your fish didn't make it. That's really terrible, and I hope you have much better luck next time, perhaps with a different supplier?

Goldfish are somewhat routinely shipped with 2 day shipments, and if they are packaged correctly, should be just fine. :)

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Nematodes are generally very harmless. They are commonly found in planted and dirted tanks, living off of debris in the substrate or filter. Most tanks have a certain number of those and they are nothing to worry about, unless you see masses of them.

Sorry though about the loss of your fish, that is really awful :(

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Btw, if my dead goldfish put parasites or disease into the water, how long can different nasties last in a fishless tank? I'll also be running a UV filter for awhile before trying again.

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Anywhere from a few days to months. That's a good reason for keeping new fish in a quarantine tank even if you don't have other fish.

You are between a rock and a hard place. Usually, with multiple fish deaths in a tank, one would take it down and disinfect everything. You've put a lot of work into getting this tank set up and would hate to do that. A strong UV will kill whatever microbes flow through it, which is good if whatever infected your fish is floating around in the water rather than settled into the substrate. Killing all planktonic microbes is not the best way of creating a complex stable ecosystem, which I assume is a goal of yours.

I think your best choice would be to treat the tank with potassium permanganate. You will lose your cycle, but you will probably get the bad guys, even those that won't go through a UV. You could remove your plants and treat them with a plant-disinfecting dose while you treat the tank with a "kills everything" dose. Then reassemble the tank and cycle it.

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So sorry to see you lost your fish :( I think Shakaho's suggestion of treating the tank with PP and QTing any new fish in a separate tank is a good one. Did you contact the seller and let them know what happened? I would think you should at least get a partial refund. If nothing else they should know that their fish have some issues :(

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