Planaria are small, white flatworms that thrive in aquariums that have not been cleaned properly. Many freshwater fish enjoy eating these worms. Although the worms are not harmful to the fish, the conditions in which they thrive can be fatal. Planaria can even get into the gills of fish, causing irritation. While filling your tank with Planaria-eating fish can take care of a few worms, the overall conditions that allow Planaria to grow must be treated so no harm will come to the fish.
Aquarium Fish That Will Eat Planaria
Josh Davis, President of Live Fish Direct, says that the following fish are known to eat Planaria, although he asserts that almost any fish will eat them: angel fish, fat heads, gambusia, orangethroat darters, redbelly dace, sand shiner, central stoneroller, freshwater blue and pearl gouramis, guppies, goldfish, common blowfish, mollies, tiger barbs, betta fish, pelvicachromis pulcher and paradise fish.
Planaria thrive in freshwater aquariums that are not properly cleaned or contain lots of excess food at the bottom. While Planaria are not dangerous to the fish, the conditions that allow Planaria to thrive can be fatal to the fish with long-term exposure. As excess fish food decomposes, it releases ammonia into the water, which can also cause a rise in nitrate levels.
Although fish eat Planaria, relying on them is not an effective way to remove the worms. Planaria will also feed on fish eggs, and should be removed for fish breeding. If the aquarium is not cleaned properly, the fish will eventually die from toxins in the water that have allowed the Planaria to grow. Begin by removing the excess food the Planaria feed on by partially changing the water and vacuuming the gravel in the tank. You may also stir the gravel daily until the excess waste is removed through the filtration system in addition to the weekly partial water changes, until the aquarium is clean. Using products that keep high levels of beneficial bacteria will combat high levels of ammonia and keep aquariums healthy.
Proper Fish Feeding
In order to prevent ideal Planaria growing conditions in aquariums, feed your fish properly to avoid excess food in the tank. Feed fish only as much as they can eat in five minutes. Remove all uneaten food after 10 minutes. Feeding fish floating food keeps the food from sinking into the gravel and makes removal easier. Generally, fish need only be fed once or twice a day unless otherwise directed for certain species.