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How to get rid of planarians in a home tropical aquarium

Good day, dear colleagues. In today’s article I would like to touch on the topic of parasites.

Planaria in the aquarium are an unpleasant sight, as these white worms spoil the appearance of the reservoir and are unwanted guests for any aquarist.

Planaria belong to the order of flat ciliated worms that live in large numbers in ponds, lakes and rivers. By nature, these worms are predators, as their main dish is the larvae of small insects, tiny crustaceans and fish larvae.

To confuse the planarians with other parasites is quite difficult. Despite the fact that they have a common shape, which is characteristic of almost all flatworms, these parasites have their own characteristics: there is a scattering of tiny cilia all over the body of the worm. Thanks to these cilia, planarians move around the aquarium.

The smaller their length, the greater the role they take during the movement.

The heroes of today’s article have a pair of eyes on their backs near the end of the torso. Body length can vary depending on the species, but on average, it ranges from 1 to 25 millimeters.

Planarians have a more complicated organization, unlike hydras, and they have more complex and more efficient regeneration.

To restore the integrity of the body hydra requires 1/200 of the body, 1/279 parts of the body will be enough for the planarians. In addition, scientists noted that planarians more often commit suicide if a threat appears: the worm falls into pieces.

This phenomenon in nature is called autotomy.

At such important moments, the key role in worms is played by the pharynx, which is the body in the body. The pharyngeal planarium has its developed muscles and innervation. It is located in the posterior abdominal part of the body in a special cavity during rest.

In the case of food capture, the throat is pulled forward. In the case of disintegration (autotomy), the pharynx is activated and, with powerful movements, destroys all surrounding tissues of the body.

After that, it breaks away from the body and goes to the environment. Subsequently, the pieces of the body and the pharynx after the collapse will again restore the integrity of your body and you will again have a whole worm.

Autotomy is a kind of protective reaction in cases of deteriorating environmental conditions. To protect themselves from living organisms, planarians have another way: unpleasant to taste mucus, which covers the whole body of the worm and special formations on the skin – rhabdites. If they are located in the cutaneous epithelium, then the rhabdites worm mixes with mucus and is thrown out.

To predators, this mixture seems to taste disgusting with a certain portion of needles. Agree, if you were a fish, then such a treat would hardly be swallowed.

In addition, rhabdites serve as a kind of dressing material. If the worm has a damaged part of the body, the rabdites with mucus will cover the wound.

And thanks to a unique feature for regeneration, the damage heals quickly. There are some types of planarians that are arming at the expense of their victims.

When attacking a hydra, they eat it in such a way that stinging cells do not have time to shoot, and they end up in a planarian body, turning into a weapon.

Worms reproduce sexually and have a rather complicated reproductive system. Eggs are stored in well-protected places and they are covered with a dense shell.

White worms hatch from these eggs, which immediately begin to hunt rotifers and ciliates. As I noted above, planarian are predators, and they rarely attack adult aquarium fish and snails. Fans of Tsikhlovykh more than once recorded how white worms attacked haplochromis (philander, barton) and labeothropheus.

If there is a shortage of food in the aquarium, the planarians attack the sleeping fish, which soon die with obvious symptoms of anemia and damage to the gill apparatus.

I would just like to note that the struggle will be difficult and hard. To get rid of the majority of aquarium parasites, then you just need to remove from it all the fish.

Planarians are able to withstand long hunger strikes, as a result of which they decrease in size and do not lose their proportions. In natural waters, white worms have virtually no enemies.

In aquarium conditions, only hungry gourams and macropods can overcome them. However, the acquisition of these fish is not a panacea, since the planarian are nocturnal predators, and during the day they hide in shelters where the fish drop in rarely or never appear at all.

A more effective way to fight – catching a special bait. Put some beef in gauze and put it on the line in the aquarium so that the bag is located near the plants and the ground.

Do not forget to shade the aquarium for more successful fishing. After a while the planaries will gather on the bait. Together with the worms, you need to carefully remove the net with low light in the aquarium and immediately put the whole thing in boiling water.

This procedure should be carried out several times in a row and repeat the exercise one to two weeks later in order to remove new worms hatched from the eggs.

There is another proven way to combat nasty worms – to change environmental conditions. Virtually all planarians originate from natural water bodies and they rather difficultly tolerate a strong rise in water temperature up to 32 degrees and light salinity. For 100 liters of water, add 250 g of salt.

Aquarium fish originating from the tropics tolerate such an increase without serious consequences. For greater efficiency, it is better to fight planarians using several methods.

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