Help me identify this insect found in fishtank

This bug appeared in my fish tank,transparent 6 legged with 3 tail insect. Anyone able to identfy this, please help. Many thanks

This is a Damselfly, suborder Zygoptera. Together with the Anisoptera (true dragonflies) they belong to the order Odonata, usually also named dragonflies.

Damselflies are smaller and more slender then Dragonflies, both as larva and as adult, although there are exceptions (mostly tropical species).

It can be distinguished from mayflies by it's broad head and the broad, flat lamellae; the 3 'tails' as you call them.

Some beautiful pictures can be found here

First report of dorsal navigation in a flying insect

The entrances to bee nests were lined up under this awning showing different patterns. When the bees left a nest to forage, researchers switched the order of the nests, and when the bees returned, they were able to find the nest, apparently based on the awning pattern. Credit: Sandra Chaib

People—who get lost easily in the extraordinary darkness of a tropical forest—have much to learn from a bee that can find its way home in conditions 10 times dimmer than starlight. Researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's (STRI) research station on Barro Colorado Island in Panama and the University of Lund in Sweden reveal that sweat bees (Megalopta genalis), find their way home based on patterns in the canopy overhead using dorsal vision. This first report of dorsal navigation in a flying insect, published in Current Biology, may be of special interest to makers of drones and other night-flying vehicles.

"One of the pioneers of studies on homing behaviors in bees was Charles H. Turner, an African-American scientist from the University of Chicago," said William Wcislo, staff scientist at STRI, "He wrote in the Biological Bulletin in 1908: 'burrowing-bees use memory in finding the way home, and that they examine carefully the neighborhood of the nest, for the purpose of forming memory pictures of the topographical environment of the burrow.' But what we didn't understand until now, was that the cues that the bees are memorizing are overhead, as well as in front of their faces."

No one knows why the sweat bees on Barro Colorado Island prowl from flower to flower like crepuscular cats, gathering pollen only for about 70 minutes before sunrise and after sunset. Especially because it is 100 times darker on the tropical forest floor where the bees live inside dead twigs and vines, than above the forest canopy.

Since the late 1990's Eric Warrant and his team from the Vision Group at the University of Lund in Sweden has collaborated with Wcislo to learn more about Megalopta's optical superpowers. Their work showed that Megalopta's special compound eyes are 30 times more sensitive to light and concentrate photons of light in a way day-flying honeybee eyes cannot. By identifying pollen from the bees' bodies and their nests, they discovered that the bees gather pollen from more than 60 plant species: tall canopy trees like Hura crepitans, and Pseudobombax septenatum, to understory shrubs in the coffee family like Faramea occidentalis.

This powerful experiment showed that when researchers changed the orientation of a roof panel-canopy pattern, the bees chose the wrong nest. Credit: Sandra Chaib

"For a human observer, the most obvious visual cues in the forest at night are gaps in the canopy when we look straight up because the sky is much brighter than the forest below," Warrant said, "We see a quite complex pattern of criss-crossing branches, but the bees'-eye-view is much less complex. They see broad blobs of light that vary in shape and position. We knew that ants could use canopy patterns to navigate as they walk through the forest, and we wondered if maybe bees were doing the same thing."

Honeybees can't do this, but to find out if Megalopta bees had yet another superpower, Sandra Chaib, a student at the University of Lund, moved to Barro Colorado Island to do the experiments.

To test this idea, Sandra first set up a special bee motel. Imagine the entrances to five rooms: each entrance is an identical, circular gray disk. The door is a tiny round opening at the center of the disk—the end of a stick nest.

In the first experiment, she asked if the bees could find their way home using a single landmark. She placed a black bar above the entrance to one of the nests. After the bees left to look for pollen, she changed the order of the nests, but the real nest was still marked by the black bar above the entrance. When the bees returned, they chose the right nest.

Megalopta genalis, a sweat bee, is able to see in very low light conditions. This study of M. genalis is the first report of the use of dorsal navigation by a flying insect. Credit: Ajay Narendra

Next, she made it a bit more complicated by building a sort of awning—like the roof of a carport—above each nest entrance. Over the four empty nests she placed an awning with a pattern of black and white bars, and over the occupied nest, a different pattern. Again, when the bees went out, she changed the position of the nest, and again, they found the right nest when they came back. But she still had not ruled out the possibility that the bees were using another clue, like smell, to find their own nest. So she left the nest in the same place, but put the bee's learned pattern over an empty nest. and the bees chose the empty nest, showing that they were using the pattern as a guide, not smell or some other signal from the nest.

Her final experiment was the most elegant: this time two nests shared a common awning, a design of dark circles on a light background made to represent the patterns of light and dark in real forest canopies. The entrance to an empty nest was located under one end of the awning, and the entrance to the occupied nest under the opposite end. This time, when the bees left, Sandra flipped the awning around so that the pattern was reversed. The bees chose the wrong nest more than 80 percent of the time, showing once and for all that they were navigating based on the pattern above.

Understanding how Megalopta navigates may be of interest for military applications. Now, most drones use GPS to navigate, but GPS and satellites can be jammed or destroyed.

"Animals use a variety of different cues to navigate. Vision is obviously a very important one, but many animals have a magnetic sense and can measure properties of the Earth's magnetic field to work out where they are on the surface of the Earth and the direction they want to travel. We have already learned about insects and other animals that are able to use the stars for navigation pigeons are able to use odors for navigation. there are lots of different cues. The canopy is one cue that a drone can use to navigate, but a really robust navigational system will be one that will use a number of different cues, like animals have, to use all of these systems at once to navigate."

STRI Facilities are still closed due to COVID-19 restrictions but researchers are itching to get back out "So far we only know how the bees identify which room in the bee motel is theirs when they come home," Wcislo said. "We still have no idea how they navigate through the forest after they leave their nests."

Help me identify this insect found in fishtank - Biology

What's that on your plant? A leech!

Fresh water worm 1/24/11
I discovered this worm swimming around the edge of a tank. It is a very small pink worm which wiggles very quickly as it maneuvers through the water. I have a 600 gallon Aquaponics setup in which I am raising Tilapia. Is this a harmless worm or something parasitic?
<Can't tell definitively from your photo, but highly likely it/this is harmless>
I recently added snails to my tanks for algae control. I am worried that it may have come from the snails.
What do I treat this with if it is harmful to me or my fish as I will be eating these fish?
<There are vermifuges of use:
Though again, this is not likely a species of worm that can/will cause trouble in cleaned, cooked Tilapia/Oreochromis>
Currently my fish do not appear to be sick in any way. I also use salt regularly in my tanks. I have attached a photo.
Please let me know if I need to take a better photo for your identification.
Thank you,
<Would need a better pic. Bob Fenner>

Re: Fresh water worm 1/25/11
Hi Bob,
I took a better picture for you as requested. When zoomed in you can see the body segmentation. Thank you for your time and prompt response.
<Ahh! Even more inclined to state that this animal is highly likely not-destructive. Is an annelid. Perhaps a Tubificid. Bob Fenner>

Ftn. leeches?? 12/17/10
I have found small red worms that strongly resemble ones discussed on these two pages
in a freshwater outdoor water fountain (with no fish). When I go to change the water every other day or so they float up and are swept out of the fountain and into the flowerbed. Birds use the fountain to drink and I imagine that mammals use it at night. I have red wriggler earthworms and décolleté snails in the yard also, but never find them in the water fountain.
My questions are
Are they harmful to birds, cats or skunks etc?
<Can't tell with the information presented. All Leeches are parasitic.
can't/don't live long w/o hosts. Do yours show segmentation, suckers?>
If they are harmful how do I eliminate them?
<Simple bleach>
Is it possible to 'dose' the water to prevent their return?
<Depends on the source. >
I don't currently have a pet but when I did she did drink out of the fountain, when I get another will I have to prevent it from doing this?
Thanks, Pam Kelso
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: leeches?? 12/18/10
Thank you for the reply. In rummaging around the internet after I sent this to you I think that I have identified the culprits. They are midge fly larvae, bloodworms.
<Ahh! Quite common to have such insects w/ aquatic larval stages using water features opportunistically. And not a disease issue>
Because I clean out the fountain every few days I never saw them at maturity and they were always small and non-segmented. I know that we have midge flies so I think that solves it. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly.
Pam Kelso
<Welcome. BobF>

tiny crawlers, assoc. w/ terr. hermit 10/4/10
Two days ago I purchased a hermit crab for my child. To our surprise, the hermit crab had company today! There were tiny worms in the mulch-like substance that was recommended for the tank. I thought they may have been bristle worms( I know that they sometimes buddy up with hermit crabs in their shells), but your many descriptions do not match what these appeared to be. They were approximately 1/4" long and light brown in color. They resembled a very small earthworm. I apologize for not having a picture. I panicked, and dumped them. There were at least three of them. Do you have an idea of what they were? My next question is, "Are they harmful to the crab or my child?" Thank you for your time.
<In the mulch. Very likely these are/were not actually worms of any sort, but insect larvae. And other than being noisome, likely not harmful to your child. Bob Fenner>
Re: tiny crawlers 10/5/10

Thank you

Worm Identification 8/30/10
I found a worm in my drinking glass this morning. I assume it came in through my tap water. Could you help me identify it?
Thank you.
<It's not a worm it's an insect. Some sort of Dipteran larvae, e.g., a midge. Harmless, and an excellent fish food! Cheers, Neale.>

Long skinny pink in color worms living in my grave, FW ID 3/25/10
Hi , I have a 28 gal bow tank. With drift wood and live plant's in it. Two stick fish,
<No idea what these are. Do you mean Pencilfish?>
two hatchet fish. I also have about 50 plus cherry shrimp and two bamboo shrimp. My cherry shrimp are breeding.
<As is their wont.>
But I have also seen what looks like pink in color or are skin color , long and very thin worms sticking out of the gravel in my tank. Do you have any clue on what these are and if they will hurt anything in my tank.
<Likely just freshwater oligochaetes, and not only harmless, but actually beneficial. Do read here:
Thanks Beth
<Cheers, Neale.>

Mysterious white worms (in a freshwater tank) 3/10/10
Good morning!
I am a first time WWM email user. And I find your website tons of help! I have a question. This morning I cleaned my fish tank and I saw tiny white worm-like creatures on the glass of the fish tank.
<Likely free-living nematodes and planarians. Not in themselves dangerous, but a sign that this tank gets too much food and not enough cleaning, since they feed on uneaten fish food (among other things). In most tanks you might find a few, but not enough to notice. If there are obviously lots and lots of them, then you have a problem.>
Also while I was using my siphon I stirred the gravel a little bit and 1-2 inch white worms and my angelfish and guppies started to have a feast, when I looked in my bucket I saw 50 maybe 100 of them and I'm worried. They swim in kind of a S shape and when they stick to the glass they move kind of like an inch worm. Kind of creepy.
<Just nature mopping up the mess you're making. Like cockroaches in a kitchen.>
I also tried a parasite med. But. I don't think that worked (
<Why would it? These aren't parasites. More significantly, trying to kill a bunch of animals in your aquarium means you're going to end up with lots of decay, and that means poor water quality. Imagine if you killed off a nest of rats with rat poison, but just left the bodies to rot. Bad. The correct approach here is to ignore the worms, and instead control their numbers so the population dies back over time. How do you do that? By limiting the amount of food they get to eat. Feed in sensible amounts, don't overstock your tanks, and remove uneaten food at once.>
Thank you for your time helping me!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Strange worm in toilet 2/16/10
for a while now we have seen a worm in our toilet that is a black worm with very thin white rings around the entire body. Nothing sticking out of it, pointed at both ends and very smooth looking. No one is sick in our family so have more or less ruled out a human parasite, but would like any ideas on what it could be and how it may have gotten into the toilet. I have searched the web, and found your site to have the closest information on it.
Thank you for your help.
<Jade, without a photo, it's impossible to say anything sensible here. It's most likely a fly larva of some sort (a "maggot" in popular parlance) and consequently harmless, though perhaps indicative of damp or decaying organic material somewhere nearby. Usually what happens is the maggot falls from above, so have a look for cracks and crevices in the ceiling. In any case, we're not medics or environmental health specialists, so any advice offered here is purely speculative. Simply in terms of the law, I'm sure I have to admit my ignorance, and recommend you contact your doctor first of all, to make sure it isn't a harmful parasite. Nematodes are very smooth worms that are pointed at both ends, and at least some are endoparasites.
Cheers, Neale.>

little clear worms in fish tank 10/7/09
hi I have a bunch of tiny clear worms in my tank and I was wondering if you can help me figure out what they are and how to get rid of them.
<Likely nematodes or planarians that consume uneaten food and organic waste. Although not harmful, they do indicate chronically poor hygiene, i.e., you aren't keeping the substrate particularly clean and/or you're allowing too much organic matter to accumulate in the tank. Clean the tank properly, and remove uneaten food and faeces, and the worms will die back.>
they are very small and clear, if the water gets a little low some will cling to the glass above the water. I notice some times when feeding the fish very small white looking flies come off the top of the water probably smaller than a fruit fly. when I clean the tank I such up as many of the worms as I can, but can't get rid of them. I have probably had them for a year they don't seem to hurt anything just a nuisance because my wife finds them little flies dead on the counter by our kitchen sink. tank is a 55 gal fresh water with a Texas cichlid and a Pleco. thanks in advance for your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

The Worms Go In, The Worms Go Out. 09/24/2009
My daughter has a 100 gal tank with fresh water fish in it and I have a 30 gal tank. Recently we found really tiny but long wiggly worm look things swimming around in our tanks. What we would like to know is what are they
<Without a MUCH more detailed description and preferably a good image, only guesses can be had. But I'd wager dollars to donuts that they are one of many harmless worms that can be found in freshwater tanks. Planarians, nematodes. lots of possibilities. Of course, there is the less likely possibility that these are some sort of parasite. I consider this less likely because you state that they are "swimming around" in your tanks.>
and how do we get rid of them and keep them away?
<Well, once again, too little information to go on. I would guess that, like many other pest infestations, conditions are favorable for the worms and so they are proliferating. Make the conditions less favorable for them (reduce the amount of nutrients in your tanks) and the numbers should dwindle. Take a good look at your water conditions - Ammonia and Nitrite must be zero, Nitrate less than 20ppm. Do some hefty water changes if this is not the case. Siphon debris from the substrate, and check to see if your filter media might need to be changed - change it on a different day than when you siphon. Make sure the biomass in the tank is not too much for the tank or your filtration to handle.>
All of our fish seem fine but this is really baffling to us.
<Again, probably harmless. Remove the reason they're there (clean the tank, basically) and continue to do water changes as necessary, and their numbers will dwindle. You may never be "completely" rid of them, but they will likely become unnoticeable in very little time. Almost everyone's tanks have some sort of interesting life - worms and much more - and this is essentially normal. For them to be in such huge numbers as to be that noticeable to you basically just means there's too much "stuff" in the tank/water.>
We would appreciate any information you can provide us with.
<There are more options you can pursue. Chemical means of eradication. But these options are last resorts only, and will do more harm than good. Try upping your tank maintenance for a while and see how things go. I bet you'll find that they mostly go away on their own, with a clean, healthy aquarium. Let me recall to you a bit of a panicked experience of my own. Some years ago, I had a smallish reef tank, 40 gallons or so. I had only one fish, and when I returned from vacation, went to check things and make sure he was doing okay. Though he was fine,
the tank was literally cloudy with worms - thin, long, squiggly worms - swimming about. As it turns out, the roommate feeding the one fish had gone against my rules of feeding him only twice while I was gone. The fish
(and thus the tank) was fed daily with far more food than the little guy could eat. There was debris on the bottom, and Nitrate tested unbelievably high. A large water change and two days later, the worms were basically
gone. I'm sure they were always there to an insignificant degree, but WOW, it was downright startling to see the tank utterly clouded with the things.
Makes my skin crawl just to think about it.>
<You're quite welcome.>
Very concerned, Mrs. Denise Petersen
<Hopefully I've at least eased your mind some, Mrs. Petersen. Best of luck to you, -Sabrina Sharp. formerly Fullhart.>

What could this be. Hirudinean 8/10/09
We live in rural Midwest Indiana (farmland). My boys go down to the creek and play in the water. (which has cow pastures nearby). Not sure that has any bearing at all. but I just discovered this THING in my toilet. I'm totally grossed out. It is dark colored, flat. leach like
Any idea.
<It's a leech. Most leeches are harmless, feeding on invertebrates and the like. They are fascinating animals and you certainly shouldn't be "grossed out" by these little marvels. Some will bite people for a blood meal (a trait famously used in the past for "blood letting" but not used as a therapy after certain types of surgery). How this leech got into your plumbing is a mystery to me, but it is possible one your kids picked a
blood-sucking leech up when playing, and the thing fell into the water in the toilet bowl sometime later. It is very, very rare for them to carry diseases that can infect humans. People who have been bitten by leeches
typically have circular wounds on the skin with 3 distinct tooth marks. If you're concerned, place the leech in a jar of water, take it to your local medic to identify, and ask for assistance. Here at WWM we aren't qualified to offer medical advice. Cheers, Neale.>

Identify Worm 11/23/08 I live in coastal SC and I kept my turtle tank outside during the summer and fall. I just brought it in for routine cleaning and because of cold weather. The tank had some strange "worms" that looked a little like "naked caterpillars with long string-like tails." The ones that were moving were a fleshy tan color. There were also some that were black or dark brown and very hard. Some of them were in the water but some were attached together by the "strings" and hanging off of a rock in the tank. I have looked on many sites and tried many different search terms but am not coming up with an answer. Please help me identify this strange little creature. Brandi <Hello Brandi. What you're describing is almost certainly a "rat-tailed maggot", a distinctive fly larva that inhabits stagnant water. The long "tail" is a breathing tube. They're pretty much harmless, and in England at least very common in small, unfiltered ponds. Fish (and likely turtles) don't seem to eat them, or at least my fish don't! Cheers, Neale.>

Little white worms in bathtub 10/14/08 I have been finding little white worms in the bathtub for about 5 days now. They are maybe 1/8 " long with a brownish red head on them. They are all different sizes sometimes smaller. I can't see where they are coming from. I looked in the ceiling and can't find any evidence. please help me. <My gut feeling is these are insect larvae of some type. Fly larvae ("maggots") often appear worm-like and commonly have eyes or heads sufficiently distinct enough in colour to look like what you are describing. Will likely be infesting some decaying animal carcass or rotten organic matter (like wood) somewhere nearby. Look around, initially working on the assumption the worms are falling downwards, either from the ceiling or via the plumbing. Best advice is to collect some of the worms and show them to someone qualified at identifying/controlling household pests. Cheers, Neale.>

help! Little wormy things 9/25/08 Hello, I just realized that in my baby guppy tank that there are these hair like worms that I can barely see. They are always vertical and they squirm around like a snake. Umm. they are white and they are about 1/8 of an inch. Are there any medications? I don't want to lose all of my baby guppies. Please reply quickly! -Sarah <Almost certainly harmless nematodes of some sort. They do thrive in dirty tanks, so seeing them is more likely a warning that you don't keep your tank clean than anything else. Cheers, Neale.>

Worms 09/04/2008 Hi I have a 29 gallon freshwater tank it is a fairly new tank only been up for about 7 weeks.. I just got done battling Ick on my swordtail fry and then today I noticed these brown worm looking things on the glass of the tank near the top ,but they were not in the water at the time I found them they were actually just above the surface.. I wiped them off but not sure if they are a worm or some type of insect larvae.. I have attached 2 photos, not the best because they are very small.. I tried looking it up myself but all I can find is references to white worms which these are not white.. Are they harmful? I already did a 20% water change while vacuuming the gravel today.. Thanks Trish <Hello Trish. The "worm" in question appears to be an insect larva. Certainly to my eyes it seems to be segmented and possesses small appendages of various types. In other words, a maggot. No immediate threat to the fish, but a good sign that there's a lot of decaying organic material somewhere in or around the tank. Otherwise the parent fly (or whatever) wouldn't have laid its eggs here. So time for an early spring clean! Cheers, Neale.> Re: worms 09/04/2008 Thank You.. I did vacuum the gravel out today after finding the worm like things.. and there was a lot of food in the gravel.. I didn't realize I was overfeeding , I only feed them once a day but I guess I need to cut down on the amount I am giving each day.. Thanks so much for your speedy response. Trish <Hi Trish. Overfeeding is easy to do, and much more difficult than to under-feed! Remember the two golden rules: Firstly, little but often. Snacking is better than gorging. The fish are more likely to eat all the food, and they'll also extract more nutrition with less wastage. Secondly, use the minimum quantity, and it should all be gone within a minute (for the average greedy community fish). Remove anything leftover a turkey baster is a great tool for this, allowing you to pipette out stuff without buckets or getting your hands wet. Cheers, Neale.>

"Slash" our Oscar, concerns w/ "worms" in the tank 8/12/08 we got an Oscar about 4 months ago, and he has come around pretty quick! he is an amazing fish, as he is our first Oscar. he has had these little "worm" looking things on the inside of the tank, they are extremely small, and move around. they have not attached to him, and don't seem to be bugging him, but they are driving me absolutely crazy!! we feed him a high grade pellet food, and about 1-2 times a week he gets frozen treats like meal worms, or brine shrimp. he is in a 55gal tank, with a power filter for 50-60 gal (up grading to a canister filter), we also do about a 30 % water change weekly. I know its hard without seeing it, but what could these "worms" be? and how the heck to we get raid of them!? thanks for the help!! Desiree, Todd and "slash" <The "worms" are most likely Planarians, in other words flatworms. They feed on the food you've given the Oscar. As you know, Oscars are very messy fish. The fine particles they produce get everywhere, especially if the tank is inadequate and water changes are infrequent. In both regards, you're at fault here: cichlids need BIG filters, and you should be using a filter offering NOT LESS than 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. Forget about the rating on the box telling you X filter is for Y sized tank. these estimates are based on best-case situations where a tank contains few, small fish, Neons for example -- not Oscars! You also should be doing AT LEAST 50% water change per week, with the gravel cleaned on a regular basis. It's the stuff you're not removing that the Planarians are eating. While harmless in themselves, they're a "wake up call" telling you of an underlying problem. Long term, excessive nitrate in the water will lead to issues such as Hole in the Head that are a real bother to treat. So please, upgrade your tank (too small for adult Oscars), upgrade your filter, and step up the water changes. Do this and the Planarians should fade away in time. Do see here: Cheers, Neale.>

Re: PLANTED TANK WORMS Thanks Neale! <You're welcome, Bob.>

Worm Identification 4/17/08 Good Afternoon, <Jerry> I've searched the net and can't find an identification for what I've found. The Agricultural Extension in my count cannot identify it either and they have the only one of what I found. Here is a description of the worm and where it was found. The worms were each about 1 1/4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. They rather looked like an adult human beings thumb. They were of a dull grayish color. One end was tapered and the other had a flat surface with a "lip," for lack of a better biological term, all around the flat surface. The flat end vaguely resembled what I've seen as the end of a tapeworm that has the hooks on it. These were found in a small bottle of 6% acidity Balsamic vinegar that was in a dark cabinet for about 3 years. They appeared to be dead, but I don't know. <Me neither. do you have a means of making, sending a micro-photographic image?> My agricultural extension said they were "vinegar eels," but when I checked on line, vinegar eels are long and stringy looking. <A general term for a few species of acid-environment nematodes. Some are cultured as fish food for fry. > The folks at the agricultural extension disposed of everything. I'm really upset about this because, although I haven't every seen anything like this around the house, they could be elsewhere and I'd like to know what I'm dealing with. <Mmmm, not everywhere. But this phylum is very common in the biological world. Take a read on the Net. > By my description, is there anything that you can tell me. I very much appreciate your efforts. Thank you, Jerry Ascione <Can only guess. sans more information, image work. Bob Fenner>

Re: Worm Identification 4/18/08 Mr. Fenner, <Jerry> Thank you for your really quick reply. As it turns out, the agricultural agency disposed of the "worm" after they took a biopsy from it, but they didn't tell me that. It turns out that it wasn't a worm. It was, as they called it, "Mother of Vinegar." <Interesting: A chemical/physical manifestation:> They agreed that at first glance it looked much like a worm and even had a texture that would be consistent with that of a worm. But, it wasn't. Again, thank you very much for your time. Jerry Ascione <Thank you for this follow-up. BobF>

George in Greece. worms, copepod. ID 03/16/08 Dear Bob, As you can see in the photo there are two types of worms and one type of copepod (freshwater). <Can barely make these out> We are extremely interested in finding out the following: a) species and if not, genus or even family. b) are they harmful to fish (esp. fry) Your response will be greatly appreciated. George & Marina <The blue thing is obviously some sort of dipteran larva the red things perhaps small oligochaetes, but it's difficult to say. In either case they're fish food rather than a problem! Fish fry *might* be harmed -- I've lost baby Corydoras to planarians, for example. But I suspect that the usual problem is that if the water (or substrate) are "dirty" (bacteria-laden) enough to support these small life forms, newly-hatched fish are at greater risk of fungal infections. So in my case at least, the planarians didn't kill the Corydoras fry, but simply attacked the moribund ones. That'd be my guess, anyway. Cheers, Neale>

Leeches. Hi <Hello> I have had guppies for a few years and not experienced any problems. A few months ago I added a small Pleco followed by two elephant nosed fish. Shortly after introducing them to the tank I developed white spot. <Hopefully your fishes. not you!> I managed to cure this but lost a few guppies and one of the elephant nosed fish. I since read up on the elephant nose fish on the internet where it said not to keep them in pairs as the weaker one would be killed by the stronger. <Yes, very often. particularly in small systems> Since I have had all of these problems, I did a gravel clean and disturbed only what I can describe as a leech. It was about an inch long, white and had a sucker. At first I thought it was a dead fish. All of the info I have found on leeches describe them as fairly small and I have not found any of this colour. This leech (?) is bigger than some of my guppies. I cleaned the tank and a couple of days later found another one. I know they can be introduced by new fish. <Or live food/s> . but surely I would have spotted them when I bought them. How can I determine that it is a leech and if so make sure there are not any more, I am really unsure of what to do. <Mmm, you could look at them carefully. leeches/Hirudineans are pretty distinctive. Take a look on the Net re: their superficial morphology. from your description already, I am pretty sure this is what you have> Can you please help? Many thanks <By thoroughly cleaning, gravel vacuuming your tank, you have very likely removed all the leeches from your tank. There are chemicals that to a large degree will poison just these worms. but I would not use them. Bob Fenner> Freshwater Bristle Worm? Hi, I hope you can help me! I used to keep a marine tank about four years ago and gave up and said that was it no more fish. Well now I have set-up a small freshwater tropical planted fish tank, it has been running for about five or six months now. My question is we have seen the fish go mad over a worm found in the tank, it was about two inches long, alive and being eating by a small angle fish and a Congo tetra. This worm was identical to the bristle worms we had in our marine tank but did not think you could get them in fresh water is this correct? <Yes> But how could it get there as we have not added any rock only dry gravel plants and fish. And could these cause problems to the tank inmates? < There are lots of little freshwater creepy crawlies that come into a freshwater aquarium. Usually they come in as eggs or larvae attached to the plants. They grow to a point until the fish realize that they are around and soon become live food. Some become parasitic on fish but I think you would have seen them by now.-Chuck> Kind Regards Grahame Brown

What worm be this? Planarian? >>Good day, Michael, Marina to help you here. >I started only 3 weeks ago and bought the following : a.. 3 small fantail goldfish b.. Plexiglas tank (4.5 gallons) c.. air pump d.. submerged power filter (mechanical filtration only) e.. gravel siphon cleaner I treat tap water by allowing to stay in a bucket for 24 hours and before carrying out a partial water change I add dechlorinator. >>Very good. >I usually carry out water changes of 50-80% every day but I am planning to build a Plexiglas tank of 70 gallons capacity and add another goldfish. Tanks in Europe are very expensive -- I bought the 4.5 gallon tank for USD 68 (Euros 57). >>Holy canoli! >Once a week I clean the filter element of the power filter. During the 3rd cleaning I noticed many small red worms in the filter element which were clinging in the sponge and could not be removed by washing with tap water. I fitted a new sponge element in the filter. The biggest worms were about half an inch long -- please see attached photo. Can you please advise if these worms are dangerous for my fish and how can I treat the water so that they will not appear again? >>The photo is not very clear, but I am guessing some sort of planarian. I do not think they will pose any threat to your fish. I have not had any experience with them, but I think that if you added some salt to the tank it would be enough to prevent them. This is actually a help to the fish, and is helpful in preventing or alleviating the incidence of some maladies. Use either Kosher or sea salt (anything that has not been iodized--very common here in the States), at a ratio of 1 teaspoon/gallon. I believe that one teaspoon U.S. = roughly 5cc. And 1 gallon (US) = 3.8 liters. I do hope this helps, and best of luck to you in sunny Athens, Michael! Marina (in what is *supposed* to be sunny southern California, but it's 62F and RAINING here! What first day of summer??)

What are these things?? More planarians? Good evening crew. <Good evening, Susan! Sabrina here> I sent the following message Saturday but haven't seen any answer as of yet'¦.soooo I thought I might try again. Know you all are busy but any help you can give me would be much appreciated. <I'm so sorry I wasn't able to get back to you last night I've been battling an illness in my wild angels and totally stressing about it, so I've been quite preoccupied. many apologies> Since I sent the request I have been doing as much research as I can. I'm now about 99% certain these guys are planarians and I know they are supposed to be 'harmless' but I also understand they will eat eggs. <What I know/can find, planarians really are harmless, and I've never heard/read about them eating eggs, but I'm certainly not positive about it. Can you describe the worms? You mentioned in your original message that they were white, flat, wider towards the middle, and about 3/4 of an inch long. The size alone is suggesting to me that they may not be planarians, which (from my understanding) are typically 10mm or smaller. Do they have a "V" shaped head? That's pretty much a dead giveaway that they are, in fact, planarians.> I would really like to get rid of the planarians before breeding my fish. <I can certainly understand!> Also, I inadvertently spread the problem to my 30-gallon community tank by 'seeding' the smaller tank with mature filter media from my big tank. <Oh, ugh. > This happened before I knew there was a problem in my 125G. I also forgot to mention that we are on well water if it makes a difference. <Mm, possibly, but I wouldn't think so. Worm infestations can happen in tanks that use the best of water. Usually, huge amounts of worms are the result of overfeeding, or otherwise excessive nutrients, and most often seen in predator tanks, like yours (several large predatory cichlids, an electric catfish, and an ever-messy Plec, in a 125 gallon tank, yes?). Try cutting back extensively on feeding for a while and see how that affects the worm population. Also, keep up with hefty gravel vacuuming to see if you can pull some of the little suckers outta there.> I treat any new water (with Prime) before adding to the tanks. Even though we test our well'¦.you just never know. I have talked to the three LFS I patronize and two advised Copper. NO WAY was I going to put this in my tanks. <Ugh! No. Avoid this desperately! Especially with your scaleless Plec and catfish. Bad LFS, bad! Deserves a swat on the nose!> One finally suggested a fluke eliminator. But he was a little hesitant and unsure so I haven't done anything except vacuum and perform water changes in both tanks and cut the food by ½. <Ah, yes, perfect. Keep it up for a couple weeks, and see what happens with the wormies. Also, I'd like to mention that I had the occasional planarian showing up in my plant tank (well, lots of 'em, really), and they seem to have been eliminated by a very minute amount of Fenbendazole (proprietary name Panacur) that I used to rid my tank of (shudder) hydra. I certainly haven't seen a single planarian (or hydra!) in a month or two. But then again, my planarians were about 2-3mm long. Tiny. The Fenbendazole did not affect my bacteria bed in the slightest, nor did it have any effects on any plants, shrimps, or fish. It is usually sold as a goat-worming medicine, but can even be used as a wormer for discus.> My water parameters have not changed and all the fish are fine. I still have all 14 new Platy babies and they are growing like crazy. And I still have a gazillion 'creatures' that give me the creeps. <Well, keep up with what you're doing, for the time being, and see if the worms start to die out. I'd also like to mention our chat forum as we have rather recently had another fellow with a similar problem - perhaps you guys can compare notes.> Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide. <Glad to help, and again, sorry for the late response!>

Planarians - Part 2 Good evening Sabrina <Hello again, Susan!> Thanks for responding so quickly! I do hope you are successful with your angels. My research of Turbellarian flatworms (freshwater planarians) indicates they can be up to 1 inch in length. I was able to capture one of these little buggers and compared it to pictures found at and it looks like the picture. Yes. they have a V shaped head (upside down V ). <Yeah. "V" shaped heads almost always mean planarian, IME.> For now I am going on the assumption they are planarians and I am trying to obtain some Panacur. However, I am a little uncertain about the dosage. Somewhere on the Internet I read that the dose for hydra is 0.5 grams per 100 liters. What dosage did you use? <Honestly, I used so little, I don't know the actual dose. Likely less than a gram in my 72 gallon tank (filled to

60 gallons). It took a couple of days to wipe out the hydra completely, and I'm really not sure about whether it nailed my little planarians or not, but I used to see 'em frequently, and since treatment have seen none.> Assuming that I treat both tanks this will work out to about 3 grams of Panacur. Also, do you think I can safely use this in the tank with the Platy fry? <Possibly, but if you can, perhaps wait a couple weeks for the fry to grow up a bit, if you can, just to be on the safe side.> I worked on the large tank some more today. moving rocks, vacuuming, cleaning the pump lines and changing the water. Didn't see as many critters today, so maybe I am getting them under control. <Hope so! Sounds like you're doing a good job of reducing their chances of getting a meal, so they may very well die out on their own. Give it some time, and keep doing as you're doing, especially if you think you're seeing results already.> Thank you again for your help. Susan <Glad to be of service! -Sabrina>

Planaria, or Parasites? I have 2 10 gal. tanks with feeder guppies that have been breeding. There is a parasite in the tanks that looks like a clear, small leech. What do I need to do to clear the tanks of these "leeches". Our local pet store told us that these are probably beneficial parasites that the guppies will feed on, but this information was supplied without their seeing the parasite. We have not seen any of these on the fish themselves but on the sides of the tanks and in the filter. Please advise. <Well, if they're not attached to the fish, if they're only on the glass or other areas of the tank, I doubt that they're parasites of any sort - "parasite" means that it's something that attaches to or lives in the fish and hurts the fish. What you have are probably Planaria. A planarian is a small worm, usually just a few millimeters long, and are best identified by a "V" shaped head - take a look at this: . The presence of these little wormies suggests an overabundance of "stuff" in your tank that they are feeding on. To get rid of them, simply eliminate their food source - more frequent water changes, being sure to vacuum the gravel, and cleaning out the filter will help with this. They are essentially harmless, but it'd be a good idea to clean up the tank a bit to reduce their numbers or eliminate them completely. Hope all goes well, -Sabrina> Janet

Small worms in freshwater tank (11/06/03) <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon> We have a 29 gallon regular fish tank, we have 2 angel fish and some small plants, lately the water has started turning green and now we have some kind of small worms on the inside of the tank and was wondering what they are and what we can do about it? <Well, the water turning green is an algae bloom. That's usually triggered by an excess of nitrates and phosphates. To combat that, you'll want to do more frequent water changes. Also make sure you aren't over-feeding -- if there is any food your fish don't eat, it adds to the phosphates in the tank. You might get a phosphate test (I like the SeaTest/FasTest one for freshwater) and some phosphate remover (like Phosguard) if your phosphates are high even after several water changes. Once you get the nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) out of the tank, the algae should die off, and the worm population should decrease. I'm not sure exactly what you have, but they are most likely not harmful for your fish. --Ananda>

Lair of The White Worm! Do you know anything about white worms. in freshwater tanks. <These are Planaria. Planaria are flatworms and members of the Platyhelminthes phylum. Planaria are often found in aquariums with uneaten food. The Planaria won't hurt the fish, but they are a symptom of too much gravel containing too much uneaten food, and that is not good for fish. You should do a water change and vacuum your gravel to help remove the uneaten food and some of the worms. Doing this will reduce the number of worms in your tank. Good luck -Magnus>

White Worms, and a Bit More Info - III - 02/10/2004 Ok I put some food in the tank and the lobster never ate it. So I got worms from uneaten food. Now there are a lot of white worms in my tank little white ones. <With this as the most (only) information that you've given us, I can guess that you probably have some sort of nematode or Planaria infesting the tank. not so much a direct threat to the crayfish or other inhabitants, but a sign of less than adequate husbandry. Do not overfeed, be sure to remove uneaten food, change water regularly, vacuum gravel properly, change filter media as necessary. basically, remove the food and nutrients that is fueling these worms, and they will gradually die off on their own. On such little info, that's the best I can give you. I hope it helps. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

White Worms In Gravel Hello, I have a 55 gallon aquarium and have noticed small white worms in my gravel. The fish I have in the tank are guppies and two Plecostomus. I have had no problems until now and just need some advise to get rid of them. Thanks, mike <<Dear Mike. It sounds like Planaria, in which case, you will also see them on the tank glass. This is generally caused by overfeeding. Cut back on the feeding, vacuum your gravel with each water change, and this problem should rectify itself quickly. Some fish, like Gourami's, will eat Planaria. However, you do need to be careful to keep your tank clean, and keep up with your regular partial water changes. HTH -Gwen>>

Re: Tiny white worms in my aquarium - II Hi Gwen, Thanks for the info. I don't think I've been getting deep enough into the gravel when vacuuming, even though my water changes have been several each week, approx 20% each time, I think I will have to vacuum more thoroughly. I saw a cardinal tetra eat one of the worms that I knocked off of the glass when cleaning tonight. Thanks so much. Mark. <<Mark, you are most welcome :) -Gwen>>

I think I have Worms Hey, AGAIN sorry to be such a pain I realize you guys got lots of letters. Anyway I got these worm like things in my tank well they look like very very tiny maggots all most they are like 3 mm long and very thin are they parasitic? please get back to me. Thanks for reading, Aaron <<Dear Aaron, they sound like Planaria. Are they on the glass? Is this a freshwater tank? This is generally caused by overfeeding and improper maintenance. Try to cut back on the amount of food going into the tank, and make sure you vacuum thoroughly with a siphon when you do your water changes. Once a week is a good idea, specially till your worms go away. which they will when they no longer have a food source. -Gwen>>

Strange red worm like thing Hello <Hey Lukas, MacL here with you on this fine day.> Lukas here. I have recently observed a odd looking red worm like things at the bottom of my 90 gallon and on some of my plants in my Betta enclosure. It seems to be growing at the top of the Betta tank on some plants. <Sounds like algae to me.> But in my 90 gallon its at the bottom around the gravel. I try to suck this stuff up when I do my water change but it keeps coming back. If you need a pic I can get you one on Tuesday. <Pictures definitely help, send it to me if you don't mind.> What is this stuff and is it bad for my fish? Thank you L White worms crawling on the glass of my aquarium I have a 90 gal. tank with four discus in it which is also planted. I have noticed what appears to be small white worms crawling on the glass and swimming freely, can you tell me what they are? <Not specifically. as in down to species. But I assure you, these are likely some sort of innocuous earthworm-like animal (oligochaete annelid) and not harmful to your fish or system. These sorts of critters "pop-up" quite often, particularly in aquariums that have excess food, too little circulation/filtration. and very often "disappear" of their own accord. Do keep your eye on water quality and in time you will likely find they have gone. Bob Fenner>

FW worm 6/23/06 Hi Bob. I have a tank with an African brown knife, mollies, ghost cats. This morning I saw what appears to be a tiny, tiny black worm crawling at the bottom of my tank. What can this be? <Mmm, could be an oligochaete (something akin to an aquatic earthworm). even a Hirudinean (leech). > Everyone is eating & appears healthy. Water is good. Thanks! Diana <What is that Ted Nugent lick? "Where in doubt I take it out. it's a free for all". I would remove this mystery creature just in case. Bob Fenner>

Not urgent. Calcium, and worms. 11/01/06 Hello Crew! <<Hi, Rachel. Tom>> I know you're all terribly busy, and this isn't terribly important, so please feel free to skip over this one! <<Can't do that Rachel. Yours is important to you which makes it important to us.>> I have a 2.5 gallon tank with a 25-watt heater, 10-watt fluorescent lighting, and in-tank Whisper filter set on low, in which I keep a spoiled-rotten Betta of about a year and a half old. The system was started about a year ago, and was moved/remodeled two months ago. About a month ago I added a Java fern and some red Ludwigia. I added a lovely blue mystery snail (Pomacea bridgesii) a week ago, and he is doing a remarkable job on eating the algae (working on getting the plants to thrive instead!). <<I completely understand'¦>> Temperature is 80, ammonia and nitrite 0, nitrate usually under 5 now since adding the live plants. I think the pH is 7.4, though I'm not at home right now to look it up. I try to do 25% water changes every week or two, though I've been lax lately. Anyhow, my water is on the soft side, and the snail's shell is already looking a little worn. I am planning to add "something" to the tank for calcium. I've heard of crushed coral or marble. However, since I also keep a cockatiel, I have cuttlefish bone handy as a source of calcium for the bird. Could I put a well-rinsed (and obviously unused) piece in the aquarium? <<I've not run across this for aquatic snails but I have for land snails. Frankly, I find it a good option to try especially given that your pH is already at

7.4.>> And how big a chunk are we talking? <<Try a piece with a surface area of about one square inch, or so.>> The bones are about five inches long by two or three inches wide, half an inch thick, and can easily be snapped into smaller pieces. Was just planning on tucking it behind a rock somewhere with a little water flow to help it dissolve. Right? <<You might find that your snail will actually 'feed' on the bone as land snails do. (I'm somewhat curious about this myself.) Obviously, you'll want to monitor pH levels though I don't believe that this should prove to be a problem.>> Secondly, I've noticed "the little white worms" floating around and wiggling on the tank walls. White, threadlike, about 1 cm long. I had these once maybe nine months ago. Up until yesterday I was assuming they are harmless Planaria, and I was stepping up the water changes as I know these are a sign of excess nutrients. However, yesterday I noticed Terrence the Betta eating them as they floated by. If they're just free-living Planaria I'm pretty sure this is harmless, but is there any chance these could be parasitic worms which Terrence has passed and he is re-infecting himself somehow? <<Parasites, by definition, require a 'host' in order to survive. In all likelihood, they're Planaria.>> His feces are never stringy-white, but very occasionally his normal feces will include some little clear sections that look like mucus. I believe I'm just paranoid, but better safe than sorry! He is acting quite normally, swimming around, flaring and nipping at the snail, eating voraciously -- he has even started to pick at the algae wafers for the snail, and will steal them out from under him! <<Don't be overly concerned about the occasional clear sections in his feces. This isn't uncommon or an indication of a problem any more than a very occasional sneeze means you're getting a cold. Just happens'¦>> Thanks for all your hard work! Rachel North Carolina <<Thank you kindly, as well, Rachel. Best regards. Tom (Michigan)>>

Round worms in swimming pool 12/11/06 I know this isn't a typical question you get. but.. thought you may be able to help. We have a salt-water swimming pool and we recently noted 2 worms in the pool we've never seen before. They were about 7-10 inches long, round (not flat), very very thin (think 0.5mm pencil lead). They were swimming just fine in our hot tub - the water was not hot. When we brought them out of the water, they flip flopped around somewhat spastically with both ends moving independently. There were a brown-ish/yellow color. Their skin/skeleton was quite "crunchy" when we tested to see how tough it was. :) Any idea what this could be? -Bruce <Mmm, as you state, could be Nematodes. if you have a good magnifying loupe, you could cut through (make a coronal section) through the esophagus (just a bit back from the head. ) and look/see if this is tri-radiate (three-sided). diagnostic for the Phylum. could be Horsehair worms. other "wormy" possibilities. Not toxic, or dangerous to human health assuredly. Bob Fenner>

FW Plant Leech 03/23/07 Hi Crew! Hope all is well with you, you've helped me so much in the past. To make a long story short, I have a 10 gallon tank that has been used as a plant refuge for when I thin plants out of the aquariums. I throw them into this tank. At one time the tank was a failed attempt to raise daphnia, I never cleaned it out after that, just started throwing plants into it. After a few months I was given some cherry shrimp that were too small to go into the main tanks, so I put those in there. When I added the shrimp I put in a sponge filter and heater. I don't perform routine water changes on this tank. This tank has been a fascinating biological experiment of sorts because it has a blanket of live Blackworms now that must have accidentally come in there on plants. (I feed the fish live Blackworms a couple of times a week.) The tank is full of shrimp that have bred like crazy and hitchhiker snails. The water is green, and amazingly there is no algae in the tank, whatsoever. However, it is time for me to transform it into a usable tank and I was thinking of putting a couple of Killies and a group of sidthmunkis in there, of course making sure the parameters are good first. I really wouldn't want to see all of this "food" go to waste. Sound like a good idea? Probably not. But anyhow, I also have these in my tank. Do you have any idea what they are? Are they good slugs/flatworms? Or bad slugs/flatworms? Should I just forget my dream of giving some lucky fish the feast of their lives and clean the tank out before I introduce any fish into it? Thanks! Take care, Mary. < This is a typical FW plant leech. Fish don't eat them but they really aren't much of a problem.-Chuck>

FW Plant Leech, Neale's go 03/23/07 Hi Crew! <Hello Mary!> Hope all is well with you, you've helped me so much in the past. To make a long story short, I have a 10 gallon tank that has been used as a plant refuge for when I thin plants out of the aquariums. I throw them into this tank. At one time the tank was a failed attempt to raise daphnia, I never cleaned it out after that, just started throwing plants into it. After a few months I was given some cherry shrimp that were too small to go into the main tanks, so I put those in there. When I added the shrimp I put in a sponge filter and heater. I don't perform routine water changes on this tank. This tank has been a fascinating biological experiment of sorts because it has a blanket of live Blackworms now that must have accidentally come in there on plants. (I feed the fish live Blackworms a couple of times a week.) The tank is full of shrimp that have bred like crazy and hitchhiker snails. The water is green, and amazingly there is no algae in the tank, whatsoever. <Because it's balanced. In balanced tanks, the rate of algal growth is checked by the growth of plants and predation by algae-eating animals. In aquaria (and ponds, and eutrophic waters in the wild) the balance is lost, and often the algae prosper because their natural limiting factors are taken away.> However, it is time for me to transform it into a usable tank and I was thinking of putting a couple of Killies and a group of sidthmunkis in there, of course making sure the parameters are good first. <You'll lose almost all the fun, I suspect. To reach a balance with fish, you need a *lot* of water volume per fish. Look for a copy of the excellent book "Dynamic Aquaria" for a scientific (and highly detailed) investigation of balanced aquaria with complete ecosystems. Certainly possible, but very challenging if you include fishes, miles easier with just inverts.> I really wouldn't want to see all of this "food" go to waste. Sound like a good idea? Probably not. But anyhow, I also have these in my tank. Do you have any idea what they are? Are they good slugs/flatworms? Or bad slugs/flatworms? Should I just forget my dream of giving some lucky fish the feast of their lives and clean the tank out before I introduce any fish into it? <Those are small leeches, annelid subclass Hirudinea. Now, the vast majority of leeches are predators on invertebrates. Very, very few are bloodsuckers. But obviously those that are can be very damaging to fish, particularly very small fish. Identifying leeches to species level is difficult, and definitely a job for your friendly neighbourhood freshwater ecologist or parasitologist. Identification beyond subclass level is below me, I'm afraid! In the meantime though, don't kill it out of hand. Leeches are lovely animals, and if you can encourage it to go swimming you will be treated to one of the most beautiful little spectacles in the animal kingdom. They also have a very cute "inchworm" mode of walking. The sucker at the front (blunt end) is armed with teeth with which it catches its prey, and most species suck up the "juices" of whatever they've caught either directly or through a neat little stylet. You can also see the digestive system quite nicely in your photo, too. All in all, charming, if weird, animals.> Thanks! <No problem.> Take care, <Will certainly try! Neale> Mary.

Thin Clear - Whitish Worms - Nematodes/Planaria 7/21/07 Dear WWM, <Andrea with you tonight, Jean> Today I had noticed a several thin, clear, whitish worms crawling up the side walls of my 6.6 gallon freshwater aquarium tank (visible by a bright aquarium light). <Planarians or nematodes, most likely. Sign of overfeeding. Cut back to once every other day, only what your fish can eat in about two minutes. Net out any uneaten food remaining.> Once a week, I maintain my tank by vacuuming the gravel and performing a 20 percent water change. I always premixed my water with aquarium salt and stress coat, a night or two before I perform my tank maintenance. <Fantastic regimen. You can dump the salt, it is worthless as a tonic, and can actually harm some fish. I prefer Prime as a water conditioner. Less used per water change, and no additives other than what is needed for neutralizing chloramines/chlorine from tap water. Prime is a great product. I highly suggest it.> Recently, I treated my Betta with Jungle Parasite Clear because he had contracted a parasite. This parasite problem was due to me feeding him live black worms, which I stopped feeding him. <Shame. I bet he loved the live feeders. Don't discount them in the future as a treat. Bettas love them. Perhaps another live feeder provider?> My question is, can those thin, clear, whitish worms crawling up the side walls of my tank be a parasite? <Not likely.> Is this dangerous to my Betta? <He will likely eat them. Not a danger.> If so, how can I get rid of them? <Reduce feedings, water changes, deep gravel vacuum.> Treat my tank with Jungle Parasite Clear again? <No, unless the fish is sick.> Please give advice. Thanks again for all your help your site is the greatest. <Anytime, we are here to help!> Jean

Red Worm ID (Royal Plec). Insect 11/19/07 I've had a 3 1/2" Olive Royal Plec alone in quarantine for 10 days or so. I dewormed with Praziquantel last week at the recommend dosage (76 mg/10 g) as I know they're wild caught and don't want to pass anything onto my own fish. He went into a 20 gal tank with new aged water and a fully cycled Penguin 280 bio-wheel filter from another tank. I did his 25% water change today (after leaving the Praziquantel in 5 days) and found these live red worms (pic attached) in the water I syphoned off the bottom of the tank. Pretty wiggly and entertaining under the microscope but I can't figure out what they are via the FAQ's. If they weren't alive I'd have thought they were frozen bloodworms. I'm hoping it's a harmless worm that can be treated as the Plec is eventually going in with my much loved Severum. I promise not to bother you anymore, but maybe the picture will help others. Mitzi <Looks like a chironomid larva (a.k.a. midge larva or bloodworm) to me. Probably got in with some live food. Usually get eaten by fish, so not common in aquaria. But if this tank was empty for a while, then it's possible a midge laid some eggs there. In any case, harmless. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Red Worm ID (Royal Plec) 11/19/07 Thanks, Neale. I feel stupid then but thankfully that's good news. I never feed live food, but the driftwood in his tank had been soaking for a month in a large kiddie pool outside. I rinsed it off real well but I bet that's where the bloodworms came from. (The tank had been empty and stored before he went in it). What a relief! Mitzi <Mitzi, Glad we have a happy ending here! Cheers, Neale.>

Worms in fresh water aquarium 11/29/07 Hi WWM My sister has a fresh water Aquarium which she just cleaned out on the weekend, and a few days later we have noticed these worm like creatures in the filter tubes no where else but in them. They have small legs and are hatching out of these things that look like cocoons and if you look carefully at them they have small mouths. There very disturbing to look at and gross us out. There's so many of them please help! Jessica <Hello Jessica. Without a photo its impossible to say what they are. But given they have obvious limbs and mouthparts, one must assume they are some sort of insect. Aquatic insects vary in their danger to aquarium fish: most are simply fish-food, but a few, particularly dragonfly (Odonata) and beetle (Coleoptera) larvae, can turn the tables and will catch and eat small fish. If you can send a picture, we can try and identify your visitors with a bit more precision. Cheers, Neale.>

Re. Is this a worm? FW Polychaete of size! 2-14-08 Hi Neale, <Sharon,> Thank you very much for your response and info about my newly discovered tank resident. I had separated it out as a precaution but have returned it to the community on your advice. A shy chap, I don't know if we'll see it again! At 4 cm, is this a large or small specimen and what do we expect now? <About the going rate. I'd be surprised if he got very much larger.> Does it have special needs I should be aware of? <If a true freshwater species, then likely perfectly happy where he is.> Is it likely to be the only one? <I've never see these worms in tanks as accidents, so if you have one at all, that's pretty amazing. To have more than one would be outrageous fortune! They don't breed in aquaria, so far as I know.> By the way, I don't know if you send a reply email to the questions as well as posting, but I originally sent the question from my husband's email (as it is the mail default on the computer). If you replied, he has trashed it, I guess, not recognising the sender. Sorry! I send from my mail now. <Questions get returned to the original e-mail PLUS a copy is posted to the WWM web site.> Thank you again for your help. I am much relieved! Sharon <Enjoy your new pet! If you have a biology interest, read up on Polychaete Worms, and you'll find out that freshwater examples are very rare. What you have is a really nice beastie to treasure. They do get sold on eBay and the like, I'm told, but have yet to see them in the UK. Cheers, Neale.>

National Science Foundation - Where Discoveries Begin

A conversation about conserving and naming species

More than half of all marine species may be on the brink of extinction by 2100, says UNESCO.

January 4, 2013

A little more than 39 years ago, on Dec. 28, 1973, the Endangered Species Act was enacted to conserve threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems. To honor this anniversary, Daphne Fautin of the National Science Foundation (NSF) answered questions about biodiversity.

As a marine biologist, Fautin has literally gone to the ends of the Earth--from the poles to the tropics--to study marine life. She is currently a program manager at NSF, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas, and a commissioner with the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, which produces rules on giving scientific names to animals.

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity--short for "biological diversity"--is the variety and abundance of plants, animals and other living things on Earth and in particular locations. Biodiversity is absolutely essential to ecosystem health. And human survival depends on the health of our planet's ecosystem.

Rain forests and coral reefs are known for their biodiversity. Why is so much biodiversity concentrated in these types of ecosystems?

More than 25 percent of the world's fish species and between nine and 12 percent of all of the world's fisheries are associated with coral reefs. More than half of the world's plant and animal species live in rain forests.

We don't know for sure why rain forests and coral reefs harbor so much biodiversity. One idea is that these ecosystems occur in tropical climates, and so they are quite climatically consistent year-round.

According to this idea, tropical organisms diverged because they don't have to deal with the climatic extremes that organisms at higher latitudes (and altitudes) do. A rabbit, for example, that lives in a non-tropical place must be able to eat certain plants in the summer and certain other plants in the winter. Therefore, it must remain a generalist to survive.

By contrast, a rabbit that lives in the tropics may specialize in eating certain plants that are available year-round at the same time, other species of rabbits (or other organisms) may evolve that specialize in eating other plants. Such specialization promotes diversity.

But some evidence does refute this idea--such as the fact that not all groups of plants and animals demonstrate more diversity in the tropics than at higher latitudes. So, many other ideas have also been proposed to explain the extraordinary biodiversity of the tropics.

Insects account for a large proportion of the biodiversity on Earth. Why?

Many statistics bear out the biodiversity of insects. For example, more than 850,000 insect species have been named. And the total estimated weight of just ants in the Amazon is four times the estimated weight of all land vertebrates in the Amazon--including all mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians!

We don't really know why insects account for so much of the Earth's biodiversity. That is one of the questions that is being studied by entomologists--the people who research insects.

One idea is that insects began to diversify when flowering plants evolved on Earth, and so insects evolved along with flowering plants because they are so important in the pollination of plants.

Insects tend to be small and specialized: There may be a certain insect that sucks out the cell sap from the stems of a particular plant other insects that eat that plant's leaves other insects that feed on that plant's nectar and other insects that feed on that plant's pollen and pollinate the plant in the process. So as flowers evolved, many insects evolved as well.

This idea about the evolutionary connections between flowering plants and insects is consistent with what we see in the oceans: Relatively few species of flowering plants and relatively few species of insects live in the oceans.

(By the way, NSF recently issued a press release that identified some interesting reasons why humans need insects--even pesky ones.)

How many species have been described and named by scientists, so far?

According to some reliable estimates, there are 1.9 million known eukaryotic organisms. (Eukaryotic organisms are those that are made of one or more cells with a nucleus bacteria and viruses are not eukaryotic organisms.)

How many species exist on Earth?

Estimates range from 2 million to 10 million species.

A recent estimate of 8.7 million species received a lot of press, in part, I suspect, because of its supposed accuracy and because it corresponds quite well to the often-bandied figure that 80 percent of the Earth's biodiversity has yet to be discovered/named. Some scientists estimate that there are "at least four times" the number of known species exist on Earth. If there are indeed almost 2 million known organisms, this estimate would translate to at least 8 million species.

A paper estimating the number of marine species (which I contributed to) was recently published. According to this paper, 226,000 species that live in the ocean have been named and described by scientists, and 72,000 additional species are in collections waiting to be named and described.

But who knows what hasn't been collected yet? And of course, as I previously mentioned, oceans have few insects, but insects account for the bulk of biodiversity.

How can scientists estimate the total number of species on Earth when it is obviously impossible to count what has not yet been counted? In other words, how can we know what we don't know?

People have used various creative methods to estimate the total number of organisms on Earth. For example, there was a very large estimate made years ago by a scientist who went to the jungles of Panama and used insecticide to spray a tree in the jungle. Then, lots of insects died and fell from the tree to the ground. And the scientist and his colleagues identified and counted as many of these fallen insects as they could, and the rest were counted as unknown. Then, the scientist extrapolated from the proportion of species in that one tree that were known versus unknown to produce a global estimate of known versus unknown species.

It was a good first try. But a lot of people point to the fact that in many parts of the world, the proportion of known species to unkown species is higher than it is in Panama. So this fact would suggest that the estimate may be excessive.

In 2011, an NSF-funded researcher provided the first empirical evidence of what had been long suspected: that biodiversity promotes water quality. What are some of the other reasons why we need biodiversity?

We need biodiversity to eat. We need to preserve species that we use as food, including fish from the sea. We also need to preserve those species that serve as food for the fish we eat, so that our food supply persists. And we also need to preserve all the species that create the habitat that enables all of these needed species to live, spawn and raise their young.

So, there are all of these connections in the great "web of life" that we don't even know yet. And these connections support all of the species on Earth, including species that provide us with food and clothing.

Also, 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe is produced by microscopic plants that live in the ocean and the other 50 percent is produced by plants that live on land.

(If you want to learn more about the ways in which the various species of plants help humans survive, watch this dynamic, upbeat video produced by NSF.)

The planet's ecosystem is sometimes compared to an airplane. You can lose one rivet from an airplane, and the airplane will probably fly. You can lose two rivets for an airplane and the airplane will still probably fly. But eventually, if you lose too many rivets--and nobody knows how many--the plane will crash.

The same principle applies to ecology: You can lose some species without major harm. But no one knows how many species can be lost before the planet's ecosystem will crash.

What does it mean to discover a new species?

A new species is one that hasn't yet been formally described and named according to scientific procedures--not one that is newly evolved.

People on the street or people in the jungle may have a name for it. But if we haven't followed the internationally recognized rules of nomenclature for describing and naming a species, it doesn't exist for certain scientific purposes.

When we have discovered a new species, it means we have finally found and gone through the procedures of formally describing it (distinguishing it from other species) and giving it a name following the rules of nomenclature.

How many new species are named each year?

Between 15,000 and 20,000 new species are named each year.

A species may be discovered and collected before it is described and named. But it isn't recognized as a new, distinct species until it is described and named.

How many species go extinct each year?

We don't know. The World Wildlife Fund's website says that experts have calculated that between .01 percent and .10 percent of all species on Earth go extinct each year.

But because we don't know how many species there are, we don't know how many species those percentages actually represent. And so, if the low estimate of the number of species on Earth is true--if there are around 2 million species on our planet--then between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur each year.

But if, in fact, there really are 10 million species on Earth, then between 10,000 and 100,000 extinctions occur each year.

What would you say to naysayers who argue that newly discovered species offset species losses, and so there really is no extinction crisis?

"New" species are not newly evolved. They evolved a long time ago. They are simply being newly discovered by science. They may be very well known to the people living in the areas where they live. So they aren't new in that sense they are only new to those of us who name them.

What does the process of naming a species involve?

It can be a long, protracted and difficult process that can take many years. First, you want to be sure that the animal or plant hasn't been named before.

This can be difficult for a variety of reasons. For one thing, many descriptions that were prepared in the early days were very vague. And usually, only small groups of experts have the specialized expertise to know what has and hasn't been described before.

And in order to name a species, you also have to describe it. To do this, you have to know what kinds of features are used to identify species, and figure out what distinguishes the "new" species from known species. This is important, because at least according to the rules of zoological nomenclature, when you publish a description of a new species, you have to write out what makes it different from everything that is already known--including organisms that are not closely related to it, but that look like it anyway.

For example, suppose you have an organism that has a red spot then you have to distinguish your "new" species from everything that is red spotted, even if those other red-spotted species are not closely related to your species. That way, when somebody comes across your species, they can say, "Aha! This is another one of those red-spotted organisms that is covered by that new name it's not another thing with red spots."

Other rules in the codes of nomenclature require you to name species in Latin or make them sound like Latin. You also have make sure a specimen of your species is deposited in a natural history collection (typically in a museum or herbarium). If the "new" species is an animal, you may also have to register the name in ZooBank (The official Registry of Zoological Nomenclature).

And then you have to publish your description of the species in a scientific journal, so that other scientists can look at it and agree that it is correct.

It is interesting to note that names that are accepted are frequently later "sunk" for various reasons. For example, when the exhaustive homework that is required for describing and naming a "new" species is not conducted in a comprehensive and thorough way, it may ultimately turn out that the "new" species has already been described and named.

Alternatively, a name for a "new" species may be sunk because the difference that was thought to distinguish it from others does not hold up. For example, I have a colleague who described several coral reef fish as "new"--only to ultimately discover that the "new" species was a member of a species for which only one sex had previously been identified. So the "new" species was really just a female (or male) of a known species!

Do you have to be a professional taxonomist to identify and name new species?

About half of the species that are named each year are named by people who aren't employed as taxonomists--whose job isn't in a museum or university. In fact, some of the people with the most expertise and time to do this are not professionals in the field.

For example, I knew a dentist who is one of the world's foremost authorities on tiger beetles. He had earned a master's degree in entomology. And then he realized that if he had gone into academic entomology, he would be spending his time teaching, writing grant proposals and doing administrative work--but he wanted to catch tiger beetles.

And so he went into dentistry so that he could make enough money to take time off each year to catch tiger beetles. He probably thereby ended up being able to spend more time chasing tiger beetles as a dentist than he would have if he had become a professional entomologist.

A new species of frog was recently identified by an NSF-funded researcher right smack in New York City. Is that common for new species to be discovered in such populated places?

I think that it is quite common for new species to be found in populated areas.

In the summer of 2012, an NSF-funded researcher named a new coral reef crustacean after Bob Marley, the singer. Is that unusual for species to be named after celebrities?

It may be less common than it used to be.

Many years ago, it would be common for a patron to fund the travels of a scientist to exotic places, and then species that were found during those travels would be named for the patron.

Tell me about one of the big problems that is reducing biodiversity in the oceans?

We have depleted the oceans of many of the big fish that we eat.

Part of the reason we are able to over fish is due to technology. We have fish-finders, various types of tracking devices, including sonar equipment, and airplanes that are used to help find schools of fish. And we now know enough about marine biology to predict where fish and crustaceans will be under particular conditions. Fishing is no longer about a fisherman just saying, I'll drop a line here or there." Fishing has become very scientific and methodical.

When we trawl, we drag nets along the ocean floor. And whatever else gets swept by these nets in addition to the target fish is called "bycatch." This bycatch gets thrown back into the ocean because we are not licensed to take it or because it's not profitable to take.

But how many organisms can manage to survive after being caught in a big net, pulled up and then thrown back into the ocean? What's more, trawling destroys habitat after the ocean floor has been trawled, it may no longer be a suitable home for what is thrown back.

The analogous situation on land would be if we flew an airplane that dragged a big net across the ground to catch grazing cattle. And we would draw up the net periodically--and keep the cattle, but toss back the dogs, trees and everything else that we happened to net in addition to the cattle. That is similar to what we do to the oceans.

Many people assume that it is better to consume farmed fish and shrimp than wild caught fish and shrimp. But many fish and shrimp farming practices are also harmful to the environment. Just because it is farmed doesn't mean that it is environmentally neutral or preferred over wild caught.

Can you cite any "good news" stories in biodiversity?

I read the other day that we have lost 97 percent of wild tigers in just over a century. Only about 3,200 tigers currently remain in the wild. We can infer that the populations of many smaller species are plummeting just like populations of many large species are plummeting.

But I am happy to say that a few species have come off the endangered species list, like the wolf and the bald eagle, because plans for their recovery were enacted.

Also, there are "good news" stories in the history of whales. Many of them were hunted to the brink of extinction, and then they were listed as endangered. It therefore became legally, socially and economically difficult to harvest whales, and so populations of many whale species have fortunately recovered.

These kinds of successes show that if we stop harvesting species, and if their habitat is conserved, life is resilient and endangered species may recover.

Additional Resources

To learn more about biodiversity and help promote conservation:

  • Read about the Endangered Species Act on the websites of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Join citizen science groups that work to identify and track species of birds, butterflies, ladybugs, plants and other creatures, advance our understanding of nature, and increase habitat for wildlife.
  • Restrict your seafood purchases in restaurants and stores to ocean-friendly products. Resources provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program may help you do so.

Daphne Fautin searches for new organisms while conducting a marine survey.
Credit and Larger Version

Daphne Fautin

Daphne Fautin searches for new organisms while conducting a marine survey.
Credit and Larger Version


View Transcript

- [Susan] Today I'm going to be talking about identifying aquatic plants.

Aquatic plants are an integral part of the pond ecosystem.

An ideal ratio is to have 20 to 30% coverage of plants in your pond to promote habitat and maintain a healthy balance between plants and aquatic life like turtles and frogs.

It is necessary to know what kinds of plants are in your pond if you plan to control them based on the pond's intended use.

This video will discuss the main types of aquatic plants and give several examples of each.

The plants can be categorized into four main types.

Submerged plants, emergent plants, floating plants, and algae.

Let's take a look at each of these in more detail.

Submerged plants are those that are rooted on the bottom of the pond.

Ponds with shallower water offer the best growing conditions for these types of plants as sunlight can reach the pond bottom.

Many times these plants will begin on the bottom of the pond and can often grow long enough where they may stick out of or float on top of the water.

Some examples of common submerged plants are elodea and naiad.

Elodea, the top picture, has a thick green stem and dense leaves, and is one of the most common plants in Pennsylvania ponds.

It's a beneficial plant for habitat and wildlife.

Naiad, the bottom picture, has narrow, toothed leaves and is very brittle.

It provides food for fish and water fowl.

Emergent plants are those that can be found on the banks or shallow areas of the pond and grow in the water or right along the water's edge.

Cattails in the top picture and burr-reed below are two very common emergent aquatic plants that both do a good job of helping to control erosion along bank areas and limiting sediment runoff into the pond.

Cattails are also able to take up nutrients and metals from the water, acting as a natural water filter.

Floating aquatic plants are those that float on the water's surface with their roots dangling below them.

Many of these plants prefer water that is very still.

Duckweed, seen in the top picture, is a very tiny floating plant that can grow to look like a thick carpet covering an entire pond.

It can be a great source of food for water fowl.

Water lily, pictured below, is a floating plant having very large leaves that can be nearly 12 inches wide.

It provides an ideal habitat for fish and aquatic insects.

Algae is the final category of aquatic plants and to many pond owners the most troublesome.

Algae can present itself in several ways in the pond, either as the microscopic planktonic algae or as an actual leafy plant that can be seen growing in the pond.

Planktonic algae are the base of a pond food chain and provide food for fish and other aquatic life.

This tiny algae can give the water a brownish or greenish murky appearance and can appear suddenly in a pond under ideal conditions of nutrients and sunlight.

This rapid appearance is called an algae bloom.

Filamentous algae, a dark green plant that resembles stringy hair, is a very common problem in Pennsylvania ponds.

This type of algae actually begins growing on the bottom and then floats to the surface, forming thick mats and even gas bubbles.

Its slimy appearance is aesthetically unpleasing to many pond owners, but it is an important food source for small fish.

Under some conditions during summer months, algae can produce toxins known as harmful algal blooms or HABs.

These toxic blooms can produce dangers to animals or people that might come in contact with the water.

The look of a HAB can best be described as looking like pea soup or paint spilled on the water.

If you suspect a HAB in your pond, it is best to avoid the water and have the algae properly identified.

Finally, some of the plants that you might find in Pennsylvania ponds are considered invasive species that out-compete our native plants and require special attention to eliminate them.

The emergent plant purple loosestrife can choke out waterways and is identified by its showy, purple flower.

A plant commonly found in small, self-contained water gardens, parrotfeather, a floating plant, can cause problems when it is accidentally introduced to larger, natural ponds.

There are many more types of aquatic plants common to Pennsylvania besides the ones that were mentioned in this video.

Extension can be a resource for helping to identify plants in your pond.

The website offers fact sheets, online courses, and publications, and extension educators can help with identification as well.

If you are sending a digital picture to your local extension educator to be identified, it's best to take a close-up picture of the plant in front of a light-colored background as well as a wide view of the plant as it grows in the pond.

We hope that this video is helpful to you.

By learning to identify the types of aquatic plants that are in your pond, it can help you to better manage them and get the maximum enjoyment and benefit from your pond habitat.

Classification Features

Even though their name implies that these little guys are bugs, they're not actually insects, but crustaceans. They're in the isopod (meaning same pod or foot) family and have seven pairs of legs that are all similar in size and shape. Roly-poly bugs also have three main body parts – head, thorax and abdomen – as well as simple eyes, uropods, a pair of prominent antennae, gills and lunglike adaptations. As terrestrial creatures related to marine animals, they need moisture to survive but cannot live submerged in water.

What would it be like to eat a bug that was about as large as a loaf of bread?

“What would it be like to eat a bug that was about as large as a loaf of bread? This question was inspired by a video game called Grounded, in which shrunken kids have to survive on a lawn, which involves cooking and eating bugs. Would eating a bug under such circumstances be like sucking goo out of them, or would it be more like eating seafood?”

This question recently received in our email piqued my interest. Sure, I’ve eaten bugs, but I never thought about it in this way. I hadn’t heard about the video game “Grounded,” but the thought of shrunken kids figuring out how to catch, cook, and eat bugs intrigued me. So, what would it be like to eat bugs?

Breeding Sites

Chironomid midges are one of the most common and most abundant organisms in natural and man-made aquatic habitats. Larvae are found in small and large natural lakes, sewage oxidation and settling ponds, residential lakes and ponds, and slow moving shallow rivers. Densities of over 4,000 larvae/square feet often occur on the bottoms of nutrient rich bodies of water (sometimes an indication of pollution due to excess nutrients). During adult emergence periods, it is not unusual for several thousand adults per square yard of surface to emerge on a nightly basis (Figure 6). Obviously, midges emerging from these bodies of water may cause significant nuisance and other problems by disrupting outdoor activities or clogging air/water filtration systems..

Figure 6. Artificial lakes and ponds may be prime midge breeding sites.

Figure 6. Artificial lakes and ponds may be prime midge breeding sites.

Insect Order Plecoptera (Stoneflies)

Stoneflies are the largest of the three main types of trout stream insects. While far less important than caddis and mayflies in the East and Midwest where they are mostly thought of as handy nymphs to imitate when nothing much is hatching, it's in the West where this order comes into its own. They can cause outstanding fishing, and on many rivers their hatches are the premier events of the season.

The year begins with the little dark stoneflies of the Capniidae, Leuctridae, and Nemouridae families as some of the only active aquatic insects available to trout. As the year progresses into late Winter and early Spring, the Large Springflies of the Perlodidae family in the West and Willowflies of the Taeniopterygidae are sometimes the first dry-fly insects of the season. When Spring fully arrives, so do the most significant stoneflies for the angler - the gigantic Pteronarcyidae Salmonflies of western legend. The large Golden Stones of the Perlidae supplement these hatches and are more common across the country. Summer brings on significant hatches of the Little Yellow Stones of the Perlodidae family and the little yellow or green Chloroperlidae flies that are common sights.

While there is some evidence to suggest that a few species in the West may emerge in open water, stoneflies largely owe their lesser status to a terrestrial ( Terrestrial: Insects which live on land and are fed on by trout only when they incidentally fall into the water are known as "terrestrials" to fly anglers, and they're very important in late summer. ) emergence style. This keeps them safe from trout at a stage when most mayflies and caddisflies are highly vulnerable. With few exceptions, they emerge by crawling out of the water onto rocks, sticks, or other shoreline objects. In some species the adult emerges from the nymph within inches of the water others crawl quite a distance back into the woods. But this distinction matters little to the trout. In the East, populations of the larger species are sparser and their activity is most often nocturnal. This further reduces their importance to anglers, if not the trout.

After emerging, the adults may live for up to a month. Like caddisflies and unlike mayflies, many stonefly species can eat and drink as adults.

Stonefly adults are usually most important when laying their eggs after mating particularly the larger species. Some drop their eggs from above the water but many either flutter along the surface or land on the water and create a commotion capable of drawing savage strikes from large trout during midday. This behavior together with the broken surface of the water are reasons for the historic success of bushy, hair winged Sofa Pillow/Stimulator styles of dry flies.

Stoneflies often fall spent ( Spent: The wing position of many aquatic insects when they fall on the water after mating. The wings of both sides lay flat on the water. The word may be used to describe insects with their wings in that position, as well as the position itself. ) after ovipositing and can gather in eddies or slack water in surprising numbers. Anglers will do well to to look for this, particularly early on Summer mornings. Be prepared with less bushy and flush floating flies to take advantage.

Tarsus: The often multi-segmented outer leg section of an insect, which attached to the tibia. ) which help them grip and clamber over fast-water rocks, and many of them have flattened bodies to make clinging even easier. Some species are better adapted to slow water, but they are not as common.

Although there are also plenty of small species, most of the largest insects in a trout stream are likely to be stonefly nymphs. They are poor swimmers, so when they occasionally slip into the drift (either by accident or during behavioral drift ( Behavioral drift: The nymphs and larvae of many aquatic insects sometimes release their grip on the bottom and drift downstream for a while with synchronized timing. This phenomenon increases their vulnerability to trout just like emergence, but it is invisible to the angler above the surface. In many species it occurs daily, most often just after dusk or just before dawn. ) ) they are prime targets for trout. This makes stonefly nymph imitations popular and successful searching patterns ( Searching pattern: Any artificial fly pattern used when trout that aren't feeding selectively on anything in particular. A searching pattern may be an attractor or an imitation of something specific that the fish might favor even though it's not currently hatching. ) during non-hatch periods.

When the emergence of an especially abundant species is near, its nymphs may be so active and concentrated that trout feed on them selectively near the emergence sites. This is more common in the West where the cool, swift rivers draining its mountains hold remarkable stonefly populations.

Welcome to BugGuide.Net!

Photo © Joyce Gross

We are an online community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures.

We enjoy the opportunity to instill in others the fascination and appreciation that we share for the intricate lives of these oft-maligned creatures.

Using the best resources we have access to, we are creating a knowledgebase to help each other and the online community.

We collect photographs of bugs from the United States and Canada for identification and research.

We summarize our findings in guide pages for each order, family, genus, and species.

Making New Discoveries

More than just a clearinghouse for information, this site helps expand on the natural histories of our subjects. By capturing the place and time that submitted images were taken, we are creating a virtual collection that helps define where and when things might be found.

We capture never-before-seen behaviors and we have photos of species that you won't find anywhere else on the web.

Disclaimer: Dedicated naturalists volunteer their time and resources here to provide this service. We strive to provide accurate information, but we are mostly just amateurs attempting to make sense of a diverse natural world. If you need expert professional advice, contact your local extension office.

Contributors own the copyright to and are solely responsible for contributed content.
Click the contributor's name for licensing and usage information.
Everything else copyright © 2003-2021 Iowa State University, unless otherwise noted.

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