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I found a rather startling new organism in my system today. I was admiring my new duckweed tank and the tiny little duckweedlings when I noticed what I thought was one of the roots of a duckweed plant gone astray--I see a lot of those in my water so I thought nothing of it until I saw it start to wiggle. Thinking it was just the water current causing it to bend, but just wanting to be sure, I kept my eyes on the little guy and watched it wiggle and wiggle and wiggle. It looks like a little headless sperm trying to find its merry little way to the egg! So I looked around and sure enough there are hundreds of these nearly microscopic little buggers in the water.

So my first question is: why have I never read anything about these worms--because I'm sure they are extremely common and even beneficial---right? Right? 


Second, what can I do to get rid of them ASAP?

See my video. (I don't know why, but it came out upside down, so 7 o'clock in the video is actually 1 o'clock.)

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Replies to This Discussion

does the soap video have anything to do with it?

uhm, nice soap?

Strange! This is all I get:

Hi Cameron,

If its the same thing, I have gotten these on a few occasions. I have a combination raft/media bed system. They usually favor residence in the combination swirl/net filter. I assume they are after the fine suspended solids trapped in the netting. I suspect they multiply because of excess nutrient in the system as they reduce their numbers if feeding is reduced or netting is cleaned or both.

What color are they? If they're red they may be bloodworms (midge fly larvae) which are very beneficial, much like red wigglers.

No, I can't operate YouTube, so the only way I could find the video I posted was to make it a favorite, which made it somehow attach to another favorite and play them as a "slideshow" of videos. Soap might help, though!


George said:

does the soap video have anything to do with it?

They are pale. My system seems to be healthy in all other respects. 

I have been turning on my duckweed tank pump only in the evenings because the pump was overwhelming the standpipe and I wanted to monitor it so it didn't overflow until I could put a control valve on the inlet piping. I noticed after turning off the pump that when the water settles in the duckweed tank the worms settle to the bottom and congregate near the fish food leftovers. This could be a natural consequence of them being physical matter like the fish food and just going with the flow in the tank, or it could be because they are eating it and have spawned there. 

Seriously, though, these things are freaking me out. Has nobody ever seen or heard of this happening? They couldn't be blood worms because my system is in my bedroom and I don't have any flies or mosquitoes in my house. 


Sheri Schmeckpeper said:

What color are they? If they're red they may be bloodworms (midge fly larvae) which are very beneficial, much like red wigglers.

"Excess nutrient"--that may be on the right track for me. I have had a question about whether I have excess anything in my system because my ammonia levels are not dropping. I cycled my water and added about 20 goldfish in November. I waited for the ammonia levels to drop then added 20 more. Repeat until I have a total of 80 goldfish. My FT is 10 gallons, GB is 10 gallons, and I have a 15 gallon sump that usually holds between 3 and 6 gallons. So--does anyone think my system is overloaded? 


This is the question I've had for a long time with aquaponics. How does one go about cycling a tank and then fully stocking a tank without over burdening the biological filter? I tried this step up method but I seem to be on a plateau. 


Harold Sukhbir said:

Hi Cameron,

If its the same thing, I have gotten these on a few occasions. I have a combination raft/media bed system. They usually favor residence in the combination swirl/net filter. I assume they are after the fine suspended solids trapped in the netting. I suspect they multiply because of excess nutrient in the system as they reduce their numbers if feeding is reduced or netting is cleaned or both.

The right worms are a very important part of any biological system and can be very beneficial, so don't freak out too much. Nature has a way of seeking balance.  :) Read this: http://www3.sympatico.ca/drosera1/fish/worms.htm  It's a nice little write-up on wormy things in aquariums; it also applies to aquaponics. 

80 goldfish? You already have plenty for your system.  As they grow, they'll produce a lot more waste, too. It doesn't take many fish to feed a lot of plants!

Even after you have your system cycled you can easily produce too much ammonia, nitrites and nitrates by having too many fish. You can balance that out by adding growbeds, reducing the number of fish, or doing water changes as needed to keep the system in balance.

Honestly, I think you're experiencing what many of us experienced as we fumbled through the aquaponics learning process. Nature seeks balance, and we struggle to do the same. I think you're in good shape and ready to add more growbed space! :)

Hi Cameron,

Have you looked at "The rules of Thumb" document on our home page? Its an indispensable read. So anyway, we need to have, in our system design, standard ratios between fish, water, media. This is how we design a balanced AP system. As you don't have any pics posted, I'm thinking 80 fish for a 10 gal FT is way over the biological filtration capacity of your setup.

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