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StaticRick

Strange Brown Flakes. Whatizit? (edit: Flatworms.)

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StaticRick

I've looked through the ID threads here and I can't figure out what I've got. There are small brown flakes stuck to certain areas of my rocks and sand. I first noticed them about 6 weeks ago. They haven't spread very quickly, but there are definitely more of them. I don't think they move, so I don't think it's an invert. I assume it's more of an algae, or maybe a mushroom.

 

The biggest one in this photo is about 1/8" across. Another strange thing is that all of the flakes seem to have a similar shape, oblong with almost two lobes. On the larger ones, an edge is lifted up and it waves around in the current.

 

Tank is about 7 months old, good parameters, very lightly stocked (basically a CUC crew tank with 2 LPS and one zoa, for now).

 

brownstuff.jpg

 

Since they're starting to increase in numbers, I need to figure out if they're friend or foe. Anyone know?

Edited by StaticRick

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fraxinius

hard to tell ..look a little like flatworms..not good if they are....can really get out of hand.. sometimes caused by overfeeding or introduced from new frags..

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franklypre

planaria, flat worms.

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StaticRick

Well, I thought they never moved, but I just siphoned a couple into a glass and sure enough, they're little worms! Ouch.

 

Back to the search function to figure out how to get rid of them.

 

I've got a pair of clownfish arriving tomorrow or the day after. I hope that's not a problem.

Edited by StaticRick

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fraxinius

they move like a slug ...use a hand lens or 3x reading glasses for a closer look ..try to suck one up with a turkey baster

 

post-71835-1335290427_thumb.jpg

 

post-71835-1335290449_thumb.jpg

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StaticRick

Yep. They're Red Planaria (http://theaquariumwiki.com/Flatworm)

 

Mine aren't on the glass, they're only on rock for now. They certainly would have been easier to identify on the glass.

 

Thanks to fraxinius and franklypre for the quick responses.

Looks like I'm siphoning as a first step.

Edited by StaticRick

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fraxinius

i get a few come and go of the smaller types...very few with low feeding...

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halcyonism

How large of tank do you have? The right wrasse would love to eat them for you; melanurus or a sixline.

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Alexraptor

I'd say you have a nutrient problem there, probally elevated phosphates, which red flatworms thrive on more than anything.

What do you use for source water?

 

If proper nutrient levels are maintained their populations tend to twindle to just a scattered few here and there.

If one has a runaway nutrient problem their numbers will increase exponentially until the system can no longer sustain them, at which point there will be a mass die off that can poison the entire tank.

 

Thats what happened to my first reef when i was using tap water. :(

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Masamune

Velvet nudibranches eat them as well but tend to not live long and/or release toxins upon death. I believe they're a last ditch measure to get rid of the flatworms because of those two aforementioned reasons. Supposedly the nudibranch hoovers them up at a pretty quick pace!

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wabbit

In the past, I have used a blue damsel to reduce flatworm numbers, then treat with flatworm exit. Follow directions for the flatworm exit EXACTLY.

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StaticRick
I'd say you have a nutrient problem there, probally elevated phosphates, which red flatworms thrive on more than anything.

What do you use for source water?

 

If proper nutrient levels are maintained their populations tend to twindle to just a scattered few here and there.

 

I use RO/DI water and I'm running both Purigen and Chemipure Elite. I test for Phosphates occasionally and they've always been zero or close to it. At this point, I would characterize the flatworms' occurrence as "scattered". I did some siphoning yesterday and I'll do a little more today. Right now, I can see about a dozen.

 

What I haven't been able to figure out: Are these Red Planaria going to feed on something that I don't want them to (coral or fish), or are they more of an unsightly nuisance? Obviously there's the danger that a runaway population will die off and poison the tank, but I'm nowhere near that right now. What kind of damage could be done by dozens of flatworms, not thousands?

Edited by StaticRick

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halcyonism
I use RO/DI water and I'm running both Purigen and Chemipure Elite. I test for Phosphates occasionally and they've always been zero or close to it. At this point, I would characterize the flatworms' occurrence as "scattered". I did some siphoning yesterday and I'll do a little more today. Right now, I can see about a dozen.

 

What I haven't been able to figure out: Are these Red Planaria going to feed on something that I don't want them to (coral or fish), or are they more of an unsightly nuisance? Obviously there's the danger that a runaway population will die off and poison the tank, but I'm nowhere near that right now. What kind of damage could be done by dozens of flatworms, not thousands?

 

They will not feed on your coral and fish, but if left unchecked they will grow fairly large and multiply quickly, which will lead to them "smothering" coral and killing them by blocking the light.

 

I would hold off on flatworm exit until it is a last ditch effort. Reduce feedings and they may dwindle on their own or just pick up a yellow corris or melanurus wrasse and they will be gone in no time.

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HVani

I have these things in my 25 gallon reef. Some say they will cover up corals and smother them but I have seen no evidence of that. They just stay on the glass and rocks and look ugly. I don' like the idea of using flatworm exit and most wrasses that eat them get too big for my tank. So I've been unsure how to get rid of them. They are just there and have been for months.

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Alexraptor

Best thing with smaller populations that are not runaway yet is just to remove them on sight, and the population should collapse on its own eventually.

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Therealgijoe

The most efficient and safe way to get rid of them is going to be a sixline wrasse. And he doesn't get to big either. About 2 inches long is the biggest I have ever seen. Some pseudochromis eat them too.

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Alexraptor

Pseudochromis are vicious bastards that are not compatible with crustaceans.

They can easily tear apart shrimps that a several times their size, and they can harass other fish to the point of death from stress/exhaustion.

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StaticRick
The most efficient and safe way to get rid of them is going to be a sixline wrasse.

I'd love to get a sixline, and might in the future. However, I just added a pair of clownfish and the male is about 3/4" long. I'm worried that a sixline would harass him too much. I'll probably wait until he gets a little bigger.

 

For now, I'm going to see if I can keep the flatworms in check with selective siphoning.

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altolamprologus
The most efficient and safe way to get rid of them is going to be a sixline wrasse. And he doesn't get to big either. About 2 inches long is the biggest I have ever seen. Some pseudochromis eat them too.

I've seen a lot of 3-3.5 inch sixlines. They get huge and mean as hell. IMO that should be a last resort, unless you have a fish trap and are willing to take the time to catch it and give it away once the flatworms are gone.

 

I don't see why everyone is so anti-flatworm. Sure they're ugly, but they don't cause any harm. They just chill on the glass or on low-flow parts of the rock. IMO the best course of action is just to siphon out the ones you can see when doing water changes and increase the frequency/size of water changes to starve them out. In a healthy tank, the population will stay low or may disappear entirely.

Edited by altolamprologus

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diablovt750

I have red planaria in my 24g nano cube also. I have had them for years and have not used any chemicals to get rid of them due to reading numerous horror stories. I just suck out as many as possible during my weekly water change and that keeps there numbers in check. Watch though because if theyre number grow to high they will start to go on your corals and stuff!

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