Unwanted Aquatic Pests - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 1 Old 11-24-2006, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Unwanted Aquatic Pests

Hi fellow members.

I decided to create a thread regarding the aquatic pests that may invade your tank without you expecting for them. Removal of these pests will also be included as you read along.

A lot of people hate snails due to one common reason: booming population. Indeed, this is true especially when you tend to overfeed your fish where leftovers are left to be eaten by snails allowing them to reproduce fast. A lot of snails are known to even wreak havoc in planted tanks by munching on plants repeatedly. However, some snails are useful and will eat detritus and even sift the bottom thus preventing anaerobic spots which release toxic substances killing the fish.
Snails may also serve as indicators of water quality. If you notice something unusual like many dead snails and Malayan Trumpet Snails even being visible during the day, it indicates that something is wrong with your water quality.
Here are the ways on how to remove the snails:
1. Manual picking
This can be done by either picking them by hand and throwing them to the bin or squishing them and feed them to the fish.
You may also try placing lettuce or cucumber on a saucer and place it inside the tank. Let it stay overnight and the next day, the saucer should be packed with several snails. Remove the saucer with the snails in it and you can dispose them.
2. Fish
A lot of fish tend to eat snails but a lot of them also cannot do so without you crushing the shells. Loaches like Botia almorhae(formerly Botia lohachata) will often search the whole tank for snails and you will find their mouths with the shell stuck as they try to suck on the mollusk. Puffers and goldfish are also ones of the few fish that can eat snails. Pls think twice before using this method. You are given the option to either return them to the lfs after they're done or you'll have to keep them. I would prefer the latter as long as you know you have accommodations for them. Your lfs may not accept the fish again once you want to give them back or you'll only receive half of what you paid but this depends on the policy of your lfs.
3. Chemicals
The least of my favorites when it comes to removing snails in the aquarium. They often contain copper sulfate and this will harm all types of invertebrates, some plants and even fish. This method should never be used unless you don't have invertebrates and prepared to risk getting a high level of ammonia brought by rotting bodies of snails which you may not be able to retrieve as some will be trapped in corners.
4. Complete strip down of tank
If the above methods will not work, sometimes the complete strip down of the tank will be the last resort but this would mean starting over again. Remember cleaning even the gravel thoroughly may not work as there may be surviving small snails left.
For species of snails found in aquarium trade, pls proceed to this link.
Water Boatmen
See link for information regarding water boatmen.
They should be removed immediately as they can attack large fish and my kill smaller species of fish.


Water boatmen are somewhat flattened and elongate in shape. They have the hind two pairs of
legs fitted with hairs and the tarsi of the hind legs is scoop or oar-shaped which allows them to swim. Adults
range in length from 3/16 to 3/8 inch (3 to 11 mm) long and are usually dull colored and often mottled.

Water boatmen are the largest group of aquatic true bugs. They are sometimes confused with backswimmers.
Dragonfly Nymph
See link for information.
They should be removed immediately once sighted as they are liable to kill your fish and injure larger species.
Damselfly Nymph

They may not be as harmful as the damselfly nymphs but they are still capable of harming small species of fish and fry.
Planaria are tiny white worms that can be seen crawling even on the tank glass. They are caused by lack of aquarium maintenance and overfeeding. Fortunately, they are not harmful and the fish will eat them straight away. To prevent them from riddling your tank, do proper maintenance and limit your feeding. Feeding adult fish thrice a day will suffice with fish consuming the food in about 3 minutes. Siphon the leftovers as it will also contribute to ammonia spike apart from appearance of planaria.

Article is created by Blue and Joeshmoe.

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