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talk to the frog / Memorials / This is horrible...
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989 posts
989 posts

# Posted: 29 Dec 2003 12:14

I had about 200 of my tiny african clawed frog tadpoles in a 20-g long tank. Well, yesterday morning, all were fine. I get home last night, only to find that about half of them were decimated. There were fine white hairs (planarian worms?) on all of the dead ones that were sunken to the tank floor. I have barely a hundred tads left now.
I had to work quickly, saving the remaining tads with a turkey baster and boiling a bunch of water, then adding ice-cold water from our fridge filter to cool it enough to put the tads in. I put them in a new 10-g tank, and even STILL I noticed a few planarians in there. I guess well water SUCKS for raising tads in sanitary conditions. Today I am buying some spring water from the store and using that for them. If I see planarians in that, I will go MAD lol.
For those who don't know, planarians are tiny hairlike white worms that live in well water apparently. They are harmless to frogs and large fish, but can kill off baby fish and, I guess, tadpoles. Curses to these foul things.
I am so mad, about all these losses, but I will be more vigilant now in feeding the tads less and cleaning their tank maniacally.

-JEN- :)
39 posts
39 posts

# Posted: 29 Dec 2003 15:06

Hi Gin,

The worms may not be the cause of the tadpole deaths, in my experience the tadpoles have several 'death times' one early (from 4 days to 9 days)and one about half way through growth at about 3-4 weeks, at these times a significant number of tadpoles die and go to the bottom, I'm not sure entirely why this is but the others benefit by more space and more food. I have read up a little on the planaria worms and this may be cause as you suggest, I have them in my tadpole tanks with no problems. I found this which may help:
These particular worms are, at times, a problem. How do they manifest? They usually become visible when:-
1. An aquarist has overfed his/her fish.
2. The aquarium gravel is not hoovered accordingly.
3. Aquarium ammonia levels have risen.

If present in small numbers Planaria can be dealt with by eliminating the above, but when larger numbers are involved they become a problem. I have tried the following methods to try to clear them:-
a) I have used a variety of white spot cures, tonic salts and aquatic bacteriacides etc. without any real success. Fellow aquarists have claimed some success using Sterazin (Waterlife product), Anti-crustacean Parasite (Interpet) and Parasite Guard (Sera) but I have yet to try these particular products myself.
b) Sometimes removing the fish/aquatic livestock and raising the tank temperature, for 24 hours, to 35 C can rid a tank of Planaria.
c) Drastic - but strip the tank down, boil any gravel and scrub the decor clean, and leave everything to dry for a week (remembering to change any filter material). Unfortunately there is no guarantee that once the tank is re-established the problem may not quickly resume. A second strip down and washing with a bleach solution may be the answer?
d) Natural predators may help. Apple Snails, Hong Kong Plecs. (coldwater), Whiptail Catfish, and any Limnivorous Catfish (Mud-eaters, e.g. Twig Catfish and Bubble-nesting Catfish, who are constantly searching throughout the tank for vegetable matter, detritus, micro-organisms and tiny crustaceans), are among the species that will (usually if left unfed for a few days) eat away at Planaria on a long term basis. In the short term Betta and Pelvicachromis (Kribs.) species will eat small amounts of Planaria.

But the last suggestion with the fish should be carefully considered as they may consume the tadpoles themselves, Hong Kong Plecs are completely safe though. The chemicals should be ok if used in the correct dosage with water changes.

More about P worms here:

As I said I have these worms in with my tadpoles and they seem to be fine, but I also have freshwater limpets which may eat them, if I were having problems I would probably place the tadpoles into fresh water in a bucket and boil and scrub the tank and stones, and use fresh water to fill the tank again. ACF tads (as you probably know) are quite delicate so nets can be a problem, so you have to keep them in water which may contain planaria. Good luck.


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