7 Ways To Remove Planaria Worms In Your Fish Tank

Last Updated on 2024-07-02

Planaria are small, flatworms that can get into aquariums through live plants and fish. They can be a problem for shrimp and snail populations, as they will eat them. Planaria are not harmful to fish and can even be considered a food source by some species. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about planaria, including how to get rid of them if necessary. We’ll also share the different ways to identify them. If you want to know if planaria are a threat to plants or humans, keep on reading. We also answered commonly asked questions about planaria.

What Are Planaria Worms?

Planaria are flatworms that live in both fresh and saltwater all over the world. They come in many different shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, they are so good at hitchhiking that we sometimes find them in our own aquariums. They can hide in plants, in the sand, in cracks in rocks, or even on fish to get a free ride. 

Since there are so many different kinds of aquarium worms, how can you tell if you’re dealing with planaria? If the worms in your aquarium are about 3 to 15 millimeters long, flat, have a clearly triangular head, and move easily across the glass, you probably have an infestation of planaria. They are usually white, but you can also find them in shades of brown. They might even be pink, depending on what they eat.

Planaria are also known as turbellaria. There are many different kinds of animals in this group, each with its own traits. Both freshwater and saltwater have Turbellaria. Most of the time, they eat other fish, so they are considered pests in the aquarium. But because they only eat microorganisms, not all species of turbellaria are dangerous to fish, shrimp, and snails that live in an aquarium.

How Do Planaria Get Into The Aquarium?

Most planaria are less than an inch long, making them very difficult to spot. They can enter the aquarium in a number of ways, including on live plants or on new fish. Once they’re in, they reproduce rapidly and can quickly become a nuisance. They can also cause skin irritations in fish and make the tank water cloudy. 

Planaria are parasites that feed on small invertebrates and fish eggs. If you suspect you have planaria in your aquarium, look for small white or translucent worms crawling on the glass or substrate. You may also see them after moving rocks or plants. If you find planaria in your tank, there are a few different ways to get rid of them. 

image of Planaria flatworm isolate on white background.

How To Identify Planaria Worms

Planaria are a type of flatworm that most aquarists don’t like having in their tanks. These flatworms can grow quickly, and as you will soon find out, they can hurt other animals in your aquarium. Planaria might be the strangest worms you will ever see in your aquarium. Because of their strange qualities, scientists study them a lot. Below are 5 things you must know to identify planaria worms in your fish tank.

1. Color

Planaria are usually white, but you can also find them in different shades of brown. They might even be pink, depending on what they eat.

2. Size

A fully grown freshwater planarian will be between 1 and 1.5 inches (2.54 to 3.8 cm) long. Adult planaria, on the other hand, will usually stay around 1 inch (2.54 cm) long unless there is a lot of food in your aquarium.

3. Appearance

Planaria look like small, flattened slugs, and wherever they go, they leave a trail of poisonous slime behind them. Its body doesn’t have any segments, and its head is in the shape of a triangle with two cross-shaped eyes.

4. Location

Planaria are more likely to hide in darker parts of the aquarium, like near the bottom or in the filter. They will also be found on the bottoms of rocks, leaves, and other things in shallow water, as well as in Elodea and filamentous algae, which are types of aquatic plants.

5. Behavior

The two eye spots on the head are the most important way to tell if it’s a planarian. Planaria are afraid of light, so when they see it, they hide. Aside from dark places, they also prefer cool temperatures and need a lot of moisture.

How To Get Rid Of Planaria Worms

Planaria can be hard to get rid of from your aquarium because they thrive on leftover food. Even worse, these white worms don’t have sperm or eggs, so it’s almost impossible to stop them from having babies while they eat. There are, however, a few things you can do to get rid of planaria:

1.  Cut Back on Feeding

The most important thing to do if you want to get rid of planaria for good is to stop feeding it. If your fish or invertebrates don’t eat all the food, remove it quickly, like with a siphon. This should stop planaria from coming back and help you fight the ones you already have. 

2. Use Medication

If you want to get rid of planaria faster and get rid of all of them, you might want to try medication. Be sure to always do research on the product you want to use, as many medications can kill shrimp. It’s also important to know that planaria medications that are safe for shrimp can kill both unwanted snails and pretty snails.

3. Use a Siphon

Planaria are hard to get rid of if you don’t want to use medicine. But if you have already cut back on feeding, you can try using a siphon to regularly take out the planaria. This should help cut the population down by a lot until it’s manageable.

4. Avoid Crushing the Planaria by Hand

You shouldn’t crush the planaria by hand. Since they don’t have sperm or eggs, they can reproduce when they’re cut up, which is a nightmare. Some people suggest putting them in boiling water or putting them in the freezer and then throwing them away.

5. Use Planaria Traps

Planaria can be a problem in fish tanks, but if there aren’t too many of them and you don’t want to use chemicals or clean up dead worms, you can set up a Planaria trap instead. You can easily find these traps in aquariums or on online shopping sites.

6. Add Worm-Eating Fish

Fish that eat Planaria can give people who keep fish another easy way to get rid of the flatworms in their tanks. Using fish to get rid of worms in the tank doesn’t involve any chemicals, so it won’t mess up the ecosystem of the aquarium. Guppies, Gouramis, Goldfish, Angelfish, Mollies, and other fish are known to eat Planaria.

7. Rinse Your Plants and Decorations

Before you put the plants and decorations in the tank, you should wash them all. Check to see if there are any planaria on them. You could kill worms with a chemical dip before putting them in your aquarium.

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What Do Planaria Worms Eat?

Planaria are a type of flatworm that are commonly found in freshwater environments. They are known for their ability to regenerate their body if it is cut in half. Planaria are omnivorous, meaning they will eat both plant and animal matter. Some of the things that planaria eat are:

1. Worms

Planaria are known to eat other smaller worms. This includes earthworms, roundworms, and red worms. In freshwater tanks, you can often find planaria eating the worms that are used as fish food

2. Algae

Many planaria are scavengers and will eat algae off of surfaces in the tank. This helps to keep the tank clean and can prevent algae from taking over.

3. Small Crustaceans:

Planaria will also eat small crustaceans such as brine shrimp and copepods. This is one of the reasons why they are often found in freshwater tanks.

4. Decaying Plants

 Planaria will consume decaying plants in the tank. When there is nothing else to eat, they will often turn to this as a food source.

5. Small Fish

 Planaria are known to eat small fish. This is one of the dangers of having them in a freshwater tank. They can quickly decimate a population of small fish.

6. Insects

 Planaria will also eat insects that are found in the water. This can include mosquito larvae and other small insects.

7. Bacteria

 Planaria are known to eat bacteria. This is one of the benefits of having them in a freshwater tank. They can help to keep the water clean and free of harmful bacteria.

How To Prevent Planaria Worms Infestation

The only thing better than treatment is prevention. Planaria shouldn’t be in your tank to begin with. You can learn to stop them from getting in. Here are some things you can do to keep planaria out of your tank:

1. Put New Plants or Fish in A Quarantine Area. 

Before adding new plants or fish to your tank, make sure they are healthy. Don’t put them in your tank if you see worms on them. Dip them in a solution that kills worms or pull the worms out by hand.

2. Keep Your Tank Clean

Planaria like tanks that are dirty. Change some of the water in your tank every week and clean it. This way, planaria will not be able to live and reproduce long in your tank. 

3. Use a Dewormer

If you don’t want planaria to get into your tank, you can use a dewormer. Follow the directions on the package to put it in your tank. You can also dip new plants and fish in solutions that kill planaria.

4. Don’t Give Your Fish Too Much Food

Planaria like to eat uneaten food. Worms can get into your tank if you feed your fish too much. Only give your fish what they can eat in a few minutes. This will help keep the water clean and make planaria less likely to live there.

5. Get Rid of Dead Fish

Dead fish are often how planaria get into tanks. If a fish dies in your tank, take it out as soon as you can. Before adding new fish to your tank, you might want to put them in a quarantine tank first. This will give you time to check for planaria while they are growing.

6. Don’t Keep Too Many Fish

Planaria can also get into tanks if there are too many fish. This is because, in these conditions, the water quality gets worse quickly. Keep the number of fish in your tank at a good level.

7. Use a Planaria Trap

If you already have planaria in your tank, you can use a planaria trap. These traps are made to catch and kill planaria. They usually have a light that attracts the planaria and a sticky surface that traps them.


Are Planaria Worms Harmful To Fish?

Fortunately, planaria usually won’t represent a serious issue if you solely keep fish. Some fish species, including Bettas and pleco species, are even claimed to consider them to be a delectable feast! Planaria may not damage fish, but if you raise shrimp, they could cause you more trouble.

Planaria Worms Vs Detritus Worms 

Planaria worms are far more difficult to get rid of than detritus worms and are less common. Flatworms called planaria typically get into aquariums through living pond plants. They can be simply transplanted into aquariums and are most usually found in natural water sources.

Are Planaria Harmful to Shrimp?

White planaria are dangerous to shrimp because they hunt aggressively and eat them. Small shrimp and shrimp eggs make a tasty meal. But hungry white planaria have been known to try to eat adult shrimp. Even though brown and black planaria don’t hunt shrimp, they have no trouble killing them if they need to.

Are Planaria Harmful to Snails?

Planarian flatworms would probably be shrimp’s worst enemy if they had one. A planarian’s hunger for tasty baby shrimp can’t be stopped by anything. Planaria also gobble up shrimp eggs like there’s no tomorrow. 

Are Planaria Harmful to Plants?

Planaria are nasty, but at least they don’t hurt plants. In the end, these flatworms eat meat. They aren’t interested in eating plant matter, so they won’t bother your plants. And luckily, most treatments for planaria are safe for plants.

Are Planaria Harmful to Humans?

Even though these small creatures don’t hurt people, they are very useful for scientific research. People know that these worms are amazing because if you cut them in half, they can grow a new body. Planarians are thought to be “immortal” because they can grow new bodies (however, they are not actually immortal- if one were removed from an aquatic habitat, it would desiccate and die).

Will Bleach Kill Planaria?

A lot of people say that you should dip aquarium plants in bleach to clean them. It is true that bleach will kill planaria and planaria eggs right away.

Will Aquarium Salt Kill Planaria?

Planaria can be killed by salt, but only if you put it on the worms directly. Salt doesn’t hurt them enough. A few pinches won’t kill the planaria unless you put a lot of salt in your aquarium.


Planaria are small flatworms that can get into aquariums through live plants. They can be a problem for shrimp and snail populations, as they will eat them. Planaria are not harmful to fish, however, and can even be considered a food source by some species. Traps can be used to catch planaria, and bleach or salt can be used to kill them. Planaria are also useful for scientific research, as they can regrow their bodies if cut in half. We hope this article has helped you learn more about planaria and how to get rid of them if necessary. Thanks for reading!

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