How To Get Rid Of Detritus Worms In Aquarium | 2021 Tactics

Aquariums are one of the most pleasing additions you can have in your house.

They improve the aesthetic value of a particular room. Plus, they do have a medical aspect in that they are therapeutic.

Having an aquarium isn’t like having cats, dogs, or any other pets. Fish neither disrupt normalcy with constant barking nor do they have destructive behavior; quite the contrary.

It’s no wonder most people prefer to have aquariums in their house.

Having an aquarium is no easy feat, however. You always have to keep the fish’s environment clean for them to remain healthy.

Without constant vigilance and care, the aquarium may turn into an abode not only for fish but also for unwanted worms.

If you notice small white worms in your fish tanks, you likely have one of two problems to address.

One is the detritus worm, which infests many aquariums, and the other is planaria worms.

You can eliminate detritus worms with proper aquarium maintenance,

without proper maintenance it is more challenging to deal with.

How to identify worms in a fish tank?

Before you make any changes to your tank, make sure you know which worms you are dealing with. After that, you can understand if you can eliminate the worms by using de-wormers or careful cleaning.

Misinformation about using de-wormers or using them excessively often causes harm to fish or kills them by mistake.

To identify the type of worms you are dealing with, you should pay attention to particular vital details such as:


Consider if the worms wiggle, crawl like earthworms or glide along the glass.

Body shape

Worms can be rounded, flat-bodied, or have a particular head shape.

Where they are in the tank

this could be in the water column, glass, or substrate.

In this article, we will look at what detritus worms are, why they exist, why they are not suitable to be in the aquarium, and how to rid your aquarium of them.

What are detritus worms?

They are worms found in water that have a string like an appearance to them. They are usually segmented and have a white or brown pigment on these segments. These worms belong to the same family as earthworms, ragworms, and leeches.

They are called detritus because of the feeding habits they exhibit. These worms are detritivores, meaning they feed on decaying plants and animals; thus, do not pose any direct harm to your fish.

So why exactly do you need to get rid of them if they aren’t dangerous? Well, in small numbers, they aren’t bad, in fact they help in keeping your aquarium clean. However, detritus worms are known for their exponential breeding, and they could fill up the gravel of your aquarium in a very short period.

Overpopulation of these worms will increase competition for oxygen with the fish. This could make the fish less healthy. It is of paramount importance to rid your aquarium of these worms, but how do you do so?

How to get rid of detritus worms in aquarium?

These worms will enter your aquarium in a number of ways. The population of annelid worms in aquariums can occur due to insufficient maintenance.

Overfeeding fish or improper cleaning schedules can cause detritus worms to reproduce fast.

Another way that these worms can get into an aquarium is by introducing fish that harbor them into the aquarium.

These new fish could either be feed for the carnivorous fish you keep as pets or new pets themselves.

Once you understand how they enter, you can easily identify means by which to lose them.

You can eliminate detritus worms in the following ways:

1. Changing the water

Changing the water in the aquarium entirely at regular intervals may help keep the worms at bay.

You can do this by first removing the fish and putting them in a temporary location.

Subsequently, remove the pebbles, gravel, plants, and any other accessories in the aquarium.

For ideal results, it is advisable to scrub the aquarium clean and wash the plants and the pebbles.

Once you have replaced the water in the aquarium, you can reintroduce the pebbles, plants, and accessories.

Finally, put back the fish into the aquarium.

2. Regularly using a gravel vacuum

Gravel vacuums are an optimal way of removing fish waste and food debris that has sank into the bottom of the aquarium and got trapped between stones.

This waste materials may form the perfect food for detritus worms once it starts to decay.The decay process also produces contaminants and ammonia, which may pose a threat to the wellbeing of the fish.

Gravel vacuums also remove the worms themselves. It is particularly effective if you vacuum the gravel, glass, and plants inside the aquarium.

This will make sure that all the likely places the worms may be hiding are cleaned.

Vacuuming has proven time and again that it is the best choice when dealing with these worms.

It is less cumbersome as you don’t have to keep moving the fish, or replacing the water.

3. Check your fish’s feeding habits

Overfeeding your fish is a no-no. Fish have a specific capacity when it comes to food. Once they are full, the rest of it just sinks onto the gravel.

This again creates an optimal environment for the worms to infest the aquarium. Decaying food also causes a decrease in the oxygen levels and the pH of the water, creating a life-threatening scenario for the fish.

It is far much better to underfeed your fish slightly as compared to overfeeding them. Keep the amount of food small and the intervals should not exceed twice a day, depending on the type of fish you keep.

4. Keep the bioload low

A large number of fish will result in an increase in the amount of fish waste there is in the aquarium. Consequently, a conducive breeding ground for the worms is created.

Where there are many fish in the aquarium, it also results in the increase in competition for a number of resources, including, but not limited to;

  • Oxygen
  • Food
  • Hunting grounds
  • Territorial movement

Keeping the bioload low is fundamental in ensuring that your fish stay healthy.

5. Maintain proper filtration

The condition of the water in the aquarium could determine the growth of the worm population.

Unhygienic water is suitable for its breeding grounds. Ensuring that the water is properly filtered is essential.

The problem arises that even the filter itself gets dirty over time, and cannot correctly clean up the water.

You must check in the filter regularly.

Mechanical filters are highly recommended as they don’t require lots of manual labor in running them.

6. Add hydrogen peroxide

Aquarium animals do need to be removed before implementing this method. So do some plants.

Hydrogen peroxide, in diluted quantities, also offers another means by which you can remove these worms.

It prevents the growth of algae as well as kills eggs, larvae, and other entities that would cause harm to your fish.

The hydrogen peroxide, however, must be mixed in with the water in specific quantities to ensure the plants live;

1 part of it to and 5 parts of water.

It is recommended that the gravel and accessories also be washed in this mixture before reinstalling them in the aquarium.


We do hope that this article has provided you with the much-needed assistance you required. Remember, keeping your aquarium clean is the best way to keep your fish healthy.