Detritus Worms: Removal, Causes, And Prevention

What are Detritus worms? Have you spotted some kind of worms in your aquarium? How you can get rid of them? You will get answers to your all such type of questions in this article. Worms are very unpleasant and unwanted creatures that we don’t want to see around us. Sometimes they can be harmful too. But there are many ways from which you can prevent them. Keep reading the article to know more in-depth information and details about Detritus worms. 

What Are Detritus Worms? 

Detritus worms in fish tank are very common. The white wiggling around creatures that you might find in the bottom of the aquarium of your house is these worms. They belong to the phylum of annelids which includes other worms like ragworms, earthworms, and leeches. 

The structure of these worms is very thin and they have brown segments. They fed on the leftovers and waste deposited by the fishes in the tanks and are also known as detrivores.

How To Get Rid Of Detritus Worms In Aquarium? 

Detritus worms aquarium are very common and below I have mentioned few ways by which you can get rid of these worms easily. 

  • Changing the water

As soon as you spot worms in the aquarium. The first thing that you should do is change the water of the aquarium. Remove the plants, pebbles, and gravels of the aquarium. Scrub and clean them first and then change the entire water of the aquarium.

  • Use A Gravel Vacuum

The best way to suck out all the dirt and the worms from the water use the gravel vacuum. It is even good to remove the food debris and the waste created by the fishes in the aquarium. 

  • Use Hydrogen Peroxide

Another quick and effective way to get rid of these worms is using a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. The diluted hydrogen peroxide does not harm the fishes but it is good to kill the worms, small larvae, and algae. 

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  • Clean the Aquarium Filters

The main purpose of using the filters is to maintain clean water and keep the ecosystem healthy. But often the filters themselves get dirty and require regular cleaning. Look for mechanical filters as they can even clean themselves and do not require manual cleaning. 

What Causes Detritus Worms In Aquarium?

There can be many reasons for these types of worms to enter or develop in the aquarium. Some of the causes due to which you might find detritus worms on glass, detritus worms in turtle tank, or detritus worms in shrimp tank are given below. 

  • Introducing New Fish

When you bring a new fish to the aquarium, it comes from another environment and may already have these worms present with it. Soon, they start multiplying in the aquarium when they get an abundance of food. 

  • Overpopulated Aquarium

If the aquarium in which you have kept the fishes is overpopulated it might lack oxygen which leads to the development and birth of these worms. 

  • Lack Of Cleanliness

The aquarium needs to be cleaned on time. A dirty aquarium and poor filtration might trigger the growth and development of these worms. 

  • Varying pH

The pH level of the tank must be maintained properly. If the pH level is not proper it might create a dearth of oxygen which again gives the chances of development of these worms in the aquarium.

  • Breeding Fish Tank

The maximum chances of these worms multiplying is in the breeding tanks. They can feed on the eggs of the fishes. However, the fact detritus worms harmful to fish is false as the fishes can eat these worms. 

Ways To Prevent Detritus Worms

Once you have got rid of these worms from your fish tank. You can prevent them from coming back by practicing the things that are given below. 

  • Clean The Fish Tank Regularly

One of the most important things is to do the regular cleaning of the tank. This helps to clean out the debris and the fish wastes. Worms are mainly caused due to the lack of cleaning of the substrate so you should make sure that your aquarium is clean at all times. 

  • Avoid Keeping Many Fishes

You must avoid keeping too many fishes in the aquarium as this might lead to the lack of oxygen and trigger the development of worms. 

  • Improve the tank feeding practices

You should improve your tank feeding practices. It is common to develop detritus worms in betta tank or in tanks with carnivorous fishes. As when you feed live food like shrimp or small fishes to these fishes often the debris is left which creates higher chances for the worms to develop. 

  • Keep A Check On Aquarium Plants

The aquarium plants often get decayed and may develop rot. So you must remove the dead plants from the aquarium as it may lead to birthing or developing the worms. 

What Eats Detritus Worms?

The fish that eat detritus worms is the loach and few species of tetras. It has also been seen that shrimps also eat these worms but it’s quite rare and they usually don’t. These worms cannot harm fishes but their consumption by the fishes might lead to poor health in fishes. 

Detritus Worms Vs Planaria 

Some of the differences that might help you to differentiate planaria vs detritus worms are given below.

  • Planaria worms are not commonly seen as the detritus worms in axolotl tank. Planaria are flatworms and belong to the class of Turbellaria.  
  • You can find the planaria worms in both freshwater and saltwater but it is not the case with the detritus. 
  • Planaria worms are more ancient than the detritus type of worms and they are asexual. This means that these worms can reproduce without mating. 
  • It is very difficult to kill the planaria worms even if you cut them into two pieces. You will get two new worms from each piece. 


Are Detritus Worms Harmful?

No, these worms are not harmful to the fishes or aquatic plants. However, they can decrease the oxygen level in the tanks which may cause problems for the fishes in the tank.

Can Detritus Worms Infect Humans?

The fact that detritus worms harmful to humans is wrong. These worms are harmless and don’t do anything to humans.

How Do I Get Rid Of Detritus Worms?

You can get rid of these worms by using the gravel vacuum or a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. The simplest way is to change the entire water of the aquarium.

Do Detritus Worms Crawl On Glass?

These worms are thin thread-like structures and have brown segments. They can be seen free-swimming or on the surfaces of glass. They also move with the movement of water.

Which Fish Eats Detritus Worms?

Loaches are known for being one of the most prolific detritus worm eaters. They have a healthy appetite for these worms and continually search for them among the tank’s bottom. Any type of loach will do. Some popular varieties like the Clown Loach, Zebra Loach, Kuhli Loach, and Yoyo Loach are favorites among aquarists.

Should I Be Worried About Detritus Worms?

Detritus worms are thin, pointy, and a white-brown color. You’ll see them in the sand or pebbles of your tank. This particular type of worm eats decomposing fish and plant waste and will not harm your fish. In fact, they are very common in aquariums.

Is It OK For Fish To Eat Detritus Worms?

The good news is that detritus worms are harmless, they won’t cause harm to fish, dwarf shrimp, snails, and other critters in the tank. On the contrary, they can serve as a healthy food source for your aquarium fish and fry.


Detritus worms are a type of worms that you can find in aquariums. They are tiny white thread-like structures that float in water or can be seen in the gravel of the aquarium. However, they are a part of the natural ecosystem and feed on the compost and the waste of the fishes. There may be many causes for their development in the tank. I have mentioned a few of the causes in the above article. You will also get to know how you can prevent these worms from developing in your aquarium. Read the article till the end to get complete and detailed information on the detritus worms. 

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How do you get rid of detritus worms

What are detritus worms?