How to Get Rid of Worms in Fish Tank? – 8 Effective Methods

How to Get Rid of Worms in Fish Tank

As a fish owner, you will have to deal with many problems, including worms and parasites in your tank. Therefore, newbies and veterans alike need to learn how to get rid of worms in fish tank.

To make your fish keeping experience much easier, we have some useful ways to address these issues, such as utilizing Levamisole, Paracleanse, or simply changing the water.

Ways to Get Rid of Worms in Fish Tank

1. Wash Your Tank And Vacuum The Gravel

Best work with: Detritus and Camallanus worms

What to prepare


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  • A separate container/aquarium
  • Some bleach
  • A gravel vacuum
  • Water


Step 1: Move all the fish, plants, decorations, and aquarium accessories in your tank. Fish will go into the prepared separate container while plants/other things should be kept in a different place.

Step 2: Use a gravel vacuum to suck out all the waste and worm in aquarium substrate (or their larvae) in the tank’s gravel.

Step 3: Dilute bleach with water, following the ratio of 5% bleach and 95% fresh water.

Step 4: Soak the tank’s accessories and plants into the diluted bleach mixture for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 5: Wash everything again under running, fresh water.

Step 6: Dry the fish and decorations naturally with air before putting them back into your tank. Remember to change 30% of the aquarium water at once until you have 100% new water. 


2. Upgrade Or Clean Your Tank’s Filter


Best work with: Detritus worms

Always think of the tank filter whenever there is a problem happening with your aquarium water. Without proper cleaning, it’ll create a great environment for parasites and worms.

Due to that, if you start seeing small worms existing in your fish tank, you should immediately clean your filter. Never use tap water, as it may contain chemicals that are harmful to your fish.

If you’re using a mechanical or biological filter, make sure to clean them at least once a month using aquarium water. As for chemical types, replace the old carbon component whenever the water looks murky.

I promise these things can help you kill parasites or worms with almost no effort.

3. Take Good Care Of Your Tank’s Live Plants And Minimize Organic Waste

Best work with: Detritus worms

On some occasions, worms increase in number due to overcrowding and decayed plants inside your tank. These two things can be fixed easily if you follow some basic tank-maintaining rules, such as:

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  • Limit the population inside your tank, depending on the kinds of fish you are keeping. For instance, in a betta tank, you should only keep around 3 to 5
  • Treat your plants well (use the proper type of fertilizer/substrate, provide them with enough light), so that they won’t die and decay without your awareness.
  • Never forget to eliminate the dead plants/fish from your tank to keep them from becoming a feast for detritus worms.


4. Feed Your Fish Right


Best work with: Detritus worms

Both live and freeze-dried feed for aquariums can create worms once they decay and become mushy. Worms love eating organic waste, so excessive feeding will lead to the development of these creatures in your tanks.

Based on that, to get rid of the little white worms efficiently, you should know how to feed your fish right and avoid any excess feed accumulating on the tank’s substrate.

To illustrate, you should generally feed your pets twice a day (with a little amount each time).

5. Employ Hydrogen Peroxide


Best work with: Detritus worms

The principle of this method is to clean your aquarium plants and remove algae/fungi or worms.

What to prepare:

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  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Dechlorinated water


Steps to follow

Step 1: Dilute the chemical with fresh water, following the 1:4 or 1:5 ratio (1 part of hydrogen peroxide to 4 or 5 parts of water).

Step 2: Quickly dip your plants and gravel into the mixture.

Step 3: Wash the chemicals off your plant/gravel by re-dipping them into dechlorinated water for 5 minutes before putting the whole thing back into the aquarium.


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  • This chemical is somewhat extreme to use in fish tanks (as it might affect fish’s health), so you should ask for professional advice if it’s your first experience with peroxide.
  • Don’t mistake hydrogen peroxide for normal bleach as they are totally different.


6. Utilize Levamisole


Best work with: Camallanus worms, other roundworms, stomach, lung, nodular worms, and hookworms (e.g. Ancylostoma, Ostertagia, Chabertia)

What to prepare:

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  • Levamisole (prepare 2 milligrams of this for every liter of tank water)
  • A gravel vacuum


Steps to follow:

Step 1: Put the prepared amount of Levamisole into your tank for 24 hours. Don’t forget to mix it according to manufacturer instructions.

Step 2: Replace 70-100% of your tank with freshwater and do not forget to vacuum the gravel to take out the “knocked-out” worms.

Step 3: Redo the process two more times every three weeks.

Note: While you can also use Levamisole to remove planaria, it might not be as effective because this general antiparasitic compound is pretty weak against this specific kind of worm.

7. Use A Stronger Aquarium Dewormer


Best work with: Planaria

What to prepare:

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  • A commercial dewormer
    • Among multiple products in the market, I highly recommend Fritz Aquatics Clout (requires more caution when using), Praziquantel, Panacur C, or API General Cure.
  • A container to keep your aquarium animals (if the product requires you to remove them)


Steps to follow:

Step 1: Put the dewormer inside the tank following the product’s instructions.

Step 2: Change the water if the product says doing so is necessary, and alternate between days with and without treatments (for example, if the dewormer requires one day of dewormer application followed by four days of break, adhere to it).

8. Use Their Natural Predators


Best work with: Bristle worms, planaria vs detritus worms

Since different types of worms have distinguished enemies, here are some suggestions for your to refer to:

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  • To eliminate planarias, I suggest using boxer shrimps and loaches. For example, Macrobrachium peguensis shrimps or Zebra Loach Yunnanilus cruciatus are several types to consider here.
  • To get rid of detritus worms laying on the substrate, opt for several types of loaches and corydoras catfish. Simply let your beloved pets devour them like a kind of healthy snack.
  • To reduce the population of the bristle worms inside your tank, you will have plenty of choices, like copperband butterflyfish, hawkfish, pufferfish, arrow crabs, or else.



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  • This is not the most effective way, since the worms will always come back after time.
  • Before adopting any of these species to control worms, always check the compatibility between them and the old members of your tank.


Types of Aquarium Worms

1. Detritus Worms


Known as a relative of earthworm and usually appearing as tiny white worms in fish tank glass, detritus worms are the favorite munchies of many fish. They often go in a big group, so you can possibly see them squirming around the tank’s substrate/gravel like a hairball or coming up the surface searching for oxygen.

2. Bristle Worms


Bristle worms, in my experience, frequently invade tanks via uninspected live rock. Therefore, you should pay greater attention to these decorations before installing them in your aquarium (especially with a saltwater tank).

To determine if there are any bristle worms in your aquarium or not, try moving the rocks or displacing the substrate and using a regular flashlight. These hairy species will appear if they are disturbed.

Even though some argue that these worms are more beneficial than hazardous (since they clean up food debris), you should still keep them to a minimum for the sake of your fish.

For that, you can use a homemade worm trap, which is made of tubes or bottles. 

3. Planaria


Planarians can be seen as pink, gray, or little black worms, and they usually hide themselves in the substrate layer. Although it’s nearly impossible to see these creatures with bare eyes, sometimes, you can still spot them gliding on aquarium glass.

Grab a magnifying glass and see if the worms have an arrow-like head or not. It’s the easiest way to detect them.

4. Anchor Worms


Actually, anchor worms are not worms. These creatures are a copepod (or crustaceans) and will stick to your fish’s body in order to absorb nutrients (using their special acid). They often get in aquariums along with new plants or new fish.

These fresh water worms will look exactly like a thread poking out of your fish’ body, so it’s pretty easy to detect and deal with them early.

5. Tapeworm


Not only can exterior parasites kill fish, but internal parasites do as well, with tapeworms being one of the most harmful. They create major intestinal problems, which eventually kill your fish. Therefore, you need to do chemical treatments on a yearly basis to keep them away from your aquarium.

Hollow belly, swim bladder abnormalities, and bloat can help you determine whether or not your fish are infected with these parasites. Always quarantine new fish before introducing them into your tank, since this is one way tapeworms get into aquariums.

6. Camallanus Worms


These worms are another case of deadly internal parasites as they also cause digestive issues and abdominal bloating. Since camallanus are red worms; they are easy to detect. In most cases, you will see them poking out of the fish’s anus (usually in a small group). 

Note: Sometimes, you can also see Camallanus as tiny brown worms.

7. Rhabdocoela Worms


Rhabdocoela worms are a type of clear worms and luckily, they are harmless to fish. These worms only devour microalgae, dead plants/fish, and get rid of the bacteria inside your aquarium.

Helpful Tips

Are detritus worms harmful to fish?

No, these aquarium white worms won’t directly affect fish’s health (even when fish eats them). However, if they multiply too quickly inside your tank, it will make the entire ecosystem filthy with piled trash and, in some ways, make your pets breathing harder.

Are worms in fish tank harmful to humans?

Yes, they can be. To exemplify, there are several types of roundworms that can cause anisakiasis, which often induces vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and certain common allergic responses in the infected patient.


No more questions on what are these worms in my fish tank or how to get rid of worms in fish tank from now on—because I’ve provided you with the fullest answer within this article. I hope that you will find the information here useful and applicable.

If you have any other personal tips that might solve tank worm problems or further questions, don’t hesitate and let me know. I’ll definitely help you out.