Question Coolest video of the weirdest creepiest little tank creature! What the heck is this??

Mamastacia3

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Hi all,

I have identified what I think is a type of algae in my 20g tank. It looks like a very small spot of off-white, I thought it was water spots at first. But I’m lucky enough to have a small microscope loupe that if I put up to the glass I can see it as if it were on a slide. Pretty cool!

Unfortunately I’m not able to take a photo that way so I’ll have to do my best to describe it, then can try to take some shots of it from further away.

Under the microscope, it looks like a tiny-tiny little fern, very plant-like, waving gently in the water...except...it also FLINCHES! Which is cool and creepy.

it’s slowly growing, many tiny spots of this on the glass. I wanted to ask y’all first what you think it is before I just wipe it off, because I know with some creatures/critters/plants it can make them multiply if you try to remove them...hello Hydra! This is not hydra, I am all too familiar with those little jerks.

This looks much more plantlike. I’ve read all the stickies and done a lot of searching online and I can’t find anything that looks quite like it, but my guess is some kind of algae.

Any ideas? Can I just scrub it off? I have two nerites and a bunch of little pond snails who are all ignoring it.

Only fish inhabitant is a betta. Lots of plants, well established tank, though I do seem to have lots of little microscopic crittery things on the glass. Maybe we all do but most people aren’t peering at their glass with a wee microscope!

Thanks as always,
-Stacia
 
Best Answer - View Feohw's answer

Mhamilton0911

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Google pictures of Hydra and see if they looks similar to what you've got.

Edit, I see you mentioned Hydra, I'm dumb.

I can't think of an algae that would react, or flinch. That's why i jumped to Hydra. Hmmmm . Weird. Try for a picture?
 
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Mamastacia3

Mamastacia3

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Mhamilton0911 said:
Google pictures of Hydra and see if they looks similar to what you've got.

Edit, I see you mentioned Hydra, I'm dumb.

I can't think of an algae that would react, or flinch. That's why i jumped to Hydra. Hmmmm . Weird. Try for a picture?
It’s definitely not hydra, though it does act somewhat similarly with the reactivity. This was the best pic I could get with my iPhone. It’s the spidery thing on the glass next to the snail, which is a tiny tiny snail, for perspective. On close-up this thing looks just like a tiny fern, or a spider plant. But it moves! So weird...

Thank you for helping me figure this out. Is it possible it’s algae but people don’t usually get to see close enough that it’s reactive? My research led me to the fact that algae is “an organism that is neither plant nor animal.”

893504F7-1EA9-4FA1-BC69-F4FCF3E59B0A.jpeg
 
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Mamastacia3

Mamastacia3

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Okay! I got an awesome photo by holding up the magnifier and then taking the photo through it. Keep in mind this thing is the size of a large grain of sand. I also got a close-up video but can’t post the video...that will show you exactly what it does. Do you know how I can upload a video? Here’s the pic, I’m pretty proud of myself for getting such a good shot!

7238D8B4-CCD1-4F59-9574-481AD323BDD1.jpeg
FDDCDE4C-0CA7-4F8D-908D-2CB9ACAF7871.jpeg
 

WrenFeenix

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If it flinches, it’s definitely not a plant. Maybe some kind of bacterium? Unicellular eukaryote?

It looks really cool whatever it is.
 
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Mamastacia3

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Got the video! Is this the weirdest looking thing or what? Watch til the end (it’s only 13 secs long):
 
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Mamastacia3

Mamastacia3

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Hi all,
I’m so happy with myself for getting a close-up video of something the size of a grain of sand. Attached are photos first -its the little spidery thing by the snail, and the snail is teeny-weeny, the size of a large grain of cooked rice, that’s how small this weird thing is. Then the video is a super super close-up.

I‘d love it if some expert can tell me what it is, if it’s dangerous for my fish or snails, and how to get rid of it bc it’s multiplying. I have about 15-20 of these now.

PS it is NOT hydra, it’s way smaller and no “stem.” I have had hydra and know exactly what they look like. Thanks in advance!

5BB01282-4A5D-42AD-A728-D7022937CD6A.jpeg
81DD37B0-D58E-4446-9090-3B8222198C6D.jpeg
81DD37B0-D58E-4446-9090-3B8222198C6D.jpeg


And here is the video:
 

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Feohw

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Very good pics and nice video too! I didn't see this thread until now, but I can tell you what they likely are if you still don't know.

They are a type of ciliate protozoa referred to as bell animalcules. I would say they are either from the genus Zoothamnium or Carchesium. The main difference between the two is that Zoothamnium contract in a zig zagging pattern while Carchesium contract in a whirling pattern. But that can't be seen in the video. I would say that it looks to be a Zoothamnium.

On their own, these guys are harmless. At times, they have been known to sit on the shells of shrimp and snails, but no harm is done unless there are enough of them to block the respiratory tract or mouth shrimp. But it is very unlikely that that would happen.

The main issue with them being in a tank is that their numbers are usually due to a high number of bacteria present, which they feed on. This is usually as the result of overfeeding or an indicator that the aquarium needs to be cleaned a bit more. It's for this reason that they are more common in newer aquariums that aren't fully balanced, but that isn't always the case. As they pose very little harm themselves, there is nothing that is needed to treat them with. Instead, water changes and a reduction in feeding (if overfeeding has been taking place) will do best. Once the levels of bacteria and other small organisms have balanced out, they usually begin to die back on their own. They don't tend to stay for too long due to that.
 
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Mamastacia3

Mamastacia3

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Feohw said:
Very good pics and nice video too! I didn't see this thread until now, but I can tell you what they likely are if you still don't know.

They are a type of ciliate protozoa referred to as bell animalcules. I would say they are either from the genus Zoothamnium or Carchesium. The main difference between the two is that Zoothamnium contract in a zig zagging pattern while Carchesium contract in a whirling pattern. But that can't be seen in the video. I would say that it looks to be a Zoothamnium.

On their own, these guys are harmless. At times, they have been known to sit on the shells of shrimp and snails, but no harm is done unless there are enough of them to block the respiratory tract or mouth shrimp. But it is very unlikely that that would happen.

The main issue with them being in a tank is that their numbers are usually due to a high number of bacteria present, which they feed on. This is usually as the result of overfeeding or an indicator that the aquarium needs to be cleaned a bit more. It's for this reason that they are more common in newer aquariums that aren't fully balanced, but that isn't always the case. As they pose very little harm themselves, there is nothing that is needed to treat them with. Instead, water changes and a reduction in feeding (if overfeeding has been taking place) will do best. Once the levels of bacteria and other small organisms have balanced out, they usually begin to die back on their own. They don't tend to stay for too long due to that.
Wow, thank you!!! This is an amazing answer, I appreciate it! Good to know what they are...I found them fascinating.

They did go away on their own, but I’ve definitely had some water quality issues. It’s not from lack of water changes, I do those at least twice weekly. I think it’s that a lot of “crud” has built up under and around the gravel and I’m having a hard time digging it all out without completely upending the whole tank. My betta is absolutely opposed to being removed from the tank (cleverly and quickly evading me while I’m chasing him around with the fishnet has become his new favorite Olympic sport) so I have to do cleanings with him in the tank. Luckily the gunk is settled so it doesn’t affect ammonia readings etc but obviously I need to figure it out.

Separate topic!

Thanks again for helping identify these fascinating little creatures!

Cheers,
Stacia
 

Feohw

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No problem at all. The little organisms that appear in our tanks certainly are very fascinating. I always enjoy learning about them.

I use the waste that gathers in the gravel to keep my plants going strong. The amount of plants I have in turn helps to keep my water clean. But either way, as the bell animalcules have gone, the levels of bacteria that they were feeding on must have fallen. So your tank should have balanced out more than before.
 

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