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Old 09-09-2006, 09:25 PM
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Default "What is this in my frog tank?"

There are a lot of inverts that can turn up in dart frog tanks, so I thought I'd put together a rough guide to make identification easier for some people.

Springtails

What are they?

Springtails are insects of the order Collembola. Springtails are usually less than 6 mm. They have no wings, generally noticable antennae, numerous body segements, and six legs. The easiest way to determine if an organism in question is a springtail is by seeing if it jumps; springtails possess a modified tail appendage called a furcula that enables them to spring into the air. Most springtails seen in the hobby are white, but they come in just about every color imaginable.

What should I do about them?

Springtails are harmless in terrariums, often providing a useful role as a decomposer. They thrive on mold.

Additionally, springtails serve as food for frogs of many sizes and are usually introduced into frog tanks intentionally.

Isopods

What are they?

Crustaceans from the order Isopoda are also known as "roly-polies," "sowbugs," and "pillbugs." They're segmented with a hard outer shell and are easily identified by their ability to roll into a ball.

What should I do about them?

Isopods are harmless decomposers, though some species may go after eggs. Many keepers seed these in their tanks to provide food for the frogs and to help break down decomposing matter. In general, these species are not regarded as pests, though some may carry parasites that can cause problems for frogs.

Mites

What are they?

Mites are members of the order Acari, along with ticks. They're generally very small, roughly ranging from the size of a period to microscopic levels, and can be difficult to see unless you look for them. They're extremely diverse and found in almost every habitat in the world, including several species that occur only on the human body.

What should I do about them?

Like ticks, many mites are parasitic, particularily of insects. If you believe that your frog has parasitic mites, consult a veteranarian immediately. If you notice mites in your fruit fly or springtail cultures, it's generally best to discard the culture and hope they don't spread to the others. There are chemically treated mite papers available that many froggers use to protect their fruit fly cultures. Fortunately, mites generally have a longer life cycle than the fruit flies and will typically only begin to become a problem in older cultures. If this is the case, it might be wise to start discarding your older cultures sooner.

Many mites are also decomposers, living in the detritus within the enclosures. Many times when a keeper is unfortunate enough to lose a frog they'll notice the body is crawling with mites; these mites generally arrived after the frog died rather than causing the death. These mites are harmless and are frequently consumed by frogs, though too many may cause a problem.

While there are certainly mites that are parasitic to frogs, generally the mites encountered are harmless to the frogs themselves. Mites can be an excellent food source for extremely small froglets and some individuals intentionally allow their fruit fly cultures to become infested for this purpose.

Nemerteans

What are they?

Nemerteans belong to the phylum Nemertea. They're also known as proboscis worms. The phylum is almost entirely composed of saltwater species, but a few terrestrial species exist. They're typically predatory, using the proboscis to capture and consume prey. They generally have an appearance similar to slugs, but moving in a "sweeping" pattern, moving the proboscis from side to side. They seem to prefer high humidity and can frequently be observed crawling across the glass of a tank, especially at night.

What should I do about them?

In my experience, Nemerteans are harmless to frogs and their eggs. However, there are many different species and it's possible that some species may eat dart frog eggs.

Nemerteans are troublesome in that they eat the invertebrate food intended for the frogs, and they can quickly decimate a springtail population. Since they are generally not consumed by frogs, this makes them a pest species to be removed upon sight. The easiest way to do this is to manually "search and destroy," removing them by hand. Unfortuntely, this requires a lot of time and effort and may be impossible in heavily planted tanks. This method may also only achieve marginal success and only works if they're caught early. Even so, they may return at some future time.

Reducing the humidity may slow down their spread, but this will typically be more harmful to the frogs than to the Nemerteans.

Another method is to completely break down the tank, change the soil, and wash and/or bleach the plants. This is more of a last resort but can be effective.

Some individuals have tried soil dwelling nematodes to destroy Nemerteans, but the odds of finding the right species is slim to none at this time.

The only effective way of dealing with these aside from breaking the tank down is to kill them with CO2 (link at bottom of post).

Snails and Slugs

What are they?

Snails and slugs are molluscs of the class Gastropoda. Snails carry shells while slugs do not. They can be easily identified by their slime trail and their stalked eyes.

What should I do about them?

Snails and slugs are problematic as they can cause serious damage to plants. Eaten leaves or holes in parts of plants may be sign of a slug infestation. They typically arrive in tanks as eggs hitchhiking on plants or their dirt. Snails and slugs are also known to eat frog eggs, often times devouring entire clutches.

There are several ways to remove them. Using a flashlight at night can be simple and effective, though be sure to check frequently. Alternatively, you can remove the frogs and place a small container with some beer and soap into the tank, where the slugs will drown. CO2 is also effective in dealing with these pests.

White worms

What are they?

White worms are Annelids of the subclass Oligochaeta and are related to earthworms. They're typically small, thread-like worms that are white in coloration. Alternatively, they may be large, soil-dwelling Nematodes. The easiest way to determine group would be to check for segmentation which would indicate that they care Annelids, though both may behave similarly in the tank, depending on species.

What should I do about them?

White worms are generally harmless but can destroy eggs. They can also infest springtail cultures as they prefer similar environments (ironically, some salamander keepers report springtails infesting their whiteworm cultures). While they may be eaten in small quantities, they're a pest species and should be avoided if possible. The only way to remove whiteworms would be to breakdown and start the tank over or to use CO2.



Mealybugs

What are they?

Mealybugs are small, slow moving insects of the family Pseudococcidae. They're small, generally white in appearance, and have many thread-like structures on their sides.

What should I do about them?

Mealybugs are an agricultural pest and can quickly destroy your plants. They can easily become established in an aquarium. The best way is to remove the affected plant, though manually removing the bugs may be successful. Alternatively, CO2 should work to destroy them.

That's all for now, maybe I'll add some more animals later. If anyone has any pictures or corrections, let me know and I'll edit them in.

Marty's CO2 gas chamber:
http://www.dendroboard.com/phpBB2/viewt ... order=asc&


Great job Peter, thank you for taking the time to do this. I'm posting it as a sticky, and if anyone has pictures that they could add to the post PM a Mod and we'll add it in.

-Jordan
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Old 05-14-2008, 12:55 AM
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Default Re: "What is this in my frog tank?"

Excellent writeup! Thanks!
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Old 05-14-2008, 01:58 AM
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Default Re: "What is this in my frog tank?"

Nice!
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Old 05-14-2008, 01:19 PM
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Default Re: "What is this in my frog tank?"

Nice Article! Thanks for the credit ! Recently my CO2 method was featured in the Dutch "DN Magazine" Dendrobatidae Nederland. I see it mantioned all over, though rarely referenced, so it's nice for a change :mrgreen:
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Old 06-30-2008, 07:40 PM
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Default Re: "What is this in my frog tank?"

I agree this is an excellent and very helpfull write up, a very good addition to the Dendroboard. In the future I will recommend that all my dendrofriends take a look at this if they are having bug problems.
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Old 01-05-2009, 12:27 AM
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Default Re: "What is this in my frog tank?"

thanks for the article! it was a great help at identifying what was in my tank and am going to try the CO2 method and see what happens
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:43 PM
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Default Re: "What is this in my frog tank?"

Thanks for the info, it helped me identify the "white worms"
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:45 AM
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Default Re: "What is this in my frog tank?"

Springtails are no longer taxonomically ranked as insects. They share the subphylum Hexapoda with insects and two others though.

Isopods include pill bugs that roll up and sow bugs that cannot. Both have somewhat thick dorsal segments, though the familar Armadillidium spp. pill bugs are thicker. Oniscus sow bugs have not worked well as feeders for my amphibian pets due to the stiff perimeter of segments along their edges (particular in mature individuals). Porcellio sow bugs in the common gray and familiar orange, dwarf white and jungle micropod varieties are softest.

The mites most likely encountered in tanks will not be parasitic on amphibians unless they came in on the amphibians.

I wonder if many hobbyists might be more likely to encounter nematodes than either nemerteans or "white worms".

Otherwise an excellent write-up!
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Last edited by BugsInCyberspace.com; 12-26-2010 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:30 AM
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Default Re: "What is this in my frog tank?"

Small white worms and nematodes can look similar and can be easily confused. I would think nematodes would cause more troubles than the white worm.
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Old 08-09-2013, 06:01 PM
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Default Re: "What is this in my frog tank?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneTwentySix View Post
There are a lot of inverts that can turn up in dart frog tanks, so I thought I'd put together a rough guide to make identification easier for some people.Great job Peter, thank you for taking the time to do this. I'm posting it as a sticky, and if anyone has pictures that they could add to the post PM a Mod and we'll add it in.
-Jordan
Thank you so much!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneTwentySix View Post
White worms

What are they?

White worms are Annelids of the subclass Oligochaeta and are related to earthworms. They're typically small, thread-like worms that are white in coloration. Alternatively, they may be large, soil-dwelling Nematodes. The easiest way to determine group would be to check for segmentation which would indicate that they care Annelids, though both may behave similarly in the tank, depending on species.

What should I do about them?

White worms are generally harmless but can destroy eggs. They can also infest springtail cultures as they prefer similar environments (ironically, some salamander keepers report springtails infesting their whiteworm cultures). While they may be eaten in small quantities, they're a pest species and should be avoided if possible. The only way to remove whiteworms would be to breakdown and start the tank over or to use CO2.






-Jordan[/color]

I have these in one of my tanks and it makes the tank look like a scifi film...all over the glass climbing and leaving itsy bitsy trails....aaarrrrrggggg
thankfully just a terrarium (no frogs) but i have a small isopod culture somewhere in there haha
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Old 09-23-2014, 07:59 PM
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Default Re: "What is this in my frog tank?"

Hello - this is a great post. I'm a beginner, haven't even started building my first tank yet, just researching at this point.

I was wondering if there would be a corollary article to this one that describes how to avoid introducing all the harmful bugs in the first place? I'd rather make extra effort to prevent infestation from the beginning than have to break down and disinfect everything later.

The methods I can think of that I've read would be to soak any plants in a 10% bleach solution, cook any leaf litter in the oven, and protect FF cultures with various methods (mite paper, spray paper towels, Diatomaceous earth). Are there any other tips or threads you can point me to?
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