I water my houseplants and potted patio plants with the water drained from my aquarium filter as part of its routine maintenance. The canister filter is full of fish waste and nitrates that would provide a fantastic organic fertilizer supplement for plants. But that filter water is also full of nematodes (the scavenger, gravel-dwelling variety seen here).

I know most nematodes are harmless, but some nematodes feed on the outside surfaces of a plant, while others burrow into plant tissue. Does anyone now if this variety of nematodes can survive in the soil and harm my houseplants or produce?

1 Answer 1


Educated guess: They won't survive long out of their natural (aquarium) environment. They shouldn't pose any issue whatsoever. I'm not the aquarium expert, but as quite a bit of research didn't bring up anything about these nematodes even occurring out of their natural environment.

Basically, I wouldn't worry about it.

  • There are millions of varieties of nematodes, so my gut feel is that these bear little resemblance to the plant-eating variety that plagues Florida gardens. Absent expertise to the contrary, I tend to agree with your educated guess. Nonetheless, "nematodes" are a big problem in Florida agriculture, and people go to great lengths to (mostly unsuccessfully) eliminate them. So when I heard these little white, impossibly small worms in my aquarium were actually a variety of "nematodes"; yikes, it kinda freaked me out. Seeking clarity and piece of mind. Commented Dec 20, 2014 at 4:40
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    @RobertCartaino I feel that as many people have done just as you are with freshwater aquarium, and as no problems have been documented, afaik, I believe it's a non-issue. I apologise for my inability to find a backing resource.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Dec 20, 2014 at 4:47

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