You have probably come across white and tiny aquarium mites treading on water if you have an aquarium. The most common aquarium mites are amphipods, copepods, and isopods. They prefer aquatic establishments. Although some fish can feed on these aquarium mites, too many mites are an eyesore and can cause severe discomfort to your pet fish.
The best way to get rid of aquarium mites is to improve your aquarium hygiene. Clean your aquarium weekly or biweekly using an aquarium gravel vacuum to remove fish food leftovers that attract the tiny white bugs. Also, disinfect the environment around your fish tank and keep mite-eating predators like betta fish to get rid of the bugs.
Chemicals such as Aquari-sol can also kill the mites instantly without harming your aquarium dwellers.
Below, I’ve discussed practical solutions for getting rid of the tiny bugs in your aquarium and also added a few tips that will help prevent the aquarium mite colonies in your aquarium.
What are the tiny white bugs in my fish tank?
Mites and bugs in your fish tank could be any one of the many pests and parasites that infest aquariums. The first step to getting rid of them is identifying what type of bugs have infested your tank before applying the proper treatment to eliminate them.
Here are some tiny white bugs that could be roaming in your fish tank:
Amphipods grow to about five inches long. They are tiny white bugs that thrive primarily on aquatic structures. They belong to the class Crustacea and live in water sources like rivers, lakes, seas, and beaches. Amphipods are also like fish tanks. Their bodies are extensive, flattened on the sides, and divided into segments. Most amphipods have very bright colors.
These aquarium mites have three pairs of appendages on the abdomen for swimming. Amphipods exhibit external fertilization. They reproduce in large numbers and will keep on multiplying in your fish tank if you don’t get rid of them. Most amphipods have six pairs of limbs; some have eight. They also have long and hairy antennae for sensing light, food, and predators.
The other white bugs commonly found in a fish tank are Copepods. These mites range in size but are always about one or two millimeters long. Copepods have a globule shape and a long antenna, just like amphipods. They are also crustaceans with a hard exoskeleton and compound eyes.
Unlike the flattened body of amphipods, copepods possess a cylindrical body. The body is divided into five segments. They are adapted to aquarium life without gills. Therefore, copepods absorb oxygen directly into their body due to their small body size. These aquarium mites are also active swimmers, with a pair of appendages that aid their movement.
They are tiny gastropods that look like clams but with half-shells. Limpets are in the same family as snails and slugs and are often mistaken as pest snails. Although Limpets are common in saltwater, you may spot them slowly gliding in freshwater along the walls of your fish tank.
Are aquarium mites dangerous to fish?
Copepods, ostracods, amphipods, and daphnia are the aquarium mites you likely encounter in your fish tank. Most of the mites are not harmful. They maintain the balance of the aquarium system within the crustacea framework.
Aquarium mites will only cause issues when they reproduce and become too many in the tank. When they become too many, this is when they will discomfort the fish in terms of nourishment and habitat.
READ ALSO: Why are There Springtails in My Aquarium?
How to get rid of aquarium mites
Different types of mites cause different problems. You want to make sure you have the right solution for each type of mite depending on what caused it.
Here’s how to get rid of aquarium mites:
1. Introduce mite-eating predators in your aquarium
The most effective way to get rid of aquarium mites from invading your aquarium is to keep mite-eating predators such as betta fish. Turtles and crabs can also eat aquarium mites and lower their population. Your fish will not die from eating the aquarium mites. Instead, the tiny white bugs are nutritious to them. Therefore, use these predators to prevent aquarium mites.
2. Change your tank’s filter media once a month
A clogged filter attracts mites in your aquarium. The tiny white bugs come to live and obtain their nourishment among your fish. A broken filter also causes an overabundance of nitrogen in the filtration channel and promotes aquarium mite infestation. Get rid of the aquarium mites by changing the filter channel once every month.
3. Vacuum aquarium gravel to remove fish food remains
Live fish food and leftovers in the aquarium nourish aquarium mites and promote their breeding. After feeding your fish, turtles, or crabs, you should remove the remaining food pieces.
Most importantly, avoid overfeeding your fish. If you leave food particles near the fish tank, the decaying food particles will bring about the white bugs. Use an aquarium gravel vacuum to remove fish food remains from your fish tank.
4. Clean your aquarium weekly or biweekly
To do away with aquarium mites, clean your aquarium once or twice a week. This does not only make the aquarium too tidy for them to reside in but also clears out the food remains that the mites depend on.
Remove the decorations inside your fish tank and use a 5-10% bleach solution to clean the algae stuck on the tank walls and substrate.
5. Perform a 10% or 20% water change each week
Changing the water lowers nitrogen and proteins in the water, which are the primary attraction for aquarium mites. Change 10% of the mite-infested water for small fish tanks every week. If you have a larger fish tank above 50 gallons, perform a 20% water change each week to eliminate the tiny white bugs in your fish tank.
6. Give your fish food that they can finish in under one minute
You need to consider giving less food because leftovers attract aquarium mites. Feed your fish twice a day. But if your fish take more than one minute to finish the food you give them, you are overfeeding them. The leftovers will attract tiny white bugs, which will reproduce and occupy the tank in no time.
7. Use a chemical treatment like Aquari-sol
You can use chemicals like Aquari-sol to clear out aquarium mites. Although you should not prioritize chemicals due to their potential toxicity on fish, Aquari-sol will not stress your fish. The chemical will target and kill only the tiny white bugs in your fish tank. It is also effective against fish diseases like Ich.
A concentrated chemical may be hazardous. Therefore, apply about 12 drops of Aquari-sol chemical per 10 gallons of water. The solution will also help you reduce the algae inside your fish tank, which might attract more aquarium mites.
To prevent aquarium mites from invading your fish tank, follow these tips:
Keep the aquarium filter on day and night
Your aquarium filter plays a critical role in keeping the water clean and your fish healthy. You need it unless you’re keeping fish that don’t need a filter.
Therefore, do not turn the filter off for more extended periods. Turning off the filter every night or for long times during the day may affect the water quality and encourage aquarium mites.
An aquarium filter discourages the white bugs by removing debris from plants, uneaten food, and fish waste. Moreover, your filter helps bacteria turn toxic chemicals into safe chemicals for the fish, commonly known as the nitrogen cycle.
Monitor your aquarium’s water parameters
Water changes are dangerous and can kill your fish. Slight imbalances in water pH, temperature, bacteria colonies, and chemical composition may adversely invite aquarium mites. Weekly water changes are essential to keep a healthy aquarium.
Ensure adequate aquarium lighting
An aquarium does not need direct sunlight. Direct sunlight facilitates algal growth in a fish tank, attracting aquarium mites. Adequate aquarium lighting involves partial indirect light or artificial lights.
Good aquarium lighting will prevent bugs from breeding and multiplying in your fish tank. Partial light is also essential for photosynthesis in your aquarium plants.
The best preventive measures are to keep the aquarium clean always. Most of the tiny bugs feed on dirt, and food remains. A clean environment lowers their food source. Additionally, those mites should never be confused for healthy organisms like copepods in an aquarium.
Maintaining the required hygiene on and around the tank will help you overcome aquarium mites.
Chemicals may be necessary but are not so advisable to use. Instead, use aquarium mite predators. Where predators are required, apply them. Follow the guidelines keenly in every action you pursue on your fish tank, and you will get rid of tiny white bugs in your aquarium.
- Duke University. What is meant by “Cycling Your Tank” and “New Tank Syndrome”?
- UK Aquatic Plant Society. Mites in the Aquarium.