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How to Get Rid of White Stringy Algae

The white-coloured, cotton-like gunk that grows in aquariums may not be harmful for fish. But, some filamentous white algae is bad for fish health and you'll need to get rid of it.

This segment explains some of the common reasons why white stringy stuff may be growing in your fish tank and how best to treat the root cause of the problem.

Causes of White Stringy Stuff in Fish Tanks

For the most part, aquarium problem troubleshooting is the process of elimination.

So for example, the white stuff floating around inside the tank could be a mucus that fish produce on their skin.

Some fish use the mucus for a lubricant and it may be the reason why there are bits of white fuzzy stuff floating around.

However, it's fair to say the most common reasons for unwanted white slimy objects will be worms and fungi.

Pro Tip: Some of the common mistakes that beginners make include setting up tanks with far too many fishes and giving them too much food. This often leads to a white string algae growth in an aquarium or a fish pond.

Is the White String Hair Algae?

Hair algae is green in colour. But, the whitish, hair-like strands can make the water appear fuzzy. In fact, it might even look a bit snowy to the untrained eye.

It occurs most often when you first start setting up the aquarium because the biological system has yet to balance out. Thus, fish tank water imbalances might include carbon dioxide, light, nitrates, or nutrients.

Is Hair Algae Toxic to Fish?

Dense growths of green hair algae may not be particularly harmful for your fish. But, it will affect any "live" plants or corals growing inside the tank.

Besides competing for natural light and essential nutrients, failing to control the growth of any type of algae coats is going to make the water unhealthy - and a tad unsightly!

There are several easy ways to reduce or eliminate hair algae and get a better balance in a fish tank, such as:

Note: Another segment explains why there may be white spots on aquarium glass and why it happens most often when you start adding livestock (e.g. fish, plants, corals).

Check for Fungus Growth

Some external fungal infections in pet fishes produce white furry growths on their skin and scales. The majority of parasitic organisms grow on decomposing matter. But, they can also spread to dead plants and uneaten fish food.

It's important not to ignore or overlook fungi growth in an aquarium. Left untreated, it can cause infections, scale erosion, and stomach distension.

By and large, you can remove fungal growths by scrubbing the slime without the need for any special chemicals or detergents. Then, be sure to change most of the water inside the container to make it clean again.

Is Hydra Living in Your Aquarium?

It may be the least likely culprit of white stringy stuff in a tank, but you should take steps to avoid the proliferation of hydras. They will eat tiny fish fry and some small adult fishes too.

Remove Dissolved Oils and Proteins

Over time, uneaten fish food dissolves into the water and creates fatty substances and protein. This white-coloured protein looks fluffy as it floats around the aquarium. Thus, you may need to feed the fish less often and upgrade or replace your fish tank filter.

White Worms Living in the Fish Tank

In general, the white stringy stuff you see inside the tank won't be moving by itself. But if it does, that will indicate the presence of worms in your aquarium. There are two common worm species to be concerned about:

Use the best fish dewormer that you can afford if you see white worms moving around the tank. Even so, it's super important to understand that some deworming chemicals used to kill planaria worms are also harmful to some fish species. Thus, always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

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