White Fungus in Fish Tanks: A Common Problem, But Not Unsolvable

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Last Updated on 2023-09-20

There is a good chance that white fungus will appear in your aquarium at some point. This is widely regarded as one of the most typical issues aquarists have with their fish tanks. It’s a major cause of concern for aquarists because it contributes to the decline in fish health.

Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to eliminate the white fungus that has colonized your aquarium. There is no magic to it, as you simply need to know when to do it and how to get rid of it. This article will talk about white fungus in your aquarium and some methods for eliminating it.

How To Get Rid Of White Fungus In Fish Tank

White fungus, also called white mold, is a type of fungus that you wouldn’t want to be around in an aquarium as it is very bad for your fish. It can cause eye infections, problems with the swim bladder, digestive health problems, and other health problems. Here are the steps to get rid of white fungus in aquariums.

1. Wash Your Hands

Before you start treating your fish tank, wash your hands thoroughly. It is important to clean our hands free from dirt, fungi, and bacteria to avoid worsening the condition of your fish tank. While you’re at it, wash the aquarium tools you’ll use for the treatment too.

2. Transfer Your Fish To a Quarantine Tank

A quarantine tank is a safe place for fish to stay while their main tank is about to be treated. If the fish get sick or have parasites, they can also be given medicine and treated in the quarantine tank. Many aquarists would even recommend that you keep at least one if you have an aquarium.

3. Remove All Decorations and Wash 

Remove all of the decorations and stones and wash them. Make sure to give everything a good, long rinse to get rid of all of the fungus’s spores. After using, wash your hands and wait until they are dry before using them again.

4. Remove All Plants and Clean 

Use a wet cloth to rub the white fungus off your plants to clean them. When you’re done, rinse it under the faucet and let it dry before putting it back in your aquarium. Remember to wash your hands after handling plants with white fungus.

5. Wash The Gravel

To do this, take the substrate out of your tank and put it in boiling water for at least 30 minutes. This will kill any fungus spores, but the downside is that it will also kill the good bacteria in the gravel. Make sure to rinse it afterward with hot water and let it dry.

6. Use Fungus Treatment

After you take everything out of the aquarium and are left with just water, you can now treat it for fungus. Different products have different doses, so make sure to read about the ones you want to use for treatment and do some research on them. Remember that you shouldn’t change the water to keep the chemicals in the water from getting out of whack.

7. Wait And Observe

After you’ve done all of the steps above, white fungus in the fish tank should no longer be a problem in your aquarium. Before putting everything back in your aquarium, you should wait at least 12 hours. But if the fungus comes back a few days or weeks later, just do the same thing again.

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How To Deal With White Fungus In Fish Tank Filter

The filter is the beating heart of your aquarium, as it constantly cleans the water and gets rid of any floating debris. Cleaning the tank regularly is needed to keep the fish healthy and happy. Here are some ways to get rid of the fungus in aquarium filters.

1. Soak in Warm Treated Water

If there is white fungus in your filter, it should be fine, and your filter is probably cleaning your aquarium. If you want to get in on the action, you can soak the filter in a bucket of warm water that has been conditioned and remove any debris that has stuck to it. After that, you can use water from the aquarium to rinse it.

2. Remove by Hand

The filter is enough to get rid of the white fungus, but you can also remove it by hand. Simply use a fish net or your own actual hand to get the white fungus off of your filter. Remember to wash your hands and tools before doing that, so you don’t add more fungus and bacteria to the tank.

3. Rinse with Warm Water

Mechanical and chemical filters are pretty easy to clean because they don’t use bacteria to do their job. You can easily clean it with running tap water and give it a good scrubbing. Before putting it back in your aquarium, make sure it’s completely dry.

4. Dip in Bleach Solution

A bleach solution can be used to clean if you are using a mechanical filter. Simply soak the filter in a solution of 19 parts water and 1 part household bleach for at least 5 minutes. That should be enough to kill the white fungus in your filter.

5. Replace Filter Media

To get rid of fungus from your filter for good, you can replace the filter media. But if you change your aquarium’s filter or filter media, the good bacteria will try to rebuild themselves, making the water in your aquarium cloudy.

Will a UV Light Kill The White Fungus In a Fish Tank

Anyone who has been to raves and parties probably knows what a UV light looks like. You might think of a UV sterilizer that shines a cold blue light into the depths of an aquarium, making leaves and fish glow. But that isn’t what a UV sterilizer is meant to do.

UV light or ultraviolet light kills parasites, viruses, algae, and any other microbes in the water, making it clean. It works by shining light at a wavelength that changes the DNA of these microorganisms. Because of this change, they can no longer reproduce, which means infections can no longer grow or spread.

However, you shouldn’t use a UV sterilizer if you are already treating your tank with chemicals. Chemical treatments could go wrong if a UV sterilizer is turned on at the same time. You will also need to change the light bulb in your sterilizer every 6 months, so it might be pricey.

How To Deal With White Fungus Fish Tank In Gravel

Gravel or any other material on the bottom of an aquarium serves many purposes besides making the tank look nice. However, it can also provide a place for white fungus to grow. Here are some ways to get rid of the white fungus in the gravel of your aquarium.

1. Soak the Gravel In Bleach

Let the gravel sit in a mix of bleach and water to clean it. To do this, most aquarists would recommend leaving it in a bucket of water with 1/4 cup of bleach for about 15 minutes. By doing this, the mold, algae, and fungus in the gravel will be killed, and the gravel will be cleaned.

2. Vacuum The Gravel

Fungus doesn’t stick to your gravel very well, so you can just vacuum it up. You can just run your vacuum over your gravel to get rid of the white fungus and fish waste that is on it. You should vacuum the gravel as part of your regular maintenance.

3. Remove Decaying Plant Material

When plant matter breaks down and sinks to the gravel of the tank, it adds nitrates to the water, which helps white fungus grow. White fungus can even start to grow on the dying leaves of your plants. Just pick up the dead leaves in your tank and cut off the leaves on your plants that are dying.

4. Do a Water Change

Changing the water in your aquarium is good for many reasons. Not only does it cut down on nitrogenous pollutants, but it also gets rid of decomposing organic waste, clears up the water, and adds trace elements and minerals that are important to aquatic life. When your water is clean, fungus will have a hard time growing on your gravel.

5. Install an Aquarium Filter

A filter cleans the water of floating trash and gets rid of toxic ammonia and nitrate buildup while adding oxygen to the water. Floating spores can also be taken out of the water by the filter. If the fungus on the gravel doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, it won’t spread and will die in a few days.

6. Add Fungus-Eating Animals To Your Tank

The fungus that develops on the gravel of your aquarium can easily be eaten by certain species of fish, shrimp, and snails. You can buy any of these animals right now from your nearest aquarium shop, and the costs won’t break the bank. That means your aquarium community will have an extra tank mate and a cleanup crew.

Is It White Algae or Fungus?

Algaes and fungi are a common sight when you’re keeping an aquarium. Almost everything they do in an aquarium is the same, and they even look alike. And because of the color, it’s hard to tell what everything else is because of it.

There are several ways to determine if the white stuff that’s growing in your fish tank is algae or fungus. Fungus is normally dry and powdery, while white algae is often slimy. White algae also usually grow in clusters on the aquarium’s glass, plants, or decorations, while fungus generally grows in small patches on the gravel or substrate.

No matter what it is, algae or fungi, they have a lot in common, and not just in how they look. Also, the things that make them grow are a lot alike. The ways to get rid of them are almost all the same, so it won’t be hard to figure out what to do.

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How To Get Rid Of White Fungus On Aquarium Plants

If you take good care of them, aquatic plants can be like superheroes for your little underwater ecosystem. But they aren’t invincible and can even get white fungus infections which can be harmful to them. If they do get infected, here are some things you can do to get rid of it.

1. Physically Remove Fungus by Hand

White fungus doesn’t stick to things very well, so it’s pretty easy to get rid of. You can gently wipe the leaves and their undersides with a damp cloth or your hand. Make sure to take it off the aquarium first so that the fungus doesn’t just float and dissolve in the water.

2. Dip In Saltwater

If you have a fungus on your aquarium plants, one of the best ways to clean them is to dip them in a saltwater solution. In a clean container, mix together 1 cup of aquarium salt and 1 gallon of clean water. Dip your living plant for 15 to 30 seconds in the saltwater solution and be careful not to submerge the roots, and afterward, you can rinse it with clean water.

3. Consider Fungus-Eating Animals

There are quite a few fish, snails, and shrimps that will happily eat the unsightly fungus that is growing in your plants. These animals are easy to find and don’t cost a lot of money either, and they will make your aquarium life more interesting and keep it clean.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide

In a clean container, mix together 5ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide and 1 gallon of water. Then dip the plant in the hydrogen peroxide solution for 30 seconds and make sure the roots do not touch the water. Rinse the plant well with clean water and rub off any fungal material that is left on the leaves of the plant.

5. Bleach Dipping

One way to get rid of fungus from your plants is by dipping it in a bleach solution. Dip the plants in water with 5–10% bleach for about 2 minutes, and make sure you don’t include the roots. Also, make sure they are well rinsed before you put them back in your aquarium because bleach can kill your fish.

6. Clean it with Potassium Permanganate

Potassium permanganate is an oxidizer that kills most cells which makes it a great disinfectant for a planted tank with a fungus problem. Put the plant in the potassium permanganate solution and let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse them well with clean water and let them soak in clean water for another 15 minutes to get rid of any residue.

Why Is There White Fungus In New Aquarium

As an aquarist, it is certain that you will probably encounter a few problems when setting up a new aquarium. One of these is the growth of white fungus. There are many ways to get white fungus into your aquarium, and it might stay there for a long time. Here are some reasons why your new aquarium has white fungus.

1. Dirty Substrate

Even though they are often already washed, most substrates are very dusty and might carry fungus spores. When putting new substrate in the tank, it needs to be cleaned well before it is used.

2. High Levels of Ammonia

High levels of ammonia in a new tank are caused by the lack of beneficial bacteria in the water. These bacteria are needed to keep the water levels safe by turning ammonia and nitrites into harmless nitrogen compounds. If the ammonia is high, white fungus can grow on the bottom of your new aquarium tank.

3. Dirty Driftwood

Before using driftwood, it is important to clean it well because it may contain fungus spores. Scrubbing away any dirt is a good way to start. For better safety of your new aquarium, you can put the driftwood in boiling hot water for 1 to 2 hours.

4. Dirty Plants

Fungus spores can also be spread by plants in a new aquarium. Spores can sometimes hitch a ride on the leaves, which could be why white fungus is growing in your brand-new aquarium. Make sure to also trim the plants of rotting, dying leaves as it can also encourage fungus growth.

5. Dirty Aquarium Decors

Even though decorations are inanimate things, they can make or break the look of your tank. Fungus spores can stick to them and grow in your new fish tank once placed. Be sure to clean the decorations well before putting them in your fish tank.

6. Uncycled Water

When you set up a new aquarium, you should wait at least a week for the water to “cycle.” When water isn’t recycled, it doesn’t have the good bacteria colony that is needed to turn ammonia into less harmful substances. Fungus grows when there is a lot of ammonia in the water.

How To Prevent White Fungus In Fish Tanks

The growth of white fungus is something you definitely don’t want in your aquarium. They not only make your aquarium look bad, but they can also hurt the fish and plants in it. This list shows you how you can stop that from happening.

1. Regularly Clean the Aquarium

Cleanliness is the first line of defense against white fungus in a fish tank. One reason why there is white fungus in your tank is that you have a dirty aquarium. Make sure to clean the tank thoroughly as you can’t have white fungus growing on every nook and corner of your aquarium, because as soon as you change the water, it will grow back.

2. Regular Water Change

Fungus can grow in places where there are a lot of nutrients dissolved in the water. Doing a water change of at least 15–20%, especially if you haven’t done one in a while, will dilute the water and lower the amount of nitrates in it.

3. Consider Fungus-Eating Fish  

You can stop the white fungus in the water of your fish tank from growing by adding cleaner fish to the tank. There are many kinds of fish that will happily eat any white fungus that grows in your fish tank. Few aquarists would even say that you should keep at least one cleaner fish in each tank.

4. Regularly Vacuum the Gravel

Fungus can grow in the tank if fish waste and food scraps sink to the bottom of the tank. They put organic matter into the water, which can make the amount of ammonia rise. As part of taking care of your aquarium, make sure to vacuum the gravel every two weeks.

5. Install an Aquarium Filter

You might also want to add a filter to your aquarium to prevent white fungus or get rid of it if it’s already there. This keeps the water cycle going and also gets rid of any floating organic matter in your aquarium. Make sure you choose a filter for your aquarium that is good for your plants and fish.

6. Avoid Overfeeding

If you don’t overfeed your fish, you won’t just stop white fungus from growing in your fish tank. You can also keep your fish away from digestive issues like constipation and bloating. Your substrate will also be thanking you for not letting excess food land on it.

7. Quarantine Aquarium

You can keep new plants and animals in a separate aquarium tank to stop fungus from growing in the main aquarium. This will help stop diseases from spreading as much as they can. It can also be used to help new fish get used to different water conditions in a stress-free place.


We wouldn’t want white fungus to grow in our aquarium because not only is it ugly, but it could also be harmful to our fish. The good thing about them is that they tell us that the water quality is getting worse. It also reminds us to be careful about what we put in our aquariums and to clean them before putting them in. We can stop white fungus from growing in our aquarium by installing filters, putting new plants and animals in a separate quarantine tank, and making sure the water is clean and the level of nitrates is low. Make sure you do these things to keep your aquarium from having white fungus in the future.

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