Tiny jumpy bugs on top of an aquarium’s water surface are called springtails. Depending on the lights around the tank, they may have a brown, black, or off-white appearance. Stagnant water in an aquarium constantly evaporates, thus making its surroundings humid and moist. This is what attracts springtails since they cannot survive without moisture.
Get rid of springtails in the aquarium by doing a 20% water change once after every two weeks. Introduce algae-eating fish and keep the lights off at night to control algae that springtails feed on. Then scrape off any mold in the aquarium and stop overfeeding the fish since springtails can also eat decaying food in the tank.
Naturally, springtails are not poisonous to fish. However, if your fish swim up to eat springtails on the water surface that have taken too much mold from a dirty aquarium, they may die after some time, depending on the amount consumed.
Causes of springtails in an aquarium
An aquarium has everything that springtails need for survival. When those bugs come indoors and the room is humid, they will go for the fish tank because the areas around it will be humid. This happens especially if the tank is open at the top and is placed in a dark corner.
Springtails are attracted to light, and most aquariums are always light. It is important to properly light an aquarium if it has live plants that need to photosynthesize. Any corals and anemones in the tank also need lighting for survival and growth.
When the light is combined with water, the two make the tank a major springtail attraction. Light is important in an aquarium for the general health of fish.
Without proper lighting in an aquarium, some goldfish species may lose their glow. Others may become sick after some time. Therefore, you should never remove light because of bugs like springtails in your aquarium.
2. Algae and mold
Springtails feed on mold and algae, and those two in your aquarium are enough for their survival. Living your tank’s lights on 24-7 encourages algae growth. This can also have a negative impact on the fish. Even though mold thrives in the dark, it can still grow under the light. A combination of mold and algae in your tank can stress the fish in it.
Your tank’s position can attract bugs to it. An open aquarium at the top in a dark, cool corner attracts more springtails than with proper lighting. The idea is that a dark corner accumulates more humidity depending on the temperatures. If that happens, springtails will thrive in and around the tank.
You should also check the temperature of the aquariums’ location. An extra warm or hot environment results in high evaporation rates, increasing the moisture levels. The collembolas are good at detecting dampness, especially when the female is desperate to lay eggs.
Springtails may not be harmful, but many on the tank’s water surface can be a potential threat. While indoors, springtails in houseplants can also end up in the aquarium if the plants around it are infested.
How to get rid of springtails in the aquarium
To get rid of little jumpy bugs on your aquarium’s water surface, trim its plants and remove algae and mold since springtails can feed on those. Then use an air conditioner around the aquarium to reduce humidity since high humidity levels will attract those bugs. However, springtails are not dangerous, and it is okay when fish swim up to eat them.
Mold in your aquarium is not only a threat because it attracts springtails that feed on them. You should be worried because white mold is toxic to fish because it can infect their eyes and cause deadly digestion problems.
The presence of bugs on aquarium surfaces is not good to look at. Many will agree that it is always a sign of poor maintenance. Springtails multiply very fast; as much as they are not harmful, an infestation may cover the water surface. This can negatively affect the tank’s natural fish habitat.
1. Remove springtails food
Since both mold and algae in a fish tank will encourage springtails breeding in it, use the following steps to remove them:
- Remove the fish and place them in a water bucket because you will need to clean it thoroughly. Use the same water used in the aquarium when displacing the fish
- Never use tap water or introduce totally different waters that your fish are not used to since you do not want to stress them
- Discard the mold and algae-infested water and clean each and every content and decoration in the aquarium separately
- Combine 10 ounces of white vinegar with 4 ounces of warm water and dip in a clean, soft hand towel. Then use the towel to wipe off the mold.
- Repeat until all is gone. Once done, rinse everything properly with warm, clean water
- After all the above is done, replace and clean the filter with warm distilled water. Do not use vinegar on that because you do not want it to mix with the water
- If the water has high chlorine levels, ensure you chlorinate and check the purity to ensure your fish is healthy and safe. These steps will keep bugs like springtails away while controlling mold and algae which attracts them.
2. Regulate aquarium lights
The type of light used in any aquarium can determine the growth of algae in it. For example, bulbs with strong yellow or green rays in an aquarium promote the rapid growth of algae that springtails can feed on. White LED lights are safe to use because they are just like natural light emitted from the sun during the day.
Switching off our aquarium light for at least 8-12 hours at night is a good idea. This will keep the fish healthy because they also need to rest. At the same time, regulating the lights will significantly discourage the growth of algae which is the main food source for springtails.
Like you do when getting rid of springtails on a pool’s surface, learn to clean an aquarium’s water surface. In most cases, bugs are seen floating on the tank’s surface. Simply get a clean meshed sieve and scoop them off. If you notice that your fish are eating them, it is okay to leave a few. However, do not let the fish eat them if the aquarium is infested with mold or algae.
You can remove aquatic Springtails from your aquarium by vacuuming them from the water surface. It also removes dirt from food particles that bugs can feed on. Vacuuming should be done until all the springtails are gone. Even after the infestation is cleared, maintain cleanliness by doing it at least once every week.
Calina Mabel has over 15 years of experience in the field of journalism and communications. Currently, Calina Mabel is the Content Writer for categories such as Cockroach, Ants, Bed Bugs, Mosquito, Rodent, Termite, and Flies on Pestweek.com. She aims to build content for these categories with a focus on providing valuable and accessible information to readers, in order to create the world’s largest knowledge community about Pests.
All content written by Calina Mabel has been reviewed by Emily Carter.