How to Get Rid of Water Mites

When I first got my aquarium and betta fish, I was worried there wouldn’t be much to do to maintain the tank and feed my fish. I knew I had to drop some food in once or twice a day and clean out any food that wasn’t eaten in a reasonable amount of time. Every two weeks calls for adding some fresh water and changing out a bit of the aquarium water to keep my fish happy.

Key Points:

  • Water mites in aquariums can be removed by pH-balanced water, testing new water temperature, and skimming scum.
  • Medicinal tablets and complete water changes are ways to get rid of mite infestations quickly.
  • Mites should be identified before attempting removal so the correct action can be taken to prevent harm to fish.

Interestingly, even with frequent water changes and some aquarium plants, I started to see what looked like a tiny aquatic insect moving through the water.

Thinking that it might just be a free food source, I let it go for a while to observe. While I strive to keep a healthy aquarium, I was intrigued by what was going on in my fish tank and didn’t see any issue with the health of my aquarium fish. It turns out I had water mites, and I should have gotten rid of them. Let’s find out how. 

How to Get Water Mites Out of a Tank?

Even though water mites like daphnia make tasty treats for betta fish, too many mites can lead to dirty water, parasitic mites, and an unsustainable aquatic ecosystem. It is, therefore, a good idea to do a partial water change and reduce nitrate levels. Follow the steps below to improve the health of your aquarium fish and safely expel water bugs not suited for your fish’s food supply. 

pHed Clean Water

Water quality is the most important aspect of an aquatic species’ health. Fish need a neutral pH to survive, so always make sure to add the correct kind of water. Distilled and filtered water are good options when all chemicals and impurities have been removed. Avoid using alkaline water or anything with a low pH, or you could harm your fish and aquarium critters. 

Test New Water Temperature

One of the easiest ways to accidentally kill a fish is through shock. When hot water or very cold water is added to a tank with vastly different water temp, then a fish may not be able to handle it and die. It is similar to a person jumping into freezing water and their heart-stopping. Set water to be added off to the side to allow it to come to room temperature before adding it to the tank. 

Skim Scum

Most species of water mites will feed on the algae and detritus that accumulates at the surface of the water. You can remove this scum and reduce the available food for the growing mite population. Like most organisms, aquatic spiders and water bugs will self-regulate their numbers based on resource availability. 

Medicinal Tablets 

In extreme cases, including situations where the parasitic infestation is occurring, you can opt to drop in medicinal tablets that will clean the water, medicate the fish, and help reduce the number of mites quickly. Tea tree oil is a common ingredient in fish medicines and can heal even severely damaged aquatic ecosystems when used as instructed. 

Remove and Replace Water

 Once you have treated the tank and made your fish comfortable, remember to practice frequent water changes until all signs of mite infestation are gone. You may still see some mites, but it will be a much lower level, and there will be less indication of your fish being stressed. Once your tank is clear, and your fish are healthy, you can go back to the once or twice-a-month water changer or as your tank requires. 

Water Mite Identification 

Water mites are pretty common in water habits and will show up to some degree or another eventually. Most of the time, mites are hard to notice until the infestation grows into something of a problem. Usually, what started out as white or black flecks and clearly identifiable water mites. To figure out exactly what mites you are dealing with, the harmless food source or the insidious parasite, use a magnifying glass to better identify the mites in your tank to take the correct action. 

Type of MiteAppearanceBehavior
Spider type miteSeparate head and body segmentsCrawl along the surfaces of the tank inside and outside of the water
Shrimp type miteTiny semi-circle dot Floats around in the water near aquatic plants and algae
Crystal type miteOdd-shaped floating white or black specsStick to surfaces and objects inside the aquarium and underneath the water

How to Prevent Water Mites?

Preventing water mites is a good idea if you are starting a new aquarium or are raising young and vulnerable fish. To begin with, keep aquarium water clean and make sure to source sterilized aquarium decorations or other objects you will place inside your fish tank. Once your tank is set up, clean it regularly and quarantine new fish to avoid accidental infestations before your tank’s ecosystem can handle it.

Most mites feed on algae, and if you let it bloom, you will contribute to their rapid population growth. Conversely, by eliminating algae growth, you can control the population of mites naturally without having to take any drastic measures. 

Aquarium critters like snails and janitor fish can help clean tanks without chemicals and can save aquarium owners time and money while preventing common water mites. No matter what technique you use to keep your tank clean, trying to prevent any discoloration or water bug habilitation is not only possible but not really recommended. Therefore, the complete prevention of water mites isn’t necessarily the best situation for many aquarium fish species, as mites are part of a normal and healthy aquarium community. 

What Are Water Mites?

Most aquarium water bugs that just show up probably fall under the category of water mites. These creatures balance ecosystems and appear in mass when some other condition is out of proportion. Common mites in water are amphipods, copepods, ostracods, and daphnia, with most being food sources for aquarium fish.

Kept in balance, these mites can provide a tasty snack between feedings and, in ideal conditions, supplement the diet almost entirely. While most mites are of no concern, some can harm your fish, so keeping any mite outbreak under control is a good idea in the long run. 

What are the Ways Mites Enter Aquariums? 

Mites pop up almost overnight as if out of nowhere, and soon the tops and sides of your tanks can be crawling with them. Add to it the accompanying algae bloom, and your fish tank can get out of hand fast. I only ever experienced this when I installed a self-feeder before a several-day trip. As the food accumulated and stuck to parts of the tank, the mite population grew to deal with it. 

It is hard to know how the original mites made it inside, but I assume it was through aquarium plants and newly introduced fish. Although all my aquarium equipment and decorations are new, it would be possible to pick up mites from pre-used aquarium equipment and decorations that were not completely sterilized. I also feel like mites just show up, and there may or may not be a rhyme or reason to it, but they mostly help and only hinder an aquarium when things get out of wack. 

Are Water Mites Harmful? 

Most mites end up being tasty snacks for your fish, but a few species, like parasitic acariformes can actually harm your fish. These parasites often lead to white spots on your fish as well as discoloration at the tips of fins and other telltale signs that your aquatic buddy is suffering. Adding the right treatment to the tank can help save your fish from parasitic mites and treat the environment to prevent them from coming back. 

Even non-parasitic mites can represent a problem in fish tanks. Too many mites can create problems for your tank.  An overpopulation of mites changes the ph of the water, prevents fresh oxygen from reaching fish, and creates an environment where diseases are prevalent.

A growing mite population that is not consistent with the number of fish in your tank can also signal other issues. Always make sure to check water parameters before attempting to make any adjustments, or you could jeopardize the health of aquarium fish; then, when you know what to do, you can get rid of water mites.