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How To Treat White Slime On Aquarium Wood!

As the popularity of fish keeping continues to skyrocket with more and more people getting involved in the hobby with each year that goes by, we often see people reaching out and asking for advice on various types of issue that they end up having with their tank.

We have already covered a wide range of these questions about fish keeping but with custom driftwood decorations being very popular again right now, there has been a spike in the number of people asking about the white slime on their aquarium wood.

Each time driftwood sees a spike in its popularity in fish keeping this happens as the white slime algae that naturally grows on driftwood can take many beginners by surprise.

For the most part, there is nothing to worry about and it is just various types of natural algae, usually white hair algae growing on the driftwood and it will usually fade after around three months.

Still, even though this is a very common thing to have happen to any driftwood you add to your aquarium, we still see people reaching out worried that something is wrong with their tank’s water parameters.

The majority of the questions that we see are based on the three questions that we will be covering in our article below and our table of contents should make the article as easy as possible to navigate.

What Causes White Slime On Aquarium Wood?

White hair algae and white slime is very common in some types of driftwood when added to an aquarium and it is usually just the algae spores on the wood hydrating and activating.

These types of white algae that live on driftwood often consume the nutrients in your aquarium water and will end up perishing due to a lack of available food within four to twelve weeks without you having to do anything.

As we covered in our article on using grapevine wood in your aquarium, these various types of algae are natural and unsightly but usually don’t present any real risk to your fish.

Some people will boil their driftwood to help make it sink as well as to destroy any algae spores on it to prevent these breakouts of white hair algae or white slime but this is often more time and effort than it is worth for most people as you usually need a huge pot or not to boil driftwood correctly.

Depending on your tank setup and the fish, snails, and shrimp that you keep, the algae eaters and clean-up crew in your aquarium may eat the white hair algae as it forms and prevent it from even being noticeable.

With the majority of tanks having some sort of algae eater in them these days, this is a very real possibility and although these white slime algae are usually considered unsightly, they can just become another source of food for your algae eaters.

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How To Treat White Slime On Aquarium Wood!

The easiest way to treat white slime on aquarium wood is to boil the wood prior to placing it in your aquarium as this destroys the cells in the algae spores and prevents them from being able to develop.

If you order your aquarium wood online, the wood will probably have already been boiled and you should not have any problems with the white algae growing but most people just go out and find their own driftwood for their tanks.

If you do choose to go to the local beach or river side to get your driftwood then it is usually more difficult that most people initially think to actually boil the wood due to its shape and size.

If you have a spare aquarium available then some people will quarantine their new aquarium wood in their spare tank for a couple of months to let the white algae spores develop and fade without ever being in their main aqaurium.

As this is a harmless algae that tends not to spread, many people will choose to just wipe it off with their hand to reduce the amount of the algae on their aquarium wood while it is on display in their tanks.

Although the algae feels strange on your hand, it is usually not a problem and prevents the unsightly appearance from building up until the nutrients that the algae required have been drawn out of your tank water and the algae naturally perishes.

What Eats White Slime On Aquarium Wood?

There are plenty of freshwater algae eaters that will eat the white slime on your aquarium wood with siamese algae eaters, rosy barbs, amano shrimp, nerite snails, and various types of livebearers such as mollies, guppies, and platies being very popular options.

Keep in mind that some very popular algae eaters such as the bristlenose pleco will not actually touch any type of hair algae making them useless for keeping the white slime/hair algae on your wood in check.

One problem that we have noticed with people who choose to take the algae eater path is that they will continue to keep feeding their fish their normal daily food intake.

Although this can be fine in some situations, it will often discourage your fish from foraging for their own foods meaning that they are less likely to eat the white algae on your aquarium wood.

Now, there is usually no requirement to not feed your fish anything at all but try to gradually reduce the amount of flake or pellet food that you give your fish over the course of a couple of days to try and encourage them to eat the algae on your wood.

This strategy tends not to work well in a community tank though as you still have to provide your non-algae eater fish with food each day so you have to take your own situation into account.


That brings our article going over how to deal with white slime on aquarium wood to an end. The process is generally very simple and straight forward but many people end up worrying that their water parameters are incorrect in their tank when everything is fine. Untreated driftwood will always have a high chance of this white algae growing on it when you first add it to your tank and it is easy to deal with using the methods that we covered in our article above.