What Causes White Balls to Form on Artificial Plants in an Aquarium?

Written by brenda priddy
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What Causes White Balls to Form on Artificial Plants in an Aquarium?
A healthy aquarium does not contain white balls on plants. (aquarium fish 7 image by cherie from Fotolia.com)

One odd problem that can occur with fresh water aquariums, and more often with salt water aquariums, is the presence of a fuzzy, white substance on the surface of artificial plants and other objects inside the tank. In some cases the fuzz may appear to take the form of small balls inside the tank. It is important to identify the causes of this problem before removal can occur. There are actually several different causes for this occurrence inside aquarium tanks.

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Infrequent Water Changes

At least 25 per cent of the water should be changed from the aquarium every week. If this is not done, then food, fish waste and bacteria from the water will build up inside the tank. This can cause white balls of bacteria to form on artificial plants. Changing the water every week will prevent the spread of bacteria and algae and prevent white balls from forming on plants.

Over Feeding

Overfeeding the fish can also cause white balls to form on artificial plants. When too much food is present inside the tank, mould quickly forms on the surface of the food. This mould can quickly travel to the surface of artificial plants. A filmy, white substance present on the surface of plants and other items inside the aquarium, such as gravel and decorative items, is usually an indication of overfeeding.

Slime Mold

Slime mould is an interesting substance. It is a mould, but it can move around like a living animal or fish. Slime mould forms fuzzy white balls over the surface of plants. Slime mould typically looks like a web of small fuzzy, white balls covering the surface of artificial plants. It is easy to identity the mould because it will move from one place to another inside the tank. Usually slime mould is only found in tropical aquariums. Completely emptying the tank and washing all items in a bleach solution should kill slime mould.

Ammonia and Nitrate Imbalance

If the ammonia and nitrate balance is off inside the aquarium, fuzzy white balls may form on artificial plants as well. Usually this fuzz forms as a bacterial infection or fungus. High levels of ammonia cause algae and bacteria to grow inside the tank. This problem is easily solved by replacing at least 25 per cent of the water each week and by adding nutrient additives inside the water after changing.

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