Why do Fish Brush Up Against Plants in an Aquarium?

Flashing is a term that describes fish scratching their bodies on objects. Aquarium fish do this by rubbing their bodies against objects in the aquarium.

These objects can include decoration pieces, plants, rocks, and other equipment like the filter. Your fish may be doing this because they’re stressed or uncomfortable.

This can be due to an illness or poor water conditions.

Why do Fish Brush Up Against Plants in an Aquarium?

Here are some reasons why your fish flash when swimming in the aquarium. It can be a cause for concern in some situations.

There May Be High Concentration of Metals in the Water

Changing the water in your aquarium can cause your fish to flash. Sometimes, there may be a higher concentration of metals such as iron or copper in the new water.

The presence of these can be a cause for irritation on the exterior of your fish. As a result, they are more likely to start rubbing their bodies on materials in the aquarium.

This process is done to soothe an itching sensation that your fish may experience.

Your Fish May Have Parasites

Frequent flashing by your fish may also be an indication of an illness. Two possible illnesses responsible for this are mentioned below. Each of them is caused by the presence of a parasite.

Observe the symptoms so that you can make an accurate diagnosis.

Your Fish May Have Ick

Illness makes a fish more susceptible to an ectoparasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (mostly referred to as ick or ich). This parasite is found in most aquariums. This parasite often attaches itself to ill fish.

Their presence is bothersome to most fish and can result in an itching sensation on their bodies.

The parasite attaches itself to the body, gills, and fins of aquarium fish. Considering that they are about 1mm thick, you might be able to see them on the body of your fish.

These parasites show up on your fish as tiny white spots, which resemble grains of salt. This condition is a very common disease amongst fish. It may be why your fish are rubbing their bodies on plants.

Other symptoms for this condition include gasping for air at the surface of the water and clamped fins. Keep an eye out for these symptoms when diagnosing your fish.

What You Should Do About This Illness

Consult your vet if you notice white spots on your fish. This, along with your fish swimming erratically in the aquarium, may mean that your fish have a parasite problem.

Your vet can offer you treatment options for your fish. They can also tell you what steps to take in order to preserve the health of your fish.

One step is quarantining your ill fish. Ich is contagious. Other fish can go through the same condition if you don’t act on it quickly.

Separate the affected fish until it recovers. Be sure to keep checking the parameters of the water it is in. It will recover faster if the environment is well-balanced.

Your Fish May Have Gill Flukes

Your fish will scratch its body against objects in the aquarium if it has gill flukes.

Worms settled in fish’s gills cause this infection. The infection can be on both their gills and their skin. You can look out for eyespots on your fish in order to diagnose the illness.

An unbalanced environment in the aquarium is mostly responsible for this illness. Therefore, you must regularly check the parameters of the water in your aquarium. Ensure you cycle it properly if you plan on changing the water.

Your Aquarium is Not Properly Cycled

Fish scratch themselves against things because they’re experiencing an irritating sensation. A poorly cycled aquarium may cause your fish to experience this sensation. This is more likely to happen when you change the water in the aquarium or the aquarium itself.

Cycling an aquarium entails creating a balanced environment in the aquarium and bringing the ammonia and nitrite levels down to zero. Good bacterium (nitrate) counteracts the excessive production of ammonia and nitrite.

The good bacterium is generally spread through your aquarium’s filter.

Rising levels of both ammonia and nitrite can be harmful to your fish. It can even be fatal if it is not controlled. Your fish may be dealing with this irritating sensation by scratching its body on other objects present in the aquarium.

If you observe your fish flashing, check the ammonia levels. There are test kits to check this.

These kits are inexpensive and easily available in the market. Use these kits to keep an eye on the water’s environment every other day. If there is an excess of ammonia, you must fix it immediately.

You can balance the water by adding more clean water into your aquarium. It is important to keep a balanced environment. A lack of it will be harmful to your fish’s health.

Fluctuating pH Levels and Temperature

Higher or lower levels of pH can be harmful to fish. This can make them more susceptible to illnesses. This can result in them dealing with symptoms that involve itchy skin. Your fish will use scratch themselves for comfort.

A sudden change in temperature can be stressful for your fish. This stress may cause them to swim erratically in the aquarium.

Regularly check the parameters in your aquarium’s water. Ensure that it is comfortable for your fish.

Flashing is a sign that your fish are uncomfortable. Be vigilant of their behavior and diagnose the cause immediately.

When Scratching is Not a Cause for Concern

Your fish can rub their bodies against plants even if they’re healthy.

However, in this case, they don’t scratch themselves as often as they do when they’re sick.

Your Fish Scratches Itself on Substrate

You may have noticed your fish scratches itself on the gravel of the aquarium. Some species of fish bounce off the bed of the aquarium in search of food.

They may be trying to get access to food particles stuck underneath some of the gravel. Other than that, some may also be looking to consume some algae on the rocks. You don’t need to be concerned if you notice this in your aquarium.

The Flashing is Not Consistent

Your fish will continue to flash if it has a parasite or illness. The number of times it does it in the day may increase if the illness gets worse.

Keep an eye on the pattern of its scratching. If it flashes occasionally, there is a lower possibility that is it sick.

There may be another reason for its occasional itchiness. Be vigilant of your fish’s behavior. Call a vet if you feel that that is in the best interest of your fish.

Remove Sharp Objects from Your Aquarium

If your fish are flashing frequently, ensure that the objects in your aquarium won’t harm them. Remove all pointy rocks and sharp decoration pieces from your aquarium.

Flashing against these objects can injure your fish. This will make things even worse if it is already suffering from an illness.

Last Few Words

It’s common for fish to scratch themselves against plants and other objects. The most common reason why they do this is because of an illness.

Parasites are a cause of different illnesses in fish. Itchy skin is a symptom of these parasitic infections. Keep an eye out for additional symptoms and consult your vet for treatment options.

It’s best for your fish’s health if you treat the infection soon. It will spread if you delay it, which can be harmful or even fatal for your fish.

Other Fishkeeping articles you may find useful:

Leave a Comment