If you’ve noticed small white dots floating in your aquarium, you likely have white fish eggs. Seeing fish spawn can be exciting for aquarium hobbyists, signaling healthy, mature fish. However, dealing with delicate fish eggs and fry (baby fish) does require some special care and planning.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: White dots floating in your tank are usually white fish eggs laid by female livebearers like platies, mollies, or guppies. Remove the eggs if you don’t want baby fish, or leave them to hatch if you do.

Fry need plenty of infusoria and hiding spots to survive.

Identifying White Fish Eggs

Appearance and Features

White fish eggs can vary slightly in appearance, but generally have some common characteristics. They are small, spherical or ovular, and opaque white in color. The eggs may clump together in a gelatinous mass or remain separate as individual eggs. Some key features of white fish eggs include:

  • Size range is typically 1-3 mm in diameter
  • Color is creamy white or translucent white
  • Have a smooth, sometimes glossy surface
  • Adhere to each other, plants, decoration, or substrate in clumps or strands

Under a microscope, the content of the eggs can sometimes be seen, including a yolk and developing embryo when fertilized. Unfertilized eggs may appear more clear throughout. The eggs are fragile and should be handled carefully to avoid damaging them.

Common Egg-Laying Species

Many popular aquarium fish lay white eggs. Some of the most common species that produce white eggs include:

  • Guppies – Prolific breeders that can store sperm, resulting in multiple batches of eggs
  • Platies – Another livebearer that readily lays eggs
  • Mollies – White eggs are fertilized internally then laid
  • Swordtails – Adhesive eggs allow them to spawn in challenging areas of the tank
  • Tetras – Scatter eggs among plants and decoration
  • Danios – Eggs may be clear initially but develop white hue over time
  • Angelfish – Lay hundreds of small eggs on freshwater plants
  • Corydoras catfish – Scatter eggs which then stick to plants and surfaces

Identifying egg-laying species in an aquarium allows hobbyists to monitor spawning behavior, watch eggs develop, and even breed some species intentionally through egg management. By regularly observing the tank, white fish eggs can serve as an exciting indicator of reproductive activity and expanding fish families.

Removing or Keeping the Eggs

Deciding Whether to Keep Fry

When your white fish spawn in an aquarium, deciding whether to keep the eggs and raise the resulting fry can be a big decision. Here are some things to consider:

  • Space – White fish can produce hundreds of eggs at once. If even half survive, do you have room to house that many extra fish?
  • Time and care – Raising fry takes diligent water testing and changes. Are you prepared to put in the extra work?
  • Homes – What will you do with the fry when they grow? Rehoming fish takes effort.

If space or time is limited, removing the eggs may be best. The parents will likely spawn again given good conditions. But raising some fry can be fun and rewarding too!

Methods for Removing Eggs

If you decide not to keep the eggs, act fast – they hatch quickly in warm water. Here are humane ways to remove them:

  • Use an old store rewards card or credit card to gently scrape eggs off surfaces. This avoids harming decor and plants.
  • Move decor with eggs to a separate “nursery” tank to let the fry hatch safely, then capture and rehome them.
  • Draw the eggs into a turkey baster instead of nets or siphons which may injure newly hatched fry.

Scrapping or siphoning should target only unwanted eggs. Leave some if you wish to raise a few fry. And take care not to accidentally siphon up any existing baby fish!

When catching fry to remove them, avoid pursuit with nets which overly stresses them. Consider using fry traps instead baited with infusoria or egg yolk. Or use two nets at once rather than chasing fry between them which can damage delicate fins if done too long.

Here are a few products that can help make removing eggs easier and less stressful for parents and babies alike:

Magnetic Algae Scraper Gentle on decor while effectively removing clinging eggs
Marina Hang-On Breeding Box Isolates eggs/fry for easy removal to adoptive homes
API Fry Catcher Kit Draws in free-swimming fry so you can catch without chasing

For more guidance, reputable sites like Fishlore have active forums where experts share egg removal tips and experience.

Caring for Fish Eggs and Fry

Providing Hatching Containers

When your aquarium fish start spawning, you’ll need to set up a separate hatching container to protect the delicate eggs. Most breeders recommend a standard 2-5 gallon tank or bucket with an air-powered sponge filter for gentle water flow.

Be sure to use aquarium water, not tap water, to fill the container. Maintain a temperature between 75-82°F for optimal hatch rates.

You’ll also need to add some furnishings like spawning mops made of yarn or acrylic wool. These mops give the parents a place to deposit eggs and provide hiding spots for newly hatched fry. Clean the mops regularly to prevent fungus growth on leftover eggs.

Consider adding a few live plants like java moss as well – they naturally improve water quality.

Infusoria and Fry Food

Feeding microscopic infusoria is crucial for sustaining fish fry in their first weeks after the yolk sac is absorbed. Luckily, infusoria cultures can be made at home. Simply place lettuce leaves, carrot shavings, or cereal grass in non-chlorinated water and let it sit for 7-10 days.

The microscopic organisms that colonize the mixture make perfect starter food.

Once fry grow larger, finely crushed flakes or live baby brine shrimp can be fed. Adjust feeding amounts to ensure no excess food remains uneaten. Here’s a handy feeding chart from The Spruce Pets estimating how much to feed fry based on their size:

Fry Size Food Particle Size Amount
Under 0.16 inches Powdered flakes, infusoria As much as they can consume in 5 minutes 1-2 times daily
0.16-0.4 inches Small crushed flakes, microworms As much as they can consume in 5 minutes 2-3 times daily
0.4-0.8 inches Medium crushed flakes, brine shrimp As much as they can consume in 10-15 minutes 2 times daily

Adding Plant Cover and Hiding Spots

Aquatic plants like guppy grass and hornwort make great shelter for vulnerable fry. Their trailing stems and dense foliage allow small fish to avoid detection from hungry adults. Floating plants are another option – try frogbit, red root floaters, or duckweed to create protective canopy cover.

You can also add synthetic hiding spots like plastic vegetation or coconut shell caves. Just check that the materials are aquarium-safe with no rough edges. Keep an eye that fry can easily swim out from crevices.

By creating lots of cover spots, you’ll have much better fry survival rates in a community tank.

Avoiding Egg-Related Issues

Preventing Egg-Eating Fish

One of the biggest problems that aquarists face when breeding egg-laying fish is preventing other tank inhabitants from eating the eggs. Certain species like cichlids, catfish, and loaches are notorious for consuming eggs. Here are some tips to prevent your eggs from getting eaten:

  • Use a breeding tank or net. Set up a separate tank just for breeding or use a mesh breeding net inside the main tank to segregate the eggs.
  • Rearrange decor and territories. After spawning, remove the breeding pair and rearrange tank decor to confuse egg predators.
  • Use distractions. Place treats like shrimp pellets on the opposite side of the tank to divert fish away from the eggs.
  • Add hiding spots. Give the eggs places to hide like dense plants, caves, or coconut shells.
  • Remove predators. Take out known egg eaters from the tank either permanently or temporarily during breeding.

Being proactive and using preventative measures will greatly improve egg survival rates. However, even with precautions, some eggs may still get eaten. Culling aggressive egg predators like convict cichlids can be an effective long-term solution.

Dealing with Fungus

Fungal infections are another common problem that affects fish eggs. Fungi thrive in the warm, moist conditions inside the aquarium. They can grow rapidly on dead eggs and even spread to healthy ones. Visible signs include white, gray, or green fuzz on the egg surface.

Here are some recommendations for treating fungal outbreaks on eggs:

  • Improve water quality. Do frequent water changes and vacuum the substrate to remove dead eggs and debris.
  • Add aquarium salt. Salt helps prevent fungal and bacterial growth at 1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons.
  • Use anti-fungal medications. Treat the entire tank with commercial fungicides containing methylene blue, acriflavine, or malachite green.
  • Increase surface agitation. Fungi thrive in stagnant water so improving circulation with bubblers can help.
  • Remove infected eggs. Use a pipette or turkey baster to siphon out eggs covered in fungus so it doesn’t spread.

While some fungal growth may be inevitable, staying vigilant and quickly addressing any issues can reduce the likelihood of major outbreaks. Maintaining pristine water quality and using preventative salt treatments are two of the most effective ways to protect fish eggs.

When to Be Concerned

Signs of Unfertilized Eggs

Unfertilized white fish eggs are a common occurrence in home aquariums. While not necessarily a cause for alarm, it’s important to monitor your fish for signs of recurring issues.

Some signs that a female fish has released unfertilized eggs include:

  • The presence of small, clear or white spherical eggs at the bottom of the tank
  • Lack of interest from male fish in fertilizing the eggs
  • Eggs not hatching within the expected timeframe (usually 1-7 days depending on species)
  • Eggs turning white or opaque and beginning to disintegrate

An occasional unfertilized spawning is normal, especially in a tank with few male fish. But recurring issues could indicate an underlying health problem or inadequate tank conditions. Make sure your water parameters are ideal, and watch for symptoms like lack of appetite or lethargy in your female fish.

Identifying Egg-Bound Fish

Egg-bound female fish are unable to release their eggs, which can be life-threatening if left untreated. Signs of an egg-bound fish include:

  • Swollen abdomen or protruding cloaca
  • Lethargy and loss of appetite
  • Staying secluded at the bottom of the tank
  • Labored breathing or inflamed tissues around the swollen abdomen

Egg binding typically occurs when a fish has difficulty ovulating due to poor water conditions, stress, or an underlying health issue. Immediate action is required to help the fish pass the eggs safely.

First, optimize tank conditions by performing a partial water change and adding aquarium salt. Raise the temperature slightly to 76-78°F. Provide hiding places so the fish feels secure. Treat any bacterial infections with fish-safe antibiotics.

As a last resort, the eggs may need to be gently massaged out. This should only be attempted by an experienced aquarist, as it risks damaging the fish. Vet care is recommended for egg-bound fish not improving with home treatment.

Prevention is key to avoid egg-binding issues. Maintain excellent water quality, offer a nutritious diet, and limit stressors. Choose tankmates carefully and watch for signs of harassment or aggression. With good care, your female fish can avoid this dangerous reproductive complication.


White fish eggs floating in your aquarium can be a welcome surprise for hobbyists looking to breed fish. With some planning for the fry and measures to protect the eggs, you may successfully raise new baby fish. Or, remove unwanted eggs to control your tank population.

Keep a close eye on spawning behavior to ensure your fish stay healthy.

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