Hidden Dangers: Household Chemicals That Harm Your Fish


While many of us might not realize it, we use chemical substances within our homes every day. The products we use to clean surfaces, freshen up the air, and even wash our hands all contain materials that could be harmful to our pets. But in some cases, simply keeping them out of reach isn’t enough.

You can expose your fish to these chemicals through the air and how you handle them during maintenance. Here are some household chemicals that have the potential to harm your fish and some advice on how to avoid exposing your aquarium to them.

Essential Oils or Candles

We all love to light a candle or start up our diffusers to calm down after a long, stressful day. However, you need to recognize the effect this could have on any fish nearby. These products release various substances into the air along with their scent and, in high saturations, they have the potential to pollute your tank’s ecosystem.

It’s often best to use them in another room to reduce any possible harm. Check out World Wide Coral’s blog entry on whether diffusers and candles are safe for aquariums to learn more about the potential risks and what you can do to minimize their effect.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer can also pose a potential problem. These products are designed to linger on your hands and kill any bacteria they encounter. Upon sticking your hands in the tank to clean it, the sanitizer washes off and pollutes the aquarium water.

Since marine ecosystems survive by using beneficial bacteria, this can both poison your fish and throw off the entire balance of your setup. So make sure you’re washing your hands thoroughly before performing maintenance instead of just sanitizing.

Paint Fumes

Another household chemical that harms your fish is the paint fumes that linger after you complete a painting project. Paint primers and solvents carry a multitude of different substances that dissipate into the air as the product dries.

In fact, as they saturate our breathing space, these chemicals can even cause respiratory issues in humans. As such, they also present a serious hazard to fish when these particles fall into the tank, so it’s best to move your aquarium before undergoing a home renovation of this kind.

Cleaning Products

Then, of course, any strong cleaning product can create issues as well. Like hand sanitizer, these formulas kill bacteria—which is never good in an underwater environment.

Therefore, if you’ll be using any cleaning sprays in your tank’s vicinity, it’s important to cover the tank to help reduce the number of particles that make it into the water.

Home aquariums really are a beautiful addition to any home, but it’s important to remember that they aren’t just a centerpiece. Fish are incredibly sensitive to the conditions of their water, and the substances you allow in your air can greatly impact the quality of their environment. As such, limiting their exposure to these hazardous materials is an essential part of keeping your pets happy, healthy, and thriving.


About Author

Kate Romeo is a writer living in the greater Chicagoland area with a passion for animals. When she's not writing you will likely find her trying out new recipes in the kitchen or cuddling on the sofa with her pets, likely watching a movie she's already seen 100 times.

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