Are Essential Oils Fish-Friendly?

Most of us use essential oils in our homes to relax and lift our moods after a busy and stressful day of work. Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants. The oils capture the plant’s scent and flavor, or “essence.” Unique aromatic compounds give each essential oil its characteristic essence. These oils help reduce odor from musty rooms and freshen the air, making the home atmosphere more welcoming for guests too. But is it safe to use these when you have fish around?

Well, since these pose no potential threat to us, they should be safe for other creatures like fish, too, right? The answer isn’t so simple, though, mainly due to insufficient research on this topic. But, many fish owners have used essential oils in and around their fish tanks. And they have found that while some essential oils are harmful to fish, others can be good for the health of our tiny water buddies.

Research has found essential oils to be effective as antimicrobial and antioxidant agents in aquaculture. In addition, certain essential oils can also be used as anesthetics or stress-reducing agents for fishes. So, are essential oils fish-friendly? Not quite, but most aren’t harmful to aquatic life unless used in higher amounts. Read on to find out more about using essential oils around your aquatic friends.

Which Essential Oils Are Good For Fish?

Are Essential Oils Fish-Friendly? – PeTMyPal Blog

Well, this is a difficult question since there is a wide range of essential oils available in the market, and all of them consist of different chemical components. And while many essential oils pose no ill effect to aquatic life, some can be deadly for them. For example, clove oil is often used as an anesthetic while performing minor surgeries on fish. But, use clove oil in large amounts, and you can end up killing your fish!

Usually, essential oils like Lemon and Peppermint and oil blends like Purification are most commonly used in aquariums. Using these essential oils helps eliminate fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing agents from the tank water. Lavender, Orange, and Tangerine are also used, although these may not be safe for all types of fish.

Some of these oils also improve resistance to some diseases when ingested by fish. But, the problem here is that it’s almost impossible to find essential oils with the same composition. You see, several factors govern the constituents of essential oil. And even a minor variation in environmental conditions, production methods, and so on can lead to different compositions in two batches of the same type of essential oil. And this makes it difficult to say with certainty that essential oil is perfectly safe for all fishes.

Another cause of concern is that the same essential oil may have varying effects on different fish breeds. So, while a specific essential oil may be beneficial for some types of fish, others may not react positively to that particular oil. Therefore, if your aquarium houses multiple types of fish, it’s best to research the essential oils that are deemed toxic for each fish.

Is It Safe To Use An Essential Oil Diffuser Near Your Fish?

The most common way to use essential oils for relaxation is with a diffuser. But, with the above information in mind, some of you might wonder if it’s okay to use a diffuser in the same room where your aquarium is.

Fish owners who use diffusers in their homes haven’t really found it to be harmful to their aquatic pets. While some people would suggest not to use a diffuser close to the aquarium, the diffused vapor isn’t going to pose any harm to the fish. But, of course, if you are using a specific type of essential oil known to be toxic for fishes, make sure to place it away from the aquarium. This will eliminate any chances of the diffuser water contaminating the tank.

If you’re unsure whether the variant of essential oil you are using is toxic for fishes or not, it’s best to avoid using it in the same room. And even if you are, just keep an eye on the behavior of the fish. In this way, you can quickly move the diffuser away if you notice any unusual symptoms.

Should You Use Essential Oils Directly In Your Fish Tank?

As we have already mentioned earlier, different types of fish may respond differently to essential oil. So while it’s okay to add essential oils to keep the tank water free from viruses and bacteria, you need to be very careful if you own multiple fish breeds.

A word of caution, though — adding essential oils is safe only when your aquarium is made of glass. Never put essential oils in plastic fish tanks as the chemicals in the oil can react with it.

But, make sure you don’t pour the essential oil directly into the tank. The essential oil will float on the water surface and form a film cutting off the oxygen supply. Instead, try using a toothpick for the same. Immerse the toothpick into the essential oil bottle before placing it into the fish tank. This will make it easier to control how much oil you put into the tank.

Make sure you initially start with a small amount and gradually increase it over the weeks. Although there is no set standard, it’s best not to go over 2 to 3 drops for every 10 gallons of water in the aquarium.

Summing Up

While not all essential oils are fish-friendly, many of them are. But, if you are adding essential oil into your fish tank, it’s best to do it slowly.  Start with a lower concentration and gradually build up from there.

Also, be sure to constantly monitor the behavior of the fish after adding the oil to the tank. If you notice any unusual behavior, make sure you replace a part of the tank water to dilute the oil concentrations. But no matter what, don’t change more than 50% of the water at once, as the sudden environmental changes can stress out your little aquatic friends.

Emma Ken
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