Do Fish Get Itchy? How Do I Stop My Fish From Itching?

Do fish get itchy? Yes, It’s also called “flashing” in Fish. Fish often rub their sides on plants, gravel, or rocks to scratch an itch, and that is a natural behavior.

However, if you notice your fish rubbing their sides more often, they may have parasites or are stressed due to high ammonia levels in the aquarium.

In this case, you will need to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Keep reading to see more!

Do Fish Get Itchy?

The answer is Yes. Like dogs, cats, or humans, fish can also get itchy. It is also known as “flashing” in fish.

Fish do not have paws or hands. As a result, if something irritates their skin, they will rub past anything scratchy, such as a  plant leaf or rock, to handle it.

One of the most common signs is that your fish accelerate suddenly to your aquarium’s bottom or side to rub its side. Swimming in sudden bursts and twitchy swimming are also noticeable signs.

Some even jump out of the water to take advantage of the water’s surface tension to solve the itch. So, it can be dangerous if your fish jump out of the aquarium.

Common Causes of Flashing in Fish

Goldfish in aquarium

A parasitic infestation is one of the most common causes of your fish itching. Here are some common aquarium parasites that may make your fish flash:

  • Protozoa Trichodina
  • Costia (or Ichthyobodo)
  • Monogenean trematodes (or flukes)
  • Ichthyophthirius
  • Chilodonella
  • And more

These parasites are usually microscopic, and you will need the help of a trusted veterinarian to diagnose the parasites and handle them.

Parasitic infections often occur when you add new mates or plants that have not been appropriately quarantined.

Moreover, outbreaks may occur in your fish due to a chronic stress situation, like your tank being overcrowded or the water being low quality.

Wild fish have low levels of parasites in most cases. It is because their immune system can control parasites thanks to their aquatic habitat’s nature.

But when chronic stress situations occur, their immune system will weaken, enabling the proliferation of bacteria and parasites.

Temperature also plays a vital role in the speed of a parasite outbreak.

Specifically, the warmer the water, the faster the parasite’s life cycle, making the outbreak more advanced.

How Do I Stop My Fish From Itching?

happy smiling gold parrot fish

Diagnostic Process

The best way to determine the cause of your fish’s itching is to get help from your veterinarian.

Your vet will check out the number of fish, aquarium size, and filtration system. He will also analyze the water quality in your aquarium and inspect your fish.

Your veterinarian can then offer advice on reducing the biological load or reducing the number of individuals in your aquarium.

You can also get advice on tank improvements and maintenance procedures before starting to raise fish.

When taking a physical exam for your fish, your vet will take tiny gill and skin mucus samples.

Afterward, he will evaluate those biopsy samples under his microscope to determine if a parasite outbreak occurred.

Treatment Process

The treatment process depends on scratching the parasite irritating your fish. No treatment is best for all cases and is guaranteed to work for all types of fish.

There are many options for treatment, and you will need to make a choice based on several factors, including:

  • The fish in your aquarium
  • Medicines that you have put in your aquarium
  • The severity of the parasite outbreak
  • The condition of your sick fish.

Some methods may focus on dealing with primary stressors, such as an overcrowded aquarium or poor water quality, rather than treating parasites.

For mild outbreaks, once you’ve dealt with the main stressors, you can expect your fish to handle the infection themself.

How Can You Prevent Itching in Your Fish?

When discussing preventing a parasite outbreak in your aquarium, we recommend putting all new plants and fish in another aquarium for four to six weeks before placing them in your main tank.

Thanks to that, you can isolate potentially sick individuals to prevent spreading diseases, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites, from entering your healthy aquatic community.

If your new fish is sick, you can also quickly treat them during quarantine.

Let’s say you only see your fish “flashing” occasionally. In this case, you won’t need to worry if no live plants or new fish have joined your aquarium in the past three months, the water quality is not bad, and you are maintaining a good diet.

Sometimes, your fish get itchy due to skin irritation or small amounts of parasites, which they can handle themself.

However, if “flashing” in your fish is more frequent, you should treat it before it becomes more serious.


What Is Ich?

Ich is a white spot disease caused by Ichthyophthirius Multifiliis, a type of parasite. Here are some symptoms of ich in freshwater fish:

  • White spots
  • Hiding
  • Scratching
  • Sudden death
  • Surface swimming

The causes of ich in freshwater fish can be:

  • Failure to quarantine your new fish
  • Improper sanitation of equipment
  • Compromised immune system

What Does Ich Look Like on Fish?

Ich typically appears as small, white spots on the skin of your fish.

How Do You Treat Fish Ich?

Many methods allow you to get the job done.

You can use prescription medications and non-prescription herbal treatments.

It is best to consult your veterinarian to get the best method.

How Do I Prevent Ich in My Aquarium?

One of the most common ways is to isolate new fish and live plants in another aquarium for four to six weeks before adding them to your main tank.

In addition, you also need to make sure the water in your tank is not poor quality and maintain a reasonable diet.

Keeping your fish in good health with a robust immune system helps prevent ich.


We are happy to give you the answer to, “Do fish get itchy?” We hope that the information we provide is helpful to you.

Thanks for your time! If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to let us know!