How To Get Rid Of Aquarium Leeches? 7 Effective Solutions

The blood of other living organisms, including fish, is what leeches, parasitic bloodsuckers, use as food.

As long as the environment meets their ecological demands and there is a blood supply, they can live wherever.

That’s why these organisms may appear in your fish tank. If that’s the case, how to get rid of aquarium leeches?

Look no further than the guidelines in this article. Let’s scroll down to learn ways to prevent this species from hurting your pets!

What Are Aquarium Leeches?

Knowing clearly about these parasitic bloodsuckers in your tank can help you find the exact treatment. Let’s get an overview of this species!

Common Species

Aquarium leeches may come in various types. Here are the most common ones you may find in your tank:

Snail Leeches

Snail leeches are translucent, teardrop-shaped, brown, or white. They also look like caterpillars.

If your aquarium has many snails, it’s better to look out for this species and check your snails’ health.

The number of your aquarium snails will drastically fall if these clingers get into your fish tank.

For days, these parasites completely suck a snail’s blood. You should look for techniques to fight off these clingers if it occurs.

Asian Leeches

These organisms are dangerous parasites with brown tints that resemble earthworms. They mostly move throughout the Asian aquarium trade.

If your tank has shrimps, pay more attention to your pets, as these parasites can suck the blood of these creatures while you can’t notice.

Fish Leeches

These dangerous clingers, as their name suggests, suck on the fish’s blood and continue to do so until the prey is dead.

They are lengthy, warm-like parasites typically delivered to a tank by worms. However, this species rarely appears in the fish tank.

Life Cycle

These bloodsuckers go through an entire life cycle.

Pond and aquarium bloodsuckers breed sexually, with the ovaries serving as the site of fertilization for the eggs.

Before delivering the cocoon, they create cocoons to which they attach the fertilized eggs.

When their eggs hatch, they release young bloodsuckers, and their cocoons are subsequently attached to plants or rocks.

These young clingers typically reach lengths of 15 – 30 mm and have a lifespan of around a year. The female clingers reproduce and then die.

These clingers are external parasites that may end the life cycle without a living host.

Aquarium Leech

Overview of the parasite

Do Aquarium Leeches Kill Your Fish?

The short answer is yes! By suckling the blood of other living things, leeches – bloodsuckers, quickly multiply.

These parasites immediately attach to fish, sink their teeth into the fish’s epidermis, and begin sucking blood.

With their three jaws and razor-sharp teeth, clingers may readily bite into the skin, increasing the fish’s blood flow and preventing the affected region from healing.

It is challenging to detect little bloodsuckers since they are difficult to spot if attached to the fish.

By looking at the following signs, you may determine if your fish tank has these parasites:

  • Fish moves slowly.
  • The gills are yellowish and pale.
  • The infected area is red.
  • Fish rub against the tank surface to remove parasites.

Leeches in aquarium

Leeches in aquarium

How To Get Rid Of Aquarium Leeches

Once you’ve detected parasites in your aquarium, finding ways to kill them immediately is best.

Otherwise, these clingers will hurt your fish. Let’s consider these methods!

Salt Dip

The first simple and safe method is using salt to kill aquarium parasites. You should apply salt in high concentrations.

However, these clingers may attach to the gravel. So, it’s best to prepare another container to dip fish, plants, or decorations rather than adding salt to the tank.

Additionally, salt doesn’t harm the helpful microorganisms in your aquarium. It’s advisable to apply pure sodium chlorides like Kosher salt.

Don’t use salt with additives or Iodized salt since these products may harm salt-sensitive and invertebrate species.

Potassium Permanganate Dip

Another risk-free method for eliminating aquarium clingers is potassium permanganate (KMnO4).

You can add this chemical to your tank at a dosage of 2 ppm. Your plants and fish wouldn’t suffer more.

You can soak your aquarium plants for up to 15 minutes in a 100 ppm KMnO4 solution to get quicker effects.

Potassium permanganate

Potassium permanganate solution

Hydrogen Peroxide

You can remove some aquarium bloodsuckers with hydrogen peroxide. Sadly, some species survive after treatment.

It’s safe to apply H2O2 in your aquarium. Thus you can utilize this solution if you own any sensitive species or plant types.

Leech Traps

If your tank has sensitive plants or fish, leech traps or Planaria traps are suitable as it comes with no chemicals.

Planaria traps have baits that contain clingers’ preferred meals, such as pork liver, shrimp, dead fish, and flesh.

Bloodsuckers will begin congregating within the baits to consume their preferred meal and become imperceptibly stuck inside.

If you are unsure how to make the traps, you can watch this video:


Copper is the most effective chemical for killing clingers in tanks with plants and fish. It doesn’t affect most aquatic creatures.

However, copper can be harmful if you keep invertebrates, shrimp, or snails in your aquarium.


Bleach may kill these clingers but not the eggs. Therefore, you might need to apply bleach numerous times over several days.

You must remove plants, decorations, and substrate and submerge them in water mixed with bleach to move bloodsuckers.

Before returning them to the aquarium, properly rinse them under clean water to dechlorinate them.



Manual Removal

When bloodsuckers reside on the decorations, plants, or substrate, manually removing them is safe.


How Did Leeches Get In My Aquarium?

Introducing new plants and fish is the most common cause of these clingers’ existence in your tank.

What Freshwater Fish Eats Leeches?

Some fish, such as bluegill, catfish, or bass, may kill these bloodsuckers and eat them.

How Long Do Leeches Live?

These clingers live longer than many other invertebrate species. In nature, they can survive for up to ten years.

Where Do Leeches Lay Eggs?

These clingers often lay eggs in cocoons and then attach them to vegetation or rocks.

How Long Do Leeches Stay Attached?

These parasites can attach to the living host for around 30 – 60 minutes.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, you can know how to get rid of aquarium leeches after referring to this article.

These bloodsuckers are famous for their resilient vitality, but you can successfully kill them using Potassium Permanganate, Hydrogen Peroxide, or bleach.

If you have other questions, please comment below. We’re willing to reply to them all. Thanks for reading!