Aquarium Algae - Understanding and Controlling Featured

Algae problems in your aquarium require different approaches, depending on the type of algae that you have. Identifying the algae and then using the proper treatment is the key to success.

Algae growth is a nuisance that most aquarium hobbyists have trouble with at one time or another. Excessive algae growth is something that can creep up slowly or it may suddenly take over your tank in the form of an algae bloom. If you hope to control algae growth in your tank, you first need to cultivate an understanding of the different types of aquarium algae. Once you know the basics you will be able to identify the algae growing in your tank and you will then be able to take the proper steps to control it.

Types of Algae in the Aquarium


Aquarium Algaefrom left: brown algae, green algae, and thread algae

Brown Algae = This is the most common type of aquarium algae and it is likely to be found in new tanks as well as aquariums with low lighting. Also called diatoms, brown algae presents in the shape of soft clumps that form on aquarium walls and décor. This type of algae can be easily removed by hand and it can be controlled through the introduction of live plants or algae eaters like aquarium snails and Otocinclus catfish.

Green Algae = This type of algae usually presents as green water in the aquarium and it is often a result of poor water quality. Green algae, also called an algae bloom, grows quickly in tanks that have too much light and in new tanks that haven’t been cycled correctly. Because it typically forms a film on tank walls and décor, green algae can easily be wiped off and it usually goes away on its own once the tank conditions have stabilized.

Cyanobacteria = Often called blue/green algae, cyanobacteria are actually microscopic organisms that spread throughout the tank in slimy blue/green sheets. This type of algae can be removed easily by hand and its growth should be controlled or it may result in the death of fish and aquarium plants.

Green Spot Algae = Presenting in the form of hard green spots on tank walls and plants, this type of algae is one of the most stubborn. Green spot algae is typically found in tanks exposed to too much light and tanks with low CO2 and Phosphate levels. The best way to remove this type of algae is by scraping it away with a razor blade – few species of algae eaters are successful in removing green spot algae growths.

Red/Brush Algae = Brush algae, also called red algae, tends to collect on slow-growing aquarium plants. This type of algae can grow in either acidic or alkaline conditions and it is difficult to remove by hand. Siamese algae eaters are one of the only known species that are effective in controlling this type of algae growth.

Thread Algae = This type of algae takes the form of long threads which grow up to 30cm long and hang on to leaf edges. Thread algae is likely to grow in tanks that are low in iron and it can easily be removed by twirling the growths around a toothbrush. This type of algae can be controlled through the introduction of Siamese algae eaters into the tank.

Tips for Controlling Aquarium Algae

In order to keep algae levels low in your aquarium you need to limit the nutrients available and make the tank environment less ideal for algae growth. Keeping your tank clean through routine water changes and by limiting the amount of food you give your fish are two simple ways to limit the nutrients available to algae. Live aquarium plants are another great solution because plants will compete with algae for nutrients, thus limiting the ability of algae to grow. Keeping your tank out of direct sunlight and limiting your use of artificial light to 10 or 12 hours a day are the best ways to make your tank environment less likely to encourage algae growth.

Another simple way to keep your tank clean and clear is to introduce an EcoBio-Stone. An EcoBio-Stone is made of porous volcanic rock and is infused with unique beneficial bacteria. Once they have been introduced into your tank, these bacteria will multiply and help to maintain the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle is simply the process through which wastes are broken down and the resulting ammonia is converted into nitrates. Once you install an EcoBio-Stone in your tank, the beneficial bacteria will take over, helping to keep your tank water clean and clear. A clean aquarium is less likely to experience excess algae growth and it will be a healthier environment for your fish.

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