5 Most Common Aquarium Algae Types

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edited September 1 in Advice Tutorials

5 Most Common Aquarium Algae Types & How to Avoid them?

Have you ever dreamt of having a fancy fish tank but end up battling constantly against algae? This is a common phenomenon & many hobbyists are fighting to secure their tank from overgrowth of algae. Hence in this article we will tell you whether algae is good or bad for aquarium? & also how to control overgrowth of algae which could be troublesome because it not only affects look of aquarium, but can cause imbalance too.


Is Algae Good or Bad for Aquarium?

Algae is not bad for aquarium if it is under limited quantity. They are in fact helpful for the fish & can provide a natural look to your fish tank. Algae use photosynthesis to change light & fish waste or other debris present in the aquarium into fresh algae growth. Hence like plants, algae generates oxygen at day & consume oxygen at night. Unlike plants it is not difficult to grow algae in aquarium. It grows in bad conditions too such as it can absorb wavelengths of light & absorb different compounds not used by plants so it grows with ease.

Aquarium inhabitants like to eat algae & it can purify aquarium water because it acts like a filter. Also certain types of algae looks beautiful in aquarium. However, a lot of hobbyists complain about the weird kind of algae look in their planted aquariums, because it blocks the beautiful scenery & viewing region of the aquarium. In reality every planted tank has little or more algae as well.

Algae is needed for ecosystem of aquarium but too much algae is problematic. Measures must be taken to control it including reducing the nitrogen produced in fish tank from leftover food, plant litter, or fish waste etc. Other measures required to reduce it include increasing the reaction of bacteria to additional nitrogen such as enhance or augment good bacteria activity.

Enhancing of following variables can assist quick production of algae in fish tank:
  • Tank lights left on for a long duration of time
  • Aquarium situated in a site where sunlight can hit water directly
  • Overfeeding aquarium fish
  • Not changing water regularly
  • Adding too much nutrients to aquarium

5 Most Common Aquarium Algae Types & How to Treat them:

If your aquarium water produce too much algae, then follow our tips & tricks to control its growth. But if you know about types of algae then it can help you in accomplishing the required steps for limiting the specific type of algae. Find the type of algae growing in your fish tank & complete the required measures if you want to reduce it quickly. Below you can find 5 different types of problematic algae, its precautions & cure:


Brown Algae:

Brown Algae is also called gravel or silica algae. It develops in fresh tanks, & will cover the fish tank in coats, which is not difficult to remove. It is not that harmful & as your fish tank gets older, then Brown Algae won’t grow in it.

Brown Algae
Brown Algae
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The reason behind the overgrowth of brown algae is using 100 percent tap water in fish tank. Also high quantity of phosphate, nitrates & too much light exposure can help grow brown algae.

Use algae scrapper to wipe out brown algae & after algae is scrapped off, use soft cloth to wipe off the region. If you find that brown algae has not been removed then do a 50 percent water change to take out the nutrients that brown algae needs for growth.


Blue Green Algae:

Other names of Blue Green Algae are slime or smear algae, & the main causes for its overgrowth include excess of nitrate & phosphate in fish tank. It is difficult to control growth of this type of algae due to its easy spread. If you maintain clean water then it will help control its growth but if there is high phosphate level in aquarium water then for reducing the growth of blue green algae, it will require special treatments to wipe out the extra nutrients. Erythromycin can be used to remove this type of algae, but it is recommended to use it carefully, because it can destabilize the good bacteria colonies growing inside your biological filter.

Blue Green Algae
Blue Green Algae
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If you want to get rid of Blue Green algae, then turn off your aquarium lights as it is the main reason behind its overgrowth.

Change 50 percent tank water to remove as much blue green algae as you can. Then check your aquarium to monitor levels of toxic components & if it is lower than 20 ppm, then try adding adequate potassium nitrate to your aquarium.

Add an airstone & turn off light completely & cover up your aquarium for 3 to 4 days. Then make another 50 percent water change & remove the airstone.

Also fast growing plants can help lower the nutrients that blue green algae use for growth. Try adding few of them to your aquarium for limiting blue green algae growth.


Red or Beard Algae:

It is difficult to remove red or beard algae from tank water & it commonly produces on plants. Your plants need a dip in a weak (5 to 10 percent) bleach solutions for a few minutes to remove this type of algae from them.

Red or Beard Algae
Red or Beard Algae
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Red or beard type of algae that generates a red light protein also called phycoerythrin. Such protein provides this type of algae the purplish black look.

Beard algae is very slippery & can infest driftwood, bogwood, plants that grows slowly, along with hard surfaces of aquarium.

Reasons behind overgrowth of black beard algae includes:
  • Imbalance of carbon dioxide in water.
  • High nutrients in water
  • Too much exposure to light
Black Beard Algae can be wiped out manually using an algae scrapper. It would be tough so using Seachem Flourish Excel can assist you in this procedure.

It is also suggested to dip the plants & objects infected by red or beard algae in a 1:20 ratio of bleach & water solution for two to three minutes.  


Green Algae:

Green Algae is also called hair, thread or spot algae. This type of algae is healthy & every fish tank will most likely experience it based on conditions of water. If you can maintain clean water, then its growth will be limited. Algae eating fish eat this type of algae, so it is advisable to have a few of them in your fish tank.

Green Algae
Green Algae
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The reasons behind the overgrowth of green algae includes using high light bulbs for long periods of time. Place your aquarium in direct sunlight & limited quantity of macronutrients.

In order to wipe out green algae then simple method is to use a timer to control the duration of aquarium exposure to light. Make sure your aquarium lights are turned off for at least 12 hours every day to control the overgrowth of green algae.


Green Water:

Other names of green water are algae bloom, & the most common reason behind its overgrowth is the growth of microscopic algae suspended in tank water. It is a tough process to remove green algae from aquarium water because it cannot be removed or scrapped off similar to other types of algae. If you change aquarium water, then the leftover algae will grow back rapidly. The perfect method for removing this type of algae is using diatomic filter or block lights fully for more than a few days. Also make sure your aquarium does not have high levels of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate or phosphate because it can be the reason for its fast overgrowth. In case of high toxic components that we have mentioned above, do a quick water change for lowering its amount in water.

Green Water
Green Water
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Due to following reasons you can observe green water in aquarium:
  • Spike in aquarium lights
  • Too much nutrients in aquarium water
  • Not changing water regularly
If you make a partial or full water change for removing this algae, then it will not work here because green water will appear after 2 to 3 days.

We recommend using a UV sterilizer or use a blackout method that we have already defined in blue green algae. You can have a look at all steps below:

Add an airstone & turn off light completely & cover up your aquarium for 3 to 4 days. Then make another 50 percent water change & remove the airstone.
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