Algae is undesirable to many aquarium owners. It obstructs the view and depletes valuable nutrients from your live aquarium plants. Although algae provides a meal to herbivorous inhabitants, too much can be overwhelming to aquarists. Meanwhile, it grows faster than most inhabitants can consume.
Algae blooms if the environment is ideal in supporting its growth. If we start to remove the basis of what your algae are using to grow, the algae will slowly die off, yes, even that stubborn algae! To rid your aquarium of algae at a faster pace, we have written this article to help you remove all types of algae that grow within an aquarium. It is best to eliminate the desirable conditions algae uses to develop alongside a manual removal method.
What are algae?
Algae is a single-celled protist that comes in a variety of types and colors. It grows on the surfaces of your aquarium and attaches itself, making it hard to get off. Algae thrive in high lighting environments with a tank valuable in nutrients to support their growth. Algae primarily look flat as it carpets along aquarium surfaces, as it lacks stems, roots, and leaves.
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Types of algae found in an aquarium or pond
When most people think of algae, we think of the green chlorophyll-containing plant that takes over an aquarium in a green haze. Algae come in a variety of colors and growth patterns. Each type of algae thrives in a variety of conditions. It is essential to determine the type of algae growing in your aquarium before you attempt to remove it.
Green algae: This is the most common growing algae familiar to most aquarists. These chlorophyll-containing protists grow in a light to dark green carpet along surfaces. It is the less stubborn algae to remove.
Blackbeard algae: A black algae that resembles a beard. Blackbeard algae vary from dark green to dark black. Blackbeard algae originate from red algae commonly found in saltwater. This form rapidly takes over a freshwater or saltwater aquarium.
Golden brown algae and diatoms: Found in both fresh and saltwater aquariums, this type of algae are commonly widespread. The diatoms are the most abundant type and occur in salt or brackish water conditions as nannoplankton.
Yellow-green algae: One of the rarest least prolific unicellular organisms appears in yellow and green. It is due to their chloroplasts containing different pigmentation. They readily grow in freshwater aquariums and will rapidly develop under ideal conditions. This type of algae is rarely found in saltwater aquariums, although it is not uncommon.
Before getting your hands dirty and removing algae manually from your aquarium, it is good to prepare beforehand.
Put an old towel next to the tank to dry your hands when you scrape off any algae.
Keep an aquarium scrub brush or old toothbrush on hand to scrub the algae off.
Keep a solution of apple cider vinegar and boiled water to soak solid surfaces that stubborn algae will not come off.
Algae is stubborn and hard to detach from surfaces, making it frustrating to determine a valuable method to remove the algae growing in your aquarium.
Soak the algae-ridden decorations in a solution of boiling water and apple cider vinegar, according to the ratio 1tsp:400ml.
Let the decorations soak for 2 minutes in the solution.
Grab an aquarium scrub brush and start to scrape off the algae on the walls of your aquarium. The diatoms should come loose into the water.
After the algae-ridden decorations have sat in the solution for 2 minutes, remove the items and place them on an old towel.
Begin scrubbing at the decorations with an aquarium brush or old toothbrush. The solution softens the algae making it come off easier.
Once you remove the algae from the decorations, place the items in warm water and soak for 5 minutes.
You may then begin rinsing the decorations under a tap to ensure not apple cider vinegar remains.
Do a water change and gravel vacuum to remove the algae diatoms floating in the aquarium’s water.
Dry and place the decorations back into the aquarium with the algae removed.
Keep the aquarium in a low-lit environment for a few hours to deter the algae from slowly growing back.
Preventing algae growth
Use a UV sterilizer to rid of algae and prevent the algae from coming back in the future. It is ideal for large and common outbreaks of algae that will not get under control.
Reduce the amount of natural and artificial lighting the tank receives.
Grow live aquarium plants to control the number of nutrients in the water.
Keep algae eating aquarium inhabitants in your aquarium that can consume the algae faster than it has the chance to develop.
Removing algae can be difficult and time-consuming. We hope this article has helped you remove algae from your aquarium and deter the algae from growing and developing in your tank. It is ideal in preventing the growth of algae rather than frequent manual removal. Ensuring you will not be stuck battling unwanted algae growth in your aquarium.
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Oliver (Ollie) Jones — A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, cat Steve, and 3 large aquariums full of fish and other aquatic creatures. Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his Master's Degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career but has found a new love for marine life and writing about animals of all types. He hopes to share his aquatic knowledge and expertise with people so they can share in his passion.