How to control algae in your aquarium

Algae growth is a problem that the majority of aquarium owners will face at one time or another. Sometimes, even the most dedicated and experienced aquatic enthusiasts find themselves battling the dreaded green stuff.

While algae is a natural organism which can occasionally be healthy, excess algae growth is unsightly can can have damaging effects on your fish tank and its inhabitants.

What causes algae?

Algae thrives on three basic necessities: sunlight, water and food. Three things your aquarium won’t survive without.  Too much of the three can cause the algae to spread like wildfire through your aquarium. It’s frustrating but can be controlled by limiting the amount of light that your aquarium sees and avoiding overfeeding. Overfeeding is one of the most common causes of algae growth, as well as the aquarium lights being left on too long or the aquarium being placed by a window.

What does algae do to the fish inside the aquarium?

Not only is algae unsightly, but when it is present in an aquarium it steals oxygen from the water and can harm the fish. You might see them gasping for air at the surface of the water.

How do I get rid of algae?

  • Limit sunlight

Never place your aquarium near a window or in direct sunlight, as the sun can encourage algae to grow rapidly. Also restrict the amount of time that you leave the aquarium lights on.  4-6 hours a day should suffice, any more and you run the risk of any algae problems spreading even further.

  • Feed less

A lot of fish tank owners worry about their fish going hungry, but the truth is,  fish are far more likely to get sick if they’re given too much food rather than too little. Overfeeding is a common problem that the majority of fish owners do without even realising it. Any leftover food sinks to the bottom of the aquarium, where it can rot and pollute the tank with ammonia. It’s widely advised that you remove as much uneaten food as you can from the aquarium before this happens. A gravel cleaner can be a handy tool to have to remove bits of food from the substrate. Disturbing the substrate in this way can also help to lift tiny particles so that they can be picked up by the filter.

  • Water changes

One of the easiest ways to avoid algae growth is by regularly doing partial water changes to ensure that fresh water is introduced into the aquarium. Water changes also help to inject more oxygen into the water. Change around 20% of your water weekly to remove some of the nutrients that help algae to grow.

  • Test your water

Test kits can be really useful for testing your aquarium water and ensuring that it is suitable for your fish. A phosphate and nitrate remover may be necessary if you find high levels of the chemicals in your aquarium.

If you regularly test your water and act upon any issues as soon as you can, you can reduce the likelihood of algae before it even occurs.

  • Remove algae by hand

If you see algae growing on the glass of the fish tank or on rocks and other hard surfaces, use an algae scraper and aquarium vacuum to remove it before it spreads. Repeatedly placing your hands inside the fish tank is not going to do any good, and so an algae magnet can be a great tool for wiping algae from the glass without getting your hands dirty or contaminating the tank. You can place one magnet at the top of the inside of the tank and then the other on the outside. You can then easily move the outside magnet around the tank, letting the inner magnet follow.

  • Algae eating fish

Algae eating fish can work wonders on an algae stricken aquarium. But which algae eaters are the best to have? Here’s our list of 5 of the best algae eating fish  to include in your aquarium.


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