11 Ways to Control Algae


Algae are a plant like organisms that requires 3 things; light, water and nutrients. It is for a fact that algae exist in every single aquarium. It is a sign of a healthy and aquarium. However, in excessive amount, this tends to be a headache for most aquarists. On this article we will learn the causes of Algae, how to control them and some of the most common Algae.

Causes of Algae Growth

Too much light– Light plays a very important role in a nature aquarium. It will allow your plants to grow well. However, too much light can cause uncontrollable algae growth in aquarium.

aquarium algae

Too much feeding– Uneaten foods can be a source of abundant nutrients in a nature aquarium. As these wastes decay, they will add more nutrients in the water.

Lack of CO2– Plants create food by combining nutrients, water and CO2 together with the help of light. With a minimal amount of CO2 in the water, plants will not be able to consume the extra nutrients in the water. These extra nutrients cause algae growth.

Ways How To Control Algae

There are few things you can do in controlling algae. These are as follows:

  1. Reduce lighting hours. As much as possible use timer. This will make your monitoring job easier.
  2. Use bulbs only that has the appropriate light temperatures and light intensities. For planted tanks, use 5000k to 10000k of light temperature. For marine tank, use 10000k to 20000k of light temperature.
  3. Plant densely to deprive the algae of extra nutrients. Again, extra nutrients can cause algae growth.
  4. Introduce floating plants like Riccia fluitans to consume extra nutrients.
  5. Feed the fish in small amounts that can be consumed by fish in 3 minutes.
  6. Inject CO2 in the water. CO2 injector are usually expensive. But you can make a good CO2 injector by yourself.
  7. Introduce algae eating critters like nerites, shrimps, Siamese algae eater and other sucker mouth fish.
  8. Always do regular and partial water changes. You can do this maybe once in every two weeks.
  9. Make sure that the aquarium is not exposed to sunlight.
  10. You can remove the algae manually. This is the dirty part and probably the most ineffective way.
  11. Use algaecide as the last option. Always remember that most algaecide will also kill the plants once introduced in the nature aquarium. This is definitely not recommendable is nature aquarium.

Some of the most common Algae, causes and control

Type of algae Cause Solution
Black Beard Algae (BBA) Low CO2 Add CO2, trim, spot treat with Excel
Blue Green Algae (BGA) Low nitrate Blackout + add nitrate
Cladophora Low nitrate + Low CO2 Add nitrate, add CO2
Diatoms Excess silicates, Low light Wait, add catfish, use RO water/sponge
Green Dust Algae (GDA) Spores Wait out life cycle, remove + WC
Green Spot Algae (GSA) Low phosphate + Low CO2? Add phosphate, possibly add more CO2
Green Water (GW) Ammonia + high light Reduce light, Wait, Small WC, UV filter
Hair Algae Excess nutrients, silicates WC, Excel, feed less, is something limited?
Hydra Stowaway in live food Use cleaner live food, flubendazole, H2O2
Milky Water Bacteria bloom Wait out, protect filter, add fish slowly
Staghorn Ammonia + low CO2 Remove, WC, protect filter, Excel
String Algae Excess nutrients WC + get biofilter working

From: http://rexgrigg.com/Algae1.html created by Rex Grigg of Boise, Idaho.

In the table above you can see, that some of the algae are caused by the lack of CO2 in the water.

Some Algae Eaters

Leporacanthicus cf. galaxias (L007) Leporacanthicus cf. galaxias (L007) “Vampire Pleco” – LargeThe vampire pleco has a dark body with white dots that become more yellow as they age. They have a large front tooth that is thought to be used for scraping algae. They also are called Galaxy plecos and are classified under the number L-029 as well as L-007. Vampire plecos are generally peaceful, although they are territorial of the lower levels of the aquarium. Thus, they will often act aggressively toward other catfish and bottom-feeders if there is not enough territory for all of them. They are best kept one per tank unless the aquarium is over 100 gallons, and should be kept with few bottom-dwelling tankmates. Provide many hiding places, as this fish will choose an area and defend it vigorously from others that may also use them. Suitable hiding spots can be made using driftwood and rocks. Vampire plecos are found in fast-flowing, well-oxygenated waters. For this reason, they require efficient water flow and filtration to stay healthy. They are easily stressed by poor water conditions, so frequent water changes are a must. Vampire plecos are omnivorous, and will feed on a vareity of algae, plant matter, small worms, larvae, and crustaceans. They are avid snail-eaters. Vampire plecos can be fed sinking pellets as well as frozen meaty foods and fresh greens.


Gyrincocheilos aymonieri Gyrincocheilos aymonieri “Chinese Algae Eater”The Chinese Algae Eater is one of the most commonly seen algae eaters in the aquarium hobby. Despite the name, however, these fish are not true algae eaters and require a diet of both meaty and vegetable foods. The sucker-like mouth is actually an adaptation for maintaining a grip on rocks in the fast flowing waters from which it originated. They also use this mouth to rasp algae from the surface of rocks, glass, and plants. They will also scavenge extra food from the bottom of the tank. As Chinese Algae Eaters get older they favor a more carnivorous diet and can become more aggressive. They can especially be a problem with long finned or delicate fish. The body is brown on top and white on the bottom with a broken black band that runs horizontally down the flanks of the fish.


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