The emergence of aquarium algae is one of the most typical problems among the aquarists. They not only make the tank look unsightly but also degrade the quality of water. No matter how hygiene and cleanliness one maintain, eradicating algae entirely is next to impossible. However, knowing about them and their ways of multiplication can keep them minimized in the tank to a great extent.
What are algae and how they grow?
Algae are single-cell plants that are ubiquitous in water. Almost every water source will have traces of algae which multiply rapidly under suitable conditions. Being a plant cell, they require nutrients, light and of course water to thrive. Nitrates and ammonia work wonders to support the growth of algae. Other than this, trace minerals and phosphate also work in favor of algae’s growth and multiplication.
How to remove algae from the tank?
Although there are chemicals that can reduce or remove algae from the tank, everyone is not comfortable in using them in the aquarium. Chemicals could pose health hazards to some of the fish. Therefore, getting rid of them in ways other than using chemicals sounds more appealing.
To match the pace, the first and most crucial step in their natural removal is reducing one or more of their requirements for survival. The following are the effective measures one can take to limit the algae formation and multiplication.
- Control the exposure of light to the tank
If you have a plant tank, the light becomes essential for the survival of plants. However, for fish-only tanks, light is not a prerequisite. Fish do not require light for survival, but algae do. Like plants, they need light to prepare their food through photosynthesis, the absence of which make them starve to death. Their ability to multiply also halts in light’s absence.
How to control light exposure?
- Place the tank far away from the window or from any source of direct sunlight and daylight.
- Position the tank in the dark corners of the room.
- Install an automatic timer for aquarium lights which turn the lights off automatically when the set limit is attained.
Tip: Tanks who are already infested with algae bloom should keep the aquarium lights off for longer durations. It will arrest the algae multiplication and will not pose any danger to the fish.
- Avoid overfeeding the fish
Fish require a small amount of food. If you overfeed, most of the food will remain uneaten and settle at the bottom of the tank and rot. Also, overfeeding will lead to an excess of production of waste material. Both of these will eventually create an excess of production of ammonia and phosphate, a welcoming sign for the algae bloom.
Therefore, make sure you feed the right amount of food and supply it at the proper schedule. Feeding twice a day is more than enough for the fish to remain full. Other than this, siphon out the extra or leftover food from the tank after each feeding session. With time and experience, you will know the exact amount of food your fish need which will prevent overfeeding.
Tip: You can skip feeding the fish for a day or two if algae are already persistent in the tank. It will not starve the fish and can stop the multiplication of algae to a great extent.
- Feed only premium fish food
Good quality of fish food which doesn’t contain useless ingredients as filler is the best for fish health. Premium fish food ensures proper digestion of food and less excretion which will create less pollution in the tank and thereby stop the proliferation of algae.
- Do not overstock the tank
Overstocking should always be avoided as it leads to many harmful effects on the tank and the fish. More fish in the tank means more production of ammonia which ultimately leads to algae multiplication and proliferation. If you already have too many fish in the tank and experiencing algae bloom, try reducing their number and see the difference in few days.
- Practice partial water changes frequently
A well-established aquarium is an abode of continuous nitrate build-up due to the aquarium nitrogen cycle. The absence of partial water changes for a long time increases the concentration of nitrates manifolds. However, bringing into practice will ensure that only the desired amount of nitrate will remain in the tank. It will indirectly reduce the spores of algae in the water and limit their multiplication. It is recommended to weekly change around 30-50% water for proper aquarium upkeep.
Tip: If already there is algae bloom, both frequency and percentage of water change need to be increased. It is advised to change 70% of water instead of 30-50% and once in a day, several days in a row to reduce the algae. It will reduce the level of nitrate and phosphate in the aquarium water.
- Remove the algae physically
While the partial water change minimizes the content of nitrate and phosphate, it also removes the free-floating algae. However, it is not enough to get rid of them completely. Algae growing on the surface of the tank needs to be removed physically by using hands or algae scrapper.
The sides and surface of the tank get green due to algae formation. The same happens with decorative items. While manual removal from these areas is feasible, you can take out the decorative items, wash them clean and put them back. Make this routine to get back clear and un-hazy aquarium.
- Switch-off the lights multiple times in a day
Algae require a sufficient amount of light to survive. If you keep switching the lights on and off multiple times in a day, they will have a hard time to cope-up with it and manufacture their food. You can also install an automatic timer and let it do the needful. It will not affect the plants but hurt algae drastically.
- Maintain a proper water circulation
Stillwater works in favor of algae. They settle down and proliferate easily. However, on the other hand, when the water is in circulation algae will find it hard to grow and multiply easily on the surface. Aquarium filters are the best way to maintain proper circulation of the tank’s water. A little adjustment of the filter system assists in improving the water circulation manifolds.
- Increase aeration
Like plants, algae require carbon dioxide to make their own food through photosynthesis. If you increase the level of oxygen, the concentration of carbon dioxide will reduce will eventually deplete the growth of algae. Ensure a good surface movement or add air stone that will continue making bubbles in the tank. An air pump can be used for the purpose. However, use this method only if there are no plants in the tank.
- Add algae eaters inside the tank
There are many species of fish that love to feed on algae. Some of them are Mollies, twig fish, Otocinclus catfish, Bristlenose Plecos and Siamese algae eater. You can introduce any of them in the tank and get rid of algae to some extent.
However, at the same time, make sure you are introducing the right species. For instance, some fish grow too big after fully grown like pleco and some do not prefer overcrowded tank like otocinclus catfish and get shy and hide.
Other than fish, you can also introduce snail and shrimps that also feed on algae. Amano shrimp is the best choice among freshwater shrimps to do the needful. Other than Amano, crystal red shrimp, cherry shrimp, and red cherry shrimp are also excellent choices. They chew on algae and make the tank free from them.
Some preferred algae eating snails include Zebra Nerite Snail which eats algae and aesthetically sound as well.
A tank with an algae bloom is unpleasant to look. Algae also compete with plants and create a threat to their survival. Therefore, it is always a good idea to maintain cleanliness in your aquarium and avoid the development of algae.
Keep the above points in handy and let your fish and plants rule the aquarium!