Even the most experienced aquarists have algae outbreaks every now and then. While algae is annoying and unsightly, it can actually serve as an indicator that alerts you that something is “off” in your tank. When you notice an algae bloom, it is likely that something deeper requires your attention. Knowing how to get rid of aquarium algae is a skill that comes in very handy in the long run.
General Tips – How to Get Rid Of Aquarium Algae
Different types of algae can stem from different issues. That said, there are some general steps you can take to help reduce algae growth. With these tips, you will give yourself the upper hand over persistent aquarium algae
Keep Up with Water Changes
Water changes are a necessary evil in the world or fish keeping. They help remove uneaten food, reduce nitrates, and ultimately eliminate algae.
The reason that water changes help with algae is because they remove everything that algae feeds on. Nitrates, Phosphates, and Silicates are all removed/reduced during water changes.
You should be doing water changes at least once a month. If you’re running a reef system, you should up water changes to weekly if possible.
Feeding too much or too often is the most common cause of algae growth in fish tanks. Beginners are often excited to feed their fish and end up feeding five times a day. This is completely unnecessary.
Fish are completely fine eating once a day. If you notice algae blooms, you can even cut back feeding to every other day. It may sound cruel, but this is actually more than enough for most fish.
Only feed your fish as much as they can eat in 2-3 minutes. It can be hard to estimate the correct amount, so thinking about it on an individual fish basis. Put in a large pinch for your Angelfish and a small pinch for your Tetras. Everything will balance out in the end.
Replace Your Bulbs
If you use anything other than LEDs, bulb replacements are a necessity. As bulbs age, they shift in color and promote excess algae growth. I used to replace the bulbs in my T5 and Power Compact fixtures about once a year. Old bulbs will cause algae growth.
The problem with bulb replacements is that they can get very expensive. It is often cheaper to buy a whole new fixture than just buying a few bubs. Since I made the switch to LEDs, bulb replacements are a thing of the past. If you are on the fence about buying that new LED fixture you have had your eye on, let this be your sign. It is worth it in the long run, both by saving your money and by avoiding algae growth.
Shorten the Number of Hours You Run Your Lights
Sometimes, algae growth is not caused by a bad light or unnecessary feedings. Everything could be right, but the algae just keeps on coming. If this seems to fit your experience, try reducing the number of hours your light is on.
When I first started with my reef tank, I was eager to watch my corals grow. My thought process was the longer my light is on, the faster my corals grow! I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I was running my light 14 hours a day and the tank was nothing but headaches. Red Slime Algae and Green Hair Algae overtook my tank and even smothered out a few of my corals.
I tried everything I could find. While water changes and protein skimmers helped, nothing solved my problem. As a last resort, I ended up blacking out my tank for a few days and then running the light at only 8 hours a day. Within a few weeks, my tank was looking perfect.
Sometimes the reason for algae growth is a lot simpler than we make it out to be. Try running you light at 7-8 hours a day and see how your tank responds.
Increase Your Filtration Capacity
If all else fails, it is a real possibility that the filtration system in your tank isn’t strong enough. The general rule is that you want a flow rate greater than or equal to 4x your total tank volume per hour. If you have a 20-gallon tank, your filter should be processing at least 80 gallons per hour.
If you don’t want to completely re-do your filtration system, there are a few tricks you can use to promote cleaner water. If you’re running a saltwater tank, try using a protein skimmer in conjunction with your regular filtration system. Adding a protein skimmers is a great way to remove dissolved organics from the water column.
If you have a freshwater tank, try introducing a few live plants into your system. Live plants compete with algae for food, helping reduce unwanted algae growth. In addition, they are a beautiful addition to any tank!
About the Guest Writer:
The writer, Mason V. hails from Build Your Aquarium. Build Your Aquarium is a blog run by fish-keepers, for fish-keepers. They publish weekly articles, guides, and product reviews, all written by experienced aquarium owners with over 10 years in the hobby. Build Your Aquarium offers articles on; Everything you need to know about setting up and maintaining a healthy fish tank.