Top 5 Ways to Clean Algae from Your Fish Tank
Algae is a natural part of the aquarium ecosystem because it helps to purify the water from toxic waste chemicals and serves as a food source for algae-eating fish and invertebrates. Most people view algae as an unwanted guest. Too much algae can block your view and slow down the growth of healthy plants. Let’s discuss 5 simple ways to get rid of algae from aquarium decorations and walls.
1. Use tools to manually remove algae
Physically removing algae with your own two hands is the first approach on our list because it produces immediate results without a lot of waiting, so let’s talk about the most efficient tools to have in your arsenal. If algae is coating your aquarium walls and making it hard to see your fish, an algae scrubber is the simplest way to wipe off the algae. The gentle sponge is made from non-toxic melamine foam, and will not scratch acrylic and glass. Mag-Float Glass cleaner with matching blades is a good choice if you have trouble scraping away tough algae like green spots. These glass-safe cutting blades are able to cut through green spot algae much like a butter knife. It will also save you time and effort in tank maintenance. (Mag-Float Acrylic Cleaner is required for acrylic fish tanks.
An algae scrubber can be used to wipe away algae from aquarium walls so that you have a clear view of your fish and plants.
For cleaning hard-to reach areas, aquarium decorations, hardscape, or plant leaves, a simple toothbrush can be a great tool. You can get rid of certain types of hair alga by picking up the algae strands using the toothbrush bristles. The toothbrush bristles will then be used to twist the toothbrush until the algae is shaped like spaghetti. Finally, if you see blue-green algae or brown diatom algae starting to coat the substrate, use an aquarium siphon to vacuum the gravel or sand.
Twirl a toothbrush in a mass of hair algae to easily detach it from plants, hardscape, or fish tank decor.
2. Algae-Eating Animals are here to help
People often look for an algicide to help them when algae starts growing in their fish tanks. The reason why we place them in second place on this list is because a) each algae-eating species only eats certain kinds of algae and b) they may not be able to completely clean your entire aquarium. But they can be a great second line of defence that can help you fight the algae. We love nerite shrimps, amanoshrimp, and schools of otocinclus catsfish for nano tanks. If you have larger tanks, consider getting Siamese and bristlenose pistols. For additional suggestions, read about the top 10 algae eaters for freshwater aquariums.
The Siamese Algae Eater is a good member of the fish tank clean-up crew. But, be careful not to get its more aggressive sibling, the Chinese Algae Eater.
3. Get rid of excess organics from the tank
Algae can easily eat nitrogen compounds from fish poop and unhealthy leaves. It is a good idea to remove any nutrients from an aquarium that is new or not established. If you have a planted tank, get a pair of scissors to trim off any dead or algae-covered leaves whenever you do a water change. To remove any rotting ground material, use a siphon and reduce the amount of food you give fish if they stop eating within a couple minutes.
Blue-green algae loves to grow in areas where there is debris or “dead zone” (i.e., a slow current or a lot of ornaments or hardscape). Make the water flow more efficient by moving ornaments around and filling the gaps between hardscape with substrate.
4. Balance Lighting and Nutrients
Algae can be eliminated by addressing the root issue that is causing it to outcompete your plants. Algae can use the same resources as plants to grow and photosynthesize, and if they have too many or too few of these building blocks, it can thrive at an alarming rate.
We recommend that you use an outlet timer to balance your tank. This will turn on the light for 6-8 hours each day. Then, increase or decrease your nutrients as necessary. To reduce the amount of nitrate in your tank, you can do a water change if it is higher than 50 ppm. Dose the tank with Easy Green all in one fertilizer until it reaches 20ppm. You should wait 2-3 weeks before making any changes to the lighting or nutrients levels. This will allow you to see how it affects your plants and make adjustments accordingly. It is impossible to eliminate all algae from your plants. Therefore, you should try to minimize the amount of it that you can.
5. Take an Algae Inhibitor
When it comes to chemical treatments, there’s a delicate balance between finding a remedy that is strong enough to affect the algae without harming the animals and plants in the fish tank. Although liquid carbon is often sold as a fertilizer to aquarium plants, it is actually an algae inhibitor which is known for reducing algae growth. Our brand of liquid carbon, Easy Carbon, is safe for fishes and invertebrates. It has an easy to use pump head dispenser that can quickly dose your fish tanks. To directly spray Easy Carbon on black beard alga (BBA), you can use a pipette. This is the most difficult type of algae to eliminate. You can read the entire article to learn more about liquid carbon.
Easy Carbon is effective against persistent algae outbreaks like BBA. To allow the chemical’s “soaking” to take effect, turn off the filter for a few seconds before you apply it directly.
We believe chemical treatments should be last on the list. This is because they are most effective after you have balanced the light and nutrients in your plant aquarium. If you try to use algaecides in your tank without doing any of the previous four steps, the algae will keep growing back and the chemicals will have little to no impact. You can read our article about the 6 most common types and how to stop algae growth.