Ultimate Guide: What to Do When Tank Algae Strikes

Ultimate Guide: What to Do When Tank Algae Strikes

Dogs and cats are, by far, the most popular pets in this country. Almost 50% of American households have at least one dog living in them, while almost 30% have at least one cat.

But fish have also carved out a niche in homes throughout the U.S. About 10% of American households have fish tanks in them.

If you own a fish tank with fish in it, tank algae is something that you’re going to need to be at least a little bit concerned about. There is inevitably going to come a time when you’ll have aquarium algae.

You should be prepared to take immediate action if you ever notice tank algae beginning to build up. Today, we’re going to discuss what you should do in the event that you see tank algae taking shape in your aquarium.

Here is how you should react to tank algae from start to finish.

Start by Learning About the Different Types of Tank Algae

First things first: You need to know that all tank algae is not created equal. There are quite a few different kinds of tank algae that can wreak havoc on your fish tank and the water inside of it.

Here are several of the most common kinds of tank algae around:

  • Brown algae: Sometimes referred to as either gravel or silica algae, it gets its name from its ugly color. But fortunately, it’s not harmful to a fish tank, and it’s easy to eliminate. It’s just not going to make the inside of a fish tank look very nice.
  • Blue-green algae: This type of tank algae is also often called either slime or smear algae. It’ll start to grow when you have too much nitrate in your fish tank, and it’ll grow very fast and get out of control in no time at all.
  • Red algae: Red algae or black beard algae is the worst kind of algae to have growing in your fish tank. It’ll be very hard to get rid of once it begins to grow.
  • Green algae: While most forms of algae are bad, this one is actually going to be good for your fish tank as long as it doesn’t grow all over the place. It’s often called growth hair or spot algae and it’ll help both the plants and the fish in your tank.

It’ll be important for you to know what type of tank algae you have growing prior to trying to deal with it. You don’t want to mistake, say, red algae for brown algae and drag your feet when it comes to cleaning it up.

Consider What Could Be Causing Tank Algae

Now that you know about some of the different aquarium algae types, you need to know what causes them to show up in the first place. You might be able to stop them from making an appearance by learning about their root cause.

Check out a few of the common causes of tank algae below:

  • You’re leaving the lights that surround your fish tank on too often
  • You’re letting too much sunlight stream into your fish tank
  • You’re giving your fish way too much food
  • You’re not making it a point to replace the water in your fish tank often enough
  • You’re allowing an overabundance of nutrients to build up in your fish tank’s water

You might be able to sidestep tank algae for the most part by pinpointing these potential problems and avoiding them at all costs. They’ll ensure that tank algae doesn’t get the best of your aquarium on a regular basis.

Take Steps to Eliminate Tank Algae

No matter how hard you work to try and keep tank algae at bay, there will be times when it’ll strike. You’ll let your guard down for just a few days, and you’ll start to see algae build up in different parts of your fish tank.

Continue reading to see which steps you should take to eliminate tank algae so that you can get things back to normal for your fish.

1. Check up on the Water in Your Fish Tank

You might think that your fish tank is going to be just fine as long as the water in it looks pretty clear. But this isn’t always the case!

You need to get yourself into the habit of testing the water in your fish tank early and often. More specifically, you need to see where your water’s pH levels stand.

If you notice your pH levels going up at an alarming rate, it means that you have too many nutrients in your water. You’ll need to treat the water to stop these levels from spiking any further and allowing tank algae to grow.

2. Clean up the Plants in Your Fish Tank

Putting plants into your fish tank is a great idea. But you’re going to have to make sure that they don’t let tank algae grow out of control.

If you happen to spot any algae growing on these plants, you should remove them from your fish tank and dip them into a solution that contains 5 to 10% bleach. This bleach will kill the algae almost instantly and stop it from doing any further damage.

Just be sure that you rinse these plants off so that no bleach is left behind on them. Otherwise, the bleach could hurt and maybe even kill your fish when you put to plants back into your fish tank.

3. Use the Right Filter in Your Fish Tank

More often than not, you should be able to get rid of tank algae by following the first two steps found here. But if you can’t seem to shake tank algae, you’ll want to replace your fish tank’s water as often as you can.

You’ll also want to invest in a diatomic filter that is designed to make light work of any algae found in a fish tank. It’s a fantastic addition to almost any home aquarium.

Prevent Tank Algae From Making a Quick Return

Once you’ve eliminated tank algae from an aquarium, the last thing that you’re going to want is for it to come back. Your fish tank is going to be more trouble than it’s worth if all you’re doing is constantly fighting a losing battle against algae.

With this in mind, there are some simple steps you can take to stop tank algae from making a return once it’s been eliminated. Keep reading to see what these steps entail.

1. Think About Repositioning Your Fish Tank

Is your fish tank set up in a spot that’s forcing it to take in too much direct light? If it is, moving it to a new place could cure you of all your tank algae issues.

You should always keep fish tanks away from the natural light that comes straight through the windows in a home. You should also keep fish tanks away from any artificial lighting sources in your house.

A lot of people will keep fish tanks down in their basement areas, and it’s not just because it makes it easier to clean up after them down there. It’s also because most basements get very little light in them, which is ideal for fish.

2. Scale Back on How Much You’re Feeding Your Fish

Every time that you feed the fish in your aquarium, you should watch them eat. You should time them to see how long it’s taking them to chow down on all the food you’ve given to them.

If you find that your fish aren’t done eating within three minutes or so, it often means that you’re giving them too much food. You should scale back on it and start giving them less food.

As we mentioned earlier, giving your fish too much food might lead to a tank algae outbreak. It’s why you want to give your fish only the food that they’ll need.

3. Add Fish That Love Eating Algae to Your Tank

Are you frustrated beyond belief with all the tank algae that is growing in your aquarium? Then you might want to call in the big guns and let some algae-eating fish get to work.

These are just a few of the different types of fish that will eat almost all of the algae in your aquarium when you unleash them in it:

  • Siamese flying fox
  • Plecostomus
  • Otocinclus

When all else fails, these fish species will make sure your tank algae problem turns into a thing of the past.

Don’t Let Tank Algae Take Over Your Aquarium

A little bit of tank algae isn’t going to be something that you should freak out over. But if you can see more and more algae growing in your tank, you should start to be worried.

Follow the steps listed here to eliminate tank algae so that it doesn’t become an even bigger issue than it already is. It’ll provide both your fish and your fish tank with the protection that they need from algae.

Get your hands on other great pet-related tips and tricks by browsing through all of our useful blog articles.