As an aquarium owner, you will be aware of the seemingly never-ending battle against algae growth. Unfortunately, algae can be an inevitable problem in your fish tank. The good thing is, you can take steps to get rid of algae and stay on top of it.
So what is algae? To put it simply, algae is a plant that appears in a variety of colours and forms as it grows within your fish tank. It attaches itself to the surfaces of items and the glass of your tank. In the right amounts, algae can provide a good food source for your fish; however, it can cause water pollution and become unpleasant if there is too much of it.
Clean your aquarium
Algae has a habit of building up on your aquarium’s acrylic or glass sides, making for an unsightly tank. An easy way to remove algae from your glass is an aquarium scraper and some elbow grease. The scraper will remove large algae deposits, as well as daily film algae, leaving you with a clear view of your fish. But make sure to get into every nook and cranny!
Algae will also collect in your substrate, so it’s essential to clean it regularly. This can be done quickly using a siphon.
Never underestimate the power of a good water change! Clean water is a staple of good aquarium care, so if your tank becomes polluted, it will help to perform a water change. Regular water changes can help dilute and carry away unwanted algae nutrients that build up in your aquarium. We suggest carrying this out weekly as part of your maintenance routine, as going too long between changes may increase your chances of an algae outbreak.
Some fish thrive off algae in tanks, making it a great source of food for them. If you have the tank capacity, you may think about introducing a few new helpful tank mates.
Many varieties of fish and invertebrates can be added to your tank that may help control algae growth. The most common type of fish would be a pleco. However, some can grow very large, which may not be a suitable option for most fish keepers. We would suggest a bristlenose pleco; they’re hardy, easy to keep and don’t grow too large (12.5 centimetres). Most importantly, they are great lovers of algae.
Catfish such as the dwarf sucking catfish are a good option. Otocinclus are another great choice as they are largely compatible with all species and only grow to about 4.5 centimetres, making them ideal for smaller fish tanks.
Sometimes natural methods of algae removal just won’t cut it. That’s where algae treatments come in. An algae treatment is a solution placed into your fish tank that will eliminate algae. This method may not be as gentle as cleaning and adding new fish, but it is fast-acting and effective.
You can reduce excess algae by controlling the amount of light your aquarium gets by making sure your tank is not in direct sunlight and putting lights on a timer, as an extended light cycle can promote algae growth.
Do not overfeed fish
Make sure you’re not overfeeding your fish! If you find yourself in a constant cycle of returning algae, it may be time to consider cutting down on the amount you feed your fish. Food that goes uneaten will settle into the substrate and start to break down. Organic material left in the tank provides essential nutrients perfect for algae to thrive on. Try only feeding your fish with enough food to last a few minutes. Any more will lead to excessive waste and the risk of more algae.
A filter within your tank will keep your water clean and ensure that toxic levels remain low, making the probability of algae growth lower. Just make sure you clean and change the filter media regularly.
One of the best ways to tackle algae is by using a UV steriliser as part of your filtration system. The UV steriliser will destroy the bacteria as well as help to reduce the spread of free-floating algae. It is not harmful in any way to your fish or other inhabitants of your aquarium, making it an excellent choice for removing algae from your aquarium.
However, it’s important to note that a UV steriliser will not eradicate the problem completely on its own. A UV steriliser is not a replacement for a good biological and mechanical filter, which is still necessary to physically remove algae from the water.